soniaraowrites

about writing and other such passionate matters

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.

At the workshop

At the workshop

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.

Rachael, Saskia and my fellow workshoppers

Rachael, Saskia and my fellow workshoppers

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.

Merchandise at the Thespo Tamasha

Merchandise at the Thespo Tamasha

 

Thespo at Prithvi

Thespo at Prithvi

So, what are the writing lessons you’ve re-learned lately?

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13 thoughts on “THE 3 THINGS I RE- LEARNED AT A COLLABORATIVE WRITING WORKSHOP

  1. That is an interesting workshop. I wish I could attend such workshops too. One thing I learned recently is to learn what works/why it works in other art forms (music, dance, theater, etc.) and try to incorporate it in ours. For example, they suggest we learn to write poetry so that our fiction narration rhymes!

    • That is so true, DI. We can certainly apply the learnings across the arts. In fact, in every aspect of life, too. Isn’t living an art? Sheesh, I’ve gotten philosophical 😀

      It’s also true that reading poetry can enhance our writing experience. This is the reason I’ve commenced the Reading Initiative in the group 🙂

  2. Interesting Sonia.

  3. Writing the morning pages is a wonderful exercise. Have written to prompts but never in a group (and never in Prithvi) and never to single words or a group of words. Guess there’s a lot more left to do in life.

  4. It’s one thing to attend such a course, but is an entirely another to write and narrate the process interestingly, so that the reader ends up feeling that he has missed something good. Good, Sonia. Destination Infinity and Nilesh have already felt that way. So there, you have it!

    • Your comment made me smile because apparently I achieved my aim, which was to get the reader to try out the exercises. You did try them out, no? No?!?! 😀

      Your words mean a lot, thanks so much for making the time to read and comment.

  5. Though I would love to envy you, but can’t. For you shared your thoughts with us 😀 So forgive for attending the workshop without me. The string of words sound a wonderful idea. Do tell us what did you spin out. Keep this coming Sonia, we all need it – even if we are not physically present, you are quenching our thirst to learn more.

    • *hugs* Ina, for your lovely comments. More of the same coming on, shortly (yes, I need to get out of my lazy funk :p ). I did not include in the post what I’d written during the workshop. Hope to rectify that, too 😉

  6. Hey, great to hear your workshop tale! I’ve definitely been re-learning the lesson of persistence, both in what I write and in terms of submissions. I’ve also applied to some workshops, and I’m still waiting on hearing if I get to participate in Kij Johnson’s novel workshop this summer, which has been a big dream of mine for years.

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