INTERVIEWS

Interviewing is a great technique to have in your research toolbox. First you need to prepare, and to decide what you want to achieve. The information you need; the best person to interview; an expert quote; or perhaps an eyewitness account.

Once you’ve understood your aim, you can formulate relevant questions. For a live interview, you may need several sessions; but getting a quick expert statement can be done via telephone or through e-mails.

Plan your questions, jot down anything that comes to mind. There are open and closed questions. Open ones begin with “what”, “how” or “why” allowing for lengthy answers. Closed questions, the answers answered with ‘yes’ or ‘no’, give less scope for explanation. How are you going to record the interview? If you’re planning on a recorder, video camera etc., make sure to know how it works and that it’s fully charged.

Arrange the meeting so that the place and time are convenient for your interviewee. If it’s an unknown person, always meet in a public place to ensure your safety.

Explain why you want the interview and how you’re planning to use the information. Ask for their consent. If someone wants to be anonymous, respect their wishes. If you want to record, ask for permission, and invite the interviewee to ask any questions they may have. Spend some time building a rapport, to help him / her relax.

Your main task is to listen and allow the interviewee to do the talking. If you don’t understand something, ask to clarify. Keep the interview conversational. At the end, express your thanks and encourage them to contact you later if they remember something else relevant.

Send a thank-you note to the interviewee. Analyse your notes – did you get everything you need? Identify any facts that need verification. Becoming a good interviewer requires practice and can be improved, like any skill. The more you practise, the better you’ll become.

I am always here to help you (free) with any writing problems. Contact me direct at dwaysman@gmail.com My latest novel “Searching for Sarah” is available direct from me; and my own favorite novel “Esther – a Jerusalem Love Story” has now also been republished. I am always glad to hear your comments. Happy writing!

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CHOOSING A SUBJECT

When you choose a subject for your novel or story, it is always autobiographical in part, Sooner or later, almost every writer must get out of his system a story of the end of his own innocence – the day his childhood ended, and he stepped, jumped or was pushed into manhood. It also applies to women writers. Katherine Mansfield, in “The Garden Party”, used this theme so subtly – a young girl’s first step into womanhood, her first venture into a world beyond her blissful childhood, and her first experience with death.

If you plan to use your own experience, you must study yourself, understand your feelings about yourself and establish your own identity. Who are you? How do you look to yourself, to the people who love you, or those who hate you?

While investigating yourself, you may learn that although the end of innocence does not challenge you as story material, some other period in your life is a drama. In everyone’s life, there is surely a turning time, a moment, day or week, that has made a difference. This is story material,

The protagonist of Salinger’s “For Esme – with Love and Squalor” is a sergeant in World War II, but the important time for him during all those war years was the time of his friendship with two children – because of the effect on the rest of his life.

When you have selected, modified and arranged the elements of your story, it may not be recognizable, but the drama will have been born out of one of those significant times.

Do some writing exercises. The scene is the visitor’s room in a mental hospital, where two sisters are talking. At the end of the visit, the sister whose conversations seemed unintelligent and without meaning, is seen to be the visitor, not the patient.

Here’s another one. A prostitute passes a garden where a small blind boy is playing. She knows he is her son. Could you develop this story without sentimentality?

Almost everyone you know has a story. Think of five people you know – do they suggest stories to you?

Happy writing. I am here to help you (free) with any writing problems. Write to me at dwaysman@gmail.com. My favorite novel of all I have published has just been republished – “Esther” – and is available on Amazon, Kindle or direct from me. I’m always glad to hear from you.

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MAKE YOUR SETTING COME ALIVE

You need to use all your senses to make the setting for your novel live. Color is one of the first ingredients we think of when we are describing a setting. But don’t always go for the conventional. Your first thought is that the sky is blue and the grass in the garden is inevitably green. Try something different, like the sky was duck blue with flecks of dark grey, indicating that bad weather, and maybe a dark twist in the plot- is imminent. What if the grass in the garden has a strange brown ring mark at one end which hadn’t been there the day before? You can see that a small setting detail can give you ideas for plot development – you’re wondering if something sinister caused that brown ring.

