7 writers’ groups in Berkshire
PUBLISHED: 15:00 15 September 2016 | UPDATED: 15:35 15 September 2016
Michael Pearcy at Words & Pictures
We’re not the only ones tapping away at keyboards or picking up pens to scribble away: Claire Pitcher introduces us to local writers’ groups
Thames Valley Writing Circle
Formed in 1993, the Circle consists of writers and poets of mixed abilities and ages, who take turns to read their work and offer comments on that of others. The 30 or so members include novelists, short story and children’s writers, poets, journalists and those writing autobiographies. Some members have been published, others write only for pleasure. They’ve had some great speakers, such as Inspector Morse’s Colin Dexter, Robert Harris and John Jenkins.
The Circle also publishes anthologies of members’ work from time to time, and some have won national acclaim.
There’s no annual membership fee to join and subscriptions are on a pay-as-you-attend basis.
Where they meet: St Joseph’s Church Hall, Berkshire Drive, Tilehurst, Reading RG31 5JJ.
Find out more at: www.thamesvalleywriterscircle.org
As well as novelists, short story writers and poets, this group also welcomes stand-up comedians and performance poets to their meetings twice a month. Guest speakers, competitions and social evenings make up half of their meetings, the rest are devoted to critiquing each other’s work. Learning from one another and hearing constructive comments is key to better writing.
Patience is a virtue when it comes to becoming a member of this group however, as there is currently a waiting list. Before joining you can go along to two meetings free of charge.
After this, you will need to pay £45 to continue attending. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
Where they meet: On the second and fourth Wednesday of every month Reading Writers get together at RISC (Reading International Solidarity Centre) in London Street, Reading.
Find out more: readingwriters.wordpress.com
West Berkshire Writers
The group formed following the closure of Newbury Arts Workshop. The Creative Writing class had been a fundamental part of the Work-shop and those taking part decided rather than disband, they would start a new group.
Now, at their weekly meetings in Newbury, they enjoy discussions, workshops, readings, critiques of each others work and also have guest speakers. In the past they’ve heard from Duncan Forbes (Booker Prize shortlisted novelist) and award-winning poet Susan Utting. As for becoming a member, for the first few visits, taking part is free. Following this, there’s a small monthly charge to cover room hire.
Where they meet: Meetings take place in the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust Stone Building, The Wharf, Newbury, at 7.45pm most Wednesdays. They are open to all, irrespective of experience and age, and new members are welcome.
Find out more: westberkshirewriters.weebly.com or 01635 821309.
Meeting at the Diamond Tap in Newbury, the Word Watchers are a relatively small group of about nine members. Getting together at the pub means they can also invite other likeminded people/groups to share and discuss ideas. They also meet at one of their houses each month. Over the 15 years that Word Watchers has existed this is the number that seems to best suit the group dynamic, just enough people to keep the creative banter going, not too many that members feel that they didn’t have time to say what they wanted to say.
Current members write in a variety of genres, from children’s to romantic historical fiction to crime. Over a drink they discuss and share what they have written and plan the next chapter for the month ahead.
When they meet: Currently the third Wednesday of the month. Diamond Tap, Cheap Street, Newbury RG14 5BX.
Find out more: www.wordwatchers.net
Set up almost 50 years ago, this group’s 35 members span most fields of writing – poetry, fiction, novels, non-fiction, flash and drama. A few work professionally – travel writing, comedy scripts, journalism, and of course several members have self-published their novels both as eBooks and traditional books.
More unusually, the group holds active drama workshops, which produces work for the stage. In October their third performance evening will be at Burnham Library. They also hold four internal competitions each year and most members also enter external festivals and competitions. To inspire members to try new writing styles, the groups have workshops where members take part in short writing exercises and, if they wish, share their work with the group – great for thinking about a new topic. There are also Manuscript Evenings – a chance for members to read out their work in progress and get constructive feedback. Plus, of course, they welcome regular guest speakers to the meetings. All this, plus barbecues in the summer and a Christmas dinner dance, means being a member not only improves your writing, but also your social circle.
There is an annual subscription to pay to be a member, but no charge to attend the weekly meetings.
When they meet: Every Monday, 7.30pm to 9.30pm, for three terms in the year. The meetings are upstairs at The Palmer Arms in Dorney.
Find out more: www.sloughwriters.org.uk
Progress Writers Group
Part of Progress Theatre in Reading, the group has been supporting members in their writing for 18 years. They meet fortnightly in a relaxed atmosphere. Budding writers might read out each other’s work in progress. Here they can offer invaluable critique and pick up advice on making improvements and hopefully get published. Success stories include several members having their writing published or performed, often at the theatre as part of its annual WriteFest festival.
When they meet: The group gets together every other Wednesday, 7.45pm, either at Progress Theatre or at a member’s house during productions.
Find out more: www.progresstheatre.co.uk/get-involved/writers-group
Library Writing Groups
Wokingham Library has its very own Poetry and Writing Groups, welcoming everyone from beginners to those already published from the local area, including Bracknell, Maidenhead and Windsor. Creative writing groups meet monthly and members share ideas and critique each other’s work in a mutually supportive environment. The groups are run by their own members and are not tutor led, although the library service occasion-ally runs workshops on specific topics, such as crime writing.
When they meet: The poetry group gets together on the second Saturday in each month, 10am to 11.30am. The writers group gets together on the third Saturday of the month. Wokingham Library, Denmark St, Wokingham RG40 2BB. Wargrave Creative Writers Group meets at Wargrave Library on the first and third Mondays in each month, 10.30am to 11.30am. Visit the library at Church Street, Wargrave RG10 8EP.
Find out more: Call 0118 974 3712 and visit wokingham.gov.uk/libraries. For Wargrave Library, call 0118 940 4656.