For my day job, I teach a wide range of writing courses. At the moment, I’m teaching Writing 101, and I love it with a passion. There’s something about working with a group of beginner writers that fills me with joy: passing on to them the tools, insights and validation that were so generously taught to me – the ones that unlocked my writing voice and built my creative confidence.
I always hang around after class for ten minutes so people have a chance to come and ask questions or get to know me a little – something I always appreciated in my teachers.
And after nearly every class, a shy participant will hang back, then approach me once everyone else has left. They will share a precious slice of the life journey that has brought them there today, and usually end by saying something like…
I have always wanted to write, and this class is the first time I have been able to actually get my words on the page.
I get goosebumps. I tear up. I know exactly how they feel.
I remember being a beginner writer. Especially since I’ve felt like a beginner writer, in some form or other, over and over again – many times a new situation, or a lapse of time, will throw me back into feeling newborn to the craft.
I have wanted to write before I could even read. As a pre-schooler, I would lie in bed after lights-out imagining my chubby fingers clacking typewriter keys. Throughout the years, I always kept a journal with me, and messed about with creative expression. I would try out new forms – poetry, songwriting, short stories – without having a clear sense of purpose or direction.
Unveiling my authentic passions, layer by layer, but never reaching the vital source.
It was decades before I found a teacher and a community that helped me hone my creative purpose. Finding this support network has not only helped me grow as a a writer, it enables me to grow as a whole person. There is something about doing what I feel put on this earth to do – it makes me want to be a better person in all aspects of my life. Kinder, wiser, clearer, more insightful, more humble.
And yet, now that I am so busy with a full-time job that I love so much, and a family that I love so much, I have little time to write (or blog, either!). Once a month or so I get to sit down at the page, and that feeling of newness, of being a beginner, overwhelms me again.
I am so fortunate to have built up a wonderful network of writer friends to keep me focussed and connected, just as I try to do for them. We offer each other practical advice, emotional support, creative vision, general encouragement. We keep each other writing through all the self-doubt, Porlocking, and busyness.
And so, I love teaching beginners. It is inspiring to be there as they begin to forge their unique creative paths and networks. And there’s nothing more fulfilling than, months or years later, hearing about their successes, and remembering those precious moments when they took their first steps.