By Alissa Johnson
I remember my first writing workshop. We met in a refurbished warehouse in Minneapolis. Something about the exposed brick walls and the high ceilings made me feel like I was in a creative place. That perhaps, by association, I could be creative too.
The class was called The Right to Write, and what I wrote for it changed my life.
It was a story about an auction I attended, a holiday party at work. All the money was fake, and I had no real skin in the game. Still, I couldn't decide how to bid. Thanks to my indecision, I lost out on the items I wanted most and went home with a pail of cleaning products. Caldrea, but still. I didn't want to spend my "one wild and precious life" cleaning the house I wasn't sure I wanted in the first place.
It was the perfect metaphor for how I'd lived my life. Because I couldn't decide what to be when I grew up (or rather, had decided it wasn't practical to be a writer), I followed the path of least resistance. I moved from opportunity to opportunity until I ended up with a nice life, but one that wasn't that fulfilling. Once I saw that so plainly in my writing, I started making some changes.
In other words, without that class, I wouldn't have written that essay. And if I hadn't written that essay... well, I don't want to think of all the life choices I'd have missed! Moving to Colorado and WritingStrides would be chief among them.
There's something about having time set aside and being guided to write that leads to the most inspiring discoveries.
While I can't promise that a single workshop will change your life (though you never know), here's what I have seen good workshops do (whether I am leading them or participating):
- Give you dedicated writing time
- Provide a chance to ease the pressure. No need to worry about perfection, this is all about having fun.
- Help you get comfortable simply beginning instead of worrying about finding the "right" approach.
- Teach you to write without judging the outcome.
In other words? With workshops, you learn to get out of your own way so you can get in the flow.
And that will make all of your writing easier and more fulfilling. You just never know what you'll discover when you put pen to paper.