by Lisa Rogers
WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW. Every writer has heard that. But what does it really mean?
Our job as writers, Kendra Levin pointed out at her June Writers’ Loft workshop, involves a bigger challenge—it’s to “write what you emotionally know.”
Levin, an executive editor at Penguin Random House and a certified life coach for writers and other creative artists, presented the workshop “Be the Hero of Your Own Writing Process” to a Loft packed to its rafters. The workshop combined visualization, instruction, and free writes designed to help participants view their characters from different perspectives; try a genre, tense, or setting contrary to their typical habits; and solidify the purpose for telling the story.
Lofter Pam Vaughan received a virtual surprise hug when she “met” her main character through visualization. Another participant, given an exercise to write in a different tense and genre, wrote an inspired poem telling an intriguing story. I tackled a difficult passage in my novel by breaking from the narrative style and treating it in a poetic form.
Levin’s approach offered writers the opportunity to shake things loose and find new inspiration. Her guide to overcoming obstacles, The Hero is You: Sharpen Your Focus, Conquer Your Demons, and Become the Writer You Were Born to Be, likens the writing process to the hero’s journey in traditional literature.
The book offers examples of writers stymied by particular demons, explains how they broke free, and gives concrete advice as well as mind-stretching writing exercises to set writers on a successful journey of their own.
At least one Lofter, Susan Catalano, delved right in to the book, going page by page and completing the exercises: “It may be the first ‘writer help’ book that I’ve engaged with from cover to cover, and I’m loving it!” she shared. “She has such a great way of making points and encouraging the process.”
Thanks, Kendra, for sharing your insights and encouraging Lofters in their journeys!
Be sure to check The Writers’ Loft calendar for upcoming classes, craft chats, critique groups, and more.
Lisa Rogers is an elementary school librarian and a former newspaper reporter and editor. Her picture book, MR. MARSHALL’S RED WHEELBARROW: A STORY ABOUT WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS’S BELOVED POEM, illustrated by Chuck Groenink, will be published by Random House’s Schwartz & Wade Books in spring 2019. She is the winner of the 2016 PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award.