We've all heard that old maxim 'practice makes perfect'.
Maybe your Mum said that to you when at age 13 you were struggling with an out of tune violin, trying to learn the latest piece for the school orchestra and even though the squealing and shrieking of a bow without enough rosin was driving her to the brink of insanity, she still had the supportive motherly nature to reassure you that you'd get there in the end.
'Practice makes perfect!' she said, quietly closing your bedroom door and going to the far end of the garden to pull weeds.
So can we apply this maxim to our writing?
Yes of course. Write, write and write some more - and read, read, read some more. By reading the work of others we can learn a lot about style, voice, structure, character and all of those dynamic elements that make for a great story. By writing lots we can hone our skills.
This morning is the first of my life writing workshops - we're looking at the day we were born, our parents, what was going on in our family when we entered the world, and we'll be telling stories about ourselves up to about the age of 5 or 6.
I start off every workshop with some 3-minute exercises to 'warm up' the creative part of the brain - and as this wonderful quote from Natalie Goldberg states, 'No matter what, keep that hand moving.'
Believe me, I put the writers through their paces and this morning we'll be doing three or four of these snap exercises. Here's one for you:
'Tell me about an awkward moment you caused for your parents, a faux pas you committed with the innocence that is so particular to the very young.'
I will use a story from my own life as en example. From a very young age my Mom took me to church with her on Sunday mornings. On this particular day I would have been about 6 and, as usual, Mom took me with her to the communion rail so she could take the sacrament and I could receive a blessing. Of course the occasion of communion is a solemn one, nobody says much apart from the priest who speaks softly, and so my little voice had a resounding resonance of high-pitched wonder that reverberated throughout the church when, watching Mom drink from the silver chalice, I said, 'Mom, is that booze?'
Practicing your writing with these short three-minute life-writing exercises can be a good way to build up some discipline and habit. It only takes three minutes, five, or ten maybe, and you'd be amazed at how the writing builds up over time.
I'll provide more '3-minuters' for you in upcoming Blogs so stay tuned! And if you'd like to join us next Saturday 22 February for the life writing workshop and be put through your writing paces, please book in today!