There were fifteen members in attendance and Ros Woolner of Bilston Writers led the workshop. She opened by pointing out that each of us had at least one writing habit: attending workshops of Bilston Writers.
An eight-page handout to guide us through the session was distributed, to which references will be made by page numbers throughout this blog.
Ros proceeded by quoting from Gretchen Rubin’s Better than Before (p.1) in which Rubin expresses that there is no magic formula where writing habits are concerned, we are each influenced by our own nature and whatever habits serve us best. This led nicely into feedback from those who had taken the online quiz (linked to Rubin’s Four Tendencies Framework pp.1-2) which had been suggested in an email prior to the meeting. The results showed an interesting variety of tendencies, and some members read out definitions of their own particular tendency from the handout, so that all were covered.
The group then split into smaller groups of three to discuss particular writing habits and preferences from the prompts on p.3. The feedback was prolific and included such things as: making notes on mobile phones; note books; technology such as ‘One Drive’ where whichever device you write on, all can be saved on the same program (unfortunately, like the cloud, this is over my head); listening to music with or without lyrics; letters of the alphabet or colours as prompts set to your own time-table; Radio 4 iPM listeners’ news sentences as prompts; writing to deadlines e.g. submissions to journals, competitions or anthologies; writing in your head – even in the shower; recording dreams; different locations e.g. in/on transport like Jack Kerouak or, like Virginia Woolf, in A Room of One’s Own; room or space to write could include opportunity providers such as Mslexia; writing need not be creative it could be different kinds of writing e.g. thoughts, concerns, snippets from conversations. See p.4 of the handout for ‘Some things to try’.
Most writers read other writers just as most musicians listen to other musicians. Bilston Writers member Marion Cockin had brought along some books as examples of different genres of writing including ‘how-to’ help in writing. On a personal note she has found the Mslexia publications for Kindle e-reader (or pdf downloads) very useful e.g. ‘Poetic Forms’ and ‘Contemporary Poetry’. Also a recently acquired American publication, The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World (by Lewis Hyde). She spoke about short-stories and other fiction including sci-fi. Reading other writers, according to Marion, doesn’t mean copying other writers. She sees that we read lots of different ingredients and stir them all up in a cauldron – very tasty. There is a list of the books brought along by Ros and Marion as examples of ‘different tastes and interests’ (pp 7-8).
The final task was to begin, or produce, a piece of writing from different prompts: texts and/or pictures from the handout; objects on the table; books – one method is to use the date for example, open the book at page 17, line 3 and use some or all of the line as inspiration – see Writing prompts pp. 5-6. Any work completed can be posted on the blog.
Finally, thanks were expressed to Ros for a workshop that was very informative, inspiring, and entertaining.