I’ve been thinking about creativity a lot in the past few months, reading about how others cultivate it, trying a variety of methods for myself, and letting all those ideas and experiences simmer in my mind.
This year in my Drama 12 class, when we were developing individually written One Act plays, I tried something new. I often begin each class with a community share (something I like to call Question-of-the-Day); usually queries posed in an effort to get to know one another better. This year I asked questions related to their writing and creative process. It was a game changer. It started a series of conversations that encouraged the students as writers, it created a natural forum for suggestions and feedback, and also served as a safe place to ask for help and pool ideas for developing characters, challenging scenes and next steps for plot expansion. Students began to trust one another with their ideas and they began to share their written work. This is harder than it sounds, as very rarely do students see themselves as writers, but this group began to do just that. If only, I had figured this out years ago! As a result, I had more submissions of One Act plays than ever before, which got me to thinking…
I was in need as well. I wanted what had magically appeared among my students – I wanted a group of writers with whom I could share, ask questions, get help with editing and revision. I wanted my own little writing community.
A search began. There are a few writers groups in the city, but the meeting times are during weekday mornings. Not a convenient time for me during the school year. The quest continued. I found another group, but it seemed to be a group of professional, published writers, and well, I’m not quite ready for that. So, in the end I created my own writers group!
The Meraki Writers have met three times thus far, at a local coffee shop, with iPads and notebooks and napkins. We are a small group at this point, made up of a first time novelist writing a memoir, a blogger/ playwright/ actress, via long distance a first time novelist seeking publication and myself, a blogger/poet/playwright and most recently, an erotic short story writer. Who knew?
We followed a loosely developed agenda that I had invent prior to each session. Confession: I don’t actually know what I am doing. Like so many seasons of my life, I am making this up as I go along. We begin by talking about ourselves a bit, our writing styles, current projects, writing challenges. The conversation is thrilling, confirming, supportive, encouraging and exciting! Sometimes we read a selection from our current project, prefacing the read aloud with a question for the listening audience. Other times we play with writing prompts, vague enough to inform whatever project we are currently working on. We share our insights into the writing process and our research into ways to get published. Again, thrilling, confirming, supportive, encouraging and exciting! We generate so many ideas, and suggestions, and so much positivity for one another. I leave feeling like I have accomplished some serious brain work. Each session is followed by the intense urge to write, write, write!
We are still looking for a few more members but these meetings are confirmation for all of us. Later this month, we will be attending the Fringe Fest, where one of our members is performing her most recent one woman show. We will arrive in writers regalia, supporting the work with our presence and positivity.
Creativity needs a community and creative types need to commune together. We should support one another, instead of compete. We should challenge one another, instead of sabotage. We need to band together, notebooks and London Fog in hand, laughter and compassion punctuating the struggle, and create a healthy community for creatives.