Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Jumpstart Your Writing

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You love to write. Why, then, can it be so hard to get started—or to finish a project that you began with enthusiasm?

An abundance of metaphors prove that this affliction is nearly universal among writers. Your muse needs to visit. Your creative well needs filling. Your batteries need recharging.

Whenever I teach a writing workshop, I find a good number of the participants are in exactly this place with their projects. They’re excited about an idea. Maybe they’ve started drafting, or they’ve finished a draft. But somewhere along the way, they’ve lost momentum. They want to finish, and finish well—if only they could see their way through.

The good news: It’s not all that tough to jumpstart your writing. Here, a few ways to get yourself going:

·         Rediscover what you love about your work: Read through the last five pages you wrote. Don’t make any changes. Instead, bracket the three parts you like best—words, sentences, or sections. Copy one of those best parts onto a clean page and use it as springboard for ten minutes of freewriting. Don’t worry about where it’s going. Just write.
·         Shamelessly imitate: Choose a passage you love from a writer you admire. With pen in hand, unlock its secrets. In the margins, make notes about how it works. Then, using a topic or scene of your own, write a passage that consciously imitates it. Will your effort fall short? Of course. But even the masters are approachable.
·         Read a writer on writing: Read (or reread) what one of your favorite writers has to say about writing. The Paris Review interviews, available online, are a great source. Take comfort in the struggles you share—and the fact that these can be overcome.
·         Talk writing with writers: Meet with your writers group. Attend a reading, a conference, a workshop.

On this last point, I’m prepping to teach a six-hour workshop for writers like you: Jumpstart Your Writing, from 9 am to 4 pm (with an hour lunch break) on Saturday, September 26. Through guided exercises and discussion, we’ll generate ideas, amplify words on the page, and write past stuck points. We’ll explore the writer’s mind, the writing process, and narrative essentials like character, setting, and pacing. We’ll examine and refine our writing processes while exploring techniques to mine and enrich the material from which we write.

Included in the workshop fee is a copy of Write Your Best Book. But you don’t have to be working on a book—our focus will be on re-energizing all types of writing. So whether you’re a novelist, an essayist, a memoirist, a poet, or a dabbler in writing of all types, we’d love to have you join in. You’ll leave with your batteries charged, your well filling up, your muse on your shoulder. Registration is required, so sign up today.

PS: “Jumpstart Your Writing” will be the last workshop I teach in the Anchorage area, at least for the foreseeable future. After 36 years in Alaska, I’ll be leaving in mid-October. More on the Big Move in next month’s post!  

Co-founder of 49 Writers and founder of the independent authors cooperative Running Fox Books, Deb Vanasse has authored sixteen books. Her most recent are Write Your Best Book, a practical guide to writing books that rise above the rest; What Every Author Should Know, a comprehensive guide to book publishing and promotion; and Cold Spell, a novel that “captures the harsh beauty of the terrain as well as the strain of self-doubt and complicated family bonds,” according to Booklist. Deb lives and works on Hiland Mountain outside of Anchorage, Alaska, and at a cabin near the Matanuska Glacier.