There are plenty of activities to get involved with at the Japan Writers Conference taking place in Tokyo this weekend. You can’t be everywhere at once, though, so here’s a look at some of the presentations that caught my attention.

Recasting Your Inner Critic as a Fool

Everyone’s got one — some more than others — but what happens when your inner critic takes up too much of your creative space? Recast it as a different character, says novelist Rosey Chang. Challenging that inner voice, this experiential workshop aims to take down your super-ego a few pegs by getting you involved in a writing activity that will have you occupying your own inner critic. Bring a pen.
(Saturday Oct. 12, 9 a.m., Room 1)

How Writers Write

The title of this talk may seem like an oversimplification, but sometimes it’s the simple stuff that prevents new writers from starting on their path to success. Swing by this presentation featuring writer Wendy Jones Nakanishi to learn how to get started. Writing those first words can be excruciating, so if you have a ton of ideas but none of the know-how, this talk could be for you.
(Saturday Oct. 12, 10 a.m., Room 1)

The Serious Play of Surrealism: How to Generate Poems while Having Fun with Yourself and Others

Mark Yakich and Loren Goodman playfully delve into the world of surrealist poets in this session. The workshop will focus on the various games and strategies that helped them create poems in unconventional ways, which means participants are in for question/answer machines, automatic writing, exquisite corpse and cut-up techniques. This one upends convention and is for anybody looking to push their poetic boundaries.
(Saturday Oct. 12, 2 p.m., Room 3)

Objective Self-Editing: What Cats Can Teach Us about Killing Our Darlings

It’s all well and good knowing how to be a writer but putting things on the page is only half the struggle — it’s taking them off again that’s the hard part. Knowing how to self-edit is a key element to success and that’s what GLOBIS Insights Editor-in-Chief Melissa McIvor sets out to impart to participants in this session. From the very basics to what editors actually expect of submissions, McIvor will delve into the sticky business of how to get unstuck when your sentences are being micromanaged.
(Sunday Oct. 13, 9 a.m., Room 2)

Pictures to Words: Using the Photographs of John Einarsen as inspiration for Microfiction and Micropoetry

Tokyo-based writer Rebecca Otowa discusses the technique of drawing inspiration from photographs to inform her own writing and how it can be used as inspiration. The workshop involves the photography from Kyoto Journal Editor-in-Chief and photographer John Einarsen, whose work will be projected throughout. Participants will get to choose one (or more) photographs and try writing their own pieces of microfiction using the image as a muse.
(Sunday Oct. 13, 10 a.m., Room 4)

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