Despite Sydney's varied artistic and cultural scene, I noticed that there is a distinct lack of opportunities for amateur writers to gain constructive criticism on their efforts through writing groups, read-meets and poetry open-mic nights. Being eager to hone my craft, I decided to take advantage of this opportunity and try out a writing group.
I scoured the activity forums for people who had similar interests and found a post from a writer who was new in town from London. 'We used to have writers clubs all over London, and I would like to get started writing again in Singapore. Anybody interested?' was her message to the forum. I replied to her email and said that I was out with a similar intention and if she would like to start something together, I was willing. And thus, Saturday Morning Writers was born.
Activities forums are great when looking for like-minded people. It also takes a certain level of open-mindedness to reveal yourself to the world wide web when posting on these, so the people you tend to meet are generally a good lot (although keep a look out for predators and stalkers). Putting up an advertisement on Sydney Gumtree or on your local community center's noticeboard can lead to plenty of responses from other writers willing to share their material. After all, sharing is what adds value.
Fix a well known café to meet. Writers love cafes, and it is an eternal cliché that seems to prove true time and again. Besides, experimenting with bizarre coffee flavors might even jog that creativity!
Read-meets are fantastic and generally attract a much larger crowd, which also means that there are more experts available to give advice. Caferati is a well-known worldwide network of read-meet writers groups that meets in various cities once a month to discuss their respective scribbling on a common topic. Although Sydney does not have a Caferati chapter, they will be willing to support anyone keen to set up one. Regardless any casual read-meet can be set up that follows this model. It is clean, simple and has plenty of benefits.
The other kind of writing club is where writers actually do quickfire exercises to work on their grammar, vocabulary and use of language. It is great to be prepped with useful writing exercises that take into consideration a variety of writing styles. This will give all the more experienced writers better exposure, and the beginners an open platform to discovery. I personally found this type of group to be more conducive to my learning curve, but it is best up to you to discover your own comfort zone.
So you are ready to have your first meeting. Remember to go to the meeting prepped with any exercises or information that may be useful to the readers. If you are doing a Read Meet, try to bring something to the table to read, so that everyone can give you feedback. Remember to contribute to someone else's reading as well.
If you are doing writing exercises, remember to go with prepared prompts for the group. Exercises can range from writing for five to ten minutes on a random word, to something outrageous like putting a creative twist on a break-up letter! There are plenty of websites that give excellent tips on good quality creative writing exercises. My favorites include: Writing Forward and Creative Writing Prompts.
There is always a sense of camaraderie in writing groups. I have found writers to be a bunch of jolly people who love a good time. In fact, I would even recommend heading out from time to time for a poetry open mic night at Sappho Café. Sometimes paying thousands of dollars on writing classes will take you only so far, but the real experience comes when you are surrounded not by your peers but the pressure you feel to showcase the best of yourself, and that is when the real writer surfaces.
I think this is a really good idea to join something like that because a lot of people who have trouble with writing or grammar need to be able to notice them in a nice way. There are times when you are working and you are required to write out an article or for university you have to do assignments, and all you get in feedback can be a bit harsh when it is a constant deal.
By Lil Uni Girl - senior reviewer Saturday, 1st of January @ 04:45 am
Absolutely. I myself have noticed a significant difference in the way I express myself after being a part of a writing group.
They are still a scarce resource in Sydney so I am encouraging people to start their own groups.
By Ketki - senior reviewer Sunday, 2nd of January @ 04:21 am
Great article! And I totally agree that writing can be a solitary craft. Artists, singers, photographers can all showcase their work, but it's more difficult to share with others when you're a writer. I've been thinking of joining a group and you've inspired me to do so.
By Dora Bona - senior reviewer Sunday, 20th of February @ 05:42 pm