This past Tuesday, March 8, marked the first in our series of writing workshops at the McConnell Library in Sydney. Centred on the iCreate Cape Breton project’s overarching theme of “slow violence,” these workshops seek to provide an outlet for Cape Breton youth to express their own personal thoughts, beliefs, and ideas about their lives in a safe, non-judgmental environment – and hopefully improve their writing in the process!
While our first meeting saw only one participant, we still managed to launch into a lively discussion about our writing habits and preferences, as well as the experiences we hope to gain from taking part in these sessions. Indeed, what our group lacked in quantity, it more than made up for in quality, with everyone tackling the subject matter with honesty and approaching the sessions with an open mind.
The workshops are focused on the initial steps of writing – namely, prewriting, drafting, and free-writing – and throughout our conversations, it became clear that we all have a tendency to skip straight to the much later editing stage, parsing as we go instead of just letting our thoughts flow naturally. This impulse to immediately criticize our work has the effect of stifling creativity and over the course of four free-writing exercises, I think we all were able to better understand the impact our own “editor voices” have on restricting the way in which we get our ideas down on paper.
Hopefully after the next few months, both participants and facilitators alike can let go of their inner critics and become more comfortable with the idea of imperfection. The early stages of writing are never cut-and-dry – and the workshops are a place where students are free to write whatever and however they want. There are no constraints, no judgments, and no expectations – all that matters is that you write!
Our next workshop will take place tomorrow, March 15, at the McConnell Library, starting at 6:00PM and running until 9:00PM. Hope to see you there!