Creative Writing Internship with Tamarack Song
“I’d like to start writing seriously. Where do you suggest I begin?”
By knowing where not to begin, some people just continue writing, in hopes that their style and proficiency will evolve with time and experience. This will likely come to pass—at least to some degree. Fortunately, they also tend to develop or further entrench some counterproductive writing habits and dysfunctional modes of expression. It is well-nigh unavoidable, for these two critical reasons: We are creatures of habit and pattern, and we can’t clearly see ourselves.
Around 98% of our actions are patterned responses, which includes writing. The neural connections that govern these conditioned behaviors are very hard to change—as you well know if you have ever tried to break a habit. The reason is that every time we enact the pattern, it grows stronger. The only sure way to break a particular behavior is by consistently not enacting it over a period of time, with the emphasis on consistently. Only then will the neural connections that control the pattern start eroding. It’s the positive side of the old saying, “If we don’t use it, we lose it.” To break free of a pesky writing habit, we need:
1) Awareness of the underlying pattern.
2) The ability to identify the trigger that enacts the pattern.
3) The wherewithal to consistently catch the trigger.
“But I want to write creatively,” reply some folks. “I’m not interested in formulaic writing, so patterns shouldn’t be an issue.”
Maybe in free-form poetry. Even then, creativity is borne of the tools of creation, which are best wielded when not throned by rote. Nearly every writer with whom I’ve discussed this topic states without hesitation some variation of Thomas Edison’s precept that creativity is two percent inspiration and ninety-eight percent perspiration. Much of that perspiration comes from the effort it takes to consistently catch the patterns that mask—and even squelch—creative flow.
Away with You, Stifling Habitudes!
Pattern-breaking is just as important for those of us writing for ourselves as those of us reaching out to audiences. In order for inspiration to manifest, it has to be presented in in a form that is both alluring and assimilable. More directly put, our writing has to be kept fresh. Anything less and we are largely wasting our time, as we will struggle to create and keep an audience. This includes our audience of one, as muted personal pennings are seldom revisited.
Aspiring writers ready to fly typically seek help through either coursework or personal mentorship. When considering a university or on-line creative writing class, you would serve yourself well by carefully vetting the instructor. I would suggest that you consider nothing less than an accomplished author whose work you regard highly and want to emulate.
The easiest and most effective way to learn how to drop old patterns, become creatively expressive, and develop our personal style is by assimilation. We are genetically programmed to become what we surround ourselves with, which we can take advantage of by developing a solid one-on-one relationship with a mentor. Consider these criteria for choosing one best suited for you:
1. The person is recognized for creating literature of quality and substance.
2. You resonate with the material.
3. The course incorporates a good amount of personal guidance.
4. The mentoring approach fits your personal makeup and promises to further your goals as a writer.
The Type of Internship I Offer
Ultimately, you and I write for one purpose: to communicate. In order to do this well, we need to develop our ability to envision. Before laying down a single word, we must envision our characters or topic matter, and we must envision our audience. To do this, we have to get out of ourselves and assume other roles, much as do actors and athletes. I have my interns practice this in two ways: extemporaneous writing and editing. Off-the-cuff composing is akin to a spontaneous conversation with someone you’ve just met. Nuances of thought and quirks of personality manifest. Unscripted dialogue such as this feels fresh and alive, and ideas take on the depth and character of the envisioner.
In order to do well at editing another person’s work, I leave myself behind and become the author. I am then able to fully embrace his style and intention. I then envision his audience, in order to best facilitate the author/audience relationship. Every exemplary editor I’ve worked with has been an accomplished word-weaver as well. And many of the writers I admire maintain their vibrant edge by periodically editing other people’s works. I do the same. Other writers edit my interns’ output, in order that they can learn by example how an author steps into character.
I: My Admission Criteria
I assess applicants for three qualities:
• Raw talent, which I determine not as much by what you’ve written to date as by what I read between the lines that screams for expression.
