Mission of LiveWriteWords
LiveWriteWords does not look for writers wanting to be published; numerous technical workshops can be found advertising that goal. As its title may suggest, it helps people suffering a creativity drain write better right now. It was started by a former college professor of literature who lived through a trying eight years of caregiving for his slowly dying wife. Dr. Bill Stephenson wants to help others survive their grief. Obviously his workshops on grief memoirs focus directly on this goal, but even the poetry workshops encourage emerging writers to dive inside for healing. The golf workshop? Well, golf is golf, and always welcome, especially when its program provides men with a believable excuse for trading cold winters for sunny Arizona.
Most writing programs stress technical achievement and, ultimately, publication; we don’t. We’re after two basic things: stimulating creativity and providing a supportive environment.
Writers want to know if they’re communicating. Traditionally, they’ve had to learn this by becoming published and watching book sales. Times have changed: being published no longer means everything. Anyone can get self-published and book sales point more to genre choice than to quality of writing. The writers we reach care more about improving the quality of their writing than building an impressive platform. They want to hear first-hand whether or not what they’re writing communicates with other discriminating writers. They want to have their voice heard, but only in a supportive environment.
Since writing is such a lonely enterprise, the time all too often comes when the emerging writer loses faith. She hasn’t published; fears she never will. He writes and writes, but only his close friends respond…and how can anyone expect friends to respond honestly? Creativity flags.
Our setting can help developing writers learn at a reasonable pace how to write better. The word emerging describes this outer and inner learning experience.
Outer describes positioning in the writing enterprise: beginner, emerging, amateur, professional. The first is self-explanatory, the last, deceptive. Everyone understands that amateurs do something for the love of it, not to make money or gain fame. Professional, in the writing field, usually means proficient, but not necessarily great; thousands of hack professionals have five to ten or twenty books. Career people who write mostly for money are good but not necessarily great, and usually a long ways from emerging.
So what makes a good writer great? I have no idea, but don’t think it’s just a heightened level of craftsmanship–the thing most often sought in writing workshops. So many competent, highly skilled musicians, dancers, or painters never become great because they lack something. Good writers become great writers when they have something consequential to say.
Here’s where the inner component of the LiveWrite learning experience enters. The inner side to learning has to do with quality that comes when something important inside gets out. No one can teach soul, but at Lowe House we try our best to nurture it. We explore how words resonate with hidden depths, and find ways of reaching them. Was it Thoreau who talked about surface-skimming waterbugs versus diving deep ones?
An experienced (and well published) writer myself, I continually experience such frustration. After moving to Southern Arizona to regroup following the death of my wife of 36 years, I decided to give up writing…but couldn’t. Instead, friends convinced me, an ex-college professor of English, to offer workshops to others needing a supportive environment and creativity boost.
Our format helps authors recharge their voice not only during workshops, but long afterward. Built into LiveWriteWords is continual feedback from friends (plus other unknown attendees of similar workshops) on the program’s blog. In addition, I stand ready to review and edit for a minimal fee.
I hope this helps explain why our twin goals of stimulating creativity and providing a supportive environment can provide a different kind of experience…one that is still challenging since workshops do teach important writing techniques, but is also non-threatening and relaxing.