A two day, first of its kind Creative Writing Workshop was held at the Ashram from 29th February, conducted by Swamiji and Sadhvi Vrinda Om, who are both incredible writers, published authors and masters of the craft.
Sadhviji began her session in the temple, by offering obeisance to Sri Hari and Swamiji with the auspicious Guru Stuti. She devotedly remarked that the success of her sessions hinged on his blessings alone.
The event started with a screening of the delightful animated movie ‘Kung Fu Panda’ at the dining hall, the night before. By brilliantly deconstructing and analysing the movie’s plot, characters and design and using references from popular books and movies, like Spider Man, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter amongst others, Sadhviji easily communicated intricate technical concepts that underlie the art of effective writing, in her signature lively, articulate and humorous style.
The participants were taught creative tools to write stories and use the power of words intelligently, to evoke feelings and transform the consciousness of the readers. She concluded with many useful tips and strategies from her own rich professional experience.
Swamiji’s insightful evening sessions covered various aspects of honing the craft and the mindset and skills essential to becoming a writer. He said, “To be a great writer, you need to have the desire to tell a story. Never underestimate the power of a story.” He asserted that having intention without skill meant nothing, “The idea is, to do it beautifully and the thing to know, is how to champion the art of writing.” He added,“It’s very important to fall in love, not with your writing, but the skill of writing itself, the art and the joy of writing.”
He encouraged all amateur writers to get into the habit of writing short stories every day and regular blog posts, to get practice and develop the right thought process. “Do not wait for inspiration”, he said, “Inspiration can get you the ideas but won’t get you the whole story.”
A simple rule to becoming a great writer is to, “Write a lot. Read a lot.”
Swamiji also urged, “Don’t lose your voice. Never try to copy another author. You can be inspired, but never copy an author. Write Like You.”
Referring to the deepest root of creativity, he talked about the divine thread that ties the conscious, sub-conscious and super-conscious states. He said, “When you sit in reverence, receptively, you need to be in your sacred space. Hence, create that sacred space in your home, something magical is then automatically triggered in your consciousness. Tapping into Universal energy, it then flows through you. It is accessible to the one willing to be vulnerable in Divine Love.”
Alluding to the impact of powerful openings in a book, he read out intriguing paragraphs from influential literary works like ‘Siddhartha’ by Hermann Hesse and ‘The Stranger’ by Albert Camus, to demonstrate the genius of these authors in creating and building unique plots, themes and characters.
Announcement of a short flash-fiction story competition sent a thrill of excitement amongst the participants, galvanising each one of them to give their best. Swamiji personally shortlisted 6 stories, from over 70 submissions. By a democratic show of hands, the top 3 stories were chosen that evening. He felicitated all the ecstatic winners – Neha Sharma, Sadhvi Shraddha Om and Radha Thakur.
Summing up the event beautifully, Swamiji said, “If you have a message, a story to tell; then be disciplined about it. You’ve got to start somewhere. Just sit down and write and don’t lose hope.”