Sunday, December 11, 2011
Calling All Writers: A Cozy Berkshire Weekend Retreat to Cure Writer's Block and Inspire Long Writing Projects!!
By Claudia Ricci
Writing is just such a wonderful and amazing and fulfilling thing -- until one morning you wake up and can't find an ounce of motivation. You look at what you've written and suddenly it feels as dead as the heel of your right shoe.
That blank screen stares back at you, sticks out its tongue and makes funny faces. You freeze up and soon find yourself shrinking smaller than your pencil.
Then what do you do? You think about tossing your computer. Or worse, you contemplate the idea of tossing back a six-pack or a few cosmopolitans.
No. This is NOT the time to start drinking. This is not the time to start thinking dark and stormy thoughts!
There is hope. Lots of it. In fact, if you look at it the write, oops, excuse me, the right way, writer's block can be an opportunity to rethink your entire approach to writing. Writer's block can be a kind of door through which you pass through, becoming a kind of writer's revolutionary. Not only can you find new inspiration, but also, you can make some fascinating and exciting discoveries about who you are as a writer and a person and what you want to write.
If you're intrigued by these ideas, and if you want to spend a weekend by a cozy fire in a gorgeous Berkshire County inn, learning about writing from two well-seasoned fiction writers who are also both experienced college-writing teachers, then you're in for a big treat:
Please join me and my long-time writing buddy and college teaching colleague Peg Woods --otherwise known as Dr. P.M. Woods -- to get recharged. We are teaching a fabulous workshop that we're calling Writer's Bloc, a weekend-retreat February 24-26, 2012 at the very quaint Richmond Inn in Richmond, MA.
Peg and I have been college teachers of writing for almost 14 years. We've also taught a community writing workshop called "Write Your Heart Out." In both the university and community settings, we've helped many, many, many students to get started writing fiction. And we've also showed students how to get re-started and recharged, redefining what it means to have a writer's block. Even if you're raring to go with your writing, we'll give you a host of tips on writing, and moving forward, especially with long writing projects, like novels. As we tell our writing students, "when you write a short story, you can wrap your arms around it. When you write a novel, however, it wraps its arms around you, and often it can feel like it's going to swallow you whole." Peg and I will show you simple techniques to keep going with a long writing project when the going starts to feel impossible.
Our philosophy on writing is that it's a way of life. A way of making meaning and engaging the world. And when it comes to "blocks," we see them as a kind of passage. Our attitude toward writer's block is that it's only a "block" if you let it shut you down. We'll show you how to melt that writer's block, transforming it into an opportunity for rediscovering creativity.
As Assistant Director of the Nationally-Recognized Writing Program at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Peg teaches composition and experimental creative writing classes. She has decades of experience as a fiction writer and is the author of numerous short stories, as well as the extraordinary novel, Spinning Will.
Like Peg, I've published many short stories, as well as two novels -- Dreaming Maples (nominated for a Pushcart Prize) and the new novel, Seeing Red, which was serialized in part in the Huffington Post when it appeared in January, 2011. I have been teaching English, creative writing and journalism at the University at Albany, SUNY, since 1998.
More recently, I've started to paint, and to incorporate painting with words onto big and little canvases (thus all these funny-looking collages.)
Together, Peg and I taught an amazing class at SUNY called "Writing a Woman's Life." And we have taught numerous "Write Your Heart Out" workshops in communities in Massachusetts, New York and New Hampshire, where in the community of Hollis, one of the writing groups we launched still meets in the local library.
It turns out that I'm not the only writer who thinks and works visually. In a great piece in The Wall Street Journal a couple of years ago, about writers and their methods of writing, author Edwidege Danticat says that before she writes a novel she puts images up on a kind of "storyboard," just the way a screenwriter might.
The writer's retreat will include exercises that involve "art" -- but no, you do NOT need to be an artist! We will also take you on an outing Saturday afternoon to the wonderful Normal Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA, where we'll discuss the way art and visual images can help spark your imagination and give you more inspiration for writing.
This is going to be a lot of fun! Hey, what could be bad? You get to spend a weekend writing and meeting other writers, at a gorgeous inn in the middle of the amazing Berkshires (where by the way a slew of famous writers have lived and worked -- how about Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Edith Wharton?)
The February "Writer's Bloc" workshop is limited to a small number of writers, so do get in touch soon. To register, contact Retreat Coordinator Jo Ann Losinger at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or phone 413.445.5874. We hope to see you there. It will be a wonderfully energizing and productive retreat, we promise you!