Ridley’s Writing Room is an online virtual space for women writers to come together regularly for an hour to write ‘in-community’.
The purpose of the writing room is to help create some space in your writing week – something that can be a real challenge – especially when juggling the demands and needs of other people in your life. Taking time for ourselves (which is the first law of writing club – we may not need a room of ones own but we do need time and space to get into our own writing headspace) is extraordinarily difficult for many of the women I know – myself included historically.
Our diaries are filled with appointments and meetings with other people. We are culturally conditioned to give our time to others. Any white space in the diary not already taken up by a meeting is potentially ‘available’. It’s very easy to get to the end of a week without having written because for example, the Wednesday evening you thought you were going to have free, something cropped up last minute and you simply couldn’t say no.
Booking time out to spend with your writing (and then turning up to the page, to yourself) is the first step on an incredible pathway to writing your truth and telling your story.
Ridley’s Writing Room can be an anchor for you in that process. It is a time, a place, a meeting that holds authority, even mentally, because it exists as an external ‘commitment’. 100% the Writing Room is a drop-in space but I’m endlessly amazed at the number of people who, if they can’t make it, get in touch to tell me why.
It’s only recently dawned on me that this is an important part of the process. It means we feel committed. We have to express our reasons for not showing up, potentially get permission – yes, but more importantly get the confirmation that it is okay, the space will still be there, the writing will still be there when we are able to turn up again. For women, who do have an enormous number of demands on their time and energy, the importance of knowing that the space will still be there for them, is not to be underestimated.
Thus Ridley’s Writing Room is a psychological tardis – bigger on the inside than it first appears.
Because what it also is, is a space to see and hear fellow women writers. To find out a bit about what they are writing. To see yourself as a writer, as part of a writing community.
“What we’re doing here is sharing an otherwise hidden insight into how writing works, how it happens. And over time we become the privileged witnesses of each other’s writing.”
Your Story Matters
At the beginning of each session, we say a little about the project we’re working on that day, sharing any information we feel comfortable doing. This can be the first time a woman has spoken about her project- and I’ve yet to hear anyone’s project receive anything other than a chorus of support and interest from the group, which is enormously affirming. Here you are. A writer, turning up to your writing, at a writers group, with fellow women writers, who are also an interested audience. There can be only one conclusion. Your story matters.
At the end of the session, we go round and talk about the process, what we’ve done, how we feel. What we’re doing here is sharing an otherwise hidden insight into how writing works, how it happens. And over time we become the privileged witnesses of each other’s writing. We hear the growth of word count and stories, we hear and celebrate each other’s successes, we watch as writers mature and grow into their writing. In short, we role-model what being a woman writer is to and for each other, we normalize what it is to be a woman who writes.
Power – In community
It’s powerful. Turning up to your writing. And powerful can be scary, perhaps especially as a woman. In community though, we turn up together, becoming what we see mirrored in our fellow women writers, beautiful, dedicated, thought-provoking, confident, ready to tell our stories, to have them heard. And we do so supported, held by the group.
What could be more delicious?