Creative Writes – The back story
I founded Creative Writes officially in 2009 (after trial workshops in 2008) because I wanted to provide a type of creative writing workshop that as a writer in London, I had difficulty finding.
I was introduced to a writing approach around fifteen years ago which really resonated with me. The approach was pioneered by the US writer and teacher Natalie Goldberg. I studied with Goldberg and her colleagues in New Mexico & Wyoming and further developed my writing practice. The focus was on free flow writing, writing against the clock and without fear of the end product – focusing primarily on placing words on the page.
I found that after years of writing creatively but not finding a home, I had finally found one. Here it was ok to follow the unpredictable patterns of our mind and all the pen had to do was follow. Here there was validity in our own voice, in the words which appeared raw and true on the page. Here the stories were laid.
Writing in groups where there was no critique – you could feel the power of active listening, where every reader had the listener’s respect and full attention.
I continued to write in this way for several years and filling notebooks, until one day while working in Arts Management – I decided to take the plunge and run workshops. It had been in my head and heart for a long time. I thought very carefully about how to form Creative Writes. It helped that I had a background in teaching and I also ran some taster workshops to find out what worked. The first workshop felt like the most natural thing I had ever done. I was building a new home.
What I quickly learnt was that people were looking for a way to begin but they didn’t know how. They were looking to meet other writers who thought the way they did but they didn’t know where to find them. They didn’t think they had anything interesting to say – they had often received criticism in the past on their writing and this had damaged their confidence. They, like me – had often attended other workshops and found that the main focus was on critiquing the work and not on sitting together and actually writing.
What’s so different about Creative Writes?
Creative Writes has created a space for anyone interested in writing to come and write. I took what worked for me as a writer and put the Creative Writes stamp on the workshops. The workshop content is always evolving and responding to the participants. I do not follow a set curriculum because I want to give the writers what they need, within our unique framework.
The creative process starts with the individual at Creative Writes and we move on to learn tools and techniques for memoir, poetry, short story and more. Sometimes we just play with words.
We do talk about the process of writing and our experience of the work but the priority is always to write.
We have maintained the non-feedback rule over the years and our writers have found that this has helped to free them up and build their confidence & ability to judge their own work. We recognise that there is of course a time and place for feedback & editing but it isn’t in our Creative Writes groups where the words are often raw. Participants often comment on the power of active listening. They receive thanks for their work and no judgement.
I have formed workshops where participants are guided through a series of writing exercises which enable them to silence their inner censor and keep writing to reveal the hidden fruits of their imagination.
Thank you to all who have been a part of Creative Writes over the years, supported me, inspired me and believed in what I set out to do.
When a Creative Writes workshop participant & good friend said to me; ‘People find a form of home here,’ I felt immense joy and pride.
I am looking forward to the future as we continue to build our community.