• Passion, which is shown by the risks you’ve taken and how you have handled your stumbles and falls.
• Direction. Are you well-enough connected with your life mission at this time to maximally benefit from an internship?
II: Your Admission Criteria
It is imperative that you vet me thoroughly. Here is what I suggest you explore:
• Do you think you will feel comfortable working with me?
• After reading my material, along with reader and professional reviews of my writings, do you find yourself in accord with my style of expression?
• Will you give this internship your highest priority?
III: Personalizing the Internship
I take on only one intern at a time, in order that I may give him/her my undivided attention. We start by exploring the following questions, to craft the approach that fits for you:
What is your expressive style?
– Inspired. I encourage you to carry a recording device (laptop, pad, smart phone, voice recorder, or paper and pencil) with you at all times, and to keep one at your bedside.
– Methodical. I help you develop a step-by-step process for choosing a topic, setting a block of time, and constructively engaging.
What is your expressive method?
– Visual. You work best when you are able to see your words (or illustrations of your visualizations) appearing before you.
– Oral. You are a narrator, so I train you in storytelling technique. Your material is best voice recorded, then transcribed.
– Direct. Mechanically oriented, you have strong hand-eye coordination, which
begs the tactile feel of a push-button keyboard or pen on paper.
What is your expressive process?
– Structured. You are most creative and productive with a daily routine that is faithfully followed. Just an hour every morning, before the day’s demands and distractions start consuming energy and attention, can produce dramatic results. Research shows that even you night owls perform best early in the day.
– Spontaneous. When you are inspired or in the mood, you do well. Sometimes it just takes having the emotional space.
– Opportunistic. You like to be busy, work well under pressure, and can squeeze writing time into spare moments.
What is your organizational style?
– Stream of Consciousness. It could be a string of unrelated paragraphs or a pile of notes on scraps of paper. You need the encouragement to continue as you have, along with a personalized arranging process.
– Outline. Before you start writing, you map out your trajectory.
– Unfolding. You have it envisioned; you only need to progressively manifest it.
IV: Form and Structure
Taking all of the above into consideration, the intern and I then craft a program that best develops her/his talent and enables her/him to produce works that are both self-fulfilling and impactful. Tuition, which is based on the density and duration of the internship, can be met either traditionally or alternatively.
V. My Qualifications
Here is a summary of the recognition that my books have received from the major review programs for excellence in writing, design, and relevance:
Benjamin Franklin Book Awards
• 1 Silver Medal
Book of the Year Awards
• 1 Finalist
Feathered Quill Book Awards
• 2 Gold Medals
Eric Hoffer Montaigne Medal Finalist
Midwest Book Awards
• 3 Gold Medals
• 2 Silver Medals
• 3 Finalist
Nautilus Book Awards
• 2 Gold Medals
• 3 Silver Medals
Storytelling World Awards
Special Story Resource Gold Medal
To demonstrate the caliber of these programs, here are some of the previous Nautilus Book Award medal winners: Mariel Hemingway, David Suzuki, Barbara Kingsolver, Desmond Tutu, Deepak Chopra, Thich Nhat Hanh, Eckhart Tolle, Julia Cameron, Marianne Williamson, the 14th Dalai Lama, and Jean Houston.
Following are assessments from two award program judges. The first is for Becoming Nature, (Bear & Company, 2016) and the second for Extreme Survival Meat (Snow Wolf Publishing, 2015):
~ “Embodies everything in the category [Body, Mind, and Spirit], along with great writing, excellent illustrations, editing, and logical proven methods for living in harmony with all beings on any plane. It was the last of the 37 entries I read and I had been getting nervous about finding a #1.”
~ “An amazing manual. Well organized and precise, easy to follow. I ran this book by my outdoor expert and he agreed with all my assessments.” The book received a perfect ten score in all categories.
The Application Process:
Send your resume and 2 writing samples (non fiction preferred) to Info (at) Snowwolfpublishing (dot) org.