When you introduce colors, don’t stick with blue, red, green etc. Think of the different shades like azure blue; ruby red, daffodil yellow etc. Then add some noise. Close your eyes and listen to what you can hear – maybe the hum of your computer; maybe your husband downstairs as he assembles a piece of furniture; the radio that you forgot to switch off in the bathroom; some birds in the garden serenading you ….

One of the best ways to get into your setting is to describe a place you know well. You could describe the house you grew up in, but put it in a different part of the country. You could describe the smells, colors and general atmosphere in a shop that you know, but maybe in a different part of the world. If you’re still having trouble, collect pictures from newspapers and magazines – houses, gardens, rooms. Put them in a folder. Or assemble the postcards you brought home from a holiday somewhere exotic. Here are a few tips to help you:

  1. Take a scene from your novel in progress , and then write a postcard to a friend, as though you are describing what the place is like.
  2. Think of a room you know well, and what it means to you. Write a scene that takes place in that room. Include dialogue and action but also convey a strong sense of the room through smell, noise and color.
  3. Think of a shop, school, library or any public space you’ve been in lately. What was it like? What happened there? What did it smell like? What kind of noises did you hear? What colors stand out in your mind? Who did you meet there? Could you integrate any of that into your book
  4. Write about a place you know that has scared you or made you feel uneasy. Why? Was it because it was dark? Was it because of noise or lack of noise? Could this be the setting for a scene designed to make the reader feel nervous too?

Your setting should be memorable, so bring all your senses into play. If I can help you (free of charge) with any writing problems, write to me at dwaysman@gmail.com Many of my books are now available at discount, and my favorite novel of all the 14 I have written, is being re-published in Israel next month – it is titled “Esther” – A Jerusalem Love Story. Happy writing.

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STORY STARTERS

You’re looking for inspiration to9 start a new story, but have come up dry. Here are a few suggestions that might get you started:

1: Eavesdrop on a train, at a restaurant at a bus station. You just may overhear a few sentences that fire your imagination.

2: Read the Obituaries: Think about the part of a person’s life that isn’t reported in the death notices. Use your imagination to fill in the gaps.

3. Put yourself in another person’s place. Maybe pick a Biblical story and choose a character. to base yourself on him/her and the way they react to the situation. Set it in modern times.

4: Tell the story behind a photograph. Find a picture that intrigues you or stirs a memory. You might be surprised how it becomes the inspiration for a story.

5: Listen to stories friends, relatives or strangers tell you. Often they provide inspiration for a plot-line.

6: Start with a setting: Describe it in such detail that it becomes unique, and then let characters loose in that setting.

7: Use a map to put your mind in motion. Pretend you are going on a road trip- pick out towns with odd names, wonder what it would be like to live in them, and then start writing.

The above are sure-fire ways to tune up your imagination and you get you started on your next story or poem.

Happy writing. I am always glad to hear your comments, and am here to help you (free) if you need some advice. My latest novel (“Searching for Sarah” ) is available now at discount direct from me at dwaysman@gmail.com

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SHAPING A POEM

                              

                         

The definition of poetry that I’ve always liked the most is “emotion recollected in tranquillity.”  If no profound feelings are involved, then the words could more easily have been expressed in prose.  But sometimes prose just won’t do … the depth of emotion felt by the writer demands the poetic form.

The stimulus that inspires a poem is different for everyone, but you need to be observant and experience all your five senses, absorbing the sights,  sounds, taste , smell and tactile impressions you encounter.  Something is tingling inside you, maybe an excitement that you need to capture.  According to a record left by Wordsworth’s sister, he was thrilled to see the daffodils seeming to dance at Ullswater, but it took two years for him to write the poem we all learnt at school:  “I wandered lonely as a cloud…’His poems originated in stored memories.

Poems can come when we are joyful, dejected, angry, lonely, spiritual or loving. Your feelings color what you see and remember, and even though most subjects like nature, love, death, fame, war and the transience of human  experience have all been covered through the ages, your view can still be fresh and unique.  The subjects may be limited, but there are always possibilities to approach them in a new, imaginative way.

