Thursday, October 14, 2010

Writing Workshops

I attended my first creative writing workshop last Sunday. It was a revelation to me because it was so easy. One could think too much that one has gone beyond realistic expectations. This is the same ‘over thinking’ problem. It seemed to be like a game where one could sit down and scribble a scene or vignette. It seemed like a joke but in fact the joke was on me. It’s like one has been looking far and wide for a secret when in fact it was right in front of you. One always thought that writing was a gut wrenching exercise, filled with angst, suffering and, eventual, revelation. In reality, it is as simple as biking or swimming if one has contributed sufficient time to practice.

The effect of attending creative writing workshop is similar to Toastmaster. It allows you an opportunity to speak in front of people. Overcoming shyness and awkwardness of public speaking is the first step. The writing workshops allow you to read your work in front of people and hear your own words spoken publicly. It also allows you to measure your words with others who are also first time writers who are scribbling as well. The unintended comparison give a gauge on how you have developed or how you rate with fellow first time scribblers. I think I would not have the confidence of attending writing workshops without my experiences in Toastmaster. The learning experience now seems to go hand in hand

Are creative writing workshops a natural next step after Toastmasters? Or is this the natural progression for ‘self-taught’ neurotic, part-time writers like me? Firstly, I think the experience is revelatory in that it removes the mistaken impression that writing is a mysterious and mystical experience. It’s the lesson Ayn Rand tries to teach in her book, ‘The Art of Writing.’. The writing workshops are like ‘baby steps’ in the same way that Toastmaster is a way to develop one’s speaking skills. Unfortunately, there is no equivalent organization for writers like Toastmasters is to speakers. Both experiences provide a venue to express oneself: one in speaking and another in writing. But the road for the writer is much more difficult.

These avenues remove one’s delusion and over thinking tendencies. The experience brings one back to a realistic frame work. Back to square one or back to the drawing board. There is too much mental ‘noise’ that one has to get rid off. Speaking in Toastmaster allows you the opportunity to get rid of the noise when speaking in front of people. It’s the noise that contributes to self-doubt, anxiety and fear. Writing workshops also provide you that opportunity to reduce mental noise. It’s a way to gain experience before stepping into the real arena. This ‘actual’ experience with fellow travelers is the real education that one gets. But it’s only a modest education considering what real experience one would get as a teacher or journalist, for example.

So venues like writing workshops and Toastmasters are a minor substitute in getting real world experience. It’s a training ground for the battle ahead. Also, it’s only in modern countries that one has access to reasonable writing workshops. The sensibility, maturity and accessibility to English speaking writers are unavailable in developing countries. On the other hand, Toastmasters has perfected a club method that can be replicated anywhere in the world and so one has access to speaking experiences almost everywhere. But one has to prepare and understand what these experiences can provide so one can benefit from them. One has understand the limitation and be open to all that the experience can provide; to intelligently grow from that ‘meager’ but useful practice.

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