Happy New Year!
If you have been following my blog for a while, you are aware I lead a senior creative writing group in Winter Garden, Florida – The Ink & Quill Writer’s Group. It’s been the best thing I have done for my writing. I know people say that one learns more from teaching something than by just doing something. I can testify to that. I intended from the start to just lead this group rather than to teach, but I saw a need with the folks that made up the group. I am one who collects articles about all things writing, so I just started bringing those articles to the group and summarizing them. That lead to more of a short teaching time followed by each member reading what they had written from the prompts I had given them the time before. What a wonderful experience it has been! Here are some of the things I have learned from this group:
- Each writer comes to the group with their own background, their own voice in how they write, and their own skill set. It seems to be just as important to know these things as it is to be aware of why they are coming to the group. I have been awed by those that could write a rap, poems, song lyrics, science fiction, homey poetic stories – the list goes on and on. No one writes the same, and everyone has some sort of story they can tell.
- I have learned that some people are better storytellers than writers and that is OK. You can hone their writing skills, but it is harder to teach someone to tell a story, than the mechanics of writing a story.
- Challenging the members to try something different is … well … a challenge! Some step tentatively into a different genre or type of writing, others avoid it, and a few just dive in and try to embrace the challenge. I give them at least three different prompts, and they can do all of them or just one. Often I see them doing the one that is the most comfortable for them, but sometimes they will stretch themselves and try something that’s out of their comfort zone. Many times that turns out to be something they are quite proud of because they had to work hard to get it right.
- If you are encouraging to each writer, each writer encourages the others. I revel in each person’s improvements in writing. Sometimes it takes months to see the progress, but when it happens, the whole group sees it and praise the writer for those improvements.
- Knowing that I need to produce something for the writing group twice a month, keeps me writing! Collectively the Group expects you to write – therefore you have to write! It keeps you accountable to persist in putting those words on the paper. It spurs you on, keeps the juices flowing, and makes you more creative.
- It has made me a better writer. Not only have I written more since forming the group, but I have learned so much from others that it has improved my writing.
- Having fun when you write is what makes writing so enjoyable. The group experience brings out the fun involved in writing and being creative. So many times our discussions during the meetings have gone off topic, but often that has been some of our more memorable meetings. What these discussions turn out to be is exploring being creative, finding our voice, and following our passion. We become being better writers because of this.
I’d love to hear what your experience has been being part of a writing group. Feel free to comment.