If you’ve ever thought of writing a book or are interested in sharpening your skills, award-winning national bestselling author Margaret Johnson-Hodge is ready to help you with a free online writing workshop taking place on April 11. I recently spoke with her about the event.
Tell me about your online writing workshop.
My writing workshop is designed for anyone who has the desire to write, no matter their skillset. I welcome aspiring, hoping, wishing and all the way to published. Using highly intuitive prompts and exercises, I gently guide the participants towards their true, authentic creative self, giving them the “permission,” “space” and “freedom” to fully explore the stories they wish to write. I also share bona-fide tips, tricks and tools I’ve learned over the years to help make their tomes better. Writing can be a very serious thing, but it should also be enjoyed. So, I strive to provide an atmosphere where everyone feels welcome, relaxed and inspired.
Why did you decide to host it?
I was scheduled to do two in-person writing workshops for the spring. With the current state of world events, I knew that being in a room with people would not be possible. On the same hand, there were people who were looking forward to my workshop, and so I decided to go on-line.
What do you want participants to learn from it?
I want them to embrace the power of the written word. Why? Because it can change lives. It changed mine, and it has changed others. How many books have been read that encouraged the reader to pick a different course for lives; see, for the first time, that they weren’t “alone” in a certain situation or, whatever/whomever they were struggling to become was possible? And all of that starts with someone who gets an idea for a story—a spark that moves them to commit words onto paper, creating a book.
Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Cage Bird Sings was my catalyst to write. What if she hadn’t found the courage to write it? There’s no way to count the number of people she impacted and changed for the better because she did. How many more Maya Angelous are in the world but don’t feel they have the talent or the will or the drive to write and simply don’t? I want my participants to understand the power in writing and find the guts, the strength and the courage to sit down and write their stories because they matter. That’s what I want them to not only learn, but embrace.
What’s the best writing advice you have ever gotten?
Read a lot. Write a lot and keeping putting words onto the page until you are able to type “THE END.” It’s just the “beginning,” but you can’t have a finished body of work until you write that first draft!
What’s the worst writing advice you have ever gotten?
You have to outline your whole story before you begin to write it. Now, that method may work for some (and if it sure does) but it doesn’t work for me. The only thing it did was stunt both the story and my writing. I prefer the “mystery” approach—I get a title, a situation or a character in my head, and I just sit down and write, allowing the story to lead me wherever it wants to go. I really don’t know what’s going to happen or how it’s going to end, but I trust the story to tell me. Every method is not going to work for every person, so I always encourage everyone to find the method that works for you.
Who is your favorite author and why?
I’ve had three since I was a teenager. James Baldwin (I hear melody in his paragraphs and phrasing,) Maya Angelou (she bravely told her truth for all the world to see and inspired me to write) and early Stephen King (he uses a technique I call the “Onion Theory” where he slowly peels back/reveals the inner workings of a character). I’ve gained more favorites since then, but those are my top three. (Sorry, I couldn’t pick just one, lol.)
What’s next for Margaret Johnson-Hodge?
Beyond my writing workshops, I’ve been inspired to do a book-related project. I can’t speak on it now, but Lord knows, I’m excited!
Do you have anything you would like to add?
Whoever you are, wherever you are, hold fast to your dreams. No matter what the naysayers say or your own mind, hold fast. We all have purpose in life, and that dream that seems impossible may be your purpose. So, keep pressing toward it and never, ever give up.
Learn more about award-winning national bestselling author Margaret Johnson-Hodge and her writing workshop:
Author Website: https://www.mjhodge.net/
Writing Workshop Website: https://www.mjhwritingworkshops.net/participant-reviews.html