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03

Dec

Churchill Writing Group

Alumni, Master, Fellows and By-Fellows, Staff, Students,
Date

03 Dec 2022

Time
  • Start: 15:00
  • End: 17:30
Location

Bevin Room, Churchill College (also on Zoom)

Anyone who has any connection with Churchill College is welcome to join the Writing Group: alumni, students, staff, family members.

Published author Rosie Johnston (U73) facilitates the group. She explains:

The range of writing experience (and everything else) is wide, from beginners to published writers. If you are longing to write a book and have no idea where to start, or you have begun, stumbled and would love to find your way again, you are welcome to join us.

We will meet in person in College (in the Bevin Room), and online. We will gather over tea and coffee from 3pm as before, with the session running between 3.30 and around 5.30pm.

Throughout the pandemic, we met about once a month by Zoom and are looking forward very much to this, our first blended, in-person session. We will not return to our old schedule just yet (four Saturdays in college each term), but will combine our monthly Zooms with with one or two meetings in college per term while we feel our way.

We start with a bit of free-flow writing to get us limbered up. This can be tremendously liberating, no waiting for inspiration, no redrafting, who cares if it’s a bit rough. Like all creativity, writing combines adventure with planning and the quality of what we write in short bursts often surprises us. Something magical can happen when our writing takes off in its own intoxicating direction. Come and try with us and you’ll soon know what I mean.

I do all the exercises alongside you, by the way, and sometimes we read aloud what we’ve written, sometimes we don’t. There is no need to read aloud if you don’t want to. Sometimes, even if you have all the confidence and experience in the world, an exercise can bring up something that should stay private. My advice is to write it as honestly and deeply as you can and decide later if you want to reveal it to anyone else. Your privacy is sacrosanct.

We study the craft. Each session has a theme designed to help you avoid pitfalls I’ve learned the hard way. I guide discussions about where to start your writing, how to develop characters, how to find your theme and through-line, whether to self-publish or find an agent, that sort of thing. Our sessions in the autumn are usually about getting deep into our fictional characters. Spring is one of my favourite times when we look at classic plots and genres. Coming up to the summer, we concentrate on tricks of the craft like the best uses of point of view and dialogue.

Our exercises and discussions help writers of non-fiction as well as fiction. It’s all about how best to engage our readers and hook them in with good narrative drive.

Each session has a workshop element too. You are invited to bring about three pages (max, 1000 words please) of your writing to read to the group if you’d like to. It doesn’t have to be the best piece you’ve ever produced – work in progress is fine – and I make sure that feedback is positive, constructive and relevant. I do not permit feeding frenzies of criticism in my groups. In October, 2019 the College library featured published work by Churchill’s writing group, a very proud week for us all.

You can email Rosie at rosiejohnstonwrites@gmail.com.