The other night, I and a Twitter friend, Jo Carroll, were talking about writing groups, and came up with the idea of doing a dual blog post about the groups we're involved with. First, here's Jo:
This post has grown out of a twitter-chat: we were wittering about our groups and it was clear that we both value them, but they are organised differently.
Which got me wondering whether it's the structure of a group that matters, or the fact that it is an opportunity to work collectively with people we trust.
I go to a group that used to call itself a Life Writing Group. It is organised by a woman who also teaches with the OU; she brings and exercise or two, gives us homework, and generally keeps us in order. A year or so ago we spent a lot of time talking about memory and how to reframe that into something literate. We laughed (and wept a little) and wrote some wonderful pieces.
We've grown, over the year. While the structure of the group is the same, and some of us are still working almost entirely on memoir, others have branched out into fiction - both short stories and novels - and others into poetry. We've been submitting work all over the place, and even the sniff of success is celebrated with cake.
It is the writing highlight of my week (yes, every week, during term time.)
I, meanwhile, have a very different experience. As well as being an author, I have a day job in a library, where I’ve been supporting and coordinating an adult writing group for around 3 years now. The group started out as a wellbeing group, run by another writer, and I took it over when her sessions finished.
We meet monthly, and there is a wide range of ages and interests. So often, people don’t have a space in their lives where they can be creative, so this group aims to give them that. Our main focus is on having fun and trying out new things. The sessions usually consist of short exercises which members can interpret however they want, but there is no pressure to take part if a particular exercise doesn’t inspire, and you don’t have to share your work if you don’t want to.
Alongside the adult group, I run a group for 9-14 year-olds which has been going for around a year now. It follows basically the same format as the adult group, and it’s amazing how well many of the exercises we do suit both groups! And of course, we always have chocolate – it’s essential writing fuel!
What about you? Are you in a writing group? How does it work, and what do you do? Tell us in the comments below!