Creative Writing

The important bit!

Creative Writing meets monthly on the first Thursday of each month at 10 am.  We meet at different venues (Please check with Janet), but while COVID restrictions are in place, we are meeting online, using Zoom.  Please remember to check the Calendar in case of any late changes to schedule.

Our group is led by Janet Jones, and she may be contacted at 01643 702988, or by email at creativewriting@minehead-district-u3a.org.uk.  Please note that this group has limited membership. If you are interested in adding your name to a waiting list, click here

About the group

The group has been running for approximately six years.  The aim is to develop our writing skills, but more importantly to enjoy creative writing and sharing our ideas.  We give feedback to each other, but this is very informal, and intended to encourage rather than criticise.

We are now up to eight members, and are finding this is just about right, in terms of having time for everyone to read out their work and for the group to give feedback.  Unfortunately, the downside of this means that at the moment we are unable to take any further new members, but we’ll keep this situation under review.

The format of our meetings is to set ourselves homework each month.  We take it in turns to do this so that the subject matter is very varied.  We also work on a short writing exercise during the meeting itself – usually taking a subject to write on for exactly five minutes – which can sometimes be challenging, but is always enjoyable.

As we are meeting via Zoom at present we are circulating our writing beforehand via e-mail, and then using the meeting time to give feedback – and of course to do our 5 minute ‘challenge’!

Whether you’re an experienced writer or not, why not have a go at one of our 5 minute ‘challenges’ – click on the link at the bottom of the page to get a subject (don’t read everyone else’s first!), set your timer, and off you go!  Don’t worry about spelling and grammar, or even writing a complete story (you almost certainly won’t) – just keep writing until the time is up.  You’ll be surprised what you come up with, especially if you don’t think about it too much.  Have fun!

2021

July

AT LAST! – we have managed to meet “for real” for both our June and July meetings.  Obviously much time was spent in catching up – and laughing – but we still managed to review our monthly writing.  June’s subject was “The Matchmaker”, followed very appropriately in July by “Pillow Talk” – where we could take our Matchmaker storyline and characters further, or start with something completely new. 

We have now returned to our “five minute exercise” – but with no cheating on the time taken, as we are doing this at our meetings.  July’s topic was “Twinkle” and we will be posting some of these pieces on our website page shortly.  If you have five minutes to spare, why not have a try yourself?

May.  We’ve all become best friends with the Met Office website, eagerly checking for sunshine and warmth, ready for our first real meeting, outdoors. We were hoping for this:-

 

 

 

 

Sadly it was not to be – instead we got this…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 We were back to Zoom, and although we enjoy our “electronic” chats, it really isn’t the same.  Nevertheless, we were entertained by the stories we had written.  We were given the task of using the scenario of someone tearing up a cheque, which really challenged us but produced some excellent stories.

You can e-mail your writing to the group at creativewriting@minehead-district-u3a.org.uk or just use it to entertain yourself on a wet afternoon. 

Earlier in the year…

Do you ever wonder what would happen if this whole pandemic took another, very different turn?  Would we have a “Plan B”?  I’m not sure if that’s where our latest writing topic came from, but we’ve all been creating stories around that idea … and so far, not a single pandemic to be seen!  Missed planes, philandering boyfriends, grieving father, a would-be archaeologist, and teenagers in small-town America – these were some of the stories which materialised when we let our imaginations fire up around the Plan B subject.

We  also had the title of “Five Minute Warning” for our five minute exercise – perhaps you might like to have a go at that one yourself, if you have a few minutes to spare?

We’re all really longing now for the day when we can meet together again properly, and hopefully the end is in sight.  I’m sure we’ll carry on writing, setting ourselves exercises, but to chat as well, over coffee and biscuits will be wonderful – we certainly all appreciate now the value of the small things… and maybe there’s a title for a future story?

In January we were tasked with writing on the subject of “train”.  This can obviously be a verb or a noun, and so we got a number of different takes on the subject – several “memoirs” on training, an historical account of the railways and a travelogue of an American train trip; a tale about a train “con” trick, and another, very sinister, story about a serial killer.

