Author Gives Life-Changing Tips on Surviving a Workshop

Harold Cohn is someone who knows a thing or two about getting words into print, but what is it like for those just starting out? Few authors share much about their early days before they managed to get their work ready for publication, so the team here sat down with Cohn to hear more about what it was like. The following are the words he shared over the course of an enjoyable afternoon last week.

“I decided to go to a writer’s workshop. I took a trail I believed would put me in contact with other creative writers. One of the tasks was to pen a verse, so I wrote a poem “SMOG” and I read it to the class on the second night of the workshop. A few of my classmates made some constructive comments, which I jogged down. Then “THE LITTLE YELLOW MAN” jumped up and screamed: “SMOG IS YELLOW!” I was shocked! I did not know what to do! So, I took my seat. I did not say a thing more. I watched the clock tick slowly by. When the class ended, I went home and never returned to the class!”

It’s certainly not what we were expecting to hear from someone who has gone on to write about such a diverse range of areas with such conviction. Is this something that many writers will confirm is a common experience, and one which will derail more fragile creatives in ways that mean they never fulfill their potential?

“Yes, there is a “Little Yellow Man” in every creative writing class. You can call him the “Village Idiot,” a pain in your south part when your head is the North Pole. Now you know who “The Little Yellow Man” is do not try to correct him. Just smile at him and let him rave on and make a “south-part” out of himself.”

It’s a refreshingly honest way of looking at the world of communal creativity. So are there many words of wisdom he would like to leave to the next generation of authors?

“Follow your dreams and ignore the Little Yellow Man. He’s there to point out the all the reasons why something shouldn’t happen, while offering nothing constructive of his own. Because he never writes, he never creates; and because he never creates, he’s never open to criticism. Let him stay in his castle and let your pen talk. Nod politely when he shouts across the room, and the get back to doing what you know you enjoy and what you’re passionate about getting good at.”

For more words of wisdom, check out his latest anthology at Amazon.com.

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