THE OTHER WRITING GROUP [2015 – 2017]

The Other Writing Group offered a workshop model for writers to explore the embodied dimensions of writing in a community of peers to enhance individual creative writing practices. This research shows that relaxation and repetition are important strategies in a productive writing practice. The workshop model adapted dance researcher Nancy Stark Smith’s Underscore, a collaborative creative model for practising and researching improvisation, applying its performance-based creative process to a writing workshop. Phases include meeting, warm-up, triggers for writing activity, an ‘open score’, and reflection.

Image credit: The Other Writing Group workshop, Edith Cowan University (ECU) South West, July 2016. Photo by Jen Alamdar.

L: Relaxation during the warm-up, The Other Writing Group workshop, Edith Cowan University (ECU) South West, December 2016. Photo by Sholto Spradbury.

The negative emotions I felt were often emotions that I brought in from outside the group. In each workshop I attended I found that this negativity dissipated by the end of the class, aided by the walk and the relaxing (participant reflection, December 2016).

I found the warm up at the beginning of the session to be an important stage for me. It allowed me to fill my head with, ‘Where am I walking, how am I walking, who is walking by me, who is reaching out to me?’ As all these thoughts filled my head, other thoughts of the outside world left (participant reflection, December 2016).

L: Triggers for writing called for repetition with variation. Materials were engaged with in a variety of ways; collaboratively written work included cuts and folds as well as text. The Other Writing Group workshop, Edith Cowan University (ECU) South West, July 2016. Photo by Jen Alamdar.

L: Written forms supporting collaborative engagement include lists and short lines with space on both sides, for adding to or tearing up. The Other Writing Group workshop, Edith Cowan University (ECU) South West, July 2016. Photo by Jen Alamdar.

One of the most exciting times for me in the workshop was when someone would add to my narrative, furthering the story-line or adding new characters (participant reflection, December 2016).

L: Using space in various ways during the ‘open score’, The Other Writing Group workshop, Edith Cowan University (ECU) South West, December 2016. Photo by Sholto Spradbury.

Participation enhanced individual creative writing practices, and sometime creative practices in other areas.

I have found it is OK to … Try things out and discard quickly if I don’t like something … Not produce a finished something … Look at other’s work and copy – I soon wander off on my own tangent (participant reflection, December 2016).

I now do a little ‘warm up’ before sitting down to write, just for a minute. … When I do this, I seem much more focused … I also attempt to write for shorter periods of time and have had better results with my writing (participant reflection, December 2016).

In my post ‘grazing’ mood, I just took the task out and ‘did something’ just like we were grazing around the various activities, not having to get anything perfect and not having to complete anything. I found I solved the sewing problem in a way I had never thought about before and the fix was simple and worked beautifully (participant reflection, December 2016).

L: Reflection phase, The Other Writing Group workshop, Edith Cowan University (ECU) South West, December 2016. Photo by Sholto Spradbury.


This project was supported by:

  • Edith Cowan University’s School of Arts and Humanities Small Research Grants
  • Westerly Magazine’s ‘Word Matters’ project
  • Edith Cowan University’s School of Arts and Humanities Academic Study Leave program

Published research:

Public talks: