When I first moved to Frankfurt in 2017, I decided to start my own writing group, even though I had never done anything like it before. I wanted the group’s meetings to be something fun and creative to do on a Sunday morning, with the added benefit of building a network of likeminded friends. Three people came to the first meeting, then more and more people joined as the weeks went by. We quickly established a familiar routine: introductions and quick word games, followed by the first writing exercise.
The idea of the writing exercises is to help people overcome the fear of a blank page. Most writers could write about a million different topics, but when they come to write that first sentence, it isn’t helpful that a million ideas have come to the forefront of their mind all at once. The exercises provide a little focus to allow the trickle of creative juices to flow. We usually write for twenty minutes, then go around the table to allow each writer to either give a summary of what they have written and share their creative process, or to have a chance to read their story out loud.
This is where the magic happens. We soon learned that everyone writes wildly differently to each other. Some people write in the first person, some in the second person; some write in the past, others in the present or future; some write romance or horror or comedy or sci-fi or historical stories; some write monologues and some write dialogues. After working within your own creative universe for these twenty minutes, to then discover the universes of the other writers has endless benefits. It allows us to highlight and define our own style, because when we hear and identify the style of another writer, it reflects both the strengths and weaknesses of both the writing that we’re hearing and the writing that we’ve just finished. We pick out the little elements that we would never have thought of ourselves, things that are outside of our skill pools. This prompts us to think, to reflect on how we might try to incorporate new elements into our own writing next time.
What I find most beautiful about our group is the way we discuss things. Writers all seem to have a similar temperament, are often visual thinkers and tend to be more introverted. If we were discussing these topics in a corporate environment, they would be loud, fast, aggressive and dominated by extroverts. In our group, it’s different. No matter if someone deeply disagrees with a topic, a line of dialogue, a character’s idiosyncrasy or a choice of words, everything is discussed in such a calm, understanding and thought-provoking way. I believe this comes from the writer’s innate desire to understand the world in its entirety. To show one hundred per cent compassion for an opposing opinion is the greatest step a writer can make in understanding a character or a situation or a choice. This understanding has the chance to bubble up to the surface at a later date and spill out onto a page in the form of words in a story.
With the English Creative Writing Group, Frankfurt, I found something beyond anything I could have ever imagined. We have over a thousand members in the Meetup.com group, with a core of around fifty regular members. Some come every week, others most weeks, others some weeks and still others occasionally. That’s the beauty of having such a relaxed and informal group of people looking for something fun to do on a Sunday morning. We mix it up, too, with writing exercises, focused sessions to work on our own projects, motivation/accountability sessions, feedback sessions and workshops. Just like the most precious element of Frankfurt’s city culture, our group is rich in diversity. We have established authors who have already published books and aspiring writers who are looking for their first opportunity to translate their creative ideas into compelling narratives.
Every single person brings something valuable to the table. Having such a variety of styles cultivates our gratitude for our own individuality, and it was this idea that first gave birth to the idea of an anthology of stories. All the stories in our anthology books were created during or drew inspiration from our Sunday sessions, and each is uniquely different to represent the spectrum of stories written in our meetings. We are proud to have captured a flavour of our wonderful Sunday morning sessions in two books for you to read and enjoy.