Personal Writing Workshop

To help with my writing angst, I started reading Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. I took a writer’s workshop a few years ago and my instructor tended to use a few excerpts from this book to help open us to our “muse.” I enjoyed that writing course a lot. For two hours a week, I would go to this cozy bachelor apartment in downtown Montreal and she would lead us in a writing exercise for an hour. She had the amazing ability to just sit and give us a space to write without judgment. She would gently show us where we could be more specific about a time or place, but generally I left there feeling like my novel was right under my fingertips.
Goldberg talks about the right tools. What are my right tools? Once upon a time I would say it would be a spiraled notebook and a purple tipped pen. Indeed, when I write in my personal journal, it is still with a purple (or black or blue or green) pen. Lately, because of all of the work that I do on the computer, I have learned that I am beginning to think more “fluid” than I used to vis a vis my computer. For the first few months of my thesis, I wrote it down in pen and then went to the computer to type the rest of it out. It felt weird to start with a blank screen – almost daunting. A pen and a piece of paper seemed easier to apply to everyday life.
So, my first order of business is to sift through my drawer of empty yet-to-be used journals and find something where I don’t care if I muck up…actually, in my latest project, I pulled out a blank spiraled notebook and started writing…perhaps all is not lost there after all.
The other thing she talks about is “timed writing.” Taking 5 minutes or 10 minutes to just write without editing. Perhaps that is also the issue with typing as one can be prone to typos and then want to fix them. I liked this idea because it reminds me of those two hours when I was in the writing workshop. I had no where to go but to the workshop and while I was there, things flowed from me that I didn’t even know was there.
And that is the most amazing thing of all I think. Those moments when something happens because it just does without force or anguish or angst. It is this place that I want to go to.

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About Melanie J. Fishbane

My novel, MAUD: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M. Montgomery was published in 2017 through Penguin Random House on April 25, 2017. I hold an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Here I talk about my writing process, things I love, and creative people who inspire me.
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