A poem is an intricate composition. There is the narrative poem, tied to events. A.E. Housman’s “Eight O’Clock” is an example. It moves you because it implies the public execution of an un-named man for an unspecified crime. A descriptive poem is different.  It depends on conveying a scene, a sound, a personality or feeling, although you can combine narration and description.  Many modern poets write persuasive  poems deliberately to change attitudes, sometimes using satire.  Although this type of poetry does not appeal to me, it often employs stark realism to shock the reader into changing his or her view on a subject.  Randall Jarrell, Allen Ginsberg and James Wright employed this kind of poetic persuasion.

How do you start to write a poem? Usually you put your feelings into words, jot down images, metaphors, alternate phrases. The days are long past when verse had to rhyme and you had to contrive artificially to express your thoughts. Sometimes beginning with a structured form, however, is the best way if you need that deliberate discipline.  Blank verse is an alternative, comprised of unrhymed lines, each line a pentameter of five metric feet. Each foot is an iamb (a 2-syllable unit) with the second syllable stressed.  Iambic pentameter couplets are also called heroic couplets.

Once when Somerset Maugham was asked how to write  a novel, he said: “There are seven rules to writing a novel.  Only no-one knows what they are.” I feel the same about poetry.  Most of the poems I have loved have been in free verse, not committed to a predictable pattern of rhythm, rhyme or stanza. Walt Whitman, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams wrote in free verse.  This sounds as though it’s easy to write, but it’s only easy to write it badly. It may lack metrical precision but it should have cadence, with its own pace and rhythm.  You can even find free verse in the magnificent translated Psalms in the Bible, and you should read T. S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, a long poem of irregular stanzas and lines; some surprising rhymes as in “fingers/malingers; ices/crisis”.  You are always conscious of the poet’s change in mood, rhythm and vocabulary.

 When you write prose, your first thought is clarity.  With poetry it’s not always the most important choice. A certain ambiguity can sometimes enrich a poem. Also, you no longer have to start every line with a capital letter .e.e.cummings dispensed with them altogether.  Punctuation, too, is optional. If you wish you can let line endings and breaks between stanzas indicate a pause.

Naming your poem is like naming your baby. Bestowing a name is an act of magic, to give reality to a hope or wish to be fulfilled. You can dispense with a name in a very short poem like a “haiku”, but a name confers value,  Usually the title emphasizes an element of the poem.

Although I always loved poetry and memorized hundreds of lines, writing poetry came to me late in life.  Maybe, as we mature, we feel things more deeply.  All the emotions that bring tears to your eyes or joy to your heart are stimuli for poems.  When I turned 70, (21 years ago) the three score years and ten allotted by the Bible, it was a time of deep introspection, particularly thinking of dreams unfulfilled and how short a time was left.  It was truly therapeutic to verbalize this sadness.  I just let the feelings flow, and surprised myself with a poem:

                                              PAST REGRETS

          When autumn lays out her lush carpet

          Of scarlet and gold and brown

          I’ll think back to spring and summer

          And of all I let slip by.

          I had my chance,

          But so many times I hesitated,

          Afraid of consequences

          That may never have happened.

          We do not regret the things we did

          In this life, that passes so rapidly.

          No, it was when we failed to grasp the moment

          The one that never came again.

          To you who are still young,

          Take life with both your hands;

          Laugh and love, travel roads untrodden

          Or, like me, face a winter of regrets.

Let me know if I can help you (free of charge) with any of your writing problems. I am always happy to hear from you.

My latest novel “Searching for Sarah” is available direct from me: dwaysman@gmail.com at a reduced price. Happy writing.

                                   __________________

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                          THE JOY  OF WORDS

                          

                       

There is a beautiful Chinese quotation: “Keep a green tree in your heart, and maybe the singing bird will come.”  For me, the green tree stays alive because of the joy I get from writing – a gift that took root when I was a little girl of seven and had my first poem published in a children’s magazine.  Now, more than eight decades later, I have nurtured it through 5,000  published articles, poems, stories and fourteen books.

