I just finished an eight week intermediate/advanced personal essay workshop at The Lighthouse Writers, and at the end, I am struck by the impact it's had on my writing. I moved back to the concept of a workshop after working individually with da writing coach for approximately seven months. During my work with da coach, I really concentrated on sharpening my essay's focus, digging deeper through multiple revisions until I started to carve out the center.
The first piece I workshopped illustrated to me how much progress I'd made in terms of focus/theme. With my own digging and the help from my trusty first readers, I honed the focus more quickly than months prior. This doesn't mean that I have perfected it, because the outcome constantly shifts depending on the piece; it does mean that I am conscious about the changes in my writing, feeling like I am conscious of my learning the more I consistently work at the craft--and it most certainly is work a majority of the time.
Weekly writing assignments, while often a tug and scream at the writing prompt given, always pushed me to stick with the writing, persistent rather than acquiescing to the easier route--surrender. This time around, rather than feel like my struggle with writing would never pass, I simply sat with the difficulty, even when it meant writing four or five different false starts before I found energy and a voice. Doing 500 word assignments also helped me to focus sharply in on something and concentrate a bit more on language and style. While I feel like my voice is still in constant development, I feel energized by this, trying out different techniques to help deepen my essay's style.
The ultimate awareness award, though, goes to my changed attitude and presence with my writing. About one year ago, I finished my first workshop, feeling accomplished because I had written steadily for eight weeks. Today, accomplishment is not what leaps initially. It is simply a newfound sense of steadiness, a deep internal smile that I own, and a conscious intention to hold my writing, even when I am challenged by my own stings of disappointment.
And so, I have decided to keep consciously committing, ingraining a practice that has a will to survive and flourish.