THE lockdown is giving many a chance to write and there is help on hand from successful writers giving free advice to aspiring authors.
Mahsuda Snaith has written the novels The Things We Thought We Knew and How To Find Home, along with writing short stories and leading creative workshops. The award-winning author is using that knowledge to offer a free writing course on YouTube.
Eastern Eye’s Mita Mistry caught up with Snaith to find out more.
What made you want to offer a free writing course?
I’d been thinking about creating some YouTube writing workshops for a while as I’ve taught creative writing for many years and thought it would be great to put up advice somewhere that was free and accessible to everybody. Then lockdown came and I thought if anyone is interested in writing and needs accessible writing workshops it’s now! I waited for a break in my diary and dedicated it to making videos with the idea of just seeing how it went. They have been received positively, so I am trying to put up new workshops regularly.
Tell us about the course that you offer?
My free writing course has a series of very short workshops. They’re short, so that even if you’ve only got five minutes, you’ll hopefully get something useful out of it. Each workshop has a different focus – finding ideas and plotting a novel for example, and gives three quick tips on how to develop in that area. Because they’re short, viewers could also watch a few in a row and in any order. It’s completely flexible.
What is your top tip for aspiring writers to get started?
We often think our differences are weaknesses, but with writing I think it’s your strength. Being able to see the world from a different perspective brings uniqueness to your writing that no one else can replicate. Rather than run away from it, look at your differences and see how you can use them in a story. Also, make sure you find time for writing. It’s a difficult thing to do, but without writing time, you’ll find it hard to develop and grow in a way that satisfies you.
What is it that got you started as a writer?
I’m one of those annoying people who knew I wanted to be a writer since I was eight years old. I was a shy, isolated kid who loved stories and when I started writing my own, I found that a whole new world opened up for me. Once I started writing, I just couldn’t stop. Writing has really been a life passion for me.
What tip would you give those experiencing a writer’s block?
I have done a workshop on writer’s block, but the main thing I’d say is keep working on something. This won’t be the bit you’re stuck on, but anything writing related – a short story, poem, journal or simply another part of the thing you’re working on – it will keep the cogs moving. Sometimes your brain just needs a break from trying to figure something out, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you get stuck. You might find that the answer comes to you when you are not so focused on the task and, probably, when you least expect it.
What is it that inspires you as a writer?
People primarily, I’ve noticed that I’m particularly inspired by the people who we don’t usually hear from. I get drawn to the unheard voices of our society and unsung heroes, which at the moment are all the amazing people keeping this country functioning. NHS staff, careworkers, cleaning staff, refuse collectors, supermarket workers, delivery drivers and many more; we don’t usually get to hear many of these people’s stories. Hopefully, this will change during lockdown and it might even be an area I delve into myself if I find the right story.