One of the most positive aspects of the new virtual world we’ve found ourselves in, is that it’s enabled us to try our hand at things we might never have done before, especially if we’d had to walk in, on our own, to a room full of real people who already knew each other.
This, I think, is especially true of creative writing. Which is why my Tuesday afternoons have been transformed since joining Creative Writing with Grace. Grace is an experienced author and a fantastic tutor who gently guides us around the world of storytelling.
I came to the class for the first time just before Christmas. The last time I’d written anything involving my imagination was probably around 1973, when doing my O’levels, so I was certainly very nervous about what to expect.
But the minute I came into the class, I was put at my ease. Grace welcomed the two of us who were first timers into the group, then everyone introduced themselves and told us where they came from. This always happens when someone new joins. We do generally keep our screens on, except when we are writing, but it’s certainly not obligatory.
Each session follows a similar pattern, but always with very different results. After introducing the afternoon’s focus, Grace shows us examples of relevant writing, which is so helpful and informative. We have covered subjects such as empathy, plot, character, historical fiction and freedom. Grace has shown us how to use mind maps to help with the initial development of character, along with questions we might ask about them, such as ‘what do they always have in their pocket?’. We have also thought of different ways to describe the weather to help with scene setting.
Armed with our new tools, off we go for about 20 minutes to see where this takes us, whether it be prose or poetry. At first, I thought my brain would just go blank, but I’ve been really pleasantly surprised by what comes out. Grace will always supply a more detailed prompt if needed.
We then get the opportunity to share what we’ve written. This is probably the bit that scares people the most about joining a creative writing group and I was the same. As a naturally shy person, I dreaded the first time I read my work out loud, but I shouldn’t have done, everyone is so positive about each other’s work. I would stress, though, there is absolutely no pressure to share anything. Sometimes people will just read a line or two, or tell Grace what they have found difficult. I was trying to write some prose about my mother’s time during the war, and struggled to come up with anything except a few anecdotes. Grace suggested that perhaps I could write a poem instead. Bingo!
When there are lots of us, we are put into small ‘breakout rooms’, which is lovely, as we get to know the other members better, and it’s perhaps less daunting to share with one or two others, especially when you are just starting out.
Aside from the main event, we do short writing exercises that get the creative juices flowing. These are really good fun and I guarantee you will be very surprised what happens when you haven’t got time to think too much.
I would urge everyone to give this class a try, it’s a really safe and gentle space to learn a new skill and you never know where it may take you. In my case, the class has given me the confidence to enter a piece into a flash fiction competition which, amazingly, was shortlisted.
I really look forward to seeing you all there soon!
Fancy coming along to one of our creative writing workshops? Everyone is welcome, simply click here to find out more and to book your place.