GENEVA WRITERS’ GROUP
by Chené Koscielny
Maybe you’ve got a half-written novel in a drawer, perhaps you enjoy penning poems or you’d love to write a children’s book. Whatever your genre or level, if you’ve got a passion for words, the Geneva Writers’ Group is one of the liveliest, most productive and inspiring writing groups.
As a journalist who still dreams of writing a novel, but hasn’t got a clue how to go about it, I attended my first GWG meeting at the Geneva Press Club in 2016. I hovered outside the room for as long as I could, worried that my status as fake would be obvious. I needn’t have worried. I was welcomed into the group over a cup of coffee and was soon drawn into the inspiring lecture on Writing Essays by GWG founder Susan Tiberghien.
Started in 1993, the non-profit group brings together over 200 English-language writers from over 30 countries. The aim is to encourage all creative writing in English and to create a supportive community ranging from fledgling writers to published authors.
An inspiring woman
The GWG was started by Susan Tibergihien, an experienced, published author and natural leader, who still chairs the group. The inspiring mother of six and grandmother wanted to share her passion for writing and started a small group of informal writers in 1993. The group became more structured in 1996 and the rest is history. For more details about the group’s history click here.
How does it work?
The GWG meets monthly from September to June at the Geneva Press Club and it can be tight squeeze at times, so aim to arrive early. Their programme consists of various workshops and master classes featuring instructors or guest instructors, including literary agents and authors, who give advice on different aspects of writing. If you’re brave enough, you can put yourself forward for the regular critiquing sessions, where you get a chance to read your work for the group to assess. I’ve only done this once so far and although nerve-wracking, the criticism was very sensitive and invaluable. You don’t have to be a member to attend a group, but for a modest annual membership (in Geneva terms), you pay less for the workshops and other events, so it’s well worth doing if you plan to become a regular.
The Geneva Writers’ Conference
This flagship event is held every second year at the Webster University in Bellevue and is like a Davos for writers. The 2016 programme was packed with workshops hosted by authors and agents from around the world offering lectures and practical sessions that fuelled my writing for months.
Small writing groups
One of the best things about GWG is the small writing groups – formed by members in the same area – which for me has been a lifeline! I love meeting ‘my tribe’ once a month over a coffee and lots of cake to critique our latest piece of writing, discuss books we’re reading and life in general. We NEVER miss a meeting and it’s a friendly, relaxed way of motivating me to keep writing.
A mentoring service is available, from the long list of published authors, for writers who want to progress their novels or work in this way.
In 2016, GWG started offering free writing workshops for teenagers on a monthly basis, offered by published authors who are members of the group. If your child is interested in writing, there can be no better place to kindle this passion.
Competitions, events, book readings
The GWG is also the best place to find out about writing competitions in any genre. GWG publishes a biennial collection of prose and poetry, Offshoots, Writing from Geneva and everyone is encouraged to submit work for this publication. For more information about GWG, visit their website and join the Facebook group Geneva Writers’ Group, which is very lively and a real source of inspiration. Hopefully one day, I too will join the long list of published authors, who have been and still count as members of the GWG. See you at the next meeting.
NOTE: The workshops resume after the summer holidays in September 2017