Events,  News,  Writing

Diverse and need a writing group? Dinna fash yersel. We have you covered.

As some of you know, there is this nifty group slowly getting off the ground called Diverse Writers of Australia. We have a website and a Twitter account.

The group is aiming to level the playing field for ATSI, queer, disabled and POC writers and journalists in Australia by plugging said wordsmiths into events and workshops that already occur through organisations like the MEAA, ASA, IPEd, Women In Media and the Centre for Stories or organising our own and doing other cool nifty things.

It’s a bunch of cool vollies trying to make a difference.

And we are starting a writing group. Here. In Perth. Every week. Starting in two days time on Wednesday, October 26.

Why a writing group?

Because it is a safe space for ATSI/queer/WOC/disabled writers who need a safe space while they write. Who need to get some space away from daily microaggressions when they write or need to connect with other diverse people who might understand the issues they want to write about or perhaps just want to gain some skills and confidence without needing to worry if they are fitting in with the group or being too political or too confronting with other participants. Because they may need a space where they don’t feel like they are an obvious outsider or the one person that stands out or needs to explain or justify why they wish to write and are there.

I think such a space should exist for those who require it and wish to make use of it, whatever their reasons for doing so  may be. I brought up the idea and several agreed to it. Several people thought it would be helpful and necessary.

And several people wanted to try NaNoWriMo too.

So is it an official NaNoWriMo write-in?

No. Not at this stage because other write-ins exist but also because the plan is for this group to continue beyond NaNoWriMo 2016. We will start with catering for those working on NaNoWriMo as well as those who are not.

So is it only Perth based?

Not exactly. The weekly meetup is based in Perth, in person, every Wednesday. But there is already a lot of interest from those interstate and depending on availability, those interstate will get to have an online hangout version of the writing group once a week.

At some point, there will be interstate volunteers who will be able to host and run similar groups in person if people want that to happen. For now, it’s just me so it’s in person in Perth and online for others once we figure out what timing will work best for everyone.

So can I join?

Only if you identify as either queer (LGBTQIAP+), ATSI or indigenous (whichever term you prefer), disabled or a person of colour or culturally linguistic or diverse heritage or any combination thereof. For the sake of brevity, this is what we mean by ‘diverse’ – we want to encourage more diverse authors to start writing since previously they may have been shot down, felt uncomfortable or unwelcome, or not had equal access to such opportunities to write together and collaborate and learn. If you are not diverse you are already privileged and don’t need this group and are able to be more comfortable and your work generally more readily accepted within the industry.

If you are diverse and want to join, please fill out this form. I will then send you details of times and locations.

What will I need for the writing group?

Yourself, your writing tool of choice (laptop/pen & paper), all the questions in the world about writing that you ever wanted to ask and an idea or two.

So far structure will run as follows:
Writing sprint | Reading break/dicussion | Writing sprint | Reading break/discussion

What’s your role?

My role is to help you think about narrative and story, to help you brainstorm things, offer you feedback and prompts, answer questions and generally help you bang together a story. I am an editor and writer so I can do this.

Your role is to write, come up with ideas, help anyone else if you can and be encouraging. You are a writer so you can do this.

Ok, what if I am not diverse but need a writing group?

Never fear. There are others – some formally organised, some not. I list a ton of writing events every month when I can and the list includes re-occurring writing groups all over Perth, organised by writing centres but also individuals. Click on the link and scroll down to the end.

What if I wanted to ask you a question/brainstorm with you?

I am always out and about at various writing events and some of the other groups as well. But you can always leave a comment below or talk to me on Twitter. If you want a long chat over coffee or a Skype session, that isn’t free but we can do that too – email me and we will work something out with regards to times and a rate.

Marisa is a globetrotting freelance writer, journalist and editor with cat for hire (her, not the cat). She is usually based in Melbourne but is currently flouncing around in Perth for a week for the Inaugural 2018 KSP - Varuna Foundation Fellowship. She will be at Melbourne's Continuum and online running a Writers' Bloc course in the coming weeks.

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