This week, CWC member, Jackie Juno, tells us how Covid-19 has forced her to do something she’s been meaning to do for years: offer her Creative Writing classes online.
“A mixture of laziness, technophobia, procrastination and managing OK without all that stuff thank-you, has delayed my zoom onto Zoom up to now.
But once we went into lock down, my entire self-employed work and income disappeared overnight. My husband is also self-employed (as a painter and decorator), so I realised something had to be done!
I bit the bullet and found in the back of the cupboard on my computer, my zoom account. I dusted it off and upgraded it from a free application to a professional one. This allows meetings of up to 100 people at a time, for any length of time, with the option of breakout groups, should that be required. It costs around £12 per month, and if everything goes according to plan, you can easily cover that cost with your first workshop or class. People pay via PayPal or using online banking.
I chose Zoom, but of course there are many other platforms you could use. It is worth shopping around, asking your peers and finding out what would best suit your needs.
I have been running various Creative Writing classes for many years. Since September 2019, after having moved house, I have been hosting a weekly class in my home in Bovey Tracey. It is a lovely location, but not overly large, and with the rearrangement of furniture in the living room I can accommodate up to six writers.
It is a great joy to hold classes here, though there is a downside to this arrangement. The frantic cleaning of the kitchen and bathroom, vacuuming everywhere, shifting tables, getting extra chairs from the summerhouse, providing coffee, teas, biscuits & fruit, and clearing up afterwards!
Offering the same classes online has been a revelation to me.
Firstly, no-one is hindered by physical location. I have my usual local attendees, but also people from all over Devon, plus Cornwall, Somerset, the Midlands, Northern Ireland – even Denmark!
Secondly, there is none of the rushed preparation of the space first thing in the morning (not my best time!)
Thirdly, I am consuming far fewer biscuits!
I also hosted my first Poetry Open Mic gig online via Zoom. I run a regular night in Chagford, a tiny moorland town which is inaccessible to public transport and often difficult to get to in the winter if there is snow, ice or fog (which there often is up there!)
But again, when I hosted the night online I had folks contributing from all over the UK and beyond! It was extraordinary. And of course, the carbon footprint has diminished to almost zero.
The classes offer respite in troubled times; a chance to get creative, with support of fellow writers, a space to address subjects which may need expressing, and a lot of fun with words! Perhaps you could also find a way to transfer some of your work to an online platform. If I can do it, a lazy procrastinating technophobe like me, then anyone can!”