The London Writers’ Café Turns Ten by Linnéa Nilsson

It’s time to put on your best party hat and bake that cake, because The London Writers’ Café is turning ten this month.

It’s been a decade since Susan Jones, a playwright, set up The London Writers’ Café. While it started as a group for Jones and her friends to share work, it has since grown to almost three thousand members.

In 2010, Lisa Goll took over as the group’s leader and organizer. With her background in marketing for publishing and media companies, she has been able to take the community forward and expand. ‘It’s great as a creative writing group but it’s even better when it develops, when it helps people develop,’ she said.

As a member of The London Writers’ Café you have an array of formats to choose from. They do feedback sessions where some members read their work. ‘It’s up to people, there’s never any pressure to read,’ said Goll, who moderates these meet ups. ‘I make sure that it’s all really constructive and the person goes away with some positive notes and perhaps some room for improvement.’

There are also workshops to attend, run by professional teachers and lecturers giving classes on specific Creative Writing topics. But that’s not all; Goll also organizes talks by publishers, literary agents, editors and authors, giving members a chance to learn more about the industry and make connections.

Another perk of joining is the LWC’s sponsors. Goll revealed that ‘some of them offer special discounts and offers for members. You get access to organisations, competitions and information that perhaps it’d be harder to find if you’re on your own.’

The group is diverse, catering to all types of fiction writers, from novelists to screenwriters, from playwrights to poets, the forms are broad and varied. Goll is confident that this mixture is strongly beneficial for the members. ‘They can learn from each other,’ she said. But it’s not only the forms that set the writers apart. Goll revealed that ‘they’re different ages and from all different backgrounds. They’re all from very beginner up to people who have perhaps finished one novel, they’ve even published one novel and working on a second.’ Some have gone down the self-publishing route while others have now secured an agent.

Anyone can apply as long as they live in London and have started working on a project. ‘If they’re just thinking about writing or they’ve always wanted to write but haven’t actually started, then I would say that they’re probably not quite ready for us,’ she explained. The group is the perfect space for any Creative Writing student to receive more invaluable feedback from fellow writers outside of their university course.

You might be thinking that it’s all work and no play, but that’s not the case. ‘I’ve made a lot of great friends in the group’, said Goll. ‘That’s a really nice thing to have, a group of friends who you can just talk about writing and really geek out [with]’. They often have a drink and talk after sessions in a more relaxed setting, adding to that strong community bond – something that Goll adores. ‘I think it’s all about getting writers from all over to come together’.

What’s the future for LWC? According to Goll, quality is the main priority. ‘I think [it] works best when we have just a couple of sessions that are very well formed, so that’s what we’re going to focus on this year. It’s going to be more about quality feedback sessions and making some talks and workshops that people really need. In terms of the next twelve months, that’s where we are. Beyond that, I’m never sure. It goes in completely its own direction. It kind of has a destiny all of its own’.

After a decade of helping writers advance and develop, The London Writers’ Café’s birthday is definitely something to celebrate.

For more information on prices and dates visit The London Writers’ Café’s website HERE

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