No Discipline Art Collective Presents: Flash Fiction Writing Opportunity

A huge thanks to the writers who came out for a night of art, inspiration, and writing at the July 24 Sub Persona art show! Check out pictures from the event on Facebook

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The show presented multi-disciplinary work exploring the question, “What do masks signify?”

How do we use masks in our everyday life to construct our own identify and to interpret the identities of those around us?  What changes when we cover up one part of ourselves, or all of ourselves? Are there times when masks are necessary?

Sub Persona was organized by No Discipline, an informal collective of artists, writers, and art-lovers. The group was founded by Columbia Writers’ Brigitte Winter and Dustin Blottenberger in August of 2014. No Discipline is an artist-led initiative committed to eliminating the gallery middleman and producing cross-disciplinary work that breaks down traditional boundaries between isolated artists and disciplines. In the past year, No Discipline has presented four pop-up art events featuring 40 artists and writers and benefitting causes including the ALS Foundation, the Kristin Rita Strouse Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Columbia Writers, and Young Playwrights’ Theater.

Basically we’re awesome, which makes you awesome for coming out and playing with us.

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Miss the event? There’s still time to participate as a writer! Here’s how:
1. Email Brigitte at bwinterose(at)gmail.com to say you’re in. She’ll send you an image of one of the art pieces featured at the Sub Persona show. Create an original written flash piece (1,000 words or fewer) inspired by what you see.
2. Submit your original piece to Brigitte at bwinterose@gmail.com by Saturday, August 1, along with the title of the artwork that inspired you.
3. With your permission, we will post publication-ready work on the CW blog.
4. Select writers will be invited to have their work displayed with the art at a follow-up pop-up art show in Atlanta, Georgia, the weekend of September 5, along with the writer’s bio and business cards. This show will occur in conjunction with DragonCon, the nation’s largest multimedia pop culture convention focusing on science fiction and fantasy, literature, art, gaming, comics, music, and film. About 60,000 fans, writers, and artists attend this convention each year, and it’s an incredible opportunity to share your work with a big, eager audience of new readers.

Ready, set, WRITE.

Wrangling Writers: Keeping Your Accountability Group Accountable

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by Brigitte Winter/bwinterose

Early this fall, my writing accountability group had a crisis. The band almost broke up. Fragile egos were rattled, sacred truths questioned.

The goal of the group: meet regularly in a supportive environment and hold one another accountable to finishing a draft of our current novels in six months.

The crisis: almost a year had gone by, and we weren’t doing much writing. Instead, we were talking a lot about writing, drinking too much wine, and holding one another’s hands through creative blocks and moments of doubt. And while these cathartic conversations wrought deep bonds of friendship, they were (surprise) not resulting in words on pages.

This fall, we decided to take action. If we really believed in one another and loved these darn stories so much, we had to do something to keep our accountability group accountable. So we gave ourselves some homework. Each of the four writers in the group answered the following questions in preparation for a big come-to-Jesus conversation:

  1. In a perfect world, where will you be with your book six months from now? Who will you be as a writer?
  2. Why haven’t you achieved your goals? What obstacles are standing in your way?
  3. What are the aspects of this group that we should never change? What are the aspects that aren’t working as well?
  4. Imagine that you have the time and resources to design and lead a new writing group that will obliterate every obstacle preventing you from achieving your writing goals. How is it structured? Who’s a member? How often does it meet? What activities and resources does it offer?

This soul-searching led to some uncomfortable epiphanies. We clearly viewed one another as a kind of writer-family. We’d successfully built a community of trust and support. But we were all struggling with discipline, motivation, and routine. It was obvious that we had lost our collective fire.

So we practiced some creative destruction. We dismantled the comfortable framework of our little support group and rebuilt it from the ground up, focusing on piloting accountability strategies to help us finish our bloody novels already.

Here’s where we landed:

  1. We now meet as a group every week for two hours. No exceptions. Every other week we critique twenty pages for two writers. On off weeks, we alternate between “write-ins” where we bang out new words and “play dates” where one member of the group leads the others in a workshop focused on writing skills relevant to our current projects.
  2. We practice cold hard math. We determined how many words each of us needs to write per week to finish our novels within six months, and that’s how many words we write. Hard to argue with a calculator.
  3. We use Google Drive as a free online tool to track progress. We maintain a shared Google file containing a spreadsheet where we “weigh in” our daily and weekly word counts, and we each have individual folders where we upload our working manuscripts every Sunday.
  4. We are committed to our collective success. If one of us fails, we all fail. We devote the first fifteen minutes of each meeting to celebrating accomplishments and problem solving.

We’re now halfway through our six-month journey, and these strategies are (mostly) working. We don’t meet our word count goals every week, but we’re all writing. We’ve rekindled that collective fire of ours, and, come January, I’m confident we’ll have forged four new novels in that heat.

Any other writers out there struggling to finish your current projects? What strategies help you stay on task? What works and what doesn’t? Keeping one another accountable to our stories is one of the greatest gifts we can give other writers.