That was the take-away advice award-winning Author and Poet Nadine Williams gave to Theatre in Education (T.I.E.) students from St. Mary Catholic Secondary School.
In its 4th year, T.I.E. is a unique specialized theatre program offered once a year at St. Mary that focuses on building leadership through the dramatic arts. The class is open to all secondary students across the Board, providing them an opportunity to explore all aspects of theatre production, sketch comedy, and improvisation.
Williams was invited by Head of Arts Kathryn Newberry to share her experience with storytelling and offer inspiration to eager young writers.
An immigrant to Canada, Williams recalled growing up in Jamaica without access to information beyond the horizon of her home. For her, books were an escape and a way to absorb new concepts, which, she said, shaped her career as a published author.
"Read," she emphasized.
But more importantly, write.
Williams focused her talk on the idea of storytelling, and the importance of sharing stories, even if they aren't your own experiences.
"If you have a talent, it's important you share it often," she said.
"And be proud of your work. When you are writing a piece, you have to think 'wow, someone needs to hear this.'"
To help get the creativity flowing, Williams invited the students to take part in an interactive activity that involved adding lines to one of her existing poems. Students took turns expanding the piece, unknowingly following her next piece of advice of "just start."
Let it flow, she said. "Just start. Don't judge yourself, or what you think others will judge you on."
While Williams was adamant about being confident, she also acknowledged the importance of accepting criticism as a method of improvement.
"Be original. Believe in yourself. Listen to feedback."