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Creativity Inside a Supportive Group

Today in writing group, I wrote about how practicing law haunts me. Why the hell do I dream about it every week, every ten days, every two weeks. Never more than a month goes by without a “practicing law” dream. Inside the writing, buried as deep as the pea beneath the hundred stacked mattresses, was the question: what gives you your image as a writer? You knew your image as a lawyer, but as a writer? As soon as the Zoom clicked off, I heard myself blurting out at the end of another conversation, apropos of nothing: “My thing is individual creativity inside a supportive group.”

Cross Making Creativity in a Supportive Group

We did it with the cross making. Gather in a group. Set the tone for support and non-judgement of yourself or others (but mainly yourself). Honor your creations and understand whatever hurt you about being creative was wrong. Then have at it, knowing we will love the you in the cross you make.

Door of Hope Creativity in a Supportive Group

We did it at the Door of Hope Writing Group. Come. Write. Forget red pencils circling errors and standard English and the way you’re supposed to think. No, “I’m such a better writer than she is,” or, “I’m a terrible writer compared to him.” Trust the truth of creativity within a supportive group. Have at it, knowing we will love the you in what you write.

Writing Together as a Supportive Group

We do it in my little writing group of extraordinary writers. There, we don’t actually write with each other. But we read and sit quietly and absorb the words and love the you in the writing you do. We do it at the 100 Men Hall in Bay St. Louis where Rachel is kind enough to call me Writer-in-Residence. There, we gather for no reason other than to be writers together. We write our creativity inside a supportive group. Listening to what we have created, we love the you in the writing you do.

And now we are doing it in this Contemplative Writing group.

The Epiphany

This is my thing, y’all. It’s been my thing all along. Only the vector changes. Crosses. Homelessness. Types of creativity. Contemplative writing. But the theory is the same. You come. Trust we love you. Create.

This isn’t hooey. No New Age kumbaya fakey-fakeyness. I truly love the incredible individuality of what people create. And the courage and vulnerability it takes to share those creations. People. Are. Amazing.

So, yeah. I accept the truth: I do not identify as a writer. Blame the Oxford Conference for the Book where I was exposed to panel after panel of writers. I prayed, Lord, do not let me turn into a writer turd like those people. The egos. The self-absorption. The inability to connect outside of themselves. I rejected that.

I am such a jerk, judging people in their fear and insecurity.

What is New is Old Again

But I didn’t identify as a lawyer, either. Yet, I LOVED practicing law. To write about the end of it grieved me as if I had touched an open wound where the skin draws back from my finger. That’s why it haunts my dreams. Practicing law, I was happy as a pig in slop. Even if the lawyer clothes I chose were not the standard. And a woman heading up the office of a major law firm wasn’t standard. I was in the midst of it. Ready for the next big thing. And what was the next big thing? The end of this thing, or course.

She exits the door. Locks it. Steps over the parking lot divider. Careful in her heels that she called high but weren’t. All is dark behind her. No clients, no work. No next big thing. It is over. And for that she has never grieved.

Tommy Payne gesturing at a Door of Hope Writing Group, modeling  creativity within a supportive group
Tommy Payne demonstrating individual creativity within a supportive group

creativity inside supportive groups, how to make a writing group work

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