Ruth Folit, founder of the IAJW, reflects on her past experience with participating in Online Writing Practice
What is Online Writing Practice? It’s an hour of time spent mid-day, with writers of any shape, size, age, gender, or level of experience.
I can imagine that the process may sound odd: people on the phone writing separately, yet together, in response to a prompt that Judy Reeves, the engaging writing facilitator, offered.
It never ceases to surprise me that this is a powerful hour. It defies logic. Why should writing for a set time, with other writers, also scribbling or typing on the other side of the continent, be any different than me taking the time to write alone?
This experience often feels magical. What can make it so compelling?
I don’t self identify as a writer. I know, as the founder of the International Association for Journal Writing, that’s quite an admission. I certainly consider myself a journal writer. But a writer? I’m not sure, really. I do write–newsletters, emails, articles about journaling, blurbs for classes or telechats. But a writer? It’s honestly not among my characteristics that I would list, if asked.
Candidly, if I didn’t have the role of doing the tech stuff (setting up and overseeing the conference call for the Writing Circle), I would NEVER have signed up for this. Like many, I’m intimidated by the idea of reading my writing to a group. Writing can be scary. Who knows what will come out of my hands spontaneously? But it was in my self-defined job description, so I forced myself to do it and participated thanks to Judy’s welcoming style.
But the astonishing thing about it is this: The hour that I’m with Judy and the others, I put my writer hat on. Or I think this is more accurate: During the last half-dozen Writing Practices, I’ve started manufacturing my writer hat, unbeknownst to me. And now after returning from the summer recess–I’ve found that even during the fallow online writing practice summer months–that hat has been quietly growing in my writer hatbox. Without me doing anything special and without me being aware of it.
I’ve learned the merit of these time-out-of-time one-hour sessions together. I’ve never met Judy or Tammy or Sue or Ray or Mary in person. But I appreciate them and enjoy our hours together. Our online writing practice sessions are usually quite real–although not forced. I hear and read some wild and powerfully evocative writing, and I hear and read some ho-hum, even sort of boring stuff. Amazingly, just by my listening without judgment and without concurrently trying to formulate a response (remember there’s no commenting on or critiquing) to the readers, I’ve learned almost by osmosis something about writing.
When you listen with an open, non-judgmental ear and have others quietly listen to your reading with open and non-judgmental ears, the writer within–even the most tentative of writers like me–grows.
Join our next member-only Online Writing Circle on May 2, 2018 with facilitator Judy Reeves! Not an IAJW.org member, join now!