Writing at Grrrl Con – The Life Changing Magic Of Just Fxxking Doing It
When Marie attended GrrrlCon it helped her find her writing confidence and voice. She gave herself permission to JUST DO IT.
At last year’s Grrrl Con crime writer Denise Mina’s advice to women writers was plain and simple: Just fucking do it. She emphasised the importance of women being unapologetic, that the only person who can give us permission to go for the thing we want to achieve is ourselves. She was right.
So here are five things that I have just fucking done since Grrrl Con 2016:
1. Accepted that a writer is a person who writes.
A fellow student on my Write Like a Grrrl course made the observation that writing is judged on perceived levels of success in a way not associated with any other interest. Nobody is ever asked if they are going to give it all up for roller derby or whether they have qualified for this year’s world cross-stitch championships. However, it seems when it comes to writing you are published or unpublished, talented or terrible.
Grrrl Con rid me of this notion when I met women on such different writing journeys – one having recently gained a publishing deal, another writing a memoir for their own personal insight and empowerment, a young woman studying creative writing at PhD level and a mother creating picture books for her own children.
Like marathon competitors, we are all doing it for our own reasons. What we have in common is that we love what we do and want to be better. And also that sometimes we wonder if it is possible to keep going.
2. Turned envy into motivation.
At the 2016 event renowned publishing expert, and now novelist, Helen Sedgewick gave us a coveted opportunity to pitch our novel and receive feedback. As we went round the room, my gut reaction was jealousy and intimidation. These women had already developed such original, nuanced ideas which they were bringing to life. However, the great thing about Grrrl Con and Write Like a Grrrl is an acknowledgement of the complexities of the writing process – writing is hard!
In a world of quick fixes, Grrrl Con does not shy away from the tough stuff. These women were, indeed, just fucking doing it and it made me wonder if I could too. The other great thing is that it isn’t just an event but a community of women putting themselves and their writing out there and supporting others to do so.
I have made a group of fantastic friends from my experience with whom I meet weekly to write. I can’t stop being envious of their talent but I can churn it around a bit and turn it into inspiration (They also bring cake which helps).
3. Written even when I had literally no ideas.
Thankfully, Grrrl Con and Write Like a Grrrl have disillusioned me of my prior belief that at some point, ideas would spring uninvited into my mind and that would be my cue to write. I now know that the process of writing itself is the most effective method of generating ideas. There were lots of perspectives on writing over the weekend, but the main advice even from the most experienced writers and publishing professionals is to just fucking write.
Lack of energy can also be a barrier to my writing. Sometimes when I come home from work of an evening I may as well have been lobotomised, barely able to chop an onion never mind have an original thought. However, I now (mostly) manage to make myself write even after a hard day.
I have actually found that it works pretty well to clear my head when I am stressed or worn out and really does boost my wellbeing.
4. Terrified myself.
Just because we are part of a supportive community doesn’t mean we can’t push the boundaries – a safe space isn’t always a comfortable one. After voluntarily signing up in advance for the SPOKEN WORD workshop led by poetry and performance guru Khadijah Ibraiim, you would rightly think me ridiculous for being stunned with fear when we had to actually – shock – SAY THINGS OUT LOUD!
I wanted to run away but, ultimately, it seemed more embarrassing to not just fucking do it. Along with a woman who was a stranger just 30 minutes before (and with whom I still write), I wrote and performed a collaborative poem. Khadijah seemed to have real faith that collective creative energy could produce something magical.
I still try to push myself at a weekly writers’ meet up where we use prompts to inspire on the spot writing and read our work aloud, no edits. I spend Tuesday evenings terrified and elated in equal measures (again, the cake helps).
5. Said out loud that I am writing a novel.
I bet you know that tone someone uses when they say ‘Oh so are you writing a book then?’. I promise that Grrrl Con will give you permission to tell them ‘Yes, actually, I just fucking am’. And I want to have it published too.