During 2021, the Ottawa Writer’s Circle went through a fundamental change in how we come together as a community. We’ve always focused the idea of an in-person community easing the inherent loneliness of the writing life. With there already being so many online writing communities, we didn’t think we could contribute anything new to that space.
And then a pandemic happened.
For the eight years we’ve been around, we’ve run more or less the same events in the same ways. It’s always worked well, so why change it? But suddenly we were an online-only community and as we look into the future in 2022 and beyond, it’s clear we have to adapt to our new reality. The current leadership team have brainstormed some ideas of how we want to do that, and we want to share that with you!
I do want to say that it’s important to me that we continue to have an in-person piece once it’s safe for large-ish groups of relative strangers to gather again. But the online aspect of this community has proven to be more valuable than I expected. So, it makes sense to us to plan for this group to be a hybrid community as we look to the future.
OUR PLANS FOR 2022
2021 was a year of the leadership adjusting to moving from the Meetup platform to a new website, a new way of planning and hosting events, and a new Discord community server. Now, in 2022, we’re tackling ways to adapt to our new community instead of sticking with our tried and true ways because, well, it’s not working like our eight years of in-person experience. This post gets a little long, so feel free to jump around.
Here are the things we’re looking to do this year:
New channels and asynchronous events
Changing how we schedule events
NEW CHANNELS AND ASYNCHRONOUS ACTIVITES
Historically and by necessity, our events have always been synchronous—that is, happening when everyone is there and participating at the same time. Now that we have an online space, we have the opportunity to have some community-building “events” where people can pop in and out at their convenience while being able to participate with and benefit from their fellow writers.
To that end, we’re introducing two new channels:
First is the writing-monthly channel. Similar to what we did for NaNoWriMo, every month we’re going to post some writing calendar prompts, a bingo card, or some other activity to foster community participation. Of course, it’s encouraged to provide updates and post as often as you’d like! But we’d love to see interaction with the activities.
Second is the question-of-the-week channel. This is inspired by a suggestion from member DerikJ! Every Monday, we’re going to post a new question for the community to discuss throughout the week. Members can pop in and out of the channel whenever they have the time or inclination to contribute or just “listen in” on the conversation and see what your fellow writers have to say.
Another idea we’re going to try out is monthly themes. For our discussion groups, the new channels, and prompt parties held during each month will follow a topic or theme related to writing craft. For January, the theme is Protagonists and February’s theme is Antagonists. You’ll find questions and prompts about the theme every month, so if you have a suggestion, feel free to drop us a line on the Discord, through our contact form, or by email at email@example.com.
CHANGING HOW WE SCHEDULE EVENTS
One of the first things we’re doing is simplifying how we schedule events. Part of this is because of how people are discovering our community and therefore how people sign up and attend events. We’ve been finding Discord events don’t really get that many RSVPs on the website and honestly, that’s not really a huge deal! So, we’re doing something different:
Events that have an RSVP limit and often require preparation like critique circles, Positive Feedback Fests, and story development circles will be posted on the website and will require people to sign up as they do now.
Events we’re referring to as “no limit, no pressure” events like write ins and prompt parties will be announced on the Discord and will be drop in. You’ll find these events in the top left-hand corner of the server above the list of channels.
There are some events we had stopped doing for various reasons. One of those were social mixers. Early in the pandemic, we had tried some text-based mixers which were not very popular (which maybe shouldn’t have been a surprise). Live mixers in our voice channels may be planned in the near future, likely under our “no limit, no pressure” umbrella. So keep an eye out for those if they sound interesting!
Other events which we’re really hoping to do a lot more of this year are workshops. I (Averill) am really excited to bring these back now that I’m (mostly) back on my feet. It’s one of my favourite things to do here. (Speaking of, if you haven’t heard that we’ve started a TikTok, you should definitely check that out, if only to see me embarrass myself.)
As you might expect, it costs money to keep the figurative lights on here at the Ottawa Writer’s Circle. In order to raise money to contribute to the operating costs, we’re hosting a fundraiser called Plan your 2022 Writing Life. As implied by the title, we will plan our writing lives for 2022 and beyond with guided goal setting, accountability for deadlines, and community support! Tickets are pay-what-you-can and can be purchased on Eventbrite. We never want finances to be a barrier to participation. While every little bit helps for our operating costs, if you really can’t afford it, use the code avocado for a 100% discount, no questions asked.
If you can’t attend the workshop, or if it’s just not interesting to you, there is a Donate button at the bottom of the OWC website, or you can use my PayPal link here: paypal.me/averillfrankes. If you’d prefer an e-transfer, please contact me for details.
OKAY, THAT’S IT
Thanks for reading all this. It was a lot, I know, but we’re so excited for 2022 and the future of the Ottawa Writer’s Circle. This is the year to really celebrate the OWC. I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to take stock of accomplishments, what we’ve done, and how far we’ve come. As individual writers, as a community, or as humans. So, consider this a moment for you to reflect as well. Take stock, take names, and celebrate. There’s a quote from Annie Dillard I love: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
Here’s to so many more writing days in 2022!
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Do you have a writing craft question you’d like answered? Shoot me an email!