2016—a pivotal year for some very savvy Vienna writers

images-1This year will be unlike any other for those savvy writers who participated in Write Now’s exciting January meeting: 2016—Your Year of Amazing Writing Achievements. Facilitated by Kirsten Donaghey and myself, the meeting stepped writers through the process of creating meaningful writing goals and a realistic plan for achieving them.

Among various discussions, writers were encouraged to explore where their writer’s journey might lead them—whether they sought a lofty career as a literary novelist, or they were happier to traverse the more earthly path of the writer who simply loves to explore. Either way, a journey is best enjoyed one step at a time—mindful of the daily writing activities that gradually lead the writer to their destination. Along the way there are milestones—those sacred markers that affirm the writer’s compass is true. We explored those too. What milestones could be reached by the end of 2016? These would become each writer’s goal.

But what worthy adventure is not fraught with danger? Every writer is at least peripherally aware of the obstacles, like loose rocks on a steep mountain pass: they might cause a mighty tumble. The summit is no place for the unprepared or the foolhardy. So we discussed the obstacles (see the list below), and we listed ways of avoiding or overcoming these. Each writer weighed up the risks—were they prepared to set forth all the same?

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I think everyone on the evening realised it takes a great deal of courage and perseverance to become a successful writer. And when each writer read out their plan for 2016, Kirsten and I saw the determination: they were bravely setting out on an amazing journey. To keep them in good company, we encouraged each writer to choose a buddy—another writer who would check on their progress along the way. Both writers are aiming for their respective summits. We wish them every success.

Do you have a writer’s plan for 2016? Here is the writing plan each writer developed on our planning evening:

  1. My writing goal for 2016 is…
  1. I will achieve my goal by writing…hours / week .
  1. I will write at the following times:
  1. I will monitor my writing progress by…

5,   The biggest threats to me achieving my goal are…

  1. I will avoid / overcome these by…

You should print out your plan and display it where you can see it every day. Adhered to, your plan will lead you on to amazing writing achievements.

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“The Creative Envelope”

Invitation to our March creative writing meeting

 Write Now’s March creative writing meeting: Thursday 12th March, 7.00pm, Cafe Korb*,Vienna.

Whether you’re just starting out or an experienced writer, we hope you join us for an inspirational evening of creative writing. (Members free, €7 Non-members)

Although you need bring nothing more than something to write with and your imagination, we suggest you prepare a Creative Envelope!

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 The Creative Envelope

Quite simply, the creative envelope contains daily inspirational snippets—things that catch your astute writer’s attention. Here’s how to prepare your creative envelope:

  1. Aim to insert an inspirational snippet into your creative envelope every day.
  2. Keep the snippets brief: a word, a phrase, etc.

 

The snippets might include: objects, feelings, expressions, names, phrases, images–whatever captures your imagination!

Paul’s example: listening to Scott Matthew’s insanely slow cover of “No Surprises”, the expression “Carbon dioxide handshake” captured my imagination. Daily snippet: Carbon dioxide handshake.

If you’re feeling particularly adventurous you might ask someone you know to add a few surprise snippets!

Note: keep the snippets small: a small strip of paper (roughly 5cm x 2cm.)

On the evening

Using their creative envelopes, writers will tap their creativity to reveal and explore text, whether poetry or prose. The evening is as much about developing insight (transcribing creative thoughts or feelings) as it is about exploring ideas and making connections to reveal form and meaning.

We’d like you to come away feeling inspired, sensing your writing has just taken another leap forward!

Don’t want to use a creative envelope?

No problems. We’ll get you writing all the same.

We look forward to seeing you on the evening!

We’d also appreciate you dropping us a line ( office.writenow@gmail.com )to let us know you’re coming.

 * Cafe Korb: Brandstätte 9 , 1010 Vienna, downstairs

Open Mic

20150122_202840On Thursday evening at Café Korb in Vienna, Write Now hosted our first Open Mic. Kicking off just after 7.00pm, we heard an eclectic mix of poetry, short stories, and one or two fiction and non-fiction book excerpts. Ten members and guests took to the stage before a sizeable audience. Everything from romantic love to brutal death was covered.

Unlike a strictly poetic open mic, many of the pieces were extended, and demanded prolonged audience attention. Sitting up front, I could gauge reactions: people were engaged, dare I say, engrossed. There was plenty of enthusiastic applause. Congratulations to everyone who read—your stories made for an entertaining and memorable evening. Thank you also to everyone who attended—your company was appreciated and we hope you enjoyed listening.20150122_211316

Our first open mic ended on a high note. We’re already talking about another one, likely in the spring. With all the other association events coming up—workshops, retreats, monthly meetings, etc.—its a busy year. Still, if members would like to have another open mic we’ll make it happen. Let us know your thoughts: Would you like another open mic?

 

Write Now Winter Writers’ Retreat

The Write Now winter writers’ retreat will be held in the spectacular world heritage listed village of Hallstatt. People have been living there and mining salt (and telling stories) for thousands of years. In fact, the area is of such archeological significance, the years spanning from 800 – 400 BC are known as the Hallstatt Period.

Hallstatt clings to the lower flanks for the Dachstein Mountains with soaring limestone peaks up to 2995m, and it teeters on the rim of the Hallstatt lake with an icy depth of some 125m. The houses are ancient, the streets are steep and cobbled; a labyrinth of stairs, arches, terraces, and secret pathways are there to be discovered. In winter the entire village is snowbound. It is quiet then. There are no cars. A ferry crossing is needed to catch the train that whistles from the station across the lake. In Hallstatt the past and the present come together.

Write Now will host the winter writers’ retreat in Hallstatt on February 19th to 22nd 2015. Like our autumn retreat, there will be plenty of time for writers to work on their various projects. Some might be writing novels or short stories or memoirs or essays, others might come looking for inspiration. We’ll have time for reading and feedback, and one or two mini-workshops for those interested. There will be time also for a group activity (we love creative writing!). At the autumn retreat, writers produced a collaborative short story titled Istanbul. Something different but no less fun is planned for this winter. Perhaps with the salt mine above, people will be inspired to write some “Salty Tales”, or the dark lake might become the backdrop of a gripping mystery, and then there is all the village charm. All of it is fertile material for the writer.

To keep an intimate group feel, the retreat is restricted to 10 writers. Accommodation will be in an old and charming guest house. Everyone will have their own private room with bathroom and desk for writing. There will be a couple of communal areas for group work or writing in the company of others. Breakfast is included. Transport costs are not included. There is a train to Hallstatt (a picturesque mountain journey), and the association will coordinate car-pooling for those who would like to save the train ticket.

The details:

Write Now Winter Writers’ Retreat

When: Thursday 19th February to Sunday 22nd February 2015

Where: Hallstatt

Cost: 275 Euro for members, 300 Euro for non-members

Bookings: email office.writenow@gmail.com (Subject: winter writers retreat)

Places: limited to 10 (book early)

Hope to see you there!

 

 

 

What really happened at our first writers’ retreat

By Paul Malone

 We held our first writers’ retreat last weekend at a farmhouse in Lower Austria. The weather was perfect: it rained! Extremely conducive for immersing oneself in writing and the good company of other writers.

There were fellow Australians, a couple of Canadians, a chap from London, one perfectly bilingual Austrian, a few of the cosmopolitan “I’ve lived everywhere” types. Check out our smiling faces.

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What did we write? Essays, novel chapters, short stories, for a start. Some of us wrote in the company of others in the farmhouse dining hall. Others wrote in the quietude of their rooms with a view…to all that fog. Atmospheric, slightly melancholic pieces were written, no doubt.

We ventured to the town of Weitra for the local cuisine: goulash and schnitzel, that sort of thing, at an old brewery. Some of us wandered into the forest to look at Czech totem poles signifying the Zodiac. Others soaked up the warmth in the steam room and infrared cabinet. One of us spent much of his time in bed being clobbered by a nasty cold.

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No this is isn’t where we slept!

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Hard at work…

We collaborated too: a short story called Istanbul. We came up with a framework for our story that included situation, character, objective, opponent, disaster. We drew names from a hat to determine the sequence of writers. Here were the rules:

  1. The story was to be written based on the framework
  2. Each writer had roughly 250 words before passing it on.
  3. There was no rewrite
  4. The story had to draw to its natural conclusion with the last writer

How did it go? Well, you can read for yourself. Istanbul (1st draft, no edits) is attached. It took a great deal of imagination and cooperation to complete the story. It was also fun. We read it out during our farewell lunch (see below). We all had a good laugh. Give it a read, let us know what you think:

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Farewell dinner!

I can’t speak for everyone as to what they took away with them from the retreat. I discovered new things: I’m trialing scrivener software (for writers) thanks to another retreater who explained Word really is for office documents. I received valuable group feedback on a short story. I have since revised the story and sent it off to one of my favorite publishers. I met some lovely people. I had a great time. I felt things opening up for me just a little more. It was exciting.

There will be another retreat in the winter (snowy and idyllic). I’m looking forward to it. I hope you might join us.

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By the way, if you’re looking for a farm stay, I can highly recommend Family Bruckner. Their farm is ideal for families as well as writers. There is a huge barn made into an indoor playground (no, we didn’t get time to go for a slide). Here is their link: