The Writing Circle: Creative hope in anxious times
Riley, P. 2022. The Writing Circle: Creative hope in anxious times. Writing in Education. (87), pp. 23-30.
Can a writing group make a difference in anxious times? In Autumn 2018 I was a sessional lecturer concerned by the growing number of students who identified as anxious and required learning support plans to help them cope. I wanted to understand the source of this anxiety: did students need writing support to help them feel less anxious – or was it writing that was causing their anxiety? I created a voluntary, non-assessed writing group for first-year students, The Writing Circle, intending it to grow as they did. And it did until 2020 when the pandemic shut campuses and moved us all online. Anxiety ramped up for students – and for me. Could a writing group like ours survive the move? And how could I learn to make a digital space feel intimate as well as inclusive? Through years of writing together on campus and online, through lockdowns and what came after, I’ve used a range of creative prompts and approaches to get us writing about and through feelings, aiming to diffuse anxiety as well as to address and challenge it. Throughout, students have become empowered to find new sources of confidence, to share early work and to write collaboratively, to make and publish work together. As the world is poised again for change, how can we stay nimble and responsive as practitioners, so that our writing groups continue to meet the needs of participants – and also to inspire us, to fulfil our creative hopes?
|Keywords||Creative writing ; Anxiety; Lockdowns; Students|
|Journal||Writing in Education|
|Journal citation||(87), pp. 23-30|
|Publisher||National Assocation of Writers in Education|
|21 Oct 2022|
|Publication process dates|
|Accepted||09 Oct 2022|
|Deposited||31 Oct 2022|
|Accepted author manuscript|
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