Settle Writers Group - Q & A on Creativity

Jane Emmison, one of our trusty volunteers, came to get creative at our Create Cafe and Settle Writers Group this Summer. After producing some great work and loving the involvement in the groups, she had a few questions for Jessica who had set the Writers Group into motion!

Q. How & When did Settle Writers Group start? 

A. We started a writing course run by Pete Armstrong months ago when I’d just joined Settle Stories. There was a great group of us together and Pete was a brilliant leader, everyone could share or not share their stories and it felt like a really safe space. After it finished, a few of us were keen to keep it going so I suggested doing so in The Joinery. Charles & Sita loved the idea, so we were off! Our first session was June, and the next is September 5th, which will be our fourth session. 

Q. What is unique about Settle Writers Group? 

A. There’s no pressure with your writing here, it’s not like you need to prepare pieces in advance, or share your work you’ve done, or take criticism, or even stick to a particular style of writing (prose, poetry etc). We just write what comes to us from the stimulus I use, and people are welcome to share it or not. It’s much less intense than writing courses and I think removing that pressure allows for creativity to flow. Also, we’re a great group! People can drop by or come every time. All of us were strangers at the start, and now we share our writing that is very personal to us. 

Q. What elements of a group activity in Settle Writers Group, keep it a safe writing environment?

A. I gather some stimulus before the sessions and then explain them to the group when we get there. We then all take 3 - 5 minutes to think and not to write about what we’ve seen, to give our brains a chance to explore ideas that arise. Then we say how we found working from that stimulus, and go round and either share or don’t share. It’s very relaxed. That time of quietness gives people opportunity to breath before trying to write. It’s safe because everyone is supportive of each other, and no one assumes they know best. 

Q. How is sharing and writing kept friendly and non-threatening? 

A. We have some people come who have had books published, and some who have never written non-fiction before. It’s friendly because everyone is supportive and listens to each other. We are all there because we just want to write, so there’s no pressure to keep to deadlines or to even improve. No one is judging other people’s writing, they’re just listening. 

Q. What stimulus, techniques and structures are used to explore writing in the get-together?

A. The first week I printed off a range of photos. I tried to make them really random, of nature, animals, people, urban landscapes, institutions - anything that could get you thinking. I really enjoyed that stimulus because it was visual and I work well from visuals. What I’ve realised within the group is that some people don’t, some prefer to imagine something from an idea offered to them, so we try to mix it up a bit. Last time I printed off four different extracts of story and asked people to write whatever came to them when they read that. It was also Yorkshire Day so we wrote something related to home, place or Yorkshire!  

Q. Are the events and competitions, the group are informed about local or national?

A. We haven’t really had any competitions yet! We had the Tales by the Ribble Day after the initial writing course. That was really nice as we shared our writing with people from outside the group. We’re also trying to gather submissions for our Settle Poetry/Story trail, so if anyone has 150 words they want to submit about Settle or Yorkshire (they can be as fantastical as you like) please email me at jessica@settlestories.org.uk 

Everyone and anyone is welcome. If you’re interested in writing either drop by or get in touch!

Questions by volunteer Jane Emmison