For Impact’s society spotlights, Lauren interviewed the Creative Writing committee to find out more about what the society gets up to and what students can get out of joining the society.
Lauren: People might expect a creative writing society to be dominated by students in English or creative subjects. However, the creative writing society has always been a diverse group with students from different subject areas. What do you think this range of backgrounds brings to the society?
Matthew (President): Diversity always brings a range of experiences and perspectives into any group, and the Creative Writing Society is no different. Having someone from a different background read your work can be a very useful exercise.
“The variety of subject areas as well as the variety of genres and writing styles helps ensure every session is full of surprises!”
It’s always useful to have a scientist around if you’re writing science-fiction, or an expert on the history of witchcraft if your story has an occult element. The variety of subject areas as well as the variety of genres and writing styles helps ensure every session is full of surprises!
L: The society runs three regular meetings: ‘Lit Circles’, ‘Free Writing’ and ‘Coffeeshop Critiques’. Can you tell readers more about each of these meetings and how they differ?
M: ‘Lit Circles’ are our main weekly event. Each session involves several writing activities and prompts based on that week’s theme (fantasy, crime, setting, dialogue, etc…). Each task lasts around 20 minutes and there is the opportunity to share what you’ve written with the rest of the group if you wish.
‘Free Writing’ is as it sounds. Every week we have a room in the library where you can come and work on your own writing in a friendly and sociable environment.
‘Coffeeshop Critiques’ are biweekly and are an opportunity to get feedback on your work from other members of the group. They’re held in the Snug in Portland Coffee, so there’s a chance to grab some coffee and cake too!
L: Your annual Murder Mystery event has been popular in previous years. What does this involve and how does it relate to creative writing?
M: The Murder Mysteries are the biggest events in the Creative Writing calendar. We hold two a year and they are always highly anticipated.
“[The Murder Mystery event] is a wonderful chance to flex those creativity muscles and take on a completely new persona for a few hours.”
The Committee write loads of interesting characters (some of them with secrets) and each person at the Murder Mystery is randomly assigned one. For the rest of the evening that person is that character and works with the others to figure out whodunnit.
Aside from the murder, there are side plots to uncover (think love triangles, dodgy dealings, and secret identities) which adds an extra layer of fun and mystery to the evening. Very little (if any) writing occurs at the Murder Mystery, but it is a wonderful chance to flex those creativity muscles and take on a completely new persona for a few hours.
L: Last year the society published three magazines of creative writing. What do you look for in magazine submissions, and what other opportunities does the Creative Writing society offer to budding writers?
Charlotte (Editor): For our magazine submissions, we are open to a variety of genres and forms to showcase the diversity and talent of our writers. Usually we try to organise pieces thematically, so the magazine works well as a collection, but we do encourage members to be as imaginative as possible —we are open to ideas the writer is most excited to work on!
The aim of the magazine is to reach out to readers beyond the society and to give members the opportunity to have their work shared with fellow students at the University and the wider public in Nottingham.
As well as our magazine, we encourage writers to submit pieces to our blog. The blog offers the opportunity for longer works and serial publication. The blog is open to submissions all year round and regular uploading can give members more confidence to openly share their work as it can be rather daunting. There will also be opportunity for more variation and experimentation in themes and styles.
We also have a podcast to allow members to read their work out and have it shared to listeners on the Internet.
L: As a writer myself, I know the feeling of writer’s block all too well and how daunting sharing your writing can be. Do you have any advice as to how to overcome writers block or words of encouragement for anyone who is hesitant about sharing their writing at a Creative Writing society meeting?
Ravi (Social Sec): To fight writer’s block, I suggest changing up your writing routine. You may choose to write at night instead of in the morning or write by hand rather than on a laptop. Changing my font to Comic Sans broke through a rough four-year block.
“the best way to overcome a block is to write!”
Attending our weekly ‘Lit Circles’ can also help you exercise your creative muscles. A change in routine can only help so much; the best way to overcome a block is to write!
If you’re worried about sharing your work in ‘Lit Circle’, I recommend starting small- perhaps show it to friends or ask someone to read it for you. Also, remember that there is no pressure to share or read if you feel uncomfortable.
L: What’s been your favourite experience as part of the Creative Writing society?
R: My favourite experience as part of Creative Writing society has been the socials. The ‘Lit Circles’ are fun.
But it’s also nice to spend time and have fun with the people I have met over the year- from bowling to a homemade version of Taskmaster, there is so much organised.
As a scared and awkward new student, these non-writing activities were the perfect way to make friends. Go to the socials, whether you’re a new student, a new member of our society, or even if you have been a part of it for six years.
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