The Lonely Block

We hear often that writing is solitary work. This suits me well because I like my space. I can be a loner at times, but not everyone is like that. This pandemic has wreaked havoc on the mental health of our collective society. No longer are we able to spend time with family, meet up with friends, delve into our hobbies (comfortably, without worry) in-person with like-minded folks. Isolation can be such a spirit killer and it’s left a crippling affect on many of us. But the good news is, we are an adaptable species.

Not long ago I stumbled upon a new platform that checked off a few boxes for me. I was super excited to discover that there was an online writers’ forum! I wish I could remember where I heard about it as I’d love to credit them, but my memory escapes me. It’s called the London Writers’ Hour, hosted by the London Writers’ Salon. Regular sessions are scheduled four times every weekday, and free to join. 

https://londonwriterssalon.com/#writershour

The big idea is that you write with accountability. You show up at the hour ready to tackle whatever you’ve got going on. It could be writing a chapter for your memoir, an outline for your novel, a blog post, poetry, journaling, an essay assignment, lyrics for a song, etc. You are joined by plenty of other writers (in their own home) from wherever they may be around the world. The format of these sessions never change. The first five minutes are always dedicated to setting your intentions: what you are working on and what you hope to accomplish by the end of the hour. Then follows 50 minutes of focused work (for me it’s always a blog post, of course).

Even though you’re doing this virtually over zoom (on mute), the simple knowledge that you’re doing it with so many others make it feel less lonely and daunting of a task. 

After attending more sessions than I can remember, I’ve come away with some tips. The following can be distractors or used as excuses for when you’re feeling less motivated to push through.

  • set your alarm 30 minutes prior to the start of session to clear your space and finish any miscellaneous tasks (i.e. wash dishes, put a load of laundry in, etc.)
  • clear your schedule for writing time in advance (me: ship the kid off, close the door, what husband?)
  • turn your phone off or put it on silent mode
  • have a glass of water or drink of choice handy
  • make a list of things you need to get done that day so you can purge your mind of natural stressors
  • tell someone (anyone) you are attending a writing session (for the sake of accountability)

To me, it actually feels like I’m physically in a writing class with a mighty purpose. In a way, we are all championing each other to take that initial step to finish that one writing task we had on our list. Little-by-litte, we get it done. Miraculously, during the hour, I am able to direct my focus solely on this one goal; all I have to do within the hour is write. The last five minutes of the hour is dedicated to hearing about people’s progress (or if you’re still grooving, you can choose to exit the group to avoid disruption to your flow).  

Another motivational resource on this site is a 100-day writing challenge. I haven’t participated but I can see how something like this could help create a healthy writing habit for aspiring writers out there. Again, it’s free to join and the goal is to “start daily writing sessions to get unblocked and make progress on your writing projects.”

These sessions have been a great writing companion to me over the last few months. Sometimes I play music while writing with the group, but often I am in my own little world. 

To all my weekly readers and new supporters, thanks for believing. 😊

What do you think? Would you try something like this?

 

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41 thoughts on “The Lonely Block

  1. This sounds really amazing and I’m definitely going to check it out. I live in the mountains tucked back off a dirt road. I love my solitude. During the pandemic the only thing I missed was my occasional trips into town to grab Starbucks. 😅 The pandemic never really changed how I was already running my life. I also kinda missed in person shopping. Since I’m high risk for COVID I wasn’t able to do that, my husband did it for me. Still, I’ve always preferred fuzzy faces and four legs over soft skin and two legs (with the exception of a few close friends and my family). Being held accountable for writing probably keeps people consistent. I usually write my blog articles in advance and currently I enjoy preparing 3 blog entries a week. If things get crazy and I can’t measure up to that… we’ll that’s okay too. I just try again! So thanks for sharing. I’m definitely going to check it out.

    Liked by 2 people

    • How long were your trips into the city for Starbucks? You must LOVE your Starbucks 😉 Okay, not gonna lie, I’d make that trip every day too if I lived in the country or I’d invest in a really good coffee machine! 🙂

      I found that the pandemic hasn’t affected me as much or in the same exact way as it has for others (