Monday, February 28, 2011

An Introduction: Let the Seeds Grow

If you have stumbled across this page, my guess is that you are a creative writer.  Perhaps you are in those uncertain waters of a beginner, or perhaps you have written all your life and have learned to steer your way through currents of words, but regardless of where you find yourself in this learning process, you are welcome here.  Let me show you what I have to offer.

My Philosophy of Writing

Over the years I have participated in a variety of writing workshops and have led a number of writing groups myself.  In my time of writing short fiction, I have never ceased to be fascinated with the creative process, and over the years I have learned a few concepts that help in tapping the well of our creativity.  While theoretical knowledge about character development, plots, scenes and summaries (etc.) can be a helpful guide, this blog is not geared towards discussing this kind of knowledge.  There are hundreds of books on the market that discuss these aspects of writing, and I encourage you to explore these on your own.  Here, however, I am far more interested in the more intuitive aspects of writing, in how we can access that source of creativity that exists in each of us.  My belief is that creativity and awareness are intimately linked, and in order to become more creative in our lives, we must also become more aware of ourselves and the world around us. 

Time Not Theory Is What Matters

I am a strong believer in practice.  When a woman first begins to learn piano, she does not expect to play Beethoven’s sonatas or improvise mad jazz riffs.  She begins to explore the instrument, she learns where the keys are, she listens to the sound she produces.  Perhaps she will find a teacher to show her how to use the instrument.  With time and effort, she will improve.  This is a certainty.  Writing is exactly the same.  However, for some reason, perhaps because we are all already capable of putting words down on a page, we expect our writing to be perfect right away.  This is an extremely destructive attitude, and one that will stunt rather than encourage the growth of creativity in this domain.  Creative writing needs to be practiced just like the piano, and no matter what, if you practice, you will improve.  That’s a guarantee.

To carry the analogy of the piano further, let me share my own experience with this instrument.  I began to play about one year ago, just clanking around on the keys.  Although I can read sheet music, I rarely choose to do so.  Instead I simply explore, testing what keys sound good together, making up the occasional rhythm, and trying to coordinate my hands as best as I can.  I come up with my own exercises to practice, rather than following those in a book.  On occasion I will receive some pointers from a friend, or attempt to learn a piece of sheet music.  These help me come up with new ideas to explore the instrument, but I never rely on these.  The point is, I simply explore the instrument, and in the months that I have been playing, there has been a big improvement.  I look at writing in exactly the same way.  It is a realm to be explored, a realm in which to simply play around, a realm in which you must be allowed to create the occasional disharmony.  Creativity is often simply a mistake that happened to work.  This is why I believe in time and not theory:  if you take the time to explore your craft, you will chance upon extraordinary things, and no amount of theory will help you towards these chance encounters.  Practice need not require a lot of time, and in fact, a little time each day will carry you further than a sporadic writing marathon.

A Matter of Belief

To drive further this point of theoretical versus practical learning, all the great wisdom teachers of the ages have said time and time again that we do not need to go looking for external knowledge, but that all the knowledge we need is already within us.  You are a human being, living a life permeated with experience.  I genuinely believe that you already know everything you need to know to tell a good story, and that you simply need to stop believing that you don’t.  The affirmation “I already know how to do this” can be extremely powerful, and will pave the way to rapid improvement in any creative endeavour.  If we can lay aside our doubts and fears, amazing things can happen.  Personal creativity has its source in who we are, and since you already are someone, you have the perfect starting point.  You must begin with where you are.  You already have the most important thing you need for this process: yourself.

A Shared Experience

I am currently running a writing workshop for a small group of people.  For this workshop, I have been creating various writing exercises, practices, and projects (or writing seeds!) that are geared not only towards creative writing, but also towards greater self-awareness.  Because the people interested in the workshop far outnumbered the spots available, I was inspired to start this blog.  I plan to share the assignments I am writing for the workshop here, for anyone who wishes to practice these on their own.

To be sure, nothing can replace a shared experience.  There is something magical that happens when a community of people come together to share an activity, and often much more is accomplished together than could be accomplished if each was left on their own.  Because I cannot facilitate an unlimited number of workshop, I encourage you to take the exercises I post here and to find your own community of people to share them with.  Become engaged with one another's writing, create a supportive environment, where you can help each other grow as writers!  I also believe that when you are helping someone else grow in their writing, the very same process deepens in yourself.  I am not exaggerating when I say that my own writing receives a kind of strength and energy when I am helping others to write, and that this energy simply isn’t there otherwise.  I cannot offer you an explanation for why this may be, but simply that this is my experience.

So I hope that the information that will be provided here will be of use to you.  If you are interested in participating in future workshops, don’t hesitate to contact me.  Until then, happy writing!


  1. Julia;
    I love your idea of starting a blog to share your writing experiences. I'm very curious to see what kind of assignments you will be offering. While I'm going to be busy with baby at home this year I always need some mental stimulation so I look forward to reading your posts.
    Lots of love!

  2. Thank you for sharing, sharing our creativity is one of the most beautifull thing we can do, it feeds the reader and the writer (the giver and the receiver). I picked up so many thing in your text that i believe in too, thanks to put them into sentences. This is so true, creativity and awarness are strongly linked, nothing could be more magical and full of learning as a collective experience, this is because we are sharing energy. And you're totally into the good action by sharing your experience on this blog it's gonna bring you a lot ! I didn't knew that you were so strongly into writing, i love to get to know you better by this. Merci, merci, merci ;)

  3. Sorry that it took so long to respond, but I just wanted to say thank you to both of you, and to your encouragement! Much love.