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Regular news and insight from our many poets, writers, educators and facilitators

16 February 2019

Posted by Hazel Orriss

It's All Good

What do we do when the words just won’t come? When the page
remains blank and every idea seems lame… I wish I had the perfect answer, but I
suspect that every one of us has a different way of dealing with a creative
drought. All I can do is share some of the wisdom that flowed across the table
at our recent SO:Write Women workshop.

Notebooks, pens and coffee arranged in front of us, we
looked like a group of women with a mission, so it was odd to hear so many of
us had been wrestling with our writing. Ester has finished the first draft of
her novel, Joanna’s third novel is with her agent, Damhnait has been
shortlisted for the Caledonia Novel Award… we are not a group that lacks
ambition, motivation or success! And yet, there we were discussing the thorny
issue of “getting ‘stuff’ on the page”,
trying to make sure we “made a
and even questioning, “who
do we think we are?”
Indeed, who do we think we are to call ourselves
writers? Oh, the misery of imposter syndrome! It joined us at our table upstairs
at The Art House and would not budge until we got our teeth into a couple of
tasty writing exercises that got our brains, pencils and creative mojos working
again. It helped, it really did.

Some of the inertia-blasting techniques that have been working
for us…

Editing. Specifically editing other people’s work when you cannot
face your own work, or are unable to write. It bring focus to the mind, it is
nurturing and it reminds us how the love of language runs deep. Words on a
page, the collaborative act of working together to create something good, to be
part of the creative process. Editing is good. It helps.

Competitions. Embrace the competitive spirit and find a
forthcoming competition with a theme. Having a specific thing or idea to write
about can help break the deadlock when feeling uninspired. Harpers
Bazaar Short Story Competition 2019
invites short stories of up to
2,500 words on the theme of Liberty. The
closing date is 15th March and it is free to enter.

Writing exercises or prompts. You can access a variety of
prompts online, try the Couch to 80k
Writing Bootcamp
by Tim Clare for a series of ten minute writing
exercises that will help to get that pen moving again. Of course, you could
also come along to a SO:Write Women Workshop where you’ll find yourself writing
about anything and everything. It never fails to astonish me how a single
writing exercise can generate such an array of surprising results, all
different, all wonderful, all our own work. 

I think we all felt a little more positive by the end of the
session, reassured with the feedback generated when we shared our words, buoyed
up with ideas that may become stories, enthusiastic about stories that may
become novels. It’s all good. Still need some reassurance that our writing
matters? Still need some validation that we are, indeed, writers? We found out
that SO:Write has received a further two-years of funding, taking us through
2019 and into 2020. Like I say, it’s all good.

 The So:Write Women meet on the first Thursday of every month at the Art House Cafe in Southampton, from 11.15am-1.15pm, and on the third Saturday at the Central Library, from 10.15am-12.15pm. Why not come along?


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