Writing is a solitary activity.
This belief suited her perfectly…for a time…a long time.
She suffers from social anxiety you see. I would watch as she stared up at the ceiling, unsuccessfully twirling her pen. She would look to her right where the sun occasionally streamed through the glass. Then to her left. Left was Bookcase’s dwelling for a while. She would scan the titles of the books for the thousandth time in a single hour. She wandered through daydreams. I watched enviously as her lips moved. I reached out for the odd scrap. But they dissolved before I could wrap my fingers around them.
She fed me on the train en-route to work. I looked forward to those weekday mornings. Aside from those meals, I was fed sporadically – only when ‘inspiration’ struck. I clocked up what one might define as a ‘decent quantity’ – but given the number of years it had taken for this ‘decent quantity’ to be amassed, it remained to me…unimpressive.
I decided enough was enough. If I was going to survive, she needed focus. She needed help. It took years to impress upon her the importance of what she needed to do. She fought back. ‘I need no-one else, this is between me and you,’ she argued. It was only as I struggled to move, to draw in breath, as my heart beat faster and faster, then and only then did she take action.
The first course she signed up to: ‘Starting Your Novel’.
She printed out my brother, the lucky bastard, though he was the first poorly-written, absolutely pathetic draft of Blue, and therefore I cannot envy him entirely. She took him along to class where she was taught techniques to help with structure and character development. She was given exercises to kick-start ‘inspiration’. Most importantly she was given homework, which meant – FOOD. That is correct. I was fed…daily.
As for her. She made friends.
But I was hungry for more, so I gently nudged her to sign up to a second course, ‘Developing Your Novel’. ‘Some of your friends will be there,’ I said. That must have done the trick.
And this time I got to attend…full-bellied of course.
Here she learned what she should be feeding me and what wasn’t quite agreeing with my insides.
Just as the course came to a close, the human world was attacked by a fast-spreading virus.
Country went into lockdown.
This is the end, I thought. What chance did I have of eating three square meals a day? None.
Miracle. She formed a group with these friends she made on the course. They met ‘on-the-line’ – whatever that means. They conversed. They helped to feed me. I have no words to describe the gratitude I feel towards them. I shall forever be in their debt.
This propelled her to doing something drastic. She joined a platform – on-the-line -something called…Instagram? She conversed with like-minded individuals and she discovered…workshops…on-the-line workshops.
She kept her camera and mic off to begin with. They sat in silence. Faces and names all in this screen, on-the-line. As she fed me I watched them feed my brethren.
One of these workshops interviewed a lady who ran her own workshops.
So she headed on-the-line to book tickets to these workshops. And it dawned on her, why not search directly on this site for more workshops? I nodded my head vigorously – ‘DO IT! DO IT!’ And she did. Lo and behold there are a plethora of free workshops available on-the-line. She signed up for them.
Here I make a plea on behalf of the unfed, have a go at signing up to workshops on-the-line. If you are an anxiety sufferer like she is, you can always keep your camera and mic turned off. If at any point you don’t want to carry on, you can leave the meeting.
For those interested, I have compiled a list below of workshops she has attended, with a brief description of what to expect from them. Some workshops are one-offs, but worth keeping an eye on if ever they are run again. If you wish to browse other workshops, head on-the-line to a site called Eventbrite, type into the search bar ‘creative writing workshops’. You can filter your search by price – there are hundreds of workshops that are offered for free, just be sure to tick the box ‘free’.
List of workshops:
London Writers Salon:
The London Writers Salon run ‘The Writers’ Hour’ four times a day. These are free ‘write with me’ sessions. Writers from all over the world gather on Zoom and write in silence for 50 minutes. You do not have to turn your camera on if you do not want to. There is an opportunity at the end to share what you have been working on during that hour. It is a beautiful and motivating space to work in.
Link to the writers’ hour: https://writershour.com/#lwswh2020
Paperbacks & Co:
Paperbacks & Co run ‘Writer’s Cohort Power Hours’. These are ‘write with me’ sessions run over Zoom. Writers from all over the world gather on Zoom and write in silence for 60 minutes. They are free to attend for the first month. After the first month there is a fee, if you want to attend as many hours as you can. However they also do an ‘always-free’ tier where you can join one power hour a month for free. There are opportunities at the beginning and end of the session to share what you are working on. This is optional, you do not have to participate in these discussions, you can listen. You can keep your camera on or off. It is another motivating space to work in.
Link to Paperbacks & Co: https://www.paperbacksandco.com
We Write Through:
‘We Write Through’ run by Elena Taylor from Allegory Editing, over Zoom. This is a free one hour workshop run once a week, in which Elena goes through different aspects of the craft, showing us examples from scenes she has written. Each week focuses on a different topic eg: how to build tension in a scene, or how to world-build. There is an opportunity at the end to ask Elena questions regarding what was covered in the workshop or questions about your own work. You do not have to have your camera on or speak if you do not want to.
Link to Allegory Editing Workshops:
Writing Reimagined run ‘Pitching Sessions!!!’ These are free workshops run over Zoom, on how to pitch writing articles to magazine editors and help you to generate ideas on what sort of articles you could write. In addition, editors will be dropping into the sessions. The sessions are held once a week. Again you do not need to turn on your camera or mic if you do not want to.
Writing Reimagined also run other workshops, such as ‘Accountability Hours’ (where you write together in silence).
Link to Writing Reimagined Workshops:
Pen to Print:
Pen to Print run free workshops over Microsoft Teams where they give you creative writing exercises. People who attend may be asked to read what they have written during the workshop. You do not have to have your camera on, and if you do not wish to speak just mention that in the chat. Their workshops are currently sold out, but below is a link to their Eventbrite page to keep an eye on.
Link to Pen to Print Eventbrite page:
Overcome Writer’s Block with Gifts from Mother Nature: Maria Koropecky
Maria Koropecky runs a monthly ‘Overcome Writer’s Block with Gifts from Mother Nature’. This is a workshop held over Zoom. Writers are encouraged to turn their cameras and mics on and to share a little bit about themselves at the beginning. This is an interactive workshop. Writers are led through a meditation at the beginning and then a discussion about writing struggles and blocks you have faced. Maria encourages the group to contribute their own thoughts and possible solutions to the struggles the others are facing. Very inspiring to listen to each others personal stories.
Link to Maria Koropecky’s Eventbrite page:
Copyright ©2021 Saraswathi Sukumar. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of all material on this site without express and written permission from the copyright owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Saraswathi Sukumar with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.