I started the Bude Creative Writing Group as an experiment really, an opportunity to provide a meeting place for creative wordsmiths to gather and learn new writing techniques/improve the skills they already have. I wasn’t sure there would be any interest in it locally, or, if there was, who would attend. I wanted to keep it small, so the group would learn to know each other quickly and feel able to share their thoughts and words in a safe environment where any criticism was constructive and very much based on improvement rather than negativity. It doesn’t take much to put a fledgling writer off.
Well, people did sign up and attend the sessions at the Wharf Studio, itself an inspiring, creative space, filled with colourful art. Some wanted to write fiction, short stories or novels; indeed, some had already started but hit ‘writer’s block’. Some are keen on life history and biography. We have one person wanting to gear up for a research proposal, and another keen on children’s books. So, the variety is enormous, which keeps it energised and challenging for me as the ‘teacher’. What has amazed me from the offset has been the sheer enthusiasm to try things, to learn, to engage – and hardest of all, to share!
In a previous life I used to teach for the Open University (social sciences) and had forgotten the joys of working with other individuals keen to express themselves. One person said that other things always get in the way of writing, things we feel we should be doing instead. Women especially seem very good at feeling duty-bound and a tad guilty if they are actually spending time developing their own minds/creativity. Yet, it helps to make us better parents, companions and friends if we can direct this very human ‘need to create’ to a specific target. Some people have expressed how much they enjoy the group, that it is great to have fun being creative; it is almost giving permission to enjoy writing. Yet, for some, writing needs to generate income. Of course, this is far more likely to happen when people actually write.
Any group becomes more than the sum total of people therein. I liked this comment from one member of the group: I think we are all learning a lot from one another the more we interact. This group is definitely time well spent.
It is true, because each time we complete a writing exercise or discuss some prose, each person will have a different take on it, and approach it in a unique way. We begin to see what is effective merely from sharing ideas. I’m certainly learning a good deal, and meeting these amazing people has made me rethink how I’m writing my own book, approaching things from a slightly different angle. For me, too, my creative imagination has been unleashed by interacting with others. Each time a new person joins, or one is away on holiday, the dynamic changes; it’s fascinating to see.
I find it really rewarding to see evidence of people writing, in some cases simply getting things cathartically down on paper which have previously been locked inside. To hear someone say they were struggling with something but have now created various options to work with is amazing news. To have short stories handed in is phenomenal. To know that someone plans to get a space with their own writing desk or space demonstrates they are finally seeing their writing as important.
I’m privileged to be working with these amazing people.