If you have an ambition to  be a writer, you should realise that talent alone is not enough. Determination is necessary, but what you really need is compulsion.  Writing must be such an integral part of your life that if you are breathing, you are writing. You want to share your eyes with your readers, and all your other senses too, enabling them to hear, smell, taste and touch the world you have created for them.  If your words speak to them and you can make them feel joy and pain, smile and weep, feel empathy and compassion, then you are indeed a writer.

As a teacher of Creative Writing, I also taught my students to be salespeople because you need to learn how to get your words out to the reading public.  They must learn, as you did, sometimes to face rejection and not give in to despair.  My way was always to give myself periodic encouragement rewards.  When I wrote a book, the time to complete it and find a publisher could be awesome, so during the writing I submitted short stories or magazine articles.  These are easier to sell, and the temporary triumphs are confidence-boosters for the stamina you need to keep working on much longer projects.  Usually with articles, I suggest that students do not invest time in writing and researching the whole piece until they have  sent out a few query letters.  Only when an editor indicates that he/she likes the idea, should you complete the work.  However you must make your query letters as creative as you  can, and give the projected article a title as irresistible as you  can make it. I told my students that the only way  that they will never be rejected is never to submit anything, and that every achievement in life begins with two small words: “I’ll try.”

Joy in writing also springs from joy in reading. They are inseparable.  Time and again I travel back to the leisurely, masterful narratives of Somerset Maugham and Evelyn Waugh; revel in the humanity  and poetic descriptions of John Steinbeck; chuckle at the rapier wit of Noel Coward and Dorothy Parker; and dream with yesterday’s poets who didn’t write of politics and technology but were lyrical – Byron, Shelley and Keats; W. B. Yeats,  Rupert Brooke and A.E. Housman.  All these authors probably date me (my grandchildren and great-grandchildren have certainly never read them) but their works are timeless and remain an inspiration.

Sometimes our own words disappoint us. Edith Wharton wrote: “I dream of an eagle, I give birth to a humming-bird.”  So we try and try again, sometimes managing to capture just a little bit of heaven in our quest to be crowned with stars.

And when we do, there is nothing to compare with the joy of accomplishment. Our spirits soar along with our words, and the singing bird builds its nest in the green tree we have kept alive in our heart.

Happy writing. I am here to help you (free) if you need help with any writing problem. Contact me at

dwaysman@gmail.com – I always enjoy your comments.

                          _______________________________

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SOME WORDS TO INSPIRE YOU

We all have “down” periods now and then, when we’ve had a rejection, when we just don’t feel motivated, when we question whether we really can call ourselves “writers.” If you’re going through such a period now, here are a few hints to get you going again:

Make yourself a writing area, no matter how small – a quiet space just for you, your pen, notebook or computer.

Decide when is the best time, day or night, it suits you to write, and organise your life accordingly.

Robert Frost wrote: “No tears in the writer, No tears in the reader. No surprise for the writer. No surprise for the reader,”

Learn to enjoy your own company, because good writing requires concentration.

Inspiration is everywhere. Seek it out!

Chekhov wrote: “{Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

Just write every day of your life. Read intensely and see what happens,The secret of getting ahead is getting started.

Trust your reader. Not everything needs to be explained .Breathe life into your words, and they’ll know it too.

Try to avoid cliches. Make your writing surprising and spontaneous.

Be your own critic. Sympathetic, but merciless.

We are all apprentices in a craft where no-one ever becomes a master.

And finally, forget all the rules. Forget about being published. Write for yourself and celebrate writing!

If you are having a writing problem, I am here to help you (free of charge.) Contact me direct at dwaysman@gmail.com, or to buy one of my 14 books. Happy writing.

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WRITING SHORT STORIES

 Why does anyone become a writer? You could reply facetiously as did a well-known conservation writer, who replied: “If I didn’t write, I might have to work for a living. Shaving every day and all that!”

