3 January 2013 - 11:08 am

Creative Writing Group: into 2013

I have been pondering the future of my Creative Writing Group for a while now. I have been running it for over 4 years, and it’s good to stop and consider the situation every now and then.

It’s going really well. As I mentioned in the 2012 retrospective post, I still get a really good turnout, and people seem to enjoy the sessions. I still enjoy running it.

Still, it has been getting hard to think of things to talk about at each session. I don’t want to repeat material too much or people will just get bored and stop coming. On the other hand, I’ve got enough fresh members that most of them won’t remember the first time we went over things.

Also, over the time the CWG has been running, the format has evolved. We used to do regular critiques, but that dropped off over the past couple of years because no-one wanted to submit pieces for critiquing. I’m perfectly fine with that; I run the CWG for its members, so I’m happy to go with their preferences.

Lately, I’ve been leading discussions on specific topics. I usually get a pile of material together, and either talk us through it or call on others for opinions and experiences (most often, both). The room in the library that we use has a whiteboard, and this is proving useful for gathering information and prompting discussions.

It has been a great learning experience for me. I’ve done a lot of writing courses and study, but I don’t pretend to know everything there is to know about writing. I may lead the group but it’s not about expounding my views. It’s about exploring different aspects of writing and working out what’s important for our writing. In preparing for a meeting, I research the topic of the month to make sure I’m not just taking my own limited knowledge in with me.

For example, when preparing for a meeting about planning novels/long-form stories, I had to look up the snowflake method because it’s a basic planning method. It’s not for me, but the whole point of these sessions is to share things that others might find of use. It’s hard to do that if you don’t know what the options are.

That’s all going really well, but like I said, I was starting to run dry of things to talk about. It felt like it was time to shake things up a little and see if I could refresh our group. I want 2013 to start with a surge of enthusiasm and engagement.

So, at our last meeting, we had a long discussion about what sort of things we wanted to talk about in the CWG. I ask at every meeting if people have stuff they wanted to explore and got few responses. This time, with the prospect of a new year and a fresh start, the group opened up and gave me a whole list of things they wanted to tackle. I was delighted! For some of it, I have no idea how I’m going to find material to talk about. Other stuff I already have loads of notes prepared. I’m looking forward to both!

I also floated the idea about getting critiquing going again. On the heels of a frenetic NaNoWriMo, most of the people in the CWG have at least a first chapter. The reactions were overwhelmingly positive about this idea, and so we’re going to give it a try.

So now I’m really enthused about the CWG going into 2013. I have lots of stuff to look into, which is something different to fill my brain up with. I love learning new things. And the CWG members seem eager to keep going.

I’m also pondering some marketing options. I’ve had many comments about how people struggle to find the group and most have stumbled across it by accident or heard about it by word of mouth (for example, through NaNo). I’ve got a couple of options that I can pursue, so maybe I’ll try them out and see what happens.

Another thing I’m pondering is what to do in April. The library where I hold the group can’t let us have the room that month, so we’ll be homeless. I want to do something else instead. But what? Some kind of Writing Derby? Games? A party? I’d like to take the opportunity to do something a little different (no-one likes a stale writer) and there are so many options that I don’t know where to start!

I’m sure something will come to me. It usually does. If all else fails, I’ll just pick the brains of my writers.

Feeling good about the CWG in 2013; I think it’s going to be heaps of fun!

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