My Students Ask Good Questions

Sunday, 11 March 2012 08:45


In the last minutes of the final session of my Level Two Creative Writing Workshop, one of the participants asked, "But now that the course is over, Elaine, how do I keep going at my writing? I've written nearly 50 pages, but I don't know what to do next."

Someone else piped up, "The weekly deadlines were great for the workshop, but my day-job also involves writing and I really find it hard to drum up the energy for my own stories at the end of the day."

A third person jumped in, "Do you write every day, Elaine?"

I think these questions came up just as we were about to part because being part of a writing community had been important for the participants. But they dog every writer all the time.

To the first speaker, I suggested that she buy Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way and that she follow a program that has been helpful to so many blocked writers—including me—at different times in their lives.

For the second person, I paraphrased a quote by Isaac Bashevis Singer in which the Nobel winner said that he woke with the urge to write every day, but that he was constantly interrupted by phone calls and requests for his time. He said he thrived on the interruptions—that he liked being in the real world as well as the one of his imagination. Out of this tension came the work on the page.

Do I write every day? Not every day but most days: a diary entry, a book review, a pitch to an editor, a musing for my website. And if too many days have gone by without my having addressed the thorny problem in my work-in-progress that's been causing me to shirk, a guilty conscience brings me back. The hiatus has usually been helpful. My perspective has changed. I can see a way out of the woods.