Find Joy in Writing
I had the pleasure of conducting my very first public workshop at the end of August, invited by the people of Let's Read @SG. This came out of the blue, and I did consider for a couple of days before agreeing, because I wouldn't know if I could do it until I tried.
To say I was stressed is an understatement! Given that I only had around two weeks to prepare for it, I decided to share something close to my heart: Finding Joy in Writing.
Deciding on the topic was the easy part. The hard part was designing the flow of the workshop. I wasn't certain as to the number of participants; all I could be sure of was the duration, and from there break up the time into the part where I talk, and the part where we write. And since I have been a workshop participant a few times, I knew I much preferred to do than to listen.
Now, I have spoken to large groups in person as a teacher and I regularly conduct online critique sessions over Zoom. But holding a workshop where I didn't know the participants and, due to the number and not having moderators, would not be able to interact with them on a more personal basis was rather daunting. It was very strange speaking over Zoom to an utterly silent reception (because I'd requested that their microphones be kept on mute, lest there be feedback issues), going through my slides that were 95% images, and trying to make sure I keep my energy levels up so as not to bore my audience. It was a lot easier once we got to the activities, because I just had to keep an eye on the time and move the group on through four different writing exercises.
After the workshop, I received several thank you messages and I was very relieved. Feedback from the organizers has been very positive as well. But the central message of my workshop came to me only a day prior to the actual session, and that is something other authors probably have said:
Regardless of whatever else I said at the workshop, Write Crap is the most important message I could deliver. Being willing and open to write utter rubbish is what gives us joy in writing. Because once you are ready to do that, fear of judgment is removed. Writing becomes once more the simple and uplifting act of creation, expression, reflection, and imagination. When you say, "I'm gonna write crap!" and let go of expectation and fear, joy comes through the action.
I mean, I write crap, and often! My short stories aren't polished to perfection, and the serial fiction I am subjecting everyone on my newsletter mailing list to is basically me writing down my initial draft of Fragile Vessel. Some might say 'these aren't really crap', and to that I say, thank you! Because what I send out aren't the raw first drafts. My first drafts are on paper, and they are usually just points listed out of sequence, or maybe they're just a phrase and I grow an idea from them, and all of these are crap. But because they are crap, I have space to have fun, to develop and build further. All of it starts from writing crap that I know isn't worth anyone's time or effort, but it is always fun putting down the ideas first.
If you were at the workshop, thank you. If you weren't, well, here's a sample of what my workshop was about:
Grammar don't matter. Scroo Speling two. English bad? So waht, write in other languages.
Then just go ahead.