We've posted this Forum so that anyone who came to our 4th Annual Collaborative Writing Workshop Brighton on 17 May (and anyone who didn't, but has something they want to say about Writing that Influences) can exchange ideas, comments and suggestions following our meeting. 


Seventeen of us benefited from a rare opportunity to spend a day together in pleasant surroundings reflecting on and writing about experience and discovering opportunities to make our writing more influential, whatever its form or context. We were all a resource to each other, working within a flexible structure that enabled us all to benefit from each other's interests and energy on the day.

 

To those of you who came, we enjoyed working with you enormously. 

 

Shortly, you'll receive a personal invitation to write something for the August issue of our journal e-Organisations and People. 


Meantime, please pencil in the 2nd or 3rd Monday in May 2011 (exact date to be confirmed) to come along to our 5th Annual Collaborative Writing Workshop during the Brighton Festival.  And please post your comments on 'Writing that influences' below.


To set the ball rolling, Bob has posted a snippet below of what he wrote during the afternoon session.


Best wishes.  Alison, Vicky and Bob

 

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Replies to This Discussion

Looking forward to tomorrow's workshop. Choosing some writing now. Hasta manana!
Hi, Rachael

Looking forward to your participation - and to hearing about Green Top Circus!

Best wishes. Bob

Rachael West said:
Looking forward to tomorrow's workshop. Choosing some writing now. Hasta manana!
Writing that Influences, Part 2 – Being influenced by writing

Influenced by the experience of this morning’s session, which combined cycles of writing and conversations, I’m struck by a number of issues.

Alison has just invited us to use the next hour or so as an opportunity to write. It’s taking some of us a little while to decide what each of us means by using the time until 3.15 pm as ‘personal writing space’. Some people immediately dash off to form groups; some are unclear quite what they might do next, but are clarifying their ideas in conversation with others; others get down almost straight away to writing on their own. I decide to use this time as a rare opportunity, drawing upon the range of rich resources immediately available to me (precious time, critical friends, a rare opportunity, my laptop, quiet space) just to write. I’m doing so in the hope that if I trust the process, something vaguely relevant will emerge through the act of writing.

By writing on my laptop, I can at least cut-and-paste, add, subtract, interject and revise as I go along. As I get under way, my writing is virtually stream-of-consciousness. Let's see what emerges. I’m hoping that my own initial writing will thus influence what I write later. This is also proving to be a useful warm-up exercise, to help me pick up momentum with my writing.

I’m enjoying the silent camaraderie, stimulus and quiet reassurance (influence?) of writing in the silent company of 3 other people (Anton, Vicky, and Rachael), who are dispersed around the room. It’s rather like being aware of the unspoken support and collective enterprise shared with other readers in a library. How about ‘A solidarity of writers’ as a new collective noun? A bit of a challenge, perhaps, to the stereotype of the solitary author agonising away in the confines of an otherwise empty, draughty garret? I usually write alone, sequestered away in my study, with the door firmly closed. Sometimes this isn’t very productive, and it might pay to seek out this more collective form of writing discipline from time to time. I must experiment more with this approach.

I’m slightly embarrassed by the noise that my laptop is making (the sound of keys, mouse clicks etc), fearing that it might be an irritant to others. But I haven’t the courage to ask people if they mind. Thankfully, nobody so far has objected (or maybe they haven't plucked up the courage to do so!).

I’ve been struck by the fact that writing has played an important role in bringing people together here today – postings on the AMED website, e-mails, scribbled notes etc. In several cases, this has been preceded or followed by conversations in person or over the ‘phone. As well as three face-to-face meetings, Vicky, Alison and I have used Skype calls several times in co-organising this event, and these have often included a mix of images (our mug shots), real-time voice messages and typed text which appears on screen. It’s very clear to me that each of us has influenced each other’s thinking and writing in these exchanges.

I‘m really pleased that, today, we’ve been writing, as well as talking, about writing. This way, perhaps the medium really is the message? Early on, Vicky asked us to write a short story on large coloured Post It Notes about our attempts to influence others through our writing. (I’m just stopping here to re-read what I’ve written so far, and to make some notes on my crib sheet to remind me what to say in this afternoon’s closing session. Now, several minutes later, back to the topic in hand).

Later, we formed quartets to share the pieces we’d prepared in advance, mostly by giving out copies, in some cases reading from them aloud and in other cases enabling silent reading, then by discussing ‘What I liked?’ and ‘What this made me wonder?’. Then, just before lunch, back in ‘plenary’, I invited everyone to make notes - once more on large coloured Post It Notes – on any striking moments or insights about writing that influences that arose from the morning’s session. We posted these on the wall, and they made a pretty sight, because of the range of writing scripts and the different colours (mostly magenta and lime green).

Issues the emerged (my interpretative summary) include:

o Restrictive organisational ‘speak’/requirements that inhibit personal vitality or authenticity in writing
o Using writing to stimulate perpetual, multimedia conversations and communications
o Wondering whether our feelings leak into our writing, whether or not we want this to happen
o How to entice or encourage other people to write and believe in themselves as writers?
o Does writing have a ‘body language’?
o Acknowledging that writing can have unexpected consequences and audiences (e.g. Alison’s story of the 19thc Underground engineer whose epitaph inspired her to write an e-mail).
o Writing within the Circle of Authenticity
o Writing helps us to rehearse our spoken thoughts – and vice versa.

Based upon all this (and on much more) how am I being influenced through writing today? Answers, please, on a postcard …..
One of the group photos - thanks to all who came!
Attachments:
Likewise, Alison - and I'm looking forward even more to what you'll be writing - and editing?? - even more.

Kind regards. Bob

Alison Terry said:
Love what you wrote, Bob! (Like the photo slightly less, Alison! - but these things are a necessary evil...)

Thanks for a really enjoyable day - look forward to seeing you again at Rachael's workshop later this month.
Thank you Alison, Bob and Vicky, for organising such an inspiring day in Brighton - and to everyone else for being part of it. It was a lovely balance between discussion and getting things done and I left feeling very motivated. Have even been finding the energy to do some writing for ME!

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