Yesterday was Labor Day, so in solidarity and in gratitude for weekends, minimum wage, health benefits, and many other positive things organized labor has fought and some died for, I took the day off from writing.
Truth be told, since I returned from Tinker Mountain Writers Workshop two months ago, all I’ve been doing is revising, editing, and revising some more. Every time I faced doing something new–including blog posts–I had a lot more trouble getting started than I usually do. The editing and revising I was doing focused on “fixing” the common mistakes I learned about at Tinker Mountain and the other workshops/conferences I’ve attended this year.
I figured it was just me, having a bit of writer’s block. Then, one of my Tinker Mountain classmates e-mailed our group list and asked, “It is just me, or is anyone having trouble writing since the workshop?”
After a little happy dance that I wasn’t alone in this, several other writer friends from the workshop chimed in with the same lament. Then, our ever-wise instructor, Pinckney Benedict, silenced us all. “That’s the purpose of TMWW,” he said. “We push you and challenge you and wring you out so you have to go home and reboot.”
Oh. [Pushes reset button here.]
And, well, that makes perfect sense because what’s the purpose of a workshop if not to alter you in some positive way, especially something as intensive as Tinker Mountain? I think if we hadn’t come away needing to reboot, it would have been a waste of time and money.
I know some writers will find that scary. You’re satisfied with where your writing is, with your skill level; you don’t see how you could be a better writer. I’d counter that with, as with anything that requires skill, you’re in continual learning mode. I’ve had the same concern about pursuing an MFA: What will that do to the voice I’ve developed as a writer?
Yes, I was pretty happy (read complacent) with my writing before Tinker Mountain, but that reboot was exactly what my writing needed. I look at my work with less subjectivity now, and the revising/rewriting post-reboot is producing much better work.
A reboot can feel a lot like a boot in the ass, but, as with a good, swift kick, sometimes you need just that.