It is no secret that I enjoy running Creative Writing workshops for newbies. I love the challenge of working with people who may not have written anything more than a greetings card or a shopping list since their schooldays. The best bit is when they realise writing for pleasure is just that – fun with words!
Some of these new writers may start off being reluctant to put pen to paper, thinking they ‘can’t do it’. It’s my job to show them ANYONE can write if they really want to.
Often, tuition is arranged through the local ETB (Education and Training Board) and is labelled as ‘Community Education’. Of course, participation is voluntary, and many individuals come to a class not because they’re mad keen to start writing, but out of curiosity or because some of their friends have expressed an interest.
The classes are usually run for the community group they belong to (such as the Irish Countrywomen’s Association or Active Age), and creative writing is this season’s pastime. Next month, they might try digital photography, pottery or glass painting.
The cynic in me might expect some of the workshop participants to be there only because its free entertainment for a couple of hours in the warmth, and there’s usually some conversation to be had, along with a cup of tea.
But it often turns out to be a lot more than that – a group I tutored recently were so enthusiastic, not one of them missed a class. At one session, there was a woman with laryngitis and no voice, and another with a freshly plastered arm in a sling after breaking her wrist the night before. I was thrilled they were enjoying the classes so much they didn’t want to miss anything!
My challenge is to engage everyone in the group and encourage their creativity. Some of them aren’t interested in doing more than recording a few memories for their grandchildren, others find they have an unexpected knack for putting words together and want to do more, get published, write stories, poems, start a novel or memoir. I’m there to kickstart their new interest.
To me, it doesn’t matter if the writing is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ (and I won’t jump on that soapbox again – read my opinions on that here), I’m just happy to give these people the opportunity to try their hand at writing, see if they like it, suggest how they can do more if they do.
But why do you suppose I enjoy this experience so much? Well yes, the pay cheque from the ETB is nice, but it isn’t my sole motivation. I love the interaction, talking the talk, revealing some insider information, de-mystifying the business of writing.
And these creative writing classes often give me great material, they spark ideas and set me thinking about my own writing. Because there’s always more than one way to tell a story. I don’t steal anyone’s ideas, but I often find I am triggered to write my own new material (before you ask, inspiration vs plagiarism is a topic for another day).
Meanwhile, if you’d like me to tutor a creative writing course*, drop me a line on louisegcole (at) gmail (dot) com. I produce entertaining triggers and prompts and can usually persuade even the most reluctant scribe to have a go!
*I also facilitate (in County Mayo, Ireland) two writing groups for individuals already hooked on the creative writing bug. We’ve just created a Facebook page, and we’re looking for new members. Check us out here.