I recently joined an online group of published women writers. They share tips, offer support and also get together for in-person group writing dates. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to join in. Writing groups can certainly be helpful and I’ve participated in many, but after having spent the past two years in an MFA program I’ve been feeling thoroughly workshopped out. It’s been kind of nice to once again be alone with my writing and not having to deal with critiques and suggestions, however well meaning.
I found out, though, that these meetings are not feedback sessions or workshops. Writers simply get together at a coffeehouse or cafe and write. They might take a break to chat a bit, but no one is required to even talk about what she’s working on unless she wants to.
So I decided to try. I usually do my writing from a home office, which I am lucky to have. But along with experiencing occasional feelings of isolation, there are way too many distractions at home, not to mention the sometimes ho-hum familiarity of my surroundings that can hamper creativity. I find that meeting at different places—having somewhere to go—has sparked my writing life. Sitting and working quietly with fellow writers has also improved my productivity. Knowing that Phyllis is revising her poetry, Mary plotting her mystery, and Susanne and Cyndi are hard at work on their novels inspires me to hunker down and get moving with my own novel-in-progress. I feel that if they can do it, so can I, and I get more writing done now in two hours at these group writing dates then I sometimes do in a whole morning fiddling around at home.
So if you’re having trouble buckling down to write, you may want to try going out on a date—a group writing date.
Causes Wendy Tokunaga Supports
San Francisco SPCA Reading is Fundamental