On the receiving end

During the past week I have been on the receiving end of a bundle of post, a bunch of emails and a load of phone calls.

These have contained, variously, some good news, some sad news, some bad news and some better news.

I have also been on the receiving end of a perfect example of how to facilitate a writing group. Usually I am in the facilitator’s chair but on this occasion I was a newcomer at the table. It felt good to be on the receiving end for a change.

It was good because the room was ideal for the activity of writing. It was a paneled room above a friendly cafe. There was strong coffee and a big table with space for everyone to spread out. The room had big windows that let in a hint of noise from the street below. I liked the reminder of real life and the dramas of traffic and everyday happenings going on outside. It didn’t disturb me, but made me focus, somehow.

It was good because the company was enjoyable; a group of relative strangers come together to share the simple act of putting words on the page. Our host was gentle, unhurried and inclusive. She offered clear simple prompts, set a time limit and let us get on with it. She invited us to share our writing without pressure. Her comments were insightful and constructive.

It was good because it was fruitful. Having had scant time for my own writing for many months, I came away with two good scenes that will stand further development. It was good because it will happen again in a fortnight. Regularity is important for my writing habit.

It made me think about what makes a good writing group. For me, it is all of the above, plus willingness as a newcomer to take a risk, plunge in and know that you have the support of the group and an able, sensitive facilitator.

What makes a good writing group for you?

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