★ Roanoke Writer’s Collective: Rachel Barton on shaping a creative life

The Roanoke Writer’s Collective meets most Sunday afternoons at a local coffee shop for an hour of writing. Monthly, they host peer workshops. Organized by 2016 Roanoke College graduate Rachel Barton, the group is very welcoming to new members. If this supportive group looks like a fit, contact Rachel below about attending the next session.

BOOK CITY ★ Roanoke: What’s the philosophy behind Roanoke Writer’s Collective?
Rachel M. Barton: It’s pretty simple. When I graduated from Roanoke College, I was worried that working full time and carving out a life for myself in Roanoke would leave me little time for creative pursuits. I wanted to block away a small part of the week for nothing but writing. I figured other busy people might also benefit from having a set and structured time every week to sit down and write. So, that’s what happened. We started meeting together every Sunday and free-writing or working on projects for one hour. It’s not a huge time commitment, but it’s allowed me to consistently reach a lot of my writing goals. I figure, if people set aside time every week for grocery shopping and laundry and exercise, why not also set aside a little time to write?


BCR: That little bit of discipline could help a lot of us. What should someone expect to happen in that hour?
RMB: The sessions are very laid back. We sit down together in a coffee shop and free write for one hour. There’s nothing in particular anyone has to write about and there’s no expectation to share your writing, although sharing is always welcome. Our members include people of all skill and experience levels. It’s casual, easy, and an honest-to-God good time!

BCR: What additional support do you provide each other?
RMB: Once a month, we do a special workshop where members who want more support and feedback can send in projects to our group email for review. Other group members who also sent in pieces read these projects and provide feedback on craft, form, theme etc. Then, we meet and discuss our suggestions and ideas.

writesBCR: That can be beneficial, especially in a supportive setting. What’s something you’ve learned from another participant?
RMB: It’s great having other writers to look over my work, especially now that I’m out of school, and it’s connected me to other creatives in the Roanoke area. We share news about upcoming events, readings and conferences and so forth. In January, a small group of us attended the Roanoke Regional Writers Conference together, which was great fun. Group members are involved in the community in different ways, so they’ve really helped me plug in and get involved in organizations and events I would have never known about otherwise. I’m hoping to recruit more members so we can grow and perhaps plan some community events of our own this coming year (readings, workshops, etc..) so come get involved!

BCR: What else about Roanoke inspires you to write?
RMB: Roanoke is a very poetic city. I love the old industrial frame against those lush, rolling mountains. It’s beautiful here. It’s also changing rapidly. Constant change means there is always something new to write about.

Visit Rachel’s blog to check out some of her Roanoke inspired poetry, and contact her below about attending a session of the Roanoke Writer’s Collective. ★



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