A new voice at the Writers’ Gym

Newsletter 17 May

Back in the era of my life when journalists were those fictional creatures called “grown-ups”, I remember reading one of them explaining how every other forty-something-year-old s/he spoke to seemed like a proper adult, while s/he was just pretending. 

That I still know, decades later, that I read it, though not where or who wrote it (to give you an idea of tone, if it wasn’t Tim Dowling then it should have been) shows me something was already ringing true, even then. But it rings a lot louder once you areone of those forty-something-year-olds, and the universe still hasn’t whispered definitive instructions; hasn’t passed you that how-to manual you remain a little bit convinced exists somewhere and everyone else read ages ago but remains stubbornly out of your eye-line.

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This is why it’s such a joy introducing Isabella Barbieri, my former MA student at Roehampton University and now my newest member of staff at the Writers’ Gym. I’ve experienced first-hand Bella’s impressive writing and editorial skills; I’m also delighted to be sharing such a friendly example of the difference between what ‘award-winning’, ‘qualified’ and ‘published’ feel like on the inside, versus what they look like on the outside! Here I am speaking to Bella earlier this week:

In addition to welcoming Bella to the team, we have another ‘first’ at the Writers’ Gym this week. InkCouragement is the writing and creative confidence webinar giving personal training for the thought habits that underscore what we write, or let ourselves write, before we’re anywhere near a pen. It’s free to members and everyone is welcome. Submit questions anonymously using the chat box on the day, or email them in advance to info@rachelknightley.com. I was so happy to receive this feedback from participants; there’s nothing more satisfying than creating the thing you know belongs in your world and seeing others benefit from it:

Feedback from InkCouragement participants this week.

Inkcouragement returns Tuesday 18 June.

My conversation with Bella reminded me that Impostor Syndrome doesn’t go away, but nor does it need to as long as we can move beyond expecting our thoughts and feelings to change, and instead change how we listen to them – because that’s a creative muscle we can exercise far more easily and authentically. “What if,” I remind myself before everything I do, “everyone out there is just as scared as I could ever be?” Then it stops being “How can I convince/impress my audience?” and becomes “How can I welcome y audience to my space?”

A reminder that comes back to me every week for one reason or another, either for a client or a friend or for myself, is that grown-ups are like dragons or gryphons or unicorns: a lovely idea, but they don’t exist. The only person who decides what a grown-up version of me looks like is me. The more authentically I listen to what that means, the less it’ll look exactly like the next person – whether that’s how and what I write, dress, do or choose to be. 

Obvious to say, but not always to feel. So, this is my Creative I-Dare-You to myself and anyone else who wants it this week:

With any (maybe every) choice that comes up, ask yourself in curiosity:

“If I were writing the script, what would my character choose to do now?”

Take ourselves off autopilot, and we might just find we were the one writing the story all along. 

Join the Writers’ Gym this week:

Friday 17 May, 11am-1pm: Writing Room EXTRA Members only: please check your Voxer messages for the link.

Monday 20 May, 11am-1pm: The Writing Room FREE for everyone on my mailing list. Time and space to think and write with likeminded people. No expectations, no readings, just an open chat box and unmuting for ten minutes’ chat at the end.

Tue 21 May, 1-2.30pm: Writing the Self Memoir, Lifewriting and Fictionalised Experience. Find the story at the heart of the experience and the skills to share it with the audience you want. 30% off for members. Free for Writers’ Gym founder members and VIP members: type your discount code where indicated.

Wednesday 22 May, 1-2.30pm: Coffee & Creativity Community time to talk, write and share work, ambitions and celebrations. 15 minutes’ chatting time either side frames the writing time, to move forward in your creative work.

Thursday 23 May, 7pm-9pm: Your Creative Writing Toolkit at Riverside StudiosJoin me in person at Riverside Studios. Book with discount code CREATIVE20 so they know you’re a member or friend of the Writers’ Gym!

Friday 24 May, 11am-1pm: Writing Room EXTRA Members only: please check your Voxer messages for the link.

Plan your writing workouts from events listed up to a month ahead, or request your membership booklet on the website.

Catch the latest episode of The Writers’ Gym podcast on Apple, Spotify or any of your favourite platforms.