I’m sitting in a classroom at Marian University (3200 Cold Spring Road) for So, Do It!, my first-ever foray into a class offered by the Writers’ Center of Indiana (WCI). The room is quiet. There are four other people here, three of them women. I’ve paid my $10 non-member admission fee (as that amount is just under one-fourth of the writer/reader cost of a WCI membership, I need to join soon). I’ve also been told that this is just a writing lab, that no instructions or prompts are available, despite the WCI’s assertion that they would have some “tried-and-true writing exercises on offer.” Basically, I have paid to leave my house. Awesome.
On the table at the front of the room, I seem to find the aforementioned offerings. (If I were the volunteer in charge, I probably would’ve mined a couple of the texts for writing prompts and written them on the blackboard, but I’m control-freaky like that.) There are three books that offer instructions on writing, including Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, which I have often seen but never read. The author offers insight into the concept of completing short assignments: All we have to do, she says, is “write down as much as [we] can see through a one-inch picture frame.” She reminds the reader that writers often sit down with something like the Great American Novel in mind and are quickly overwhelmed at the glacial task ahead of them. Lamott asserts that all we need to do, for example, is write one paragraph that describes our protagonist. That’s it. The rest will come later.
The results: Being out of the house and in a quiet room actually worked. I futzed with a poem, stared at some freewriting and awaited inspiration (that unfortunately eluded me), wrote this post, and journaled through things I didn't realize were bugging me, to the tune of 1,525 words. Perhaps being in a classroom with the outline of an assignment in mind helped jog something free. Maybe it was the change of scenery and a lack of cats and cable that got me moving. It could all be due to Lamott's advice. I don’t care; I accomplished a lot.
So, Do It! meets every other Sunday from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. in Marian Hall on the grounds of Marian University. The next gathering will be August 15. Call 317-255-0710 for more information.