I’m happy to welcome again Sheila Bender, author, well known and admired teacher, poet, and inspiration to many writers over the decades. She is going to address our theme about breaking silences, and breaking through into new layers of our creative work. This is an ongoing challenge, no matter how far along you are in your writing. I think you will get a lot out of this presentation, and I hope to see you there!
There are many reasons why we get stuck with our writing. I always say that beginnings, middles and endings are all writers’ sticking points. But I also say that when it comes to writing-in-progress, there is no such thing as bad writing, only the opportunity for good writing. In other words, the writing we hope for doesn’t usually spring fully formed from our foreheads or hearts. It happens in layers or in steps–one way I’ve been taught to think about it is as invention, shaping, and then editing. And it is the invention stage that helps us beat the silence we sometimes feel as writers, whether that concerns the beginning, the middle or the end or even just freewriting to get ourselves started. And allowing the invention stage to help us requires really believing that what we invent holds the opportunity for good writing.
- The idea that we work back and forth among the three stages.
- Invention techniques that help when you are stuck starting or developing scenes
- Ways to introduce a bit of shaping into the invention stage so the critic brain doesn’t take over and spoil the fun
- Effective strategies to quiet the inner critic and allow yourself to enter the “abyss,” of that uncomfortable material you’ve been shying away from writing.
- Ways to listen for opportunity in your invention writing
- Shaping tools useful for when you’ve invented material as a way to deepen your writing.
Sheila Bender is the author of many books of poetry, including the latest Behind Us the Way Grows Wider, instructional books, including Writing Personal Essays: Shaping and Sharing Your Life Experience, and a memoir, A New Theology: Turning to Poetry in a Time of Grief. She teaches at writers conferences around the country as well as online at WritingItReal.com, Story Circle Network and Women on Writing. She’s been a Seattle University Distinguished Guest Lecturer in Poetry. Sheila believes that taking time to write our personal experience provides the right food and the right stuff to find what lights our souls and what we have to offer others.