If you know me at all, you know how fanatically evangelical I get about things that I think are good.
- Counselling! It sorts your head out!
- Oven-baked risottos! Everything you’ve ever been told about stirring arborio rice is bullshit and lies!
- Mr. Kipling’s French Fancies! There is no more perfect sugar-delivery mechanism!
Let’s add something new to the list:
- Kerry Ryan’s Write Like a Grrrl “Ignite” course. The best 12 hour, 80 quid investment any vaguely literary lady could make.
I’ve spent the last six Saturday mornings sitting in an outrageously fancy office with fourteen other women, getting the most pragmatic, practical, perfect crash course in creative writing we could ever have wished for.
When I wrote about exercise a couple of months ago, I mentioned that every time I think about getting fit the first thing I do is go out and buy a new piece of lycra clothing. I now have more pairs of running leggings than any one person could ever need, let alone a person who hasn’t been for a run at any point in living memory.
Until six weeks ago, I had taken a very similar approach to writing. Things that I had done because I thought maybe, probably, possibly I wanted to do some creative writing include:
- Buying a bluetooth keyboard and a fancy case for my iPad
- Deciding that wasn’t good enough, and buying a whole new massive laptop
- Downloading Scrivener
- Following every author I’d ever loved on Twitter and listening in on their authorly conversations
- Ditto: young women in cool glasses that work in the publishing industry
- Reading books about writing
- Reading books not about writing
- Subscribing to Mslexia
- Reading endless NaNoWriMo pep talks
- Writing this blog (sporadically) for the last eighteen months
The one thing that I hadn’t done for, ooh, thirteen years is any actual creative writing. Don’t know how. Don’t have time. Don’t have any ideas. Can’t. Won’t.
Until one evening when Mark and I were on holiday in Sardinia, my usually unhelpful urge to be a Twitter completist put exactly what I needed in front of me at exactly the right time. A tweet – I don’t even know who from – that said, essentially, “Think you might want to write but don’t know what or how?”
Yes, tweet! I said. Tell me more!
“Book this course!” said the tweet. And I had just the right number of Aperol Spritzes inside me to overcome my normal overthinking and procrastination; on a whim, I booked it.
I’m not going to give away all Kerry’s advice, because I’d like her to carry on being able to deliver the course without me having spaffed all her tips onto the internet, but let me tell you about the first week, which is officially called something like, “Getting Started”, but I have personally retitled “Just Fucking Get Over Yourself, Woman”.
Oh, you don’t have time to write? You do though.
Oh, you can’t write perfectly first time? Nor can anyone.
Oh, you don’t have an astoundingly original idea? People have been sharing stories since the dawn of freaking time; if everyone waited for something totally original to hit them, we’d have run out of books to read several centuries ago.
You’ll be ok.
You’re not a genius; you don’t need to be.
Everyone’s first drafts are crap.
Everyone has self-doubt.
And daydream, and read, and plan, and scribble, and listen, and edit, and share, and cull.
But most of all: just write.
It might be a bit quieter around here now. I’m writing, I promise, but I’m trying to wean myself off the immediate endorphin rush of sending a blog post into the world, for the lonelier but hopefully ultimately more satisfying task of writing something of substance.
It’s going to take a while.
That said, I’ve got some important thoughts about Christmas food that I need to get out of my system, so I’m sure there’s still an occasional post or two on the horizon.
If you’re a woman and you’ve got the slightest inkling you might want to write, I cannot rave enough about Write Like a Grrrl. It is transformational. And if, at the end, you get brave enough to send in some writing for feedback, it might come back with a smiley face in the margin that makes you feel simultaneously ten years old and INVINCIBLE.
You will not for a second regret booking a place.