Margaret Atwood workshop

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Margaret Atwood workshop

Do it and do it now

A blog by Elizabeth Bolton

I have started a MasterClass in writing that is being taught by Margaret Atwood. She is a writer I admire and I love her work. In the class, she says a few things that I thought were worth sharing as they are good points to live by for a writer.

You become a writer by writing. There is no other way.

Margaret Atwood

I hear people ask the question “How do I become a writer?” or “What degree should I get to be a writer?” The simple answer is you don’t need a degree. Degrees can be helpful because they can teach you a lot about writing but they don’t make you a writer. Ultimately to be a writer you need to write and then you write some more.

Do it, do it more, do it better. Fail, fail better

Margaret Atwood

So you start by writing and you keep writing. You also have to get better at it as you are going…and you will. You will also fail and in failing you learn. You have to keep the patience and persistence to continue. You do it, you fail, you do it again. Each time learning something and getting better for it. Great writers never gave up and they never quit.

The waste paper basket is your friend. It was invented for you by god.

Margaret Atwood

This one is my favorite. Whether you write on paper, as she does, or you use a computer you have to be willing to throw it away. No matter how far in you are if it doesn’t work or isn’t good enough then throw it away. This goes hand in hand with the previous quote. It may seem like a failure to throw something away but you have to look at it as a new beginning. It is a chance to try something new and learn. An empty wastebasket is a sign of a bad writer. It should be full and overflowing, that’s what learning looks like to a writer.

In the end, it comes down to how bad you want it and whether you believe this is what you are meant to do.

If so then you have to sit down and start putting words to paper. After that, you need to learn that a failure is a teaching tool and not a reason to quit. That all that crumpled up paper serves a purpose.

Keep writing and Keep learning and you can become one of the greats.