“The only way to write the first draft is—write.”
Imagine yourself far away from the world, in the middle of the mountains, nesting in cosy cottages, working on your stories and novels, living with strangers from around the world who share the same goal as you. And that’s not it. Imagine that you also have mentors and teachers who critique you through your work and help you get better at what you do. Sounds like a deceptive daydream right?
What I just described is the magical Himalayan Writing Retreat that invites writers from everywhere to nestle in their heavenly abode and share their love for writing. With the tagline “Write better. Write more,” the HWR’s writing team comes through every single year to help new writers break out of their shells and finish their first draft.
They do this through a special initiative that they call ‘The First Draft Club.’ An entirely new program, ‘First Draft Club’ from HWR is the brainchild of Chetan Mahajan, the co-founder of HWR. The FDC came to be after the team participated in the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) 2020. The goal for NaNoWriMo was simple- writing 50k words in a month. The team used to meet every weekend on Zoom and all the participants discussed their journeys. This activity proved to be so rewarding for the writers that the curators decided to do it every four months. And believe it or not, participation is completely free of cost.
“There is so much to know and explore in this magical world of stories. The FDC is a fascinating experience because it opens the doors to that magical world.– Namrata
When asked what the most rewarding part of curating the FDC was, Namrata, the digital and outreach coordinator of FDC said that the sense of so many writers working together as a community and discussing their work was the most rewarding part. The conversations that take place during the FDC are about books, writers, authors interviews, stories and more. “It charges you up in every possible way,” she said.
The Himalayan FDC is just a glimpse of what HWR offers in their workshops. Their sessions educate you about the finer aspects of creative writing. With the maximum capacity for the workshops set at 10 in number, the attendees are assured that they will be given the attention they need to fulfil the promised enriching experience that they came for.
Even though I personally haven’t attended the HWR workshops yet, I am enamoured by their concept. The mentors they bring in are successful industry professionals who help the attendees with their own experience and learning. Having been a part of the FDC myself and having attended their special Sunday sessions, I can vouch for the take-aways that writers get out of it. The Sunday sessions are hosted by novelists, fiction-writers, industry professionals and more and other than being educational, are extremely fun.
Valuing quality over quantity in every aspect of their work, there are few challenges that the HWR team faces. The biggest one being to filter genuine participants from the ones who are not. That is the reason that there is a cap of 100 participants in the FDC.
Our blog, where we share a lot of articles on Writing and Publishing in India is a great resource for any writer. The HWR blog ranks very high in Google search results purely on the basis of the content. The intense dedication of the team and the participants has ensured FDC to be an ultimate success. The number of applicants who have already applied to be a part of the FDC for July is a testimony of that success. And not just this. After their initial endeavour of NaNoWriMo, one of their participants went on the write for the NaNoWriMo blog.
I asked the team why the FDC was completely free provided that so many of the writers would have gladly paid a fee to attend it. The response was ever the sweeter and warm.
“The idea was to create a community space for writers where they can come together and talk about writing. To celebrate small victories, encourage each other, give feedback and simply write.” southafrica-ed.com
It was heart-warming to see such selfless dedication of the team towards aspiring writers. I could only laud their efforts towards building a community for everyone- no matter what resources they had. The idea was probably more profound than just creating a community- it extended into the realms of inclusivity and in all senses of the word, passion. It was the passion of the HWR team that started this, and the passion of the participants that made it thrive. An excellent initiative and a brilliant, exhilarating experience, Himalayan Writing Retreat’s ‘First Draft Club’ is an event that deserves much more recognition and love.