Nov 30, 2011
A creative writing workshop with Ashok Ferrey ...
About a week ago, I attended a one-day creative writing workshop organized by National Center for Arts of Maldives and Open Mind Workshops based out of Colombo. The workshop was hosted by Mr. Ashok Ferrey, one of the best English Language writers in Sri Lanka. He has three published books and is about to publish his fourth.
I was not supposed to be attending the workshop. I wasn't the least bit stoked about attending a lecture where almost everyone in the seminar hall could write circles around any tripe I could ever write.
I just went there in the morning to help out my friend Simon in arranging the whole thing. When Simon asked me to join in for a few minutes and listen to what this Ashok guy had to say, I reluctantly sat down hoping I could sneak out unnoticed when the attendees break out for morning tea. I was sleepy and I wanted to go home!
Ashok started the workshop informing us that he is old fashioned and that he would not have any slide shows or visuals up on any screens and he'd just use pen and paper. I chuckled silently at this and started mentally planning the shortest and safest route to the exit.
Half hour in to the lecture, after the introductions, Ashok started talking about and pointing out things that I didn't even know I did when I sat down to write something. Ashok had some insights about all the stages of the lengthly process of writing and he patiently dumbed it down and shared it with us. I was hooked.
He talked about professional writing techniques. How to tap in the the inner voices in our heads, how to control it and turn it on and off on demand. He told us it is a trick that every writer should try to master, and that some would master it sooner than others. I'm sure I'll be the last person to master this, if I ever do. Perhaps because listening to voices inside your head and trying to interact with them is, in my book, a good working definition for insanity. With a febrile imagination like mine, I'd definitely try this technique very carefully.
Ashok went on to explain how we should properly plan out our writing, how we should write something, bury it, and return to work on it after a few days. Ashok explained to us how we should break down our work to short manageable paragraphs, how we should try and describe people without using adjectives and how we should try to limit the commas we use in our writing because they have a tendency to slow the reader down.
I really enjoyed the workshop. After the Q&A session towards the end of the day, I stood in line to purchase his books. I picked up Colpetty People and The Good Little Ceylonese Girl, both collections of short stories. I also stood in line to get Ashok to autograph my books. It was a good day and I was one the last to leave seminar hall. I had an enlightening and fun time!
A well planned and well executed creative writing workshop can elevate your work exponentially. You can take away a lot from these kinds of workshops to help you improve your writing skills. I'd definitely recommend any of Ashok's workshop to any of my friends who wants to improve their writing. Be it journalism, magazine articles, business letters or novels.
If you think I've become slightly better at getting my point across to you in this blog, all thanks to Ashok. If not, I must have dozed off in class again. I really need to stop doing that.
PS: Ashok Ferrey is a pseudonym.