Last Friday, we had the honor and privilege of Zooming with author and writing teacher Molly Brodak.  Brodak, who teaches at Emory University and Kennesaw State University, is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Bandit.  In our 45 minute Q&A session, we all learned new strategies for writing; Brodak’s reflections on writerly life and ways to approach creative nonfiction were also incredibly insightful as well as inspiring.  My take-aways:

  • Brodak’s concept of the “writer self” and “editor self”.
  • Doubt is healthy–we tend to think of doubt in a negative way as writers; embrace the questions in your mind.
  • Do not turn on the editor brain too soon or you will not get anything written; give yourself permission to write.
  • Be open to new experiences and interests/courses outside your comfort zone; these can give us new lenses and inspiration for noticing the world around us.

Big take-aways from my SOAR Creative Writing students include:

  • Don’t make yourself the “hero” when writing memoir.
  • When you awaken, don’t grab your phone right away.  Instead, enjoy a few minutes of quiet and just “being” to clear your mind and to be open to the world around you.
  • Engage in activities and classes outside your normal realm; you may discover new passions.  Getting outside your comfort zone forces you to look at the world with “fresh” eyes.
  • Don’t take rejection of publications personally.  Rejections don’t mean your writing is not good.
  • There are many kinds of poetry; just because you haven’t found a poem that speaks to you doesn’t mean there is not a poem out there for you.
  • Don’t pressure yourself to come up with ideas for writing; writer’s block is common.  Get outside or do something different to jumpstart the creativity/ideas.
  • You need patience and persistence to publish a piece of writing.
  • Don’t pick a career just for the money.
  • When you begin a piece of writing, stay out of “editor” mode.
  • Imagine you reading someone else’s work when self-editing; be sure to let the writing “rest” for a day or two before re-reading and editing.
  • Writer’s block is a real thing.
  • Do not give up–be persistent.
  • It’s OK to take a break from writing, especially if you are feeling “stuck.”
  • Don’t be afraid to have confidence in your writing.
  • Don’t let doubt stop you from writing.
  • Read modern poetry and poets, not just the classics.
  • Be curious; pay attention to what is around you.
  • Unplug whenever possible–technology often distracts us from “seeing” and noticing the world around us and/or being present in the moment.

The students all shared in their written reflections how much they enjoyed this virtual visit.  For the last year, I’ve been thinking about going back to school and pursuing a MFA in Creative Writing; this session as well as the first one and the one we did today (blog post coming soon) with the Kennesaw faculty and writers have reinforced my desire to pursue this goal to help me grow as a writer and a teacher of writing.  My heart is full of gratitude to Dr. Tony Grooms, Director of the KSU  MAPW and Professor of English, and the faculty who have so graciously shared their time and expertise with me and my SOAR Creative Writers.

I have included a few video clips that I captured with my iPhone (I apologize for not using the Zoom recorder!).  Enjoy!