I really enjoyed speaking to the West Sussex Writersgroup last night. I don’t need much of an excuse to start enthusing about poetry or history and I was delighted to have the excuse to talk at length about both.
Although writing is mostly a solitary pursuit, I do think there’s a lot of value in spending time with other writers, whether that’s workshopping together or working separately on the same writing prompts. There was clearly something in the air last night as the talented audience produced some amazing work in very little time. I don’t know whether it’s the ticking clock that can push the imagination, or the invisible pressure of someone scribbling alongside you, but there is something very special about ideas that come from workshop prompts. It’s like the writing appears out of thin air and is conjured not by the workshop leader but the whole group, working together.
It was quite strange for me to be on the other side of that dynamic last night. I’ve attended a lot of writing workshops and I will continue to do so because I love them and there’s always something new to learn. However, it’s one thing to attend respond to prompts in a workshop and quite a different matter to be the one wielding the stopwatch. Part of me wanted to join in and write away, but I didn’t trust myself to stay honest on the timing if I was suddenly seized by an idea. Despite feeling a bit awkward while I let everyone write, it was worth giving that time. My favourite part of the evening was hearing some of the rich, varied and often moving work that came from the prompts. The idea that I had watched the creation of those poems, perhaps even nudged them slightly into being, was really special.
I was delighted to be welcomed so warmly by the West Sussex Writers and to meet so many talented and interesting people during the evening. If you’re a writer in the area looking to connect with like-minded writers, then this might be an excellent place to start. They have a fantastic roster of guest speakers and I was honoured to be listed amongst them. The group also runs regular meetings, events and competitions throughout the year.
And if you’re not local to the area, you might want to seek out a local group for support, inspiration and the occasional workshop. If all else fails, set yourself a timer and see what happens when you give yourself just five or ten minutes to crystallise an idea. If it helps, imagine there are writers all around you attempting to the do the same thing. Somewhere in the world, they probably are.