Last month I read this delightful little book by Danell Jones called The Virginia Woolf Writer’s Workshop: Seven Lessons to Inspire Great Writers. In it the author creates an imaginary writing class conducted by Virginia Woolf. She uses lines directly from Woolf’s diaries, essays, and letters to teach seven lessons to, as the title says, inspire great writing.
Through conversation between Woolf and her students, Jones teaches the following lessons:
My favorite lesson was the first where Woolf tells her students to keep a diary or journal. She explains that in her diary to practice her scales and experiment with creating different effects. When a student questions what Woolf means by practicing scales, Woolf replies,
“I mean, she says her voice rising with enthusiasm, just write. Write “nonsense by the ream. Be silly, be sentimental, imitate Shelley; give the rein to every impulse; commit every fault of style, grammar, taste, and sytax; pour out; tumble over; loose anger, love, satire, in whatever words you can catch coerce or create, in whatever metre, prose, poetry, or gibberish that comes to hand. Thus you will learn to write.”…”The habit of writing thus for my eye only,” she says was “good practice””
While I didn’t agree with all of Woolf’s ideology or even methodology, I did take her advice and decided to take the writer’s notebook more seriously. When I finally decided to quit editing myself, I was able to write freely, something that I’ve struggled with for years. It’s hard to keep from making sure every ‘i’ is dotted and every ‘t’ crossed but it’s completely necessary when getting your thoughts and ideas on paper. When I made the conscious effort to just let myself write, I was able to crank out twenty pages in one day, something I hadn’t done in a long time! It felt wonderful!!
The rest of the book was amusing and well put together. Again, I didn’t agree with everything Woolf writes but I was able to reap great bits of advice. If you’re a writer and need a pick-me-up, this book is worth a read.
What books have you read to inspire great writing? I’d love to read your thoughts!
Y’all have a blessed day =)