“As I write I create myself again and again.” - Joy Harjo
At first, I was curious what all the whispering and smiling was about. Then, I felt my blood run cold as the leaders of the writing workshop I was attending turned and asked each of us to say our name and then the phrase, “and I’m a great writer!”
I had signed up for a writing workshop at the San Francisco Zen Center where the lovely Ivory Madison and Do-On Robert Thomas were guiding and supporting a group of us through meditation, discussion and silent writing. The room swelled with an immense amount of love for the art of writing and an acute appreciation for the psychological torture we writers and scribblers put ourselves through (man, do we ever - at least I wasn’t alone!).
As the workshop progressed I could feel my initial self-consciousness gently subsiding. So much that has held me back from writing has been my own self-censorship. Somehow in this workshop this was being unlocked as I gave myself permission to make mistakes and write whatever the hell I wanted. Sounds so easy, I know, but self-acceptance can be a slow process, let me tell you…
What I learned: there are three steps to writing anything.
1) Write. That’s it. Start writing and do nothing else for a specific amount of time (like 30 minutes or an hour). Do not reread what you are writing and do not edit one single word. Just write, write, write.
2) Edit. When you’ve finished writing, then edit. This means if you’re working on a larger piece, say a short story, an essay or a novel, edit only when you’ve finished writing it. That means, you no edit in-between! Just write the heck out of that sucker and say everything you want to say before you even begin the editing phase. Got that? Okay, cool.
3) Marketing and publishing. If you’re going that route. This is the part where you fantasize about becoming a famous author and making lots of money (hahahahaha).
As the workshop came to a close, everyone in the room was clapping and laughing. We were each taking turns saying our names and declaring ourselves great writers. When it became my turn, I paused, squeezed my eyes shut and blurted out, “I’m Robin and I’m a great writer!” It was kind of liberating and only slightly terrifying. I normally wouldn’t dare call myself a great writer, but ya know, why not?
If you write, I highly recommend you say it out loud, too.
Some writing resources:
(What I’m listening to right now: The Chemical Brothers (feat. Beck) - Wide Open)