Our 5 minute exercise in January was to come up with six words (and six words ONLY!) on our hopes for 2021.  We were surprised how difficult it was to sum up a thought or a feeling in just one word, but it was an interesting and thought-provoking exercise.

Others might like to do the same –  so why not have a go at coming up with your own six words, and post them on the page for others to read and think about.  You can also see our results there. Click here!

Comments from group members:

• Look forward to Zoom on Thursday.  It’s lovely to have the continuity of a group when so many enjoyable things have vanished this year!
• I really enjoyed the group today …cleaned my camera now so everyone will be able to see me next time!
• What a treat!  Little stories with a cup of tea and afternoon cake.
• I think that is one of the best selections we’ve had [of writing] – great to see it midway in the month.

Those are just some of the comments that group members have made to me over the past months.  Meeting on Zoom isn’t perfect – I think we all agree on that – and it’s certainly not the same as meeting in someone’s house or garden and enjoying coffee and biscuits together, but it does mean that we are still able to meet and chat and exchange ideas.  We have amended our meeting format to fit with Zoom – we don’t have time to read out our stories at the meeting now, but having a little bundle of stories arrive by e-mail to read each month is just as enjoyable in a different way.
We may try some different writing exercise ideas this year – there are so many resources on-line to tap into that we won’t be short of ideas, and by getting different members of the group to set our tasks we get a different perspective on things each time.  Writing – and reading other people’s work – is a good bit of escapism, and something positive to focus on, and that’s probably what we all need at the moment.  So we have started 2021 with our homework topic of ‘Painting by Moonlight’ – which proved to be quite a really difficult one, but nevertheless everyone came up with wide-ranging and entertaining stories.  Subjects varied from assisting escapees during WW2, to Banksy paintings; from an artist hiding a mystery, to a school pupil’s suspect artwork.

   

2020

November   Our topic for this month’s writing was ‘A/The – Journey’.  Some memoir pieces emerged and also tales of a rescue dog, an evacuee, a suspicious wife and futuristic space travel.

Looking back over the year, even with the amazing imaginations of creative writers, I don’t think any of us would have come up with a story featuring the unbelievable events of 2020.  And even if we had, it would most definitely have been branded far fetched.  But despite everything, we have continued to write, coming up with at least 55 short stories and a similar number of five-minute mini-stories at a mixture of ‘normal’ meetings, socially-distanced garden meetings and online meetings.  Each has been very different, but all have encouraged us to keep writing and to stay in touch.  A recent radio article said that being creative and communicating with others were two important ways of improving our wellbeing in these difficult times.  Hopefully, the group will continue to benefit as we look forward to meeting IRL (in real life – I learned that from the radio too!) in 2021.  Janet Jones

October  Our project this month has been to write on the subject of ‘lock down’, but you would be amazed at the outcome.  Not one piece filled with moans and gripes, but instead genres as diverse as history, science fiction, and romance; together with tales of prison, prostitution and people trafficking.  Who says lockdown has stilted our imaginations?

September   We had our first group meeting on Zoom, which worked very well.  Our writing for the month had to incorporate a list of sounds – which we had randomly suggested at our previous meeting.  These were:

A bell ringing
Crunching a biscuit
Rustle
A sigh
Breaking glass
A blackbird singing
Buzzing

Because time is more limited on Zoom we circulated our stories prior to the meeting and used our time together to give feedback.  We enjoyed the novelty of talking with each other ‘on screen’ and so didn’t have time to do our usual 5 minute exercise!

August  and another socially distanced garden meeting!  It was the first time that the majority of the group had been together for some while; the sun shone and the rain came down, but didn’t put us off.  It was wonderful to be able to share ideas, stories and laughter.  We read our stories on the subject of ‘Dipping a toe…’, which, as usual were very varied.

July – our first meeting since March.  We met in a garden – socially distanced, of course, and bringing our own coffee.   It was strange, but the sun shone on us and it was a delight to be able to share our stories, both written and verbal, in person again.  We read stories on the set subject for the month of ‘The Lie/The Liar’.

 

 

Useful links

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