Wednesday, 3 February 2016

For Strange Eyes only: The Writing Process & Forward Assist

One aspect of  my workshops with Avril Joy – including the present six week sequence for military veterans with Forward Assist – is sharing our creativity, especially our writing.Our customary approach is to work in special separate bound notebooks.  

Our customary approach is to work in special separate bound notebooks.  The work in these notebooks is entirely private and I advise the writers to keep it so - especially from friends, lovers and relations whose appraisal will be informed by the relationship, not the work. Writing from the heart is risky and ultra-personal and paradoxically for strange eyes only.

Within the workshop writers may choose to share their immediate writing by reading it out loud.  This is an easy ask, as so much of the writing is original and accomplished. Nobody is obliged to do this, but we’ve found some people quite pleased to share. Even so, we respect writers who choose not to do so.The great advantage of sharing by reading out is that your tone of voice, your breathing and your pauses bring natural order and syntax to what - on the page -  may appear scribbly and barely readable, having  charged forward delightfully in the creative process.

So we will say to them:

‘... if you want to share your writing more widely to be read by strangers this is what you need to do:

When you have a good lump of work in your notebooks  transcribe this original writing onto a computer. In this process you  will incorporate full stops, paragraphs and punctuation as well as quite naturally making amendments to your prose. This is effectively a primary edit which will bring form and order to your splurge of ideas, narratives, memories and stories. It will make it accessible to your stranger- reader be she editor agent or other advisor.  

Laying your work out in an accessible fashion is an important part of this process. (See below for layout suggestions.)

It is important only to share work on the page with all this in mind. The private pages of your notebooks – hot, creative and original as they are - are for your eyes only. They are more original than if you had started your process on the screen. They are private stuff, the golden egg that will remain at the core of your long-term writing inspiration. There is no short-cut to achieving the printed version, fit to share with strangers,

There is no short-cut to achieving a final printed version, fit to share with strangers,
One good outcome is that when you finally get to the printed version of your original notebook pages is that you will read it with the eyes of a stranger-which is so very good for the self-editing process.

And this will send you back to your notebook to create further exciting, original elements to your writing, whatever form it takes/

Syntax and Layout Suggestions

Things to think about as you go on writing and editing,

·       Think about breaking over-long sentence into two while retaining the meaning.
·       New idea, new location, new story element, change of person – all these often demand a new paragraph.
·       In writing dialogue keep in mind, ‘new person, new paragraph’.
·       Don’t worry if the paragraphs are short. This creates white space on the page which allows your narrative to flow forward.

Important aspects of layout to help the reader read your document easily:

  • ·       Use at least 12 point typeface. 14 point is OK.
  • ·       Double line spacing,
  • ·       Good margins.
  • ·       Only ever use one side of the page,

        Happy writing! Wx 

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