This week CWC member, Elizabeth Ducie, talks about some of the things she’s been doing recently to refresh her writing.
“At a Swanwick seminar years ago, we were challenged to step outside our comfort zone occasionally, to see what we could achieve. At the time, it influenced me to take a business decision I would otherwise have avoided. It resulted in the single largest contract our small consultancy ever won; months of work for us and several of our contractors; and allowed us to finance a move across the country which we have never regretted.
But I have to admit I’ve not been challenging myself too much lately. In a time of uncertainty such as we’re living through at the moment, it’s very tempting to keep to the familiar, the safe, as much as possible. But, safe can also mean stale.
However, in the past few weeks, I’ve been making an effort to be a bit more adventurous, trying different genres and writing for its own sake rather than with a specific purpose in mind.
Literature Works Workshops
As part of their Quay Words project, Literature Works runs occasional workshops on a variety of writerly themes. Back in March, just before lock-down, I joined Writer-in-Residence Natasha Carthew and a small group of other hardy souls on the quay in Exeter as we attempted to develop Nature Writing In Non-Fiction – in the rain. Out of that came a piece of life writing that fits nicely as a prelude to other pieces I’ve written in the past, but have yet to find a home for.
June’s Digital Writer-in-Residence is crime writer, Martyn Waites. He developed a fascinating exercise: a locked room murder mystery set around the Custom House in the 18th Century. We were presented with a murder, a detective’s report, a handful of suspects; and were invited to write a short story showing who done it, why, and how they got out of the locked room? And the great thing is: there’s no right answer. Even Martyn doesn’t know. You can see the results of that exercise on at 6pm on Wednesday 5th August when Martyn will set the scene before the nine participants each present their solutions. It’s a free webinar, but you need to register for it by clicking here.
The next Digital Writer-in-Residence is TJ Dema who has set up the Place and the Personal exercise to get to know and understand Exeter better. She is asking for a photo of a place in Exeter that has personal meaning to you, accompanied by a short piece of writing in any form about why that place matters to you. You can read the full details by clicking here. I’m certainly going to have a go at that one as well.
One positive outcome of lockdown is that so many projects are moving online and therefore geographical boundaries become meaningless. As a born and bred Brummie, I was interested to hear about a workshop called Poetry and the Power of Music, which took place last week. Run by writer and musician, Reisz Amos, Artistic Associate for Birmingham Opera, and Theatre Director, Gitika Buttoo, it was a fascinating exploration of feeling and thoughts triggered by the Prelude to Das Rheingold. The writing was raw and may or may not lead to something publishable, but the whole exercise certainly took me outside my comfort zone and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There will be similar workshops running monthly; you can find details on the Facebook Group.
Give It A Try
If, like me, you have found your writing getting a tad stale, or if other things have been getting in the way, why not have a go at something different? There are all sorts of such workshops on offer at the moment. And you never know what you’re missing until you step outside your comfort zone.”