Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Finish Your Novel with Group Dating

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.


Anonymous said...

Oh how wonderful! I'm so envious of those who've found a group to meet with in some coffee house to just sit and write. I was hoping to find something like that when I joined my local RWA chapter, but then I accepted a short-term contract that may go a full year or more. Maybe when this project is over I can find a similar group.

Wendy Tokunaga said...

Yes, when the time is right I'm sure you'll find a good group.

Houston A.W. Knight said...


This is awesome advice! I too work from a home office...and a retired hubby (at 43-who would have guessed!) can sometimes get very much in the way of my creativity...even if its well meaning.
I think I'll give your idea a try!

A very big THANK YOU!


Wendy Tokunaga said...

I can completely understand how your husband can get in the way! Good luck with finding a group!

Coach Marla said...

Hi Wendy,

Great post! Your group dates provide you with a specific meeting time, community and built-in accountability...important supports for writers who already know how to write & want to stay motivated on their own.

Look forward to reading more from you.

@Marla Beck (Twitter)
Life Coach for Writers

Wendy Tokunaga said...

Thanks, Marla! Yes, the accountability is key.