Tattered Past

Tattered Past: My ongoing journey through genealogy, history, writing, self-exploration and art. ~~~ Rita Ackerman

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tuesdays With Rita: Writers Inspiration Group

About six or seven years ago I took a creative writing class at the local community college. I learned a lot and made friends with one of the classmates, Cindi.

We both love to write although she's more of a poet and children's writer and I do non-fiction and history. We got to talking because we both have fibromyalgia and other issues and we had daughters graduating from the same school. We just hit it off and became good friends.

We kept trying to challenge each other to write but there wasn't enough of whatever we needed to keep doing it. About the same time we discovered the book, Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg. This book is an absolute must for anybody who wants to do any writing. Through various prompts and very short essays Natalie teaches how to do the stream-of-consciousness type of writing that just gets the words down on the page.

And an example of one of the essays.

Cindi and I finally decided to start a little group of writers using prompts and ideas from this book. We wouldn't critique or judge. We would just get together and write. I talked to an acquaintance at the local Barnes & Noble and we set it up to meet in the coffee shop on Tuesdays. Our first meeting was October 11, 2005.

The group we named the Writers Inspiration Group or WIG; celebrated it's sixth anniversary today. Most of the people who joined the first few months are still members. We have met EVERY Tuesday except holidays and the day Sarah Palin was to do a book signing at the store. (Actually we just moved to another location for that day so we did meet.) Either Cindi or I have been at every meeting except one.

The amazing thing is how the group has grown to be a close knit group of friends. We have dinners and parties and join each other at writing events around the Valley of the Sun. We cheer when somebody gets something published and give ideas when somebody is stuck on a project. I am often at a loss for words when it comes to describing the members of the group, the energy and the connections.

We still give two or three prompts every Tuesday and we write. Over the years we started reading what we write and sometimes we laugh and sometimes we cry . . . but we never critique or judge.

Here are a few prompts we have used in the past. The trick is to take the prompt and start writing without worrying about what you write, grammar, or even if it makes sense. Just write. The first prompt is one Natalie Goldberg says to use over and over.

I remember when . . .

Use these three words in a story, essay or poem: cake, coffee shop, rain

Describe a travel mishap (if you don't have one of your own make one up)

Describe a day at the beach using all five senses

What is your favorite season and why?

If you were a super hero, who would you be?

Get the idea? Try writing a few things and you will be amazed at what you come up with. Let me know how it goes. Perhaps you could start a similar group in your area. There are always writers looking for other writers to find inspiration.


  1. What a wonderful group! Reminded me of when I used to write for fun. I'm tempted... those prompts are great.

  2. The story of your friendship and formation of your writing group is a lovely testament to your love of words. I have this book and you have inspired me to take a look at it again. thank you. penny

  3. WIG is a wonderful group. I didn't know how the group came to be, thanks for sharing! I wish I could be more involved, unfortunately my days are full until 4:30. :{

  4. Rita, you and Cindi forming that writing group is in inspiration. As far as Writing Down the Bones, I found a set of cassette tapes by that name in a thrift store several years ago. I listened to them in the car on the way to work. I just took a look, and they're still on my bookshelf. I'll bring them to the PWC meeting in case anyone else would like to listen to them. (That is, if anyone still has a cassette player!)

  5. that book is one of my favorites
    it is a must!
    and you know i love prompts
    thank you for what you share

  6. I haven't read this, but I added to my list! Just found your blog and look forward to following!

  7. Happy Anniversary, Rita! Thank you for continuing to inspire writers like me :)

  8. Serendipity! Read your post about Writing Down the Bones on Friday just before going out to dinner with my husband. On the way to dinner we wandered into our local used bookstore. This book displayed in the staff favorites section practically jumped across the room and into my hands. I have just started it, but I love it already. Thanks for the recommendation. Jennifer aka Scrappy Gen

  9. Thank you for the book recommendation I will be sure to pick it up. Wish I was part of a writing group, maybe I will start my own.

  10. That very same book got me writing until now I consider myself a writer. In my first book group there was a very bold young woman that talked me into going to a Natalie Goldberg workshop in Taos...scared me to death thinking about it...then I saw I was writing as well as most of the other people and better than about half of them...so that's when I really sharpened my pencils and got to work. Nanowrimo is coming up and I am considering...
    Thanks for the post. Happy Birthday. Lori de Froup

  11. Happy Anniversary, my friend and fellow writer, and I am sooooo glad that we started this group six years ago. No expectations were sought and we got so much more than we ever thought possible. Some of the best writing I have ever heard has come from WIG and it is so gratifying to hear the words that come from our talented mix of writers. Here's to many more years as we continue to inspire and be inspired and feel heartfelt emotion each Tuesday afternoon. Partners in rhyme, cindi


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