THE 3 THINGS I RE- LEARNED AT A COLLABORATIVE WRITING WORKSHOP
The advertisement flyer said “We will use stolen quotes and stupid games to create our writing. This is not about being precious; it’s not even about being good – it’s about finding ways to begin writing, to stop being scared of it and look at it as a collaborative practice.”
I HAD to participate in this workshop so I registered immediately.
The next step was to pay the fees to confirm my participation. And then disaster struck. Saskia from Thespo called to say that the workshop had been filled. There were only 10 seats because Rachael Clerke who was conducting the workshop (at Prithvi House) wanted to keep the group intimate to facilitate easier writing and sharing. Alas, my procrastination in paying the fees (I vacillated between online payment and paying by cash, which would mean travelling to the Thespo office) had cost me a seat at this workshop.
I was devastated and requested and re-requested to be allowed to attend. Many emails were exchanged which mainly consisted of me asking to be added to the group and Saskia trying to interest me in another workshop. But I had now become like that adamant child who refuses any other brand of chocolate except the one he’s set his mind on.
Finally, Rachael read the email communication and decided my keenness was genuine and I merited a seat and yayyy, I was at the workshop (on 16th December, 2014).
Therefore, LESSON NO.1 – Persistence pays.
It was an eclectic group of theatre/performance artists, literature students and even an advocate. The ambience was cozy, the warm wooden floors offset quite well by the black walls and the bright white circles shining down from the spotlights on the ceiling. We began with my most fave activity. Writing the Morning Pages. And so, even though I’d already done them once in the morning, I joined in with enthusiasm. And it was at the end of the writing that I had a couple of epiphanies: 1) I did prefer a particular ambience to do my writing in and 2) I re-discovered my love for teaching.
And so, LESSON NO.2 – Varying one’s place of writing once in a while can yield delightful results.
We played word games. Then we selected interesting words such as blues, stirrup, puck, sea-biscuit (my most fave) and used them to write story excerpts. We formed groups of four each. On one sheet of paper (per group), each one of us wrote a piece but the twist was that the previous writing was hidden so one just wrote whatever one wanted to, continuing from the bridge words: and then…; meanwhile..; but…. While writing a couple of pieces, I realized that my writing was following a particularly staid path. So, keeping the original intent of not being precious or even good with the words I jumped in with a playful attitude and really had a lot of fun. And when the pieces were read together as a whole, they made for quite interesting reading.
The next assignment was even more interesting. A new piece of writing had to be developed from a given excerpt. Some had to make a list from that while others had to make a poem and or even a letter. Finally, one had to edit another’s piece to make it different from the original while still retaining its essence. The environment was supportive enough for all of us to read out what we had written. At the end of the workshop we had written about a 100 pieces in all.
Finally, LESSON No.3 – Writing in collaboration with other writers can give a much higher and more interesting output.
So, what are the writing lessons you’ve re-learned lately?