This week I am attending a workshop called “From Memory to Art” at the Summer Iowa’s Writer’s Festival. The leader for our particular workshop is Jim Heynen, poet and author from the Twin Cities. Jim also spoke for a special morning session available for all the writers attending the Festivals this week. He gave 60 different pieces of advice for writers. I am not going to list them all here, but with his permission, I will share some of them with you.
*Everything you’ve done in your life that you’re ashamed of is a gift to you as a writer.
*If you know something other people don’t know, you’re a fool if you don’t write about it.
*Proofreading is not revision; revision is reconnecting with your initial vision.
*Passion about your writing will be empty passion if you aren’t passionate about something else too.
*Your best writing will be congruent with who you are.
*All writers should read poetry.
*Writing frequent letters will help you find your (writer’s) voice (better than journaling).
*Your early writing gifts will strike others as weaknesses.
*If you are inclined to write about the same thing over and over again, do it.
*Learn standard rules of punctuation and formatting.
*Failed attempts are not a waste of time.
*Not all criticism of your work is equal.
*Nonfiction is not the art of telling the truth, it is the art of arming your intentions with facts.
*Significant writing risks a depth that insignificant writing does not.
*The brightest spots in your writing come from the shadow side of your personality.
*Imagine the mysterious unknown of what you know well.
*Forgive yourself if you hunger for praise because a hunger for praise means you also have the capacity to praise.
*Read your favorite writers’ early work.
*Risk putting your hand in the scariest fires of your life and imagination and your head under the waters of the greatest mysteries of your life and imagination.
*Writing because you ‘have’ to is all right; writing because you WANT to is even better.
As you can tell, I am enjoying the heart and soul of our workshop leader and his passion for writing as an art for those willing to touch the fire and dive into the depths.