Writer’s Notebook: Virginia Woolf

This week’s author in the Creative Writer’s Notebook was Virginia Woolf (duh!).

The exercises in this section were very fun, I thought, though the first one, a writer’s diary, felt like a repetition of the very first exercise, an interior monologue.

The second was fun, it was writing the same scene from three points of view– first person, third person, and through dialogue. This exercise made it quire clear how the different perspectives change the way you can write about something. When you write in first person, it limits how much you can explore the thoughts, ideas and even actions of anyone other than that character. You can only know things the character was told or overheard.

Third person, which many writers use, allows you to explore many perspectives and many characters, which was exactly what I experienced when I wrote my scene in third person.

Finally, writing the scene as only dialogue was challenging. (Perhaps I took the exercise too literal, again, because I didn’t use any dialogue, or hardly any, in the other two versions of the scene, and I’m sure I could have if I wanted to.) First, because I wanted to add in movements but, of course, I thought I could only use dialogue between the two people. And I could only manage to let myself break that rule once or twice.

What was interesting, was that even though it was supposed to be the same scene, because I wouldn’t allow myself to use dialogue before, it meant my last scene of dialogue was more a continuation, but, I think that’s ok. After all, this is about being creative. There is no right or wrong way to do this.

The last exercise inspired by Virginia Woolf was my favorite; interesting because it was the vaguest one of them all (though that is in fitting with my character, I suppose).

All the direction given was to write a short piece using one line from To the Lighthouse as inspiration: “Little daily miracles.” I wrote about the first thing that popped into my mind, my first kiss (and my the first and last first kiss). It was a fun little exercise, with plenty of things I would have enjoyed to write about, but, maybe more of that later.

I’ve enjoyed the several pieces that allow me to write about myself or my own thoughts. I enjoy the autobiographical bits. And actually, what had got me started writing again in the first place was that very thing, just writing some things for myself, with the thought that someday, maybe people will be interested enough in me to want to read the inner workings of my mind. But, even if no one is that interested, it’s still fun to write, and gives me a personal clarity that can be hard to come by otherwise.

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