The Monday Night Writer's Group meets once a week at the Physick House to foster inspiration for writers of all kinds. We asked Chelsea Fleming, one of our monthly workshop members, to tell us about her time attending the Monday Night Writer's Group.
Every writer has a space. It’s a place where they show up to write. They show up to the page, but more importantly, they show up for themselves. It’s a place of commitment. Casting the world aside, the writer puts their priorities on the back burner and puts pen to paper, fingers to keys. It’s in this space, this writer’s space, where for the fortunate, magic happens.
Or, if you’re anything like me, a lot of unfortunate things happen: self loathing, skin picking, hair pulling, forgetting to eat, drinking too much wine, binge eating too many Triskets.
Realistically, finding a safe haven for writing can be difficult. We yearn for the quaint corner cafe that lets you suck at their WiFi teet for 4+ hours in exchange for the mere price of a coffee, yet can be easily distracted by the bearded diva causing a scene when the cold brew drip coffee (or whatever the hell it is) runs out. Most times, the idea of a perfect writing place is just that, an idea.
This was the case for me until quite recently. For months, I stumbled aimlessly cafe to cafe, bar to bar, bouncing from quiet spot to lively locale in search of the perfect place to let loose. I sought a place that offered half inspiration, half solace. Basically, I was chasing a unicorn. Most times, my excuses and distractions defeated my personal writing ambitions. I’d find more reasons not to write than to actually write. And then I found a writer’s group.
I stumbled along The Head & The Hand Press this May at the Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby. They had a little booth set up with information and I signed up for their mailing list. When I went home I browsed their website and noticed The Head & The Hand Press offered a writers workshop on Mondays, so I took a chance and went. I’ve been going every Monday since then.
After joining The Head & The Hand, I realized I hadn’t been searching for a physical space so much as I was searching for a headspace. For me, there was no perfect location I could plop down and have ideas and words flow, it just didn’t exist (or at least, wasn’t consistent).
Now as a new writer, I don’t feel so alone. I realized the other group members were facing or have faced many of the same problems I was having, regardless of their experience/expertise with writing. (Some of the more veteran writers chuckled at my quest for a “perfect writing space.”) Members who had been writing for years, for decades, knew of my struggle and offered hope. At Monday Night Workshop we offer each other tips and tools to help further our writing practice. One of the most helpful tips I’ve taken from the workshop is getting into a writing routine, which was suggested by a member who found themselves feeling stuck in a physical spot lacking inspiration.
Working with other writers also helped me recognize the excuses and fears we as creators use to hold us back from writing. Most everybody had trouble “finding time” to write whether they had a full time job, a child, or neither. We realized we all were abusing the same excuses and sounded quite silly. At the end of each week, we set realistic goals and feel responsible to reach them, knowing the workshop members will hold you accountable for your writing (or lack of). We all made a vow to show up, to write, to share, to listen.
For two teensy hours a week ten different creators with ten different agendas meet at The Head & The Hand to dump words on pages of our notebooks. They don’t have to make sense, they just have to exist. That’s the glory of writing with a group, I don’t sit at my computer and type/delete/self hate/type/delete/repeat like I used to. On Mondays, I basically show up & throw up and the other group members do the same, it’s beautiful.
Writing with other people forced me to stop writing for my inner critic. Since then my writing has gone to a place it’s never been before. These once strangers coddled and nurtured my inner creative voice. I was so accustomed to blocking out the writer I was capable of being. I realized that when I wrote in subjectively safe place my inner critic had no chance at destroying my creativity. It wasn’t Chelsea vs. Self Doubt anymore, it was Monday Night Writers Group vs. Chelsea’s Self Doubt, and the group always shot my self doubt down.