By Amanda Falson
It was a hot Friday night in February, possibly too hot to leave the house, but I did anyway, venturing to my favourite bookshop, The Chestnut Tree, in West Footscray, for a writing workshop with the Bad Writers Club.
A club for bad writers? With snacks, wine, and books? Perfect! The heat wouldn’t hold me back.
Local author Imbi Neeme led this Bad Writers Club class (The Spill, Penguin Random House, 2020) with a workshop titled You, Me and the Story In Between: Writing Different Perspectives.
On arrival, we were treated to delicious cheese and fruit platters. Welcome kits of stationery, stickers, and lovely coloured fine-tip writing pens accompanied each place at the table, encouraging our creativity.
Imbi gave us some wonderful writing prompts for developing well- rounded characters and expert tips for writing scenes from different character points of view. We spent time exploring these ideas in a series of short writing sprints.
There’s something so satisfying about hearing your fellow writers scribbling furiously or the rhythmic pitter-patter of fingers at the keyboard around the table from you. It was incredibly motivating and gave me a great push to try and keep up with my fellow writers and get as many words onto the page as possible before the timer went off for each short writing sprint.
It was a fantastic way to rediscover a sense of play and to generate some paragraphs that might not have happened otherwise.
When asked if we’d like to share any reflections about our experience, I spoke about how I was always so surprised at the dark underbelly that seemed to pour out in my writing.
I had no intentions of sharing my awkward scribbling, but then Ash (of Bad Writer’s Club) gave me an encouraging nudge and said, “I’d love to hear some.”
I immediately broke out in a sweat.
Ash and Donita (both writers and editors) have created a safe space here, a place with no rules or expectations, where writers are encouraged to be bad and reminded that the only way to improve is to be vulnerable and just have a go.
So with my heart hammering in my chest, I said I would be happy to share if someone else would. Lucky for me, two other generous writers stepped up to the task in solidarity, and then – gulp – I had to keep my word!
With my face bright and hot as a chilli pepper, I mustered brute courage from somewhere and read aloud the few short paragraphs I’d just written. I felt everyone in the room lean in to support me. I could feel they all understood how difficult it can be to share your work.
Afterward, many of my fellow writers praised me for being brave and putting myself out there and confessed to almost raising their own hand to share, wishing they had not hesitated. I felt proud of myself. I had a wonderful evening, but more than that, I left that night feeling like a real writer!
If you’re looking for a writing group, a place to make time to learn, to be supported and vulnerable with like- minded writers, I encourage you to come to the next Bad Writers Club gathering and Write Your Fucking Heart Out! After all, as the Bad Writers Club motto says, there is no wrong; just write!
I’ll see you there!
Amanda Falson is an actor, writer, and coach currently studying for an MA in screenwriting at VCA.