It is Tuesday night. A student writer enters a small room in the Humanities building and sits by a conference table.
Others arrive and the meeting begins. Names are written in order on a whiteboard and the story sharing commences.
Put It In Writing, a writing club with undergraduate and graduate students of all writing levels, gathers to workshop their pieces with one another from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.
“I go because I like to read stories and meet the people who wrote them. Just being able to share stories and see the minds behind them is worth it,” Giovanni Ortiz, a freshman journalism major, said.
A student hands out their story. It is less than five hundred words, so it will be read during the two hour meeting—if it is more than five hundred words, the group asks writers to share it on the Google Drive folder the Sunday before.
Writers are still asked to bring multiple copies of their pieces to the workshop for new members who are not acquainted with the new Google Drive system.
Prior to this system, the group would spend the meetings reading most of the time. One student, who would like to remain anonymous, described their first experience of the pre-drive Put It In Writing as, “an AA meeting for recovering writers.”
Then it begins. Everyone is reminded to comment both constructively and positively. Writers should feel comfortable sharing their pieces while others respond.
Comments range from remarks on characterization to opinions about diction to observations and interpretations and questions about the big picture of the story or poem.
There is an ongoing debate as to how particular criticisms should be. While the group is commenting on a piece, the author is asked to remain silent to accept and think about the criticisms being given.
After the comments are made, the student is allowed to speak. They can respond to questions, explain himself and, most importantly, ask questions of their own.
The writer and his readers are able to converse as they work together to polish the story. They then move to the next name on the list and the process begins again.
At the end of the meeting, the fellow writers decide on a prompt for the next week’s meeting and authors convene to continue more in depth conversations about their pieces.
They part ways, inspired to continue writing and revising until they can share their pieces in room 2094 at the Put It In Writing club the next Tuesday night.
Andrew Goldstein is a member of the Put It In Writing writing club.