Join West Hollywood poet Steven Reigns for “The Secret of Writing is Writing”, a three-hour accountability writing session on Saturday, March 4, 2023, from 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. at the West Hollywood Library, located at 625 N San Vicente Blvd. No RSVP is needed and participants can arrive or depart at any time. The session is supported by West Hollywood Arts & Cultural Affairs Individual Artist Grant.
According the to event flyer, this isn’t a workshop, reading, or discussion. This is an
opportunity to sit with other writers and write. “Reading books on running, talking with runners, and watching runners will not make you a runner,” Reigns tells WEHO TIMES. “The tread of your sneakers hitting the pavement makes you a runner.”
Reigns has created a structured time and space for others to write in his public session: The Secret to Writing is Writing. “Instead of giving a reading or teaching another workshop, I thought I could be more helpful to the community by creating this session,” he said. “It seems so easy to write and yet it’s not. Almost everything is a louder distraction than the blank page. Things can easily pull our attention away from writing. Writer Fran Leibowitz, known for a decades long writer’s block, said in the documentary ‘Public Speaking’ that coal mining is the only job harder than being a writer.”
Event is generating a response according to West Hollywood Library Adult Services Librarian Emilie Alcock, “I’ve been getting a fair number of questions about the listing. It’s sparked interest and interrogation,” she said. “Is it a writing class? Is it a talk? Will writing prompts be given?”
The intent of the writing session is for participants to sit and write together in silence. Participants can write in any form or any subject matter they’d like. Reigns said he will not be policing anyone’s output but will encourage participants to not check social media. “Any updates can wait,” he said. “The world and your social life will be fine without updates for 3 hours. Give yourself this time fully.”
Reigns has taught writing workshops for over 25 years and has created this new concept informed by those decades of teaching, “I’m not discounting the community creation or information sharing in a workshop but think that continual engagement in workshops is a way of being emotionally safe. Only a poem or two can be written. The time structure of a workshop can prevent us from dropping down deeper.”
Will this time writing together actually work? Similar to a workout buddy at the gym, Reigns believes when writing with others we don’t cheat our goals or cut corners.
Do participants need to be there the entire time? Reigns says no. “We are all living busy lives, people can pop in and out of this session. I think of our attention and writing stamina as a muscle. This session is to help flex and strengthen that muscle.”
Reigns is the recipient this year of a WEHO Artist grant. This session is in conjunction with his grant and could have happened anywhere in WEHO. He says that instead of creating a Parisian Café situation in WEHO, he wanted to have this without the pressure to purchase anything. “I’m grateful to the library for allowing me to designate space for all of us to gather. The staff of the WEHO library is incredibly supportive of creative endeavors and of the diverse population they serve.”
Also, in the motor court is the Friends of the Library bookstore. After the workshop Reigns wants to remind participants about the ground floor resource. “Friends of the Library fund so much programming for the library. Their bookstore is one of the best used bookstores in town! The books are inexpensive, and it is a great place to discover books that might not be on the shelves of our local bookstore.”
Reigns invites anyone with something to write or complete to come to the session. “Writing is a solitary endeavor, can feel isolating, but is also sometimes intimidating and scary. Sitting next to others doing the same thing can be motivating. “