I booked this workshop with no idea what I had got myself in for. As I arrived, I realised in the scorching hot sun, I had forgot to bring my bottle of water and was about to spend two hours in a container.
Thankfully, Richard O’Neill came prepared with water, notebooks and pens for everyone. We felt rather spoilt despite our unusual setting. Richard’s wife Louise helped us all settle into the container, where we sat on blankets, cushions and someone had brought a camping chair.
Richard began the session but talking about Containment. He talked about his background and the things that have held him back and how he has learnt to consider whether a barrier is his perception or a reality. Sometimes, all it takes to free yourself it to change the way you think.
I could relate to this a lot. For a long time, I described myself as an aspiring writer because I don’t have anything published. Then, I realised that I am a writer because I write. And, I write a lot. I also felt my writing wasn’t good enough to share as I was not good at English at school despite enjoying it, I certainly don’t have a degree. But, I realised that my writers voice is what sets me apart, it makes my stories unique and my writing is good without some fancy certificate.
Richard then asked us to imagine we were somewhere else. Where would we want to be? He then left us to write about this place. The he got us all to share what we had written and we had all wrote something different. He pulled out parts that he liked from our writing.
I wrote about Mauritius. I went back to the white sandy beaches and crystal blue sea that I enjoyed for my honeymoon with a cocktail in hand.
Richard talked about the different constraints that people have. He talked about how he has delivered workshops in prison and that those students were obviously physically constrained within those walls. He spoke about a project he is involved with about diversity in books and how the subject is much deeper than just the colour of a persons skin. He explained how he grew up living as a traveller and the constraints the lifestyle presented.
Then Richard asked us to think about our own barriers to writing and got us to write them down and think about how to overcome those barriers. Some of the participants wrote down a paragraph but I chose to do a spider diagram as that is something I like to do when problem solving.
It was a very enlightening experience. I do have a lot of barriers to my writing but I choose to overcome these because writing is important to me. Everyday, I don’t give up.
Richard & his wife did a tremendous job at making everyone feel welcome. Richard is an incredibly charming man who made us to think and question. He encouraged everyone’s writing and didn’t make anyone feel on the spot or stupid. I think we all came away from the session feeling motivated – I know I did.
What are your barriers to writing? Can you break free from your containment?
To learn more about Richard O’Neill and his books, you can follow him on Twitter or visit his website.
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