Thursday, January 19, 2012

Your Secret Garden, Harvesting Guidelines for Creative Writing with Kate Campbell

Kate Campbell visited Piedmont on January 18th for a creative writing workshop. Campbell gave attendees tips and tricks for their creative writing processes and explained how her own process works when song writing. Here are some highlights of the event, including words of wisdom and some resources she shared.

Campbell suggested that the most important part of creative writing is writing what you know, so pay attention. No one can take your voice from you, so it is key that you find that voice. This will take you into your own secret garden of the craft and art of writing.

She also said that the "art part" of writing is your inspiration. You must find inspiration that is "musical, historical, poetic and creative" in context. You need to make connections with things and find your own influences. Everybody has them.

She challenged those there to remember their favorite song and book in adolescence and the middle school years, because those are the years you really hold onto as an influence. Her favorite song during that time of her life was "Me and Bobby McGee" by Janis Joplin. The songwriter for it was Kris Kristofferson, whom she still entertains as one of her favorites.

She also said to ask yourself what grabs your attention. Take a look at the things that stand out to you and figure out why. Imitation of things is something to work with. Everything that you think of has already been done in some way or another, but no matter what you hear or see, "it goes through your own receptical," making it yours.

She challenged us to find the right ideas, then get behind that idea. Ask yourself, "why is this idea so clever?" Always take a step back to figure out why your idea works, and how some minor changes can change the whole work.

Other advice she offered included:

"Always remember what moves you, and ask who is speaking in the piece.

Write the truest sentence that you know.

Be in the most comfortable place for you to be.

Reread your favorite books as they become "comfort foods" which create "comfort language."

Remember that form will always follow meaning."

Some resources she talk about included: The Writing Life by Annie Dillard, A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemmingway, and One Writer's Beginnings by Eudora Welty.

Campbell performed one of her songs, "Tupelo's Too Far" during the workshop and held a concert at Piedmont on the 19th. She was a pleasure to have and attendees learned a lot about creative writing. To learn more about Campbell and her music, visit her website at

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