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.


About Melanie J. Fishbane

MAUD, my YA novel based on the teen life of author L.M. Montgomery will be published by 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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