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Club spotlight: Creative Writing Club

The Creative Writing Club, run by sophomore McKennly McLain (he/him), meets every Wednesday from 8:30 to 10:30 P.M. immediately following Literature Night and Poetry at Bennington events. Here, students come together to share non-academic creative writing pieces with their peers to receive feedback, critiques, or just to have fun. Weekly prompts are provided to inspire participants and encourage unique and diverse interpretations of given themes.

The Creative Writing Club is a laid-back environment with no strings attached. Participants can come and go as they please, and sharing work is not a requirement. McKennly adds, “We get anywhere between five and fifteen people per week, and many people join just to listen and enjoy the works of others.” The most important takeaway from each meeting is encouragement and motivation to write. “There’s no right or wrong way to write, just write. Just do it.”

Following the weekly prompt is not required of all writers; it is meant to jumpstart the writing process and diversify topics from meeting to meeting. The most recent prompt was, “Write about the last scary thing to happen to you, and turn it into a comedy skit.” At the beginning of each meeting, a shared Google Doc is circulated among the week’s participants so they can upload their work. After a series of brief introductions, McKennly does a quick rundown of the rules. He says, “The rules are mostly, ‘Don’t be mean.’ I also set a limit of how much time people have to read, depending on how many people participate that day. I want to make sure we can get to everyone’s piece.” 

Regarding the feedback process, McKennly stresses that each writer can set their own terms for what criticisms they wish to receive. He says, “If you want people to roast a piece, they will. If you don’t want them to, they won’t. Everyone there is as nice as you want them to be.” He also emphasizes that although feedback is great, it is to be taken with a grain of salt. “People are going to make your piece into what they want it to be. It can choke your voice, but don’t let that happen.”

McKennly’s favorite part of the club is when participants who have yet to share work during the meetings do so for the first time. He says, “They come to several meetings and listen, then finally share something and it’s really, really good. That’s my favorite moment.”

The Creative Writing Club was founded in the Fall of 2019. At the time, opportunities for writers to participate in discipline-related clubs and organizations were limited, and so McKennly, a freshman at the time, decided to carve out that space for his peers. Meetings used to take place in the library’s reading room, but now happen virtually over Google Hangouts to comply with Covid-19 guidelines.

Contact McKennly at mckennlymclain@bennington.edu for more information and meeting links.

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