I often get asked what the writing groups are like so I thought I would write this about last Wednesday's "Write Your Life Story" group.
Each group is very different depending on the people who attend. Although most do involved as much talking as there is writing. Writers are storytellers so once given a safe place to chat with other like minded people this is what they do; tell their tales. I have discovered each person loves to hear other tales as much as they love to tell theirs. But what does go on Wednesdays at the Write Your Life Story times at Gwesty Glyndwr, Pensarn? Read on to find out :)
We meet in the newly refurbished left-hand-side-as-you-look-at-the-building part of Gwesty. It is lovely, bright and clear, with two sofas at the far end which make it a comfortable area for writing. There are also straight back chairs for those who prefer. Tea, coffee and cakes are always waiting for us when we arrive, and to help ourselves to during the sessions.
The session starts at 11am, but it has become known that Renly, my dog, and I arrive early so some do arrive around ten to eleven. That gives us time to start chatting before the official start. Depending on commitments the group is between two to five people; although there are ten in the group in total, but there is never a time, as yet, when everyone attends at the same time. This week there were four of us in total; myself and three participants.
This week we had a new lady join so I did a bit of a recap on the numerous reasons why people come to the group. Reasons range from wanting to preserve something for future generations to wanting to share with the wider world to just enjoying writing and wanting to come and write. No one in the group has published a book yet but some have had articles and letters published. I then went over the underlying ethos of memoir writing - that is it one's own personal story with one's own truths in them as one remembers them now, and not to be afraid to "getting it right" because each of us do remember things differently. [I will try to remember to do an whole blog piece of this at sometime]
Then those from the previously session shared their "homework" and we chatted about what had been shared with others bringing in stories that the piece had reminded them.
I am setting exercises at the moment to almost be the backstory and bedrock of the intended novel. Many of these pieces written during the sessions and as homework will be the back drop rather than the actual piece to be shared but which will lead to something that the writer does want to share. So this week we looked a ourselves: who we are, our dreams, fears, loves, expectations. The prompts were quite deep so I made sure we only spent about one minute on each of the prompts so what was written wasn't overly thought over. Then it was time for coffee and cake and a breather.
Then came the main exercise. Because of the time spent chatting during the group there was only 10 minutes to write from the exercises. I encouraged the group to look at one of their dreams or loves and write about that allowing their personality to flow into it. There were some lovely pieces; the love of being in one's garden, of wanting to be more in control of one's nighttime dreams, of wanting space to be real.
As always I like to leave time for the writers to share what they have written because I believe something more comes out from sharing. It is not to look at the technicalities of the piece because all the pieces written will be raw because they are written quickly and are very much draft pieces. But we look at what comes out for us about what was written and of course more chat and more stories come from listening to other people's pieces.
I will always join in as I think that is important in the gelling of the group. I facilitate and encourage but very much want to use the time to write too. I may plan what we are doing but I do not do any of the exercise before the session so what I write is new and a draft piece for me too.
I do have to set the alarm on my phone to let me know when it is 12.30 because otherwise we could all sit around chatting all day.
This is a safe space for people to explore their story and then decided from there what they want to share with others in print and how. The rule of the group is "whatever is said in the group stays in the group."
Do come and give us a try one day - 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month (except October) 11-12.30 at Gwesty Glyndwr, Pensarn £5 per person per session plus £2 for coffee and cake.