By: Rachel Katz

Creative writers in the McMaster and Hamilton community will now have an opportunity to develop their skills through one-on-one sessions and writing workshops with McMaster’s Writer in Residence. This year, Hal Niedzviecki will take on the role to assist aspiring writers for a variety of creative projects, both large and small.

To become McMaster’s 2014-2015 Writer in Residence, Niedzviecki went through a lengthy application process.

“I had to… talk about what [I] want to do, and who [I am], and why [I] would fit in. I was honoured to be selected.”

As the Writer in Residence, Niedzviecki will spend the next eight months at McMaster to hone in on his craft.

“It’s a great boost of confidence,” he said. “An opportunity like this, where you get to divide your time between writing, thinking about writing, and talking to other people about writing really helps you focus.”

Niedzviecki is also available to meet one-on-one with members of the McMaster community to give input on their creative writing.

“I see my job on campus as being able to foster creativity and those things that have no place in the classroom.”

He is also available to discuss photography, painting, or any creative medium that falls outside the area of standard essay writing.

To get people into the creative spirit, Niedzviecki will be hosting four sessions over the lunch hour, the first of which is Oct. 20. Each session will be about learning how to think about the world in a creative way, with the first focusing on how to tap into one’s creative side.

“I don’t think there’s one type of person who’s a writer, I think we all have the capacity to… find some way to articulate creatively what we see out in the world,” he said. By leading creative writing exercises, he hopes to help both experienced writers and novices to improve their skills.

In Nedzievski’s eyes, the three most important skills for a writer to have are virtually the same as those required for “good” writing.

“I’ve read stuff that’s not well written, but it’s really gripping and fascinating and powerful because it really is a powerful articulation of what the person is trying to say…. The only real step to writing is to be true to what you want to say and pursue that until you’ve said what you want to say.”

Niedzviecki believes there is no point at which one becomes a seasoned writer.

“There’s no moment when I said, ‘now I’ve got this,’” he said. “It’s not about winning an award or selling a lot of books or receiving acclamation from society. For me it’s the battle with the word, it’s a personal wrestling match you never win.”

When asked to give a piece of advice to writers hoping to improve their skills, Niedzviecki said, “Don’t worry about what other people are thinking about your work or you. Don’t worry about the judgments swirling around you or anyone who [questions] you. Just write. Just try to find that place inside you where it all comes out on the page.”

Despite having only begun his residency, there is no doubt that Hal Niedzviecki has already brought a high degree of enthusiasm and a great deal of wisdom to McMaster. Between leading workshops and meeting privately with the university community, he will help to bring creative thinking and writing to McMaster.

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