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08 Aug 2022

Writing together in the Zoom Room in Leitrim

Writing together in the Zoom Room in Leitrim

Writing together in the Zoom Room in Leitrim

I’ve been leading Amherst Method writing groups since 2008. Over the years I've worked with novice writers and experienced writers, with children and their grandparents, with poets and storytellers and memory-writers. I've led workshops in community centres and arts venues, in libraries and schools, and in the sitting room of my house in north Leitrim.

In March 2020, within days of the first Covid lockdown, I had to move all my writing workshops online – and here we still are. My autumn 2021 workshop is called "Just Write". You can read about it at www.monicacorish.ie/blog .

So what's it like, writing together in the "zoom-room"? We live in rural Ireland where strong broadband is a gift, not a given. A few people couldn't make the transition because their Wi-Fi connection wasn't strong enough. For the rest of us, the first few sessions were a challenge. We got to grips with an unfamiliar technology; we learned how to function as a group in a different way; we learned how to be spontaneous in a 2D virtual space.

But many things stayed the same. As before, the group gathered once a fortnight to write. At each session I offered prompts and invited people to write in response. If someone got stuck I met them one-to-one in a “breakout room.” I invited people to read what they had written, if they wanted to. The group practiced “close listening”and gave positive feedback.

People from California and Kenya and Carrick-on-Suir joined a write-a-thon to raise funds for UNICEF; working in a digital space allowed some people to combine words and images in novel ways. And no one had to get in their car on a dark, blustery winter’s night and drive the length of the county to get to my sitting-room in North Leitrim!

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