Inspiring Adults to Write
For the past 5 years, I’ve worked in the background helping our guild writer wannabes advance on our journey. I have produced 27 anthologies of our collective work, books for 5 of us. It all happened online; never in a meeting. Some contributors live in other states; 2 in other countries. Although we tried a lot of things, I can identify some factors that led to these results.
Clarity. A writing journey involves knowing why you want to write in the first place (guilt? duty? joy?) describing the writer you wannabe (from novice to World Class), and figuring out where you are on that journey. One of our challenges was to write essays on these things, and our writings became content in book chapters.
Making it happen. It happened for most of us. And that meant
Ø Prepare – Invest. Get a good computer, pads, pens, reference books. Have a place for your reference materials and work areas. Commit to support and encourage each member. Ask for support at home.
Ø Read – It’s as important as the writing; give it equal time. Do it daily. Reading drafts shared by our own members were inspiring and motivating.
Ø Start – In aircraft and sea craft, launching is the hardest part. Gift yourself 10 minutes a day (5 for reading; 5 for writing) to advance. I send out prompts and challenges: images, words, themes, questions, etc. Responses in poetry and/or prose are invited. Find a routine that works for YOU then build on it. Protect it like lunch with your best friend.
Ø Imitate – Gain confidence in finding your own voice by imitating fellow writers and favorite writers. Musicians, athletes, artists, etc. cut learning time by imitating the style, training, and discipline of their role models.
Ø Expand what you read. Include many genres, by many authors – contemporary and classic. Read on the craft of writing. Share recommendations online with others.
Ø Expand what you consider writing time. Include editing, polishing, outlining, revising, making character sketches, plotting, brainstorming, transcribing notes; journaling. Use letters and note cards to include your own verses and text.
Ø Leverage – This piece will be used for a blog, a handout in a presentation, an essay in a book, and portions as a dialogue reference for a murder mystery.
Ø Deadlines – Set them. Use them. They work.
Reward – Writing contributions appearing in print build confidence for all involved.
Self-publishing services and the internet make this possible and inexpensive. It works for us.
Jay Wright lives in Anderson, SC and is the immediate past president of Foothills Writers Guild in Anderson. In addition to the anthologies he has published for his guild members, he has published four books of his own work, teaches poetry classes to adult learners, and is a freelance writer for Anderson Magazine and Fair Town Times. Jay’s work also appeared in Wild, Wonderful ‘n Wacky, South Cackalacky: True Stories about Life in South Carolina.