20 September 2021
Posted by Antosh Wojcik
MAST Collective was born in the wake of the worldwide pandemic.
We met in person for 3 weeks and were then, rightfully, thrust into online
delivery. This is an aggregation of facilitation methods that I’ve employed
whilst running the collective for ArtfulScribe & Engage at MAST Studios.
We work in a rotational way, the sessions’ focus moving from
Generative Weeks to Workshop Weeks.
This was implemented as a pandemic response, initially. Running
the group on Zoom required further attention to course content delivery and
giving ample preparation for workshop notes – there was so much happening in
the world that pulling a writer’s focus into a certain mode demanded care and
precise framing. There is also Zoom fatigue to factor in, with additional
constraints around engagement – it’s a lot easier in a space to draw out responses
as your internal social skills are reactive. A screen is not a person, the same
kinds of social responses the we potentially rely on in workshop to boon our
sharings and anxieties.
The benefits of online sessions / workshops I have found:
Generative Sessions are sessions that are stimulus and prompt
heavy. Creativity focus. Time to write. My prompts range from overly-prescriptive
to free - I try to balance. I pull models from stimulus and hope to offer lenses
to craft ideas and inspiration modes with the more prescriptive approaches. I
will sometimes lecture, but tend to keep this short because of the online space
and difficulties of attention. I always encourage deviation from the task. I
balance the generative session with a rough 65-80% of prompt, the remaining %
for craft / edit tasks and discussion.
Workshop Sessions are sessions where writers submit their
writing to receive feedback. The session will net submissions a week before, which
are then circulated to the group for them to prepare notes. This was a group
decision to prepare notes prior to session – a screen time reduction tactic. If
there’s time, there will be an edit / craft task that is derived from one of
the writer’s submissions. This acts as a means of uplifting a writerly challenge
from inside the group as opposed to an exalted problem that’s an abstract idea
from the facilitator – I’ve found this gives a little more humanity and
purchase to talking about craft.
The idea behind this rotational approach of Generative /
Workshops has the following benefits & possibilities: