I did it! I successfully hosted my very first Writing Workshop!
I don't mind admitting to you that I was nervous before I started. Being a naturally introverted writery-type-person I don't find it easy to stand in front of people and be the centre of attention (although any of my friends who have seen me take to the dance floor after a few drinks might disagree...) so I had to really force myself out of my comfort zone to do this.
But, do you know what? It really wasn't so bad! I used some of the techniques I'd learnt during a 'Networking with Confidence' class I'd attended, reminded myself how passionate I am about the subject I was about to be talking about, took a deep breath and got going.
It helped that everybody there was so willing to participate; no matter what I asked them to do (including giving them a visual prompt of an angry llama in a car...) they threw themselves into it with enthusiasm. It felt good to be passing on something I really believe in and I'm confident that it went some way into helping everybody get started on their writing journey.
It's also a huge positive that the venue I'm using, All Things Nice café, in Ewell Village, is such a welcoming place, with friendly and helpful staff - it's a great place to get creative. And enjoy their fab drinks and food too, of course. I was so focused on remembering everything I was supposed to be doing and saying that I completely forgot to get any photos from this session - but next time I will be documenting the mouth-watering hot chocolates and cakes that appeared from the kitchen as another enticement!
I led the workshop participants through a number of ten minute writing exercises and prompts, using the technique of free writing: letting go of conscious thought and letting your subconscious take over. I was really impressed by how hard everybody worked - and by the end, everybody was frantically scribbling in their notebook or tapping away at their keyboard without stopping until the timer did. Not bad, considering a lot of them had told me that they 'never knew where to start' or 'could never think of any ideas of what to write'!
Everybody left with a lots of filled pages and - hopefully - some memorable tips and techniques to help them beat the dreaded 'blank page freeze' the next time they sit down to write.
Just before we finished, I asked the participants to fill out a quick, anonymous, feedback sheet. I told them to be as honest as possible with either positive or negative comments as the only way I'll learn to provide really worthwhile writing workshops is by hearing their suggestions for what worked and what didn't. Thankfully, it was overwhelmingly positive (I've reproduced a selection in green below); everyone seems to really enjoyed having a dedicated space carved out for them to sit and write - something that isn't always possible in your own house!
'Good to make a special time for this - I probably
wouldn't get round to it at home.'
'It was great to just sit and write and not
feel I should be doing something else.'
There were also some excellent suggestions for other activities we could try - I'll be looking at incorporating them into my next workshop.
I'm a firm believer that everybody can learn to write if they are given the space and time and the tools they need to unlock their imaginations. There are millions of words, phrases, ideas and abstract thoughts bouncing around in your brain - you just need to learn how to set them free.
'I was encouraged to use my imagination. I was surprised
at how I could let words flow...'
Free writing is brilliant for kickstarting creativity, for removing brain blocks and for exploring ideas that you didn't know you had. It's also great for sorting out jumbled or anxious thoughts and settling down a whirling mind in order to get on with work or other tasks.
If you'd like to learn how to use free writing please join one of my workshops in either Ewell or Dorking - details here -and I'm going to be organising a Brilliant Business Blogging workshop soon too, so if you're interested in knowing more about that, get in contact!