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Brooklyn College’s ‘Writer’s Circle’ Offers a Judgement Free Zone to Write

By Carmen Saffioti

Published: October 4th, 2017

Ever write something that you needed an objective opinion on? Perhaps, you might be interested in Writer’s Circle. This club formed last year, and is completely student run. It allows students to share their writing, mostly creative, in a judgement free zone. Students learn about different writing techniques and methods from the club’s president as they focus in on their craft by responding to prompts. After they let their creative ideas flow, fellow members respond with praise and constructive criticism. This club welcomes students of any degree of writing skill, meeting every Tuesday and Thursday during common hours in Room 2307 Boylan Hall.   

The idea of this club emerged through Roni Natov’s internship program at the English Major’s Counseling Office. Emily Gallagher was the founder and former president of the Writer’s Circle.

“Emily wanted to create a campus based writing community that gave students the autonomy to decide what they learned and how they learned it, with goals of fostering their capabilities as writers,” says Isaiah Rivera, the current president of the Writer’s Circle and Emily’s successor. 

Gallagher created the foundation of the Writer’s Circle: The Writer’s Circle’s packet, which members refer to as their “bible.”  She also coined the term “Scribblers” for the club’s members, a reflection of how members look when they are frantically writing down their ideas during the ten minutes they are given. Rivera says that he owes a lot of his success in this club to Gallagher.

Rivera is a senior undergraduate student at Brooklyn College. As formal president, he lectures other members, but he stresses that there is no hierarchy in the club. “Me being a student teacher eliminates the risk of condensation…We’re in the thick of it together, so there’s a level of intimacy there and a relatability that you aren’t likely to get from a faculty-run class.”

Because the Writer’s Circle is a club is run by the internship program and a student, as opposed to a faculty run club, students such as Rivera acquire valuable lecturing experience while providing participating students with an environment to learn without the pressures of regular classes. The club takes on a class form, but it truly feels nothing like a class. Scribblers are also encouraged to do their “homework,” which is to finish and craft one of their responses, but of course this isn’t mandatory. It is a place of learning and open participation among members.

  During last Thursday’s meeting, Rivera presented the topic of creating a fictional world. He advised writers on how to make their fictional world cohesive and believable. He was received with enthusiasm as club members engaged, giving their thoughts about what makes a fictional world work. Then, Rivera presented some prompts, including: “What if America never went to Afghanistan?” or “What if mythical creatures were real?” The range and spontaneity of suggested topics makes the club more eccentric, as Scribblers never know what they’re going to be writing about until the prompts are on the board.

The Writer’s Circle prides in being a safe space to all members, which is a quality they deem essential to the integrity of the club; mutual respect is vital when sharing personal writing.

“Having an audience can be really empowering when you create something, so I always encourage Scribblers to share despite their fears!” Rivera says he encourages participation, but would never pressure someone into sharing their work if they are uncomfortable.

Members can still learn a great deal by listening to the lecture and to the shared work of fellow members. Rivera has noted, however, that there is no better experience then when a nervous person shares their work and blows the whole room away.

A unique aspect of the Writer’s Circle is its close-knit nature despite its short existence.  With their bi-weekly meetings, the Scribblers share their style, personality, and sense of humor through their writing. Charly Martinez, a member of the Writer’s Circle, found a place of belonging here: “When I first came to Brooklyn College I did not know where to go. The best sense of community I found was among other writers. I feel as though I am a part of a family.” Each member has their own reason for joining the Circle, but the friendships they find seem to be the common reason that they all stay.

What members can hope to get out of this club is the confidence to be their authentic selves among peers through their writing.

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