Writing Boot Camp with Yvette Nolan

I went to Boot Camp yesterday.  I spent a few hours in the basement of the Frances Morrison Library with a

Yvette Nolan - Writer-in-Residence

Yvette Nolan - Writer-in-Residence

bunch of aspiring and inspiring writers.  We wrote and talked about writing and read our writing and learned about writing. The workshop was led by Yvette Nolan.  Currently she is the writer-in-residence for the Saskatoon Public Library – a position that has been held by a ridiculous number of fascinating and talented people (Alice Kuipers, Yann Martel and Guy Vanderhaeghe to name a few).  Ms. Nolan is an accomplished playwright and dramaturge – which until just this very moment I did not realize are two very different things. She gave us three writing assignments over the course of the afternoon – which were good to get the juices flowing and gave me some more insight into one of my characters.  I was interested to hear others’ writing and ideas.  One woman has a story about a naked man she needs to write.  The most awesome thing about this story is that it is a true story.  Many years ago in her grandmother’s hometown a naked fellow came running off the bald prairie.  No one ever caught up with him to find out why he was naked and running across the prairie.  He was later found drowned in a nearby slough.  How weird and awesome is that?  That will make a great story.  Ms. Nolan prepared for the workshop by contacting some writer-friends and asking them to share their thoughts about the writing process.  The gathered group chatted about that too.  Here’s some of the ideas I took away:


  • If the writer ‘cares’ the reader will ‘care’
  • Boreal Gourmet by M. Genest
  • Marion (Marian?) Toews (Taves?)
  • Complicated Kindness
  • Laurel Perry
  • Get the word count up
  • List things
  • Don’t hyphenate names
  • Find out about this 3-day writing competition
  • “sit the heck down and do it.”
  • Sage Hill writing program (SWG)
  • Discipline and practice
  • “every first draft sucks anyway so you might as well get one out in a month rather than agonize over it for years.” Laurel Perry
  • Set rules for your writing practice
  • Limit research while writing
  • When you can/should do it
  • Use place holders for what you don’t know
  • Write when it’s good for you
  • Early morning
  • Mid-evening
  • Names are important; everything means something; if you don’t choose something the reader will ‘write’ over it
  • Get to the action! Get a plot! Use active verbs! Move the plot first, use editing/rewriting to create description
  • Read stuff and figure out what you like
  • Anne Marie Macdonald
  • Stephen King – On Writing
  • The War of Art  – S. Pressman
  • Writing Down the Bones
  • R.J. Ray – The Weekend Novelist
  • Candace Savage – Bees, prairie; speaking at the library October 20-something
So, that’s what I learned about writing on the weekend.  I’m not exactly certain what everything means, but I’m sure it’s all good stuff!