I have been leading Amherst Method writing groups since 2008. Over the years I have worked with novice and experienced writers, with children and their grandparents, with poets, storytellers and writers. from memory. I have conducted workshops in community centers and art venues, in libraries and schools, and in the living room of my home in North Leitrim.
In March 2020, days after the first Covid lockdown, I had to move all of my writing workshops online – and we are still there. My fall 2021 workshop is called “Just Write”. You can read about it on www.monicacorish.ie/blog .
So, how does it feel to write together in the “zoom room”? We live in rural Ireland where broadband is a gift, not a given. A few people were unable to transition because their Wi-Fi was not strong enough. For the rest of us, the first few sessions were a challenge. We tackled an unknown technology; we have learned to function in groups in a different way; we learned to be spontaneous in a 2D virtual space.
But a lot of things have remained the same. As before, the group met once a fortnight to write. At each session, I offered prompts and invited people to write in response. If anyone got stuck, I would meet them one-on-one in a “breakout room”. I invited people to read what they had written, if they wanted to. The group practiced âattentive listeningâ and gave positive feedback.
Residents of California, Kenya and Carrick-on-Suir participated in a writing marathon to raise funds for UNICEF; working in a digital space has allowed some people to combine words and images in new ways. And no one had to get in their car on a dark, windy winter night and drive around the county to my living room in North Leitrim!