Do You Want to Write, or Write Better? Consider Taking a Memoir Class

The value of writing prompts.  

In our first class the instructor said pull out your pen and paper and write about an experience that was something new to you.  You have ten minutes, go.  After we completed the assignment we read them out loud to the class.

This was my first writing class so I was not used to writing on the fly and then reading it in front of strangers.  The instructor explained that writing prompts were a great way to give us practice writing.  She said when she is assigned a writing prompt she writes in her journal.  This gives her material she can use for later, and gives her practice writing.

She emphasized that many times we start writing about one thing but end up writing about something we didn’t expect.  The prompt serves to stimulate creativity, and lead us to new places in our writing.

The value of people.

I completed my bachelor degree online.  I was able to listen to the lectures and participate in class so I never felt like I missed anything.  I had four small children to take care of and a part time job.  I didn’t have time to attend classes onsite.  Yet, at this time of my life I have more time and value the interaction with people in the class.

There is something special that happens when you are able to read your writing out loud.  When you get to see the faces of the people who read your last essay.  Last night several class members came up to me after reading a very personal essay I wrote and asked how I was.  I saw the care in their eyes.  I knew at that moment the value of being in class with these people and going on a journey with them to learn this craft.

The value of Workshop.

Our instructor led us through the process of Workshop.  She divided us into groups.  Each group would submit a paper copy of their essay the week before their Workshop session.  Class members would read the essay and write down comments about the essay.

We were asked to make comments if we were confused, wanted more information, or had suggestions about the piece.  During class the instructor led us through a discussion of each essay. We learned how to discuss a work in front of the author in a way that was instructive and helpful to them.

Workshop is a wonderful way to share your work and get immediate feed back from other writers.  Your work comes alive as your hear others talk about it, and explain what the piece means to them.  Fellow writers want to help us, and their feedback is invaluable.

The value of pursuing your craft first.

At memoir class we concentrate on writing.  We don’t talk about getting a book published, marketing a blog, or how to self publish.  We just write.  What a simple idea.  What if we just write first?  What if we develop our skills, practice and just write before we create a website, start a blog and try to self publish an e-book?

Concentrating on our craft first will give us the opportunity to develop as an artist and as a person.  We need to give our craft time to develop as a natural progression of who we are and what we want to do.  When it does then we will achieve greater success because our craft will be grounded, and given time to develop.

Experiences like this class have so much more to teach us then just about the subject matter.  There are opportunities to connect with and learn from people, to be inspired, and to learn new techniques for our art.

Marcy Pedersen

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