I convene a group of postgraduate students and early career researchers to write together for three hours twice a week. After coffee, I ask everyone to share their goals for the first 75-minute session with their neighbour. Goals must be specific, realistic and communicable, such as writing 250 words or reworking a particularly problematic paragraph. I set an alarm and remind everyone not to check email or social media. When the alarm goes off, everyone checks in with their partner about whether or not they achieved their goal. After a break, we do it again. After our Friday morning sessions, we go for lunch together. And that’s it.Have you ever participated in a group like this? Does it help with writing or make you want to claw the walls of the coffee shop?
Friday, March 03, 2017
Writing inspiration: writing group models, part 2
In an essay that's making the rounds of social media, here's another kind of writing group: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/opinion/how-make-writing-humanities-less-lonely Researcher Alice Kelly describes the process as this:
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Put me in the clawing the walls category. :)
I don't really get this as a strategy (though there are groups like this on my campus).
I do have a 'writing group' but mostly we get together and drink tea (or something more potent) and then catch up and maybe talk about poems at some point....
Wall-clawing here. I would want to talk about *what* I'd written, not *that* I'd written.
I sort of don't get writing groups where you don't talk about the writing -- I think I'm more of a workshopper than a writing-group person per se. I had a great conversation over coffee last week with another scholar where we really kind of dug into each other's actual projects (not reading, just talking) and it was *great*. We both asked a lot of questions because we just wanted to *know* more. That kind of thing is 1000% more conducive to me writing than groups where the *act* of writing is the focus, not the content.
Weekly this would be dire, but once or twice a year my writing group takes a "retreat" together where we book a room in a different building or off campus altogether, then we write all day with coffee and lunch breaks when we talk about what we're doing and why, and it's a great way to kick start stuff or just connect with other writers. We're not very martial about it, though...
This sounds too structured, with unknown people, to work for me. I used to have writing dates in a coffee shop with a friend. We'd spend awhile chatting and setting goals, then write for a set amount of time. Sometimes, when no one is ready to present, my current IRL group will have a working session. But I think it feels very different doing this with people you know than people you don't, or do but maybe don't feel good about . . .
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