Thursday, July 8, 2010

One Way to Writing Inspiration – Teaching!

Post by Trai

I’m very excited to be teaching an advanced screenwriting class starting next week. Writers are always looking for inspiration when our own internal wellspring falls short, and working with other writers is one of my favorite ways to get the juices flowing.

I taught my first community college Beginning Screenwriting class last winter up in Cheyenne. I’d taught plenty of workshops and worked one-on-one with hundreds of writers, both professionally and as a volunteer, but this was the first time I got to be a “regular” teacher – 16 weeks, complete with syllabuses, paperwork, and grades.

Nerves were an issue – would I pace myself properly? Would I be able to hold their attention? Would they actually learn anything? Would it drain me creatively, intellectually, so that I couldn’t do my own writing?

I needn’t have worried. Not only were these fourteen students ready to learn, they soaked it up like sponges. They were so sharp, so fired up about the subject, so into what we were doing that I was able to move as fast as I wanted to. They could keep up, and better yet, they presented me with some wonderful learning challenges.

In June, my Explorati Teen Writers Boot Camp brought together 48 young people for four days. The instructors packed as much info into their heads as we could and sent them home reeling. Just like the year before, we got one strong message back: more! Is there anything more gratifying than seeing others do well? And isn’t that what teaching is all about? Giving people the tools to do well, and the opportunity to develop, expand, blossom?

To see them and their imaginations on fire pours gas on my own. I always come out of a class or workshop that much more excited to sit down at my laptop. Sharing what I know reminds me of what I know – and that I have everything I need to be successful. I bet you do, too.

If you’re looking for ways to supercharge your writing, and reading the how-to’s and going to the seminars and spas aren’t working their usual magic, consider what you have to give back. Everyone’s got something they know better than anyone, and there is always someone out there interested in knowing what it is you know.

Go teach. And then just watch what it does for your writing.


Janie B said...

As a teacher myself, I can attest to the truth of your post. There's nothing like teaching to help YOU learn!

Patricia Stoltey said...

Good point! I hadn't thought about the connection, but I came away energized after I gave a "Let's Write a Mystery" workshop at the 2009 NCW conference. We work so hard to get our audience or students excited that we excite ourselves in the process.

Trai said...

Pat, I'd love to take your workshop -- when are you doing it again??

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