The Benefit of the Group

SKLessons from my first writing workshop

In a group, there is little room for doubt. The supportive atmosphere, the excitement of hearing something new, and the opportunity for growth are all contagious parts of the writers group dynamic. I experienced this on Saturday.

Kim Echlin (The Disappeared, nominated for the 2009 Giller Prize), the current Writer-in-Residence at McMaster University, hosted a writers workshop at the Hamiltion Public Library’s Central location. Local writers in association with Kim were asked to read scenes from their writing.  Many who attended were also aspiring writers curious about the craft itself.

For me, I have always been a “closeted writer.” I love to write, and I’ve worked at it for as long as I can remember. However, I’ve never shared my writing with a group of people. Only this year have I finally allowed someone in the writing community to read my work and offer commentary. From this authentic experience, I have gained confidence as a writer and improved my writing skills.

Kim has been an excellent shepherd in the writing community through her support in helping new writers emerge and take pride in their work. With a kind spirit and sweet disposition, Kim’s comments are always open-minded and thoughtful. She has reminded me that writing doesn’t always have to be a lonely or solitary struggle.

 

The following are some tips from Kim and the seven writers present at the event, in response to questions asked by audience members:

 

Some tips about “Writer’s Block”

  • Everyone experiences writer’s block at some point in their writing journey.
  • This usually stems from fear, the feeling of inadequacy or an unknown twist in the plot
  • Writing is the best medicine for writer’s block. Whatever you do, get your butt in the chair and WRITE
  • Try writing some “jibber jabber” or “free writing.” The process of allowing your mind to wander and allowing your characters to take you on a journey may help you reach the next part in your writing
  • JUST WRITE

 

Some tips on “Self-Doubt”

  • Your writing just is. It exists, it is there, it is open for judgement. No one person will think about your writing in the same way as another.
  • Surround yourself with a supportive group that will help you grow, not push you down
  • Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. You are entitled to write.
  • Criticism can help you grow as a writer, but negativity is not necessary
  • Keep an open mind
  • Oftentimes, we write because we can’t not write.
  • Write for yourself. Keep in mind the personal reason you have for writing and never let anyone change that.