Are you a City Academy Writing Student? Then this is for you. If you’re not, this could tempt you to join our community. Our new Head of Writing, Jon Barton, talks us through his latest initiative to keep writers writing.
Picture the scene. You’re a writer. Of course you are. You’re going to begin your page-turner, your spell-binder, your edge-of-your-seat nail-biter. You made coffee, lined up your pencils in order of rank, and made a Word doc you backed up twice. This is it. The stage is set. It’s now or never! And then you think, those socks won’t pair themselves.
And here’s where we come in…
Every year, we work with dozens of writers working across fiction, film, theatre, radio and television. We’ve even got a Novel Writing Course for writers ready to get cracking. We’re dead proud of our department, but something was missing. Something that graduates were asking us for: a platform to share work and a social hub to talk shop.
Starting this month at City Academy, we will launch a brand spanking new Writing Club, exclusively for graduates and current students. So, what does this mean? How does it work? And where do you come into all this?
The Writing Club takes place in Farringdon at the end of every month. It runs all year round and is led by one of our expert tutors. The idea is simple: a gaggle* of writers come together to share work at any draft stage.
There are five sharing slots, each fifteen minutes long and bookable through the website. There will also be two empty slots to freestyle with. We’ll hear chapters from novels; a scene from a film; poetry; a play extract; spoken word; the world is your proverbial oyster. You can be a spectator or a regular, an early bird or a frequent flyer. You may just be coming along to meet like-minded folk. All you need is a story.
Writing is a tricky sprint, isn’t it? One day you’re going the distance, the next you’ve hit the wall. Some of you might feel blocked, unable to proceed. Many writers feel that (whisper it) they might not be good enough. Trust us, you’re not alone. After all, how do we quantify writing? It’s not like running, is it? Cross the finish line and they give you a medal? But consider the journey that got you there. You needed inspiration and support. You had to train muscles, build your confidence. We should see writing as a muscle, one that grows with the support of others. This is what the Club was set up to do.
Because writing can be a solitary business staring at the white page of doom. And what if the monkey on your shoulder is right? What if you can’t do it? Won’t you be exposing yourself to a roomful of strangers at your own expense? We all need a support network.
I get it. I should know, I’m a writer, or at least I think I am. I wrote this article so I must be, right? The monkey on my shoulder has his own jungle gym complete with a hammock and tyre swing. Yet I, like most writers, do well to recall a phrase coined by the American author James Thurber: “Don’t get it right. Get it written”. And if you still need convincing, here is my favourite extract from Stephen King’s brilliant book, On Writing: “You do not need a permission slip: you can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.”
The Writing Club is a way to keep writing. It is your safe space. All we’re doing is sharing work and hanging out. Come along. We’d be delighted to have you.
* What’s the collective noun for writers? Answers on a postcard please!
Jon Barton is Head of Writing at City Academy - City Academy run writing courses across London