I’m really missing the physical experience of going to my writing groups, so this week I’m going to address that for our weekly creative writing prompt.
I’m going to pretend we’re having an old-style writing group meeting, just like we used to before all this COVID-19 malarkey took hold.
So I’ll put the kettle on. Mine’s an Earl Grey, but we also have coffee, an impressive selection of herbal teas, or old-fashioned Irish builder’s brew (Barry’s, of course). There’s also plain water straight from our County Roscommon well (it’s lovely and refreshing BTW).
I’ll open a packet of biscuits – unless someone’s had time to bake cookies?
Now down to the serious business of writing. We often do some little warm-up exercises, just to get the ink flowing.
Here’s one: choose six words from the box (I’ll have to choose for you today). I know we’ve done this before, but not with these words:
overlooking; change; music; beach; harvest; breakfast
Personally, I always take this as a challenge to put the words together to make sense with the addition of as few other words as possible. But this also works if you want to use each word as a trigger and start a story or a poem.
Write for 10 minutes. Time yourself! Try not to make too much distracting noise crunching biscuits or scratching the paper with your pen. And bracelets rattling on the table top as you write are a bit of a no-no.
You’re done? Now would be the time to share what you’ve written and admire everyone’s fantastic way with words, marvelling at how the same prompts can inspire such different material.
Since we can’t do that, I’ll give you another little exercise:
Using one of the words above as a starter, write about what is happening right now outside your window. The catch is, you mustn’t use ANY words with the letter ‘e’ (here’s a clue, only one of the words above doesn’t have an ‘e’). Tricky, but not impossible, and a great way to focus on the skill of assembling words.
Don’t disregard these little exercises, they are all about helping you hone your writing skills.
We might spend 10 minutes or more on this activity – I usually call a halt when I see most participants have stopped writing. Of course, there’s always one who is trying to fill two A4 sheets and we may have to consider taking the pen away from them (not really!).
Now, after sharing our work again (although not everyone does as it’s not compulsory), we’ll pause to top up our drinks and raid the biscuit tin. We’ll hear a bit about each other’s successes and failures and we’ll offer encouragement, praise and commiserations where appropriate.
You can read about some of my recent work here, where there’s a link to a story I recorded recently that is freshly broadcast online today.
Next, I’ll tell you about some up and coming competitions or publication opportunities. In lieu of my personal recommendations, today I commend the following excellent links for more information:
At our meetings, I will have recent copies of some interesting journals and magazines for you to browse: Writing Magazine, Writers’ Forum, Mslexia, Carve Magazine, Southword, Poetry Ireland Review, The North, Crannóg, PB Magazine, Trumpet, The Lonely Crowd, Channel, The Moth, and many more. Don’t worry, I’ll hang on to them all for next time (did I ever mention my proclivity for hoarding?).
There’ll be time for one more prompt before we finish.
I offer you a line from a poem – to inspire new work, not for you to plagiarise:
“One day you knew you must turn,
Begin to swim against the current” (from a Jane Clarke poem).
Now, where can you go with that idea? Take your time.
And then suddenly, two hours have passed, a whole packet of digestives has disappeared, and it is time for everyone to go home.
Ah, don’t you miss the good old days of a proper get together? Have faith, those days will return, eventually.
Meanwhile, keep writing!
New to me? Click here to find out more about my weekly creative writing prompts published every Wednesday at 5pm Dublin time.