Sunday, 12 May 2013

Writing Out of Your Comfort Zone and the Perfect Apple Pie

Back to basics notebooks
Notebooks help you work outside
of your comfort zone.

Our second Back to Basics workshop seemed to go very well. 


More than twenty eager and interested writers focused with energy on  series of challenging tasks that related to the equally challenging tasks they completed last week.

After many years of organising workshops, this time, as mentioned in the earlier post  we have dispensed with the read-around and the more or less friendly talk-about-yourself interludes. I reckon now you don’t have to be somebody’s best friend to write alongside them.

One problem with the read-around  is that – apart from being time-consuming – it can be off-putting for neophytes and and occasionally vainglorious for the already experienced or talented.

(All this, of course, can be different with a much smaller longer-standing group where reading out and tutor led evaluation can be a learning experience for all.)

So this time, no ‘this is me’ no 'am I better at this than you or worse than this?’
Instead we had two hours of hard work and attention to almost minute details. You could almost hear the brains ticking, the thinly veiled anxiety/excitement.

We did relax a little over coffee, looking at writing in action in notebooks and reading hand-outs of inspirational quotations on this week’s theme of Place. There were some sidebar conversations about the sometimes confusing nature of memoir and the intriguing evolution of fact into fiction.

One very nice writer, nursing her coffee told me. ‘To be honest, last week’s session, though I enjoyed it, got me right out of my comfort zone about writing.’
‘Pleased about that,’ I said.’Out of your comfort zone is a good place to be. It’s from there that you make progress as a writer.’

The place for comfort zones is writing groups. They are brilliant support and interest groups. They are great at providing short term targets for specific pieces of writing.They are wonderful places to meet people of like interests.

However to stick too closely to this process can allow aspiring writers to stay fast in their comfort zone. In time it can be difficult to make real writing progress from within that comfort zone: the accomplished polish their accomplishment; beginners can flounder and not make progress. Even if you get better at the small steps it bresembles making a perfect apple pie every time and not extending your cuisine.

I related the 'comfort zone' comment to the larger group. To my relief there were nods of agreement all around, so I may have got that right.

So some hard work was achieved in this session where our dominating theme was how the nature of Place works to earn its space in our prose writing. The response was intense and lively, as our ‘out if comfort zone’ workshop went on its merry way.

It felt so much better than making the perfect apple pie yet again.

I’m looking forward now to next week  when we'll be thinking about the large scale creativity of the memoir or the story in fact and in fiction – a smorgasbord rather than an apple pie, perhaps.

I'm also looking forward to seeing some of the written outcomes of all this hard work ...

  Happy writing
Wx

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