SITTING in a hall on a Sunday afternoon in Churchgate, overlooking the Oval Maidan, around 25 people with a pen and notepad in hand sat thrilled as their sexagenarian instructor Patricia Chandrashekhar gave them a quick writing task — finish the sentence that starts with ‘If I was a rich man/woman…’
On two Sundays every month, writing enthusiasts from across the city arrive at Chandrashekhar’s house to brush up their writing skills. The writers’ group, called Writestuff Writing Club, is a mixed bag of professional writers, doctors, lawyers and teachers who come to reconnect with their long lost love for writing.
“I love teaching people about writing, as it gives me a great sense of satisfaction to see people learn and express themselves in a way they haven’t done before,” says Chandrashekar (63), founder of the club.
The writers’ club increased from five members in 2006 to currently 5,000 through the mobile application Meetup. Twice a month now, 15-25 people from around the city gather at Chandrashekar’s house.
“I wanted to do something apart from my ordinary schedule. I decided to attend this writers’ meeting around three months ago as I have always enjoyed it as a hobby. Penning down my thoughts in words and trying to create a journey for the reader is fascinating,” says Aishwarya Jain (41), a charted accountant from Santacruz. By allotting a single subject to everyone to write on, Chandrashekar believes that various writing perspectives can be observed amongst them.
On a relatively cool February Sunday, Sion-based teacher Himshweta Dubey (24) was attending the meeting for the tenth time to learn and improve her writing skills and implement them while teaching. “There are various styles of writing that I wasn’t aware of and learned after interacting with writers here,” she says, adding, “I used to love to read and later discovered my passion for writing in July last year after which I started describing my thoughts by jotting them down.”
The experience of sitting through one of these sessions is similar to a language or writing class in school with quick challenges by Chandrashekhar. One of her tasks was to make the writers jot down 20 actions a person can do while talking and select any five actions enacting a dialogue between two imaginary characters.
Sujay Malik (33), CA and a lawyer, recently released his first book on a collection of short stories named ‘Beads of the same string’. Attending these classes, he says, turned him into a writer and helped structure his book. “I had an idea in place to write a book but before giving it a shape I wanted to gain more intricacies about writing,” he says.
Deciding to make writing his profession, Savio Colaco (47), a stock market professional with side-business in photography, started writing for money a year back. He has been coming to Chandrashekhar’s house since a year. “I wrote my first TV script in a workshop which was accepted two weeks back for Rs 2 lakh,” Colaco says.
Speaking about the challenges as a writer and community of writers he’s got introduced to, Colaco added, “My writing has improved a lot because here we are given new ideas to work on and get instant feedback from the group which helps improve my writing.”
Writing often is regarded as a lonely profession, but the members of the Writestuff Writing Club vouch for the opposite. Sitting in a group and sharing thoughts about writing has sharpened their writing skills.