The truth is no-one chooses a career of writing – it chooses you. Like music or painting, writing is a compulsion for some people, whether they are composing deathless prose or writing a recipe book – they just have to write.

In practical terms, anyone can be a writer. It’s about the only profession you can take up where you don’t need any capital – a pen and paper and you’re in business. But there are certain qualities that are indispensable, even to the beginner.  You obviously need talent and enough ego to believe that others will want to read your work. You need determination and optimism, because the road to success is lined with many rejection slips. And you need enormous self-discipline … there is no office to rush to between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. You must face that blank sheet of paper every day (or the computer screen) and sit there and do battle, when outside the birds are singing; the telephone shrills; there’s a great program on TV; friends drop by and there are a million delicious distractions to seduce you away from your work if you’ll let them.

But if you don’t … if you actually start to fill those pages and you know you have something worth saying … ah then, you wouldn’t change what you are doing if you could control empires. Writing is the supreme act of creation, and while you are engaged in it, there’s a bubbling happiness that nothing can equal.

Let’s study the short story.  To be effective, it must convey something from writer to reader. The power of its offering is the measure of its excellence. Apart from that, there are no rules except that to qualify as a short story, it should be able to be read at a single sitting. Like a novel, it should depict character moved by plot.  But it will not elaborate on secondary characters or need sub-plots. A short story must maintain a single point of view to keep the story in focus.

  Your story begins for the writer and reader alike when the confusing outer show of things can be swept aside, when something happens which gives access to the secret pulse of life.  What then is a story? You can say it is a quest for life, both for the writer and the reader.

The greatest source of material is provided by life itself.  But life, with its constant needs, its weight, its multiplicity, has a certain rawness, which is its power. The writer’s role is to refine and sift. While a story is an impression of life, it is never a copy of life. In both life and in a story there are moments that stand out – revelations, conflict, drama, decisions – almost as if time had waited for such a moment, new and unrepeatable, to happen.

When you write a story, you first ask yourself  not only what DID happen, but what MIGHT  have happened – and then write it as if it did happen.

In this lesson, we are going to deal with the SUBJECT  and THEME of the short story.  THE SUBJECT is almost always a character, a place or a situation. You could call it the area of focus.

The THEME is the general comment on this area of human experience conveyed through such specific elements as plot, characterization, tone, point of view, imagery and symbol.

For example, the SUBJECT of your story might be Paris.  Your THEME could be: Paris is a romantic, magical city where it is easy to fall in love.

The SUBJECT of your story might be a woman. Let’s call her Lisa Robbins.

Your THEME might be: Lisa has wasted her life in dreams of the past.

Your SUBJECT might be love.  The THEME could be: the possessive kind of love John has for Ruth leads only to self-destruction. 

When you decide on the subject and theme of the story you want to write, respect your own background enough to write about it. It may sound exciting to write a sophisticated story about the morals (or lack of them) of a   group of jetsetters on a skiing holiday in the Swiss Alps – but if you have never mixed with such people and indeed, never visited Switzerland, your story can only be shallow and unconvincing. You could write a really deep, compassionate story about neighbors who live in your own street. It would be far more meaningful from your creative point of view, and certainly more perceptive and enlightening for your reader.

How to get started:

1) Write a description of someone you once met or knew  who made a deep impression on you, even though your lives may have crossed only once. It can be someone you met at a party; or saw fleetingly on a  bus; someone who was wise or charismatic, or even a drop-out from society, but in some way made a vivid impression.

2) Think of someone or something very meaningful to you. Write down what situation, place or kind of person you would like to use as the subject of a story. What would be your THEME – that is, what kind of comment would you make on this subject?

Happy writing. I am always here to give you help (free) on any writing problems you may have. Contact me at dwaysman@gmail.com You can also purchase from me direct copies of some of my 14 novels:

“The Pomegranate Pendant”|; “In A Good Pasture”; “Searching for Sarah”.

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BREAKING THE RULES

Is it possible, in this day and age, to write a romantic novel without sex?  Everyone told me it couldn’t be done, and when I sent a synopsis of the novel I wanted to write  to several publishers, it was rejected for this reason.

“Esther”, sub-titled A Jerusalem Love Story, is initially set in the 1950’s when life was very different.  The permissive age had not yet arrived, not much was known about contraception, and the widely-held belief was “Bad girls do, and good girls don’t.”  This novel was based on my life in London during the years 1951 – 1954 , before moving back to Australia and then on to Jerusalem So although I was told no-one today would read a romantic novel without some graphic sex, I was determined it could be done.

In 1999 my novel was accepted, and published a year later in 2000, by H.C.I. in Florida, home of the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” best-selling series, for their Simcha Press fiction imprint.  I was thrilled although they appointed an editor  who, of course, wanted me to heat up some of the love scenes.  We fought quite bitterly at first, but in the end I won. I wanted it to be a tender story of love over three decades that remained unconsummated… that was the whole point.  In the voice of the man, it expresses a yearning for a woman he could never possess due to various circumstances, although they each married other partners.  There is a bit of “off camera” sex but not between the hero and heroine, Max and Esther.  I didn’t want it to be the same as all the other romances and I knew that such a love, impossible as today’s youth might find it, is indeed a possibility.

  In 2001 I did a successful book promotion tour to many cities in the U.S. with book-signings at Borders and Barnes & Noble stores.  “Esther” had some wonderful reviews.  Publishers’ Weekly wrote: “Readers with a taste for tragic romance should clear their calendars for an evening, grab a box of tissues and enjoy this haunting story of a love that could not be.”  Another critic whom I shall love forever described it as: “A veritable ‘Bridges of Madison County’ with a Hebrew accent.

I broke the rules but achieved the novel that is my favorite of the  14 books I have so far published.

Happy writing. I am here to help you free with any writing problems. Contact me at dwaysman@gmail.com

                      

e-mail: ways@netvision net.il

Writers’ Exchange

                 BREAKING THE RULES

Is it possible, in this day and age, to write a romantic novel without sex?  Everyone told me it couldn’t be done, and when I sent a synopsis of the novel I wanted to write  to several publishers, it was rejected for this reason.

“Esther”, sub-titled A Jerusalem Love Story, is initially set in the 1950’s when life was very different.  The permissive age had not yet arrived, not much was known about contraception, and the widely-held belief was “Bad girls do, and good girls don’t.”  My novel is based on my life in London during the years 1951 – 1954 , before moving on to Jerusalem and Lebanon.  So although I was told no-one today would read a romantic novel without some graphic sex, I was determined it could be done.

In 1999 my novel was accepted, and published a year later in 2000, by H.C.I. in Florida, home of the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” best-selling series, for their Simcha Press fiction imprint.  I was thrilled although they appointed an editor  who, of course, wanted me to heat up some of the love scenes.  We fought quite bitterly at first, but in the end I won. I wanted it to be a tender story of love over three decades that remained unconsummated… that was the whole point.  In the voice of the man, it expresses a yearning for a woman he could never possess due to various circumstances, although they each married other partners.  There is a bit of “off camera” sex but not between the hero and heroine, Max and Esther.  I didn’t want it to be the same as all the other romances and I knew that such a love, impossible as today’s youth might find it, is indeed a possibility.

                                         -2-

In 2001 I did a successful book promotion tour to many cities in the U.S. with book-signings at Borders and Barnes & Noble stores.  “Esther” had some wonderful reviews.  Publishers’ Weekly wrote: “Readers with a taste for tragic romance should clear their calendars for an evening, grab a box of tissues and enjoy this haunting story of a love that could not be.”  Another critic whom I shall love forever described it as: “A veritable ‘Bridges of Madison County’ with a Hebrew accent.

I broke the rules but achieved the novel that is my favorite of the  14 books I have so far published.

(500 words)                           __________________

Dvora Waysman  5 Karmon Street, Flat 5, Beit Hakerem, Jerusalem 96308  Israel.  Tel: 972 2 6513096

e-mail: ways@netvision net.il

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WRITING AS THERAPY

                                     WRITING AS THERAPY

                                      by DVORA WAYSMAN

Some time ago I read about a group of seven ex-patriate British women, living temporarily in the Far East.  They were all facing new challenges, meeting new people and having new adventures.  They had something else in common …. they were all experiencing a sense of loss for what they had left behind.  For some it was friends and family, for some it was the familiarity of places that were as comfortable to slip into as the folds of an old overcoat.  They were all feeling vulnerable.

They wanted something more than the superficial expatriate relationships.  They decided to form a writers’ circle.  It began casually after they heard a talk by a writer on the benefits of speedwriting, or what is known to writers as “stream of consciousness”.  The speaker explained how this kind of writing can be used to free inspiration and find out who you really are.  Sometimes, while writing on one topic, another will come into your mind as if by accident.  Natalie Goldberg, in her book “Writing Down the Bones” explains it as:  “Shake the apple tree and you get oranges.”

You don’t need to be a professional writer, or even have ambitions in that direction, to benefit from this kind of writing.  You just sit down with a pen and some blank pages and start writing about whatever comes into your mind. Let it flow without worrying about grammar, spelling or syntax.  When you write in this uninhibited way, your internal critic and censor doesn’t get a look in.  You can write on a particular topic (the women I mentioned chose “home”) or you can make up a heading like “Morning Pages” and see what happens.  Random thoughts will flow on to the paper and some of them may surprise you.  You’ll find that you peel away protective facades and allow yourself to express your vulnerabilities.  Whether you decide to do this on your own or with a group of friends as the women in the Far East did, you’ll discover honesty  and maybe it will be cemented in tears, letting you come to grips with sorrows you had buried in your subconscious that needed to be expressed before you could move forward with your life.

If you form a Writers’ Circle, to meet for this kind of speedwriting, it can develop into a closely bonded group.  Members can take turns to think of a topic but it should only be disclosed at the last minute when everyone is ready to write.  I tried the experiment once with a group of my students and the subject was, believe it or not, “door handles.”  It was amazing what they came up with when they let their imaginations flow unimpeded.  Door handles were turned to enable them to step into magic gardens; to new and better lives; to entering places that were forbidden to them until then.  The important thing to remember is confidentiality must be assured when you open up your secret imaginings and fantasies, judgments are never made, all emotions are admissable and both laughter and tears are held in equal esteem.

                                                            

To those who want to write and are just taking their first steps, “stream of consciousness” writing is a wonderful way to overcome writers’ block.  It lets loose intense emotions that can come to the surface and provide inspiration.  In such a safe environment, it is easy to be honest with yourself.

Many authors, like Virginia Woolf, have even published their stream-of-consciousness writing.  Psychologists have often used it in therapy for anxiety-ridden patients or those experiencing traumatic nightmares.  The very act of writing down one’s secret fears helps to banish them.  You should not try to do it on a computer, because the technology interferes with your unimpeded flow of words.  I have tried this kind of speedwriting sometimes, and when I’ve read it over later, have occasionally found an unexpected poem hidden among the words.

When asked why I write (and I write a minimum of 5,000 words a day) I usually reply that I do it to clarify things for myself, to help me understand my life and put things in perspective.  I find this happens even when I am writing fiction and different events are happening to characters I’ve created in my mind.  My motto, printed on my letterhead, has always been: “Every act of creation is a self-portrait. Autograph your work with excellence.”

Godfrey Howard, speaking to the Authors’ Club in London, said: “Writers write because they love language, because they want to share their visions, and because they want to throw a bridge across the void.”

I believe writing is one of the most therapeutic things you can do.  If you have never done more than write letters, try it.  If you want to get rid of writers’ block, try it.  Lose your inhibitions and let the words pour out unimpeded.  You may be surprised and delighted where they will take you.

                              ______________________

Dvora Waysman is the author of 9 published books, including her latest novel “Esther” A Jerusalem Love Story. She has been teaching Creative Writing for 30 years. She can be

contacted on ways@netvision.net.il or tel: 972 2  6513096.

