Writing Tip: Start your own Writing Circle.

Near Christmas the first year I was writing my memoir, I faced a few weeks between classes at the Newberry Library when I spotted a notice on a bulletin board for a writing group for people over 60. I adjusted my trifocals and peered up to read the where, what, and when. I was now used to weekly classes and did not look forward to several weeks off before spring classes started.

The class that was advertised was called the Writing Circle and it was sponsored by the City of Chicago at the Chicago Cultural Center. I joined the next week and participated weekly for over a year, alongside the other small writing group I helped start a bit later that I wrote about earlier.

The neat thing about the Writing Circle was that anyone could join who was over 60. So a diverse group of men and women. We picked a word each week and wrote up to one page, single spaced, using that word for a prompt. We brought copies for each person, usually about 12, to the meeting. We read our pages aloud and got feedback, written and oral, from each member. One woman volunteered as a coordinator to keep the group going, left to right, or right to left, alternating each week.

It was these folks who really gave me an early go-ahead on my nursing stories. I thought of them as my “dry run” group. They thought my stories magnificent, so I was greatly encouraged to keep writing. It helped me to know these “lay” people liked and could understand my nursing stories.

And I’m thinking that the notion of a Writing Circle would help any group of would-be writers. You could start one at your home, library, or any public place where you can sit in a circle and hear one another.

For starters, use some of the words we used: loyalty, connection, art, rainbow, consume, yellow, and dark. See my own story on “dark”–about my writing friend Marianna and me on a jaunt to FL–this coming Friday under stories on the sidebar. See how fun it can be to have to write a page a week for free feedback!