Friday, May 3, 2019

Becoming a better writer

drawing of a man, his chin tucked into clasped hands.
Read Time: 3.5 minutes

Although I’ve been in the communication game for quite a while, actually focusing on writing is new to me.

Writing well is important. I knew this, of course, but for years felt very insecure about my writing. So I had others write for me, or I had others heavily edit my writing.

I was always more confident speaking. Although public speaking made me anxious, I dedicated myself to overcoming my public-speaking fear and delivered as many talks as I could. At the time I was building my business and felt l needed to do everything possible – including addressing some of the things I was afraid of – to help my firm grow.

But for years I didn’t address my fear of writing. Then, just a year ago, with encouragement from Robin I began to write and think about my posts in a different light. About that time Richard Pelletier began to twist my arm to attend a Dark Angels session. Robin, once I told her about it, urged me to attend. I worried about the expense. The time. And, of course, being compared to a group of real writers. But I went. I felt included. I felt like a peer. And, more than that, I found some confidence in my own voice.

Dark Angels magic tricks

Despite my newfound confidence, writing is still a dicey venture. I have to trick myself into writing the first word, then the first sentence. That first sentence is the key. If I can begin with that small bit, it becomes the base for the second sentence, which leads to the third, and so on to the resulting story.

I almost never know where the story will take me when I begin writing those first short bits. I think that’s because my conscious mind can only process small amounts at a time. The great thing about getting that first idea on the page is this: Once I’ve put down those first words, they no longer need to be in my head. I don’t have to remember them – which leaves room for the next sentence, and the one after that, allowing the next part of the story to bubble up from the subconscious part of me.

The Dark Angels exercises seemed to tap right into that process.

Their short, fast-paced methodology started with an existing bit of writing, a single word or frame that allowed the imagination to run, but from a starting point. When I thought about my experience later, I realized the Dark Angels had, by a preconceived plan, tapped straight into the very thing I needed to get going: the starting bit. The starting bit is where the magic begins.

Dark Angels as confidence builders

I attended a Dark Angels course last fall. Each of us attendees came from our own place, bringing our own beginning. Each had clearly different expectations and aspirations. And yet, we all leaped into the exercises with equal energy and purpose.

I found myself just as thrilled at discovering the voices of my fellows as I was in discovering my own. The experience was simultaneously one of personal creative empowerment and also a collaboration. Simply hearing how others perceived the assignments and used their own voices gave us all a broader understanding of the possibilities. All because of the breadth and variety of the Dark Angels exercises.

The result: confidence in our very personal and individual voices amid the voices of others.

My vested interest

I’m hosting the Dark Angels’ first visit to Seattle. Clearly I have a vested interest. Why?

I wanted to continue my relationship with this group of talented writers and teachers. I also hoped that by hosting I could expand my connection with other local writers. And I thought I would benefit from another go at their material myself.

But most of all, I found my experience with this Dark Angels course so transformational that I thought a few Seattle-area writers lucky enough to attend would benefit. There are only six spots… and at this writing two of them are filled.

American Foundation Course

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