Workshop 101: Don’t Waste Time You’re Already Wasting

This one, honestly, isn’t all that insightful. However, I found myself in my workshopping class again, working over three very different pieces. One was a short vignette length experimental piece that I found very entertaining. Another was a longer melancholy piece about family discord. The final one was a very long piece that included crass sex talk and a graphic late-term abortion. The first two were fine, though they relate to nothing I write, and the discussion they created tonight really had very little I could glean for my writing. Discussions on philosophies only go so far in genre fiction. Especially when you’ve been with this professor before and have heard most of his workshopping lectures.

Obviously, I was in an environment that should be conducive to thinking about writing. It’s a writing workshop; however, it’s a writing workshop that isn’t helpful to me.

Think about your week. There are times that you’re somewhere you don’t want to be and struggle to remain alert. You don’t want to zone out. You don’t want to give your absolute honest opinion (in some cases). Really, you need a way to stay sane. This doesn’t have to be a workshop, of course. This could be in any situation.

If you’re allowed to take notes, and you’re in a setting that it’s not going to matter that you’re writing the whole time, do it! Some of my best stuff comes in those moments when I’m having to concentrate on two things at once (because the conversation may shift to something you care about). It makes it a game. How much dialogue can I write before…what? Before we finish talking about this piece I despised? Before the bus reaches my stop? Before the nurse calls me back to the examination room?

I’m a public transportation user. That gives me a lot of time that I could be writing or doing something productive. Don’t make it too stressful or you can over-stress yourself. Make this writing habit stress relieving. I know it helps me. If I didn’t keep myself focused on something else, I would come home crazy some nights.

So, that’s my advice. Keep a notebook with you. If you wind up in a situation that will allow you to write, let the writing be your relief. Don’t waste time you’re already wasting.

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