Reconnection: National Writing Day Workshop, 18th June 2021

It’s National Writing Day!

On and around 23rd June 2021, people and groups across the country will celebrate National Writing Day … and Lockerbie Writers were thrilled to be able to join in with their first in-person workshop of the year.

Read on to find out more!

Somerton House Hotel, Lockerbie

What is National Writing Day?

National Writing Day is “an annual celebration of the power of writing creatively, inspiring people of all ages and abilities to try writing for fun and self-expression” (National Writing Day website, http://www.literacytrust.org.uk/about-us/national-writing-day, last accessed 23rd June 2021).

Lockerbie Writers have previously run several popular events to coincide with this day. These include the Sara Maitland Author Talk (2018), a Mindful Writing Day featuring Margaret Elphinstone (2019), and a New Writing Week on the Lockerbie Writers’ blog which received almost 500 views (2020). Although COVID restrictions meant that it was impractical to put on a big event in 2021, everyone was excited to be able to meet as a small group for the first time in months.

The Workshop

The sun shone on the Somerton House Hotel, Lockerbie, when members of Lockerbie Writers and A Novel Approach writing groups gathered on Friday 18th June 2021.

Events Manager Kerrie McKinnel arriving at the Somerton House Hotel

Events Manager Kerrie McKinnel was especially excited to attend as it was the first in-person writing workshop which she had been able to plan, coordinate and deliver in over sixteen months – but it was also the last event which she would organise for Lockerbie Writers. After six years of membership and three years as Events Manager, she announced that she planned to leave Lockerbie Writers by the end of the summer.

The announcement continues a period of real change for the group, after the resignation of Chairperson Steph Newham last winter, and the step back by several other members, either due to health or work/personal reasons. This led to a discussion of future meetings and various related issues including book sales, before the group were joined by members of A Novel Approach group and moved on to the real reason for the day – the celebration of National Writing Day 2021!

Writing prompts were on the topical theme of ”Reconnection’.

Kerrie had designed two writing prompts, both inspired by this year’s theme of ‘Reconnection’. After so long apart, the theme choice seemed topical – especially as the writing started late due to everyone enjoying their chat and catch-up!

In the first exercise, participants did some free writing on themes related to lockdown, and then used their notes to create a poem or short piece of writing.

Perhaps predictably, there were a number of reflections on loneliness, home comforts, birdsong and other observations on nature, but the exercise also prompted some unexpected pieces including book recommendations, a poem which used repetition to sum up the lockdown experience, and a dark passage about a sexual predator.

The day was a good mixture of writing and discussion – and catching up too!

In the second exercise, participants were invited to sketch or make notes about a mysterious character, and then to imagine a conversation with them. Bonus points for anyone who was able to include the word ‘Reconnection’ in their resulting short story!

Friends working hard at their short stories and poems.

This exercise took the group all over the world. There was romance at a farming show, a character foraging in the forest, a war-torn country, and plenty of flirting – with mixed consequences!

Lockdown and COVID were clearly on the participants’ minds, with tales of train journeys, visiting family after months of separation, not recognising people with their masks on, and a whole series of awkward conversations in the supermarket, car park, office, and more.

Concentration!

The workshop ended with a two-course lunch, and a chance to chat and catch up.

Looking to the Future

After all of the stress and uncertainty of the last sixteen months, it was fantastic to be able to meet as a small group to celebrate National Writing Day with some enjoyable and relaxed writing prompts – and a few laughs too!

Lockerbie Writers has undergone immense change since the beginning of 2020, with the departure of several long-established group members, and the increasing emphasis on the online side of the group.

National Writing Day is about encouraging people of all ages and abilities to try writing, and this is exactly what Lockerbie Writers always strives to do. With an emerging new committee, more enquiries beginning to come in from potential new members, and hope of regular in-person meetings resuming soon, Lockerbie Writers is in a strong and positive position as it evolves and heads into the future.

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