Dvora Waysman 5 Karmon Street, Flat 5 Beit Hakerem Jerusalem 96308 Israel

Tel:972 2 6513096     e-mail: ways@netvision.net.il

                                     WRITING AS THERAPY

                                      by DVORA WAYSMAN

Recently I read about a group of seven ex-patriate British women, living temporarily in the Far East.  They were all facing new challenges, meeting new people and having new adventures.  They had something else in common …. they were all experiencing a sense of loss for what they had left behind.  For some it was friends and family, for some it was the familiarity of places that were as comfortable to slip into as the folds of an old overcoat.  They were all feeling vulnerable.

They wanted something more than the superficial expatriate relationships.  They decided to form a writers’ circle.  It began casually after they heard a talk by a writer on the benefits of speedwriting, or what is known to writers as “stream of consciousness”.  The speaker explained how this kind of writing can be used to free inspiration and find out who you really are.  Sometimes, while writing on one topic, another will come into your mind as if by accident.  Natalie Goldberg, in her book “Writing Down the Bones” explains it as:  “Shake the apple tree and you get oranges.”

You don’t need to be a professional writer, or even have ambitions in that direction, to benefit from this kind of writing.  You just sit down with a pen and some blank pages and start writing about whatever comes into your mind. Let it flow without worrying about grammar, spelling or syntax.  When you write in this uninhibited way, your internal critic and censor doesn’t get a look in.  You can write on a particular topic (the women I mentioned chose “home”) or you can make up a heading like “Morning Pages” and see what happens.  Random thoughts will flow on to the paper and some of them may surprise you.  You’ll find that you peel away protective facades and allow yourself to express your vulnerabilities.  Whether you decide to do this on your own or with a group of friends as the women in the Far East did, you’ll discover honesty  and maybe it will be cemented in tears, letting you come to grips with sorrows you had buried in your subconscious that needed to be expressed before you could move forward with your life.

If you form a Writers’ Circle, to meet for this kind of speedwriting, it can develop into a closely bonded group.  Members can take turns to think of a topic but it should only be disclosed at the last minute when everyone is ready to write.  I tried the experiment once with a group of my students and the subject was, believe it or not, “door handles.”  It was amazing what they came up with when they let their imaginations flow unimpeded.  Door handles were turned to enable them to step into magic gardens; to new and better lives; to entering places that were forbidden to them until then.  The important thing to remember is confidentiality must be assured when you open up your secret imaginings and fantasies, judgments are never made, all emotions are admissable and both laughter and tears are held in equal esteem.

                                                                             -2-

To those who want to write and are just taking their first steps, “stream of consciousness” writing is a wonderful way to overcome writers’ block.  It lets loose intense emotions that can come to the surface and provide inspiration.  In such a safe environment, it is easy to be honest with yourself.

Many authors, like Virginia Woolf, have even published their stream-of-consciousness writing.  Psychologists have often used it in therapy for anxiety-ridden patients or those experiencing traumatic nightmares.  The very act of writing down one’s secret fears helps to banish them.  You should not try to do it on a computer, because the technology interferes with your unimpeded flow of words.  I have tried this kind of speedwriting sometimes, and when I’ve read it over later, have occasionally found an unexpected poem hidden among the words.

When asked why I write (and I write a minimum of 5,000 words a day) I usually reply that I do it to clarify things for myself, to help me understand my life and put things in perspective.  I find this happens even when I am writing fiction and different events are happening to characters I’ve created in my mind.  My motto, printed on my letterhead, has always been: “Every act of creation is a self-portrait. Autograph your work with excellence.”

Godfrey Howard, speaking to the Authors’ Club in London, said: “Writers write because they love language, because they want to share their visions, and because they want to throw a bridge across the void.”

I believe writing is one of the most therapeutic things you can do.  If you have never done more than write letters, try it.  If you want to get rid of writers’ block, try it.  Lose your inhibitions and let the words pour out unimpeded.  You may be surprised and delighted where they will take you.

                               ______________________

Happy writing. I enjoy your comments, and am here to help you, free, with any of your writing problems. You can contact me direct at dwaysman@gmail.com

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