I’m A Writing Workshop Junkie

red book cover of The Mindful Writer by Dinty W. Moore

‘A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.’ – Thomas Mann

Even though I’ve had many of my short stories published, plus a novel, and a second novel accepted, I’m always wanting to learn more about the writing process – especially the link between creativity and spirituality.  Four weeks ago I enrolled in ‘The Mindful Writer’,  a course devised and presented by  Walter Mason.  Highly recommended.  He combines the insights of meditation and mindfulness with the joy of creative writing.

‘Tap into your true creative thinking through mindfulness and become aware of the vast reserves of wisdom within.’ – Walter Mason

Dinty Moore, in his book The Mindful Writer, Noble Truths of the Writing Life, says his lifelong pursuit of writing and creativity has helped to open him to the path of Buddhism:

“Find inspiration and insight on writing as a spiritual practice through astute quotes, thoughtful advice, and productive exercises on both mindfulness and craft.  This isn’t your typical “how to write” book. Author Dinty W. Moore, a well-respected writing coach and teacher, thoughtfully illuminates the creative process: where writing and creativity originate, how mindfulness plays into work, how to cultivate good writing habits and grow as a person, and what it means to live a life dedicated to writing. The Mindful Writer features bite-sized essays that will delight and inform not only writers, but also other artists, mediators and mindfulness practitioners. Built around heartening quotes from famous writers and thinkers, it is a resource that readers will turn to again and again for guidance and encouragement.” – Simon & Schuster Australia

On the never-ending path of learning more about the craft of writing, I also enrolled at the Blogging University (yet again) and took the WordPress course  Writing: Shaping Your Story – an intermediate course on the art of revision:  four weeks of self-editing and rewriting.  Dig into the process of focusing and building a story, whether fiction or nonfiction.  Lots of useful information.  And the course is free :).

So back to my desk now and to the work of crafting a new novel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fortnightly Story: Mother

an adult and two children walking along a beach

The day is softening into night, my desk in shadow as the sun moves behind the building.  Birds hover in the trees as the wind blows across the surface of the sea.  It’s hard to know which way to go.  Every day I fear that I can’t do it.  So I’m watching as it gets dark.

Tonight I’m thinking about the saddest bits.  Thinking, for example, that the night was alight with thunder.  Lightening cracked the sky.  Just a flash and then darkness again.

That I loved him, and sometimes he loved me too. Continue reading

Ground Your Writing in Place

woman in blue tennis dress position to hit big forehand

Here is an important writing tip:  ground your writing in a sense of place, whether landscape or cityscape.

How often have you heard someone say of a book they loved:  ‘I felt like I was there.’

 

 

Even if you relocate the poodle tied to a fake-cane chair, the sound of a game of tennis, the table of older men after their regular Sunday match at the café overlooking the tennis courts at Cooper Park that you drank a lemongrass and ginger tea at in Sydney into a café in a story in another state and time, the story will have originality and believability.  ‘But that café was in Sydney, I can’t transport it to Adelaide.’  But you can.  You can have flexibility with specific detail.  The mind is able to transport details, but using actual places that you experienced will give your writing authenticity and truthfulness.  It grounds your work in place, giving life and vitality to your writing, rather than a whole lot of exposition that floats in the air.

 If you don’t create evocative settings, your characters seem to have their conversations in vacuums or in some beige nowhere-in-particular. –  Jerome Stern

Creation of the physical world is as important to your story as action and dialogue.  If your readers can be made to see the hand-knitted socks or the row of vitamins on the kitchen benchtop, the scene becomes alive.  Readers pay attention.  Touch, sound, taste, and smell make readers feel as if their own feet are warm under the cold sheets.

Place situates the story in your reader’s mind.  Fiction that seems to happen in no particular place often seems not to take place at all.’ –  Jerome Stern

 

Header Image:  Creative Commons

 

 

Fortnightly Story: JM

empty park bench on grass overlooking lake

I’ve never told anyone.  To think about it makes my hands sweat and nausea rise from my stomach.  It happened the year I turned eighteen on a sunny late afternoon in February, on the top floor of a building in Double Bay.  I was recently engaged to be married and the wedding was booked for the end of June.  We had gone to the photographer’s studio to have our engagement photos taken.  The photographer was a good friend of my future brother-in-law.  I had met him several times before and had thought of him as old, as my parents seemed to be old, but he can’t in those days have been more than fifty.  He was tiny like a jockey, his trademark cravat tied at the neck beneath a tailored shirt.  His accent, foreign but very English.  His shirt covered the numbers branded on his arm – a childhood survivor of the holocaust.  Continue reading