Several months ago I decided to join a writing group. I’d been feeling an increasing need to get together with other writers, to get some feedback on my stalled-out writing and to re-establish some of the peer networks I’ve allowed to slide. So I bought an A5 spiral-bound notebook, sharpened my pencil, girded my loins and joined up.
That first session turned out to be quite anxious-making. It was a brand new group and none of us knew each other. We had no clear idea of what to expect or any real feel for how things would be organised either. This resulted in a fair bit of discussion before we settled down but, once that was underway, things got moving. We agreed to meet once a month and each time we get together we continue to build on the initial ideas.
We’ve tried various approaches so far, including catch-up chats about our writing, short exercises during the session and a take-home topic to write about for the following meeting. The exercises are random, but have tended to focus on an agreed topic/word. For those done during the sessions, we’ve all scribbled away madly for 10 (or so) minutes, then shared what we’ve written. The sharing is always optional, although most people have chosen to do so, and the feedback has been constructive.
The homework exercises have been a bit more of a challenge but have resulted some very amusing anecdotes and a number of very touching personal stories. I came away from the last session thinking about family, friends and the very short time we have together on this earth, partly due to this piece by group-member Rosemary Ague.
It’s only two days until we meet up again and the take-home exercise has been preying on my mind for weeks. We all agreed to write a short piece revolving around a colour of our choice, with the subject matter left up to the individual. The catch is that we’re to name the colour in the first sentence and then only allude to it after that, actually mentioning only once in any paragraph.
Right. After considering various colours and even more topics, my head had started to feel like it had a rainbow of ideas hovering around in it – but nothing much made it to the page. Then, yesterday morning, I listened to Joanne Fedler talking about her upcoming 7-day writing challenge.
“Some days we’re going to sit down and we’re just going to write rubbish… If you write one or two sentences that make you go ‘Oh, WOW!’ – well, then that’s been a really good writing day… But writing rubbish is better than writing amazing things in your head. Amazing stories in your head don’t count… The only thing that counts is words on the page. So put some words on the page! Let them be rubbish – that’s part of the process… just do it!”
Thank you, Joanne. I already knew this, but I managed to lose sight of it in amongst all the colour and noise. I’ve chosen yellow – because it makes me happy – and I’m almost-nearly satisfied with at least one of the paragraphs that have emerged 🙂