What I Learned Today at the Wild Writers Literary Festival

Well now, I’ve had a grand day at the Wild Writers Literary Festival in Waterloo. I went to two Writer's Craft Classes and a Fiction Panel. In Alison Pick's workshop "On Character," we wrote down lots of details about one of our characters. I wrote down things that I didn't know I knew about my character, for example, that she never finishes a cup of tea or coffee. Then we were interviewed by someone else in the class as if we were that character. I realized that I don't know things about my character that I should know such as whether or not she has siblings. The workshop with Kathleen Winter was called "Childhood and Intuition as Literary Inspiration." She told us to go for a walk every day ("the longer, the better") and carry a notebook ("the tinier, the better") to write down ideas, to really notice our surroundings and the emotional feelings they invoke. She told us she uses a slightly bigger notebook to write once a day with her non-dominant hand. We did a writing exercise: a childhood memory you'd never written about before and if we wanted we could write it using our non-dominant hand. I tried it, and it was remarkable. Because you have to write slowly, your mind has time to concentrate on what you're writing and think about it in ways you wouldn't have if you were writing at your normal speed and using the side of your brain you usually use. I found I had an entirely different emotional reaction to an incident from my childhood that I've thought about many times. I will be using these techniques and others she told us about during the workshop. Because of today at the Wild Writers Literary Festival, I feel more positive and hopeful about my writing than I have in a long time.

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