Noren Haq: Muslim Women’s Stories

In this blog, Noren Haq shares her experiences of taking part in ‘Writing for Performance: Muslim Women’s Stories‘, our project in partnership with Glasgow Women’s Library. These writing workshops place Muslim women at the heart of their own creative experience and provide the space, time and support needed for them to tell their stories on their own terms. 

Ok. I’ll admit it. I procrastinate. In a world that is so fast paced and distracting, we numb ourselves with the busy nothings of everyday life and it can sometimes feel impossible to actually sit down and write. Just one more YouTube video. Oh, and I need to check my Twitter feed. Five cups of tea later and you realise you haven’t written a word.

And then with steely determination you sit in silence and give the blank page before you the best version of your death stare. But then the inevitable internal whisper gnaws at your insides. ‘you’re not good enough’ and ‘this is rubbish’ and ‘what makes you think you can be a writer?’ Creativity is so often stifled by self-doubt.

That all changed for me when I began attending the ‘Writing for Performance: Muslim Women’s Storiesworkshops at Glasgow Women’s Library, led by the fabulous Sara Shaarawi. There I was given a space in which to express myself creatively amongst kind, supportive and talented women and I found a sanctuary for my creativity amongst like-minded individuals whose constructive comments would shape and develop my ideas.

This is the second year I have taken part in these workshops and I had previously never even considered writing a play before. Yet, over the duration of the course Sara has taught with such passion and eloquence that I became increasingly fascinated by the process as I attended each week, always eagerly looking forward to the next. The course has covered such things as conflict, structure, setting and voice while giving examples from excerpts of different plays. Reading through a diverse range of plays has created really interesting discussion and inspiration for our own writing and throughout it all Sara has gently led us through thought provoking writing tasks that stretch you and allow you the freedom to write without fear or embarrassment. It has been such an empowering experience to write a script under her guidance, and watch it being brought to life by professional actors at the brilliant celebration event at the end of the course.

Not only has the course taught me so much about writing in general, but it has also made me reach a level of self-awareness about my own creative processes and given me the confidence and motivation to continue. It would not be an exaggeration to say that I have loved every minute of these weekly sessions, learning so much in such a relaxed and fun atmosphere and amongst such good company, chatting, laughing and exchanging ideas over tea and cake.

Muslim Women’s Stories is an open writing group for Muslim women. If you would like to be part of it then join the Facebook group.

A Zoom event is taking place on Saturday 25th July for participants to hear their work read aloud and receive feedback. A reading at Glasgow Women’s Library showcasing the plays written by participants is being planned for the coming months.