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5 creative writing lessons I’m taking with me this year

Just one class left of the writing course I started this academic year. I submitted my final piece for workshopping a couple weeks ago; by the time it was my last go at being workshopped, I was able to articulate and act on some of the more important lessons I’ve learned about myself, my process and my writing this year.

Mainly, I was taken down a few pegs. Maybe all of them. Or maybe I hadn’t been on any pegs at all before and finally realized that. Maybe there are no pegs. Maybe there is no me.

No, I wasn’t drowning in the pit of despair, but there was a fair amount of despair in the second semester. OhMyGodNoOneGetsMe or MaybeI’mNotToBeGotten or WowI’mACrapWriter or Let’sGoBackInTheCaveOfSilenceForAnotherTenYears.

Ending the class, I feel energized. I feel confident in my peg level. I’m owning the self-doubt and despair and pegs. I have what to do. Maybe I’m a bit unsure on what to do or in which order, but I know there’s work to do.

Here are my top five takeaways:

  1. Be a little self-centered: Maybe it’s my introvertness, maybe it’s my paranoia, maybe it’s projection, but it’s always felt like asking people to read my work is super selfish. Ugh, another writer with an ego. But. But… there are  people in my world who seem interested. For the first time ever, I put it out there on Facebook – a status asking for volunteers to read two short pieces to help me decide which to submit for class. It worked – the responses gave me the gut reaction I needed. Prompts: they’re not just for starting  stories.
  2. You. Are. Not. Perfect. If I’m stuck in the ‘can’t let anyone see this, it’s not perfect’ rut, I’m now choosing to shut it down. Hit send. Eat a sandwich.
  3. Hit rockbottom: It’s a glorious place, a black hole, a dark, dank den of despair. It’s terrifying and enlightening. It’s cold and empty, and it surrounds you in its embrace. You never really know if you’ve truly hit it…  But it’s comforting knowing it’s out there.
  4. Read. Read. Also – read. It’s an oldie but a goldie, and one I actually enjoy.
  5. Critiquing is an amazing education: I’ve always enjoyed workshopping. Participating in classroom discussion is what kept me sane at the boringest of times, and it opened up the world at the best of times. It’s no burden for me to critique others’ works; it’s helpful to focus on someone else in critique mode. I ended up learning so much more from my peers in this class than in my old college ones; must come with age, maturity, experience.

What’s next? I’ve finally built the momentum to take myself more seriously. There’s a piece I’d like to submit for publishing. I’m open to workshopping with friends. More classes. More writing, more often.

Big juicy thank you to my fellow writer-class mates and our teacher – your energy was my energy, your writing was my education, and I’m going to ride our collective enthusiasm to the next level!