EVENT REPORT Emotional Writing Resilience

Jenny Casebook-Moss reports back on Cath Nichols' recent workshop on emotional writing resilience.

Have you made friends with your writing?

So asked Cath Nichols of a group of SCBWI North-Westers on a rainy Saturday in Manchester.

Cath’s workshop, titled “Emotional Writing Resilience, a.k.a. Getting Your Mojo Back”, invited us and our writing to pull up a seat for a practical start. What is the best thing to sit on? How do you look after your eyes, wrists, back? Emotional resilience is only useful if your body doesn't pack up.

We navigated through the thorny issue of talent versus hard work (spoiler: hard work seems to be the key, but you knew that, right?).

Many interesting nuggets from both Cath's own experience and wider studies offered insight into developing and nourishing the creative process.

SCBWI North-Westers becoming friends with their writing. (Image Credit: Catherine Whitmore)

Finally, we arrived at our relationship with our own writing process. Do you treat your writing as a valued friend, or shout at and abuse it?

Cath, whose own writing resilience has matured on her journey through journalism, poetry, dramatic writing, and academia, spurred us throughout into lively debates; there were group exercises and partner work, and thoughtful individual exploration with prompts for notebook musings.

Top tips included:

• Focus on the enjoyment of writing. Obvious, but easily forgotten at times. What do you want from your writing? While not unwelcome, publication, awards and eye-popping royalty cheques aren't the focus here - a more internal focus on what sustains the writing process brought up different answers for each of us.

• Reduce submission to agents and publishers to a mere admin process, taking away as much emotional significance from it as possible. Systems can be as geeky as you like - Cath favours index cards filed impressively neatly in a box.

• Have a think about messages and feelings you've received in the past, perhaps in childhood, about your creativity and ability. Are they muddying your relationship with your writing now?

• Consider whether you’d treat a friend the way you treat your writing. Be kind to it and it will be nice back to you.

A huge thanks to Cath for such a rich and varied workshop. Now, I'm off to get my writing a cuppa and a brownie, and offer it the seat with the garden view. Milk? Sugar?

Header Image: Cath Nichols

Cath Nichols was shortlisted for the Frances Lincoln award in 2013, and is published as a poet in her collections 2007 (Headland) and 2017 (Valley Press). Like many in her family, she lives with disability. Two members of her family are trans, whilst Cath is cis and bisexual. She worked as a queer journalist for press and radio in the late 90s and also in mental health. After a PhD as a mature student, she now teaches creative writing at Leeds University. Diversity and adventure are the focus of her writing for children.

Jenny Casebook-Moss writes stories and draws pictures. She’s a trained, but mostly escaped, graphic designer and lives in the North West of England. When she's not writing or drawing, she spends her time being a mum, growing things, singing and overhauling her house with as little impact on the planet as possible. She believes that picture books have the power to help the next generation form a positive, balanced view of themselves and the world. But most importantly they're a lot of fun.

A. M. Dassu is a member of the Words & Pictures editorial team. She manages the Events team and SCBWI BI events coverage.
Contact her at events@britishscbwi.org

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