Writing can be a very solitary sport. I channel my inner Ernest Hemingway best when I’m alone at a greasy 24-hour diner at 2 am with a slice of uneaten pie because my story simply won’t let me sleep. But that scenario doesn’t happen very often. Odds are I’ll get a great idea and scribble it down on a piece of scratch paper in hopes that I get a few solitary hours to unpack the rest of the story later. I have come to believe that finding time is impossible. You’ve got to make the time.
My time-management skills took a turn for the better when I decided to meet with a local writing group. they met once a week for a few hours and occasionally shared their work. I found that collaboration style similar to one of my favorite college courses which quickly got my brain back into the swing of things. As writers, we tend to zone into our own little worlds rather quickly but writing with a group has the added benefit of community and accountability. Which is why I think groups are a tool writers should check out and consider.
I’m using the word community to define the sense that you are not alone. Other writers have slow days. Other writers get writer’s block. Other writers think their own work sucks. But you see them still writing, that alone is an invitation to do the same. Community is also how you discover what is going on around you. Meeting people and making those connections creates an awareness that forces us to peek out of our little writer shells. I used to focus on how badly I wanted to apply and submit work to well-known competitive publications which often intimidated me out of writing anything at all. Meeting other local writers gave me pause to realize there were other venues around me that want me to share my work. The wonderful world of open mics, independent literary journals, and (would you guess it) writer-in-residencies was opened to me. You become familiar with the faces of the arts around you. You begin to make friends there. A friend of mine puts it best when he says that community is the goal, writer’s groups is merely the vessel.
Once community is established, you fellow writers become your friends. When you miss a few weeks in a row, your friends will notice, call you up, check in, and keep you accountable. And it’s nice to be missed. The only thing that misses my random late nights at the diner is that pie. I can’t tell you how many times I have broken the promise I made to myself earlier in a day to write only to go catch a movie with a friend or a bite to eat after a long hard day of work. Not that there is ever anything wrong with dinner and a movie, but the practice quickly becomes a habit. So, choose what wisely which you practice and when. Going to group becomes a date with your goals. Carving out the time to step away from the hubbub and prioritize your own writing is important and necessary. Having the kind of friends that keep you accountable to that goal balances out nicely with the friends that are there to remind you to occasionally take a break.
You can find a local writer’s group by checking in with your local public library or using sites like meetup. There are also online communities available through sites like Wattpad, Nanowrimo, and even Facebook. Or better yet, start a group of your own! Hit up one or two of your friends and decide to meet consistently. Who knows? Maybe you’ll get to see your little group grow. There could be other people around you looking for the exact same thing.
Prompt: Write the instructions for breaking up with a boyfriend (or girlfriend) as if it were driving directions to the airport.
This week’s prompt: brought to you by 642 Tiny Things To Write About