Monday, 9 December 2013

The hypocrisy of the long-distance procrastinator

Someone from a non-profit group working locally in the area of mental well-being has asked me to run a creative writing workshop. It will be a single two-hour session, forming part of a twenty-hour course. Spread over ten weeks, the course will also feature a workshop with a poet. Naturally, I jumped at the chance. What a privilege it is to be able to help in some small way with such a great cause! And how very flattering to be asked at all, regardless of the cause. What, me? Gob off about how I think it should and should not be done? Hmm, yes, I suppose it's not so very out of character after all.
On reflection, it's my ideal gig. I'll get to exert some small influence over ten budding writers (thus propagating my own idiosyncratic views on the subject) and being at the workshop is a Grade A excuse for not being at my keyboard. And to think, one of the topics I plan to cover is avoidance techniques and how to beat them.

For a while I was completely stuck for ideas on how to do the session. I've decided to prepare about fifteen topic sheets, each with a brief intro to the topic, an example or two (if appropriate), and a (fun!) activity. I'll test the timings, of course, but the plan is do definitelyhave more topics than can be covered in the allotted time. I'll get the group to choose which topics they want to cover, and when we get near the end I'll just hand out the ones we didn't get to. (The idea is that the sheets are lightweight enough to leave me plenty to say on the day, but detailed enough to stand on their own when they're read afterwards.)

The complete topic list looks (provisionally) like this:

  1. Show, don’t tell
  2. Murder your darlings – Sentences
  3. Murder your darlings – Words
  4. Beware of adjectives and adverb
  5. The great He said, she said secret
  6. Get some distance – Revision with fresh eyes
  7. Just do it!
  8. Choosing your genre
  9. Every character should want something...
  10. Know the rules of grammar
  11. Point of view
  12. Story Structure
  13. Archetypes
  14. Submitting your work
  15. Recommended reading
I'm looking forward to the workshop at the moment, but I expect I'll get pretty nervous as it gets closer. Expect a post about how it all went.