A Writer’s World

October 13, 2011

Christopher Woods has been teaching his popular creative writing class at the Women’s Institute for years. The class is designed for those who wish to express themselves in writing and participants are encouraged to write poetry, fiction, or non-fiction.  They are also encouraged to experiment in new forms in order to build a stronger writing foundation. We recently got a chance to visit with Chris. 

WIH Reporter: Of all the topics you could have chosen, was makes this one especially important to you?  

Woods: Conducting a writing workshop is the most natural thing I can do. I have been writing in one form or another since I was seventeen. I enjoy becoming familiar with the work of others, and encouraging them to find their voice. An added treat is to watch them find their way in the world and to begin to publish their work, which is a very gratifying thing.

WIH Reporter: What books would we find on your night table this month?
Woods:  You would find literary journals and photography books.

WIH Reporter: What were the strongest influences in your life?
Woods:  My parents. They provided such a normal childhood that I am surprised I became a writer. Later, a special creative writing teacher encouraged me, and in a way, he gave me permission to explore my own creativity. 

WIH Reporter: What is the one thing people should know about you (but do not)?
I once played guitar in a jug band on a ship crossing the Atlantic. Fortunately the ship was far away from the U.S., so no one here had to listen to my music. I don’t know that anyone needs to know about this, but it is something different. Other than that, as a writer I struggle as much as anyone else to find the right words. It’s an endless battle. 

WIH Reporter: What advice do you have for other writers?

Woods: Every writer should keep a journal, and make entries as often as possible. Most of the information in the journal will be perceptions, descriptions, and general thoughts about day to day life. From those journal entries, ideas for longer pieces can come about. A description of a person might lead to the creation of a fictional character, for example. Keep in mind that our lives are often frenetic, so any specific details that we record can be extremely helpful later when we attempt creative writing, in any form.

When an idea for a poem or story comes to me, I try to sit down and write immediately if at all possible. Otherwise, the inspiration passes. If I wait until later the moment could be lost.

WIH Reporter: What about writer’s block?

Personally, I do not believe in such a thing as writer’s block. But, we are very good at making excuses. If we want to be writers, our job is to write. Life throws roadblocks, crises, all kinds of things to take us away from our writing. There are even writing workshops for victims of trauma. I think we should try to make use of our life experiences, all kinds, and in the end we can become better writers because of it.