- Each writing session will begin with a prompt. Please keep quiet as and after the prompt is given so that each writer is able to concentrate on their own thoughts. Ignore or adapt the prompts as much as you want. These are not assignments. Sometimes we will resist a prompt because it feels dangerous or difficult, and in those times, I suggest you try to go with it. Our best writing often comes out of deep discomfort, after all.
- There is time scheduled after each prompt for us to share our work. This does not mean you have to share. Feel free to move into the next room if you would like to continue writing. This time is for reading what has been written or significantly revised in group. Be mindful of how long your piece will take to read, especially if you are reading revised work.
- Keep feedback to the writing itself. If what you hear reminds you of something you have read elsewhere, or is an experience you have shared, hold that for break conversation. It’s important for us to keep focused on the writing. It is a brave thing to share your work, so let’s honor that by giving our full attention to the piece before us.
- Never assume a piece of work is autobiographical unless the writer invites us to do that. When we discuss a piece, referring to “the narrator” instead of to “you” helps keep us objective in our comments and makes sharing work safe. It is much easier to write when you know your work will be treated as literature and not a bit of your life; easier to write about things you might otherwise hold inside. This is critical to the group. It will keep us from drifting into support group dynamics. It also makes it safe to write as outrageously as we want. While we are responding to your work, try to sit in silence, not arguing or explaining if we misunderstood something.
- Show respect for each other’s work. This doesn’t mean pretending to love everything everyone writes (that’s not really respectful, after all….), but it DOES mean listening attentively so we can let each other know what the work’s strong points are and where it knocked our socks off. Offer feedback! We all need to hear what we have done well and where we have reached our audience. Let’s maintain quiet once the exercises have begun, and not continue writing in the same room when others are reading aloud. Laptop covers down, please, and cell phones off.
- What we write here is new, raw and mostly unrevised. When giving feedback, offer only what you remember, what struck you or what worked well for you. Fresh writing should not be exposed to suggestions about how to improve the work. That has the potential to discourage us from going on with the piece.
- What we write and share here should stay here. Confidentiality is essential to our freedom of expression as writers.