A Good Creative Workout
While life has looked a bit more virtual since 2020, there are always positives to be found in how technology can affect and advance writing. A new group, birthed from the beloved Thursday Writers crew and similar communities in the San Diego area, has emerged to continue taking advantage of the community that can be found within Zoom boxes. Refugio “Gio” Jones co-hosts this online prompt-based writing group and has answered some interesting and practical questions concerning the meetings. Enjoy!
San Diego Writers, Ink: What was the impetus for starting this group?
Gio Jones: There’s nothing like a good cuppa tea (or coffee) in the afternoon while writing with friends. It’s all about community. At the start of the Covid pandemic, our friends and heroes, Judy Reeves and Steven Montgomery took their Thursday Writers group on-line. They built a community out of those of us who couldn’t meet in person, but so desperately wanted to stay in contact with other writers. We wanted to have a set place and time to practice write. Soon the word got out and we attracted writers from as far as Canada and as wide as the East Coast. Write Promptly came together when Judy and Steve decided to make Thursday Writers an in-person event once again.
SDWI: Knowing that many of you have been participating in prompt groups for a long time, how has participating in these groups made you a better writer?
GJ: As someone who believes that practice writing and having a Writing Practice can improve one’s writing, I can say it’s like getting a good workout at the gym. The only difference is that your creative writing muscles don’t weaken with age. They only get better. The practice has led me to write short stories, a novel length manuscript and to create characters that show up from time to time to help me try new things as writer. I probably would never have experimented with writing as much as I have if I didn’t have a regular Writing Practice.
SDWI: Who is this group ideal for?
GJ: Write Promptly is a prompted writing group for anyone who wants to improve their creative writing skills through practice. That said, we’re sometimes visited by poets and we welcome them too. We don’t provide writing instruction, but we follow a set a of rules. We encourage our attendees to share their work without judgment. We will not interrupt. We will not give feedback. But you may get some wonderful reactions in the chat window. Most of our writers focus on fiction and we always assume it’s fiction. You can write the worst thing in world and sometimes you will. You can write the most beautiful thing and that’s fine too. Write Promptly isn’t about competition or who’s the best. Everyone brings their potential to be the best writer they can be. The point is to just write, stretch, explore and see where your pen (or keyboard) will take you.
SDWI: What should new participants expect? What do you hope they get out of it?
GJ: A new participant will be in the comfort of their own place, which can be very liberating. You’ll be welcome by writers of all skill levels and experience. The group typically starts by reading the rules, a prompt is chosen, and a time is set for writing. When time is up, we ask for volunteers to read their work (typically anyone who wants to read puts their name in the chat window). The host calls your name and you read. If you don’t put your name in the chat window, the host will kindly ask (once or twice) if you want to read. The host(s) then read what they wrote and we finish with announcements. We hope that anyone who joins us will see the benefit that practice writing and developing a Writing Practice will have on their ability to write prose. Over time, your creative writing muscles develop and your fiction starts to take on new dimensions. We welcome you to experience that with us.
SDWI: Anything else you want to add?
GJ: We’re new and may have the occasional hiccup, but that’s just part of the fun. Come be inspired by writers who can cook up a story in 15 minutes or less. With a bit of patience, persistence and practice you’ll do the same.
Gio Jones’ short story, “Indocumentado,” was published in Roman Remains. You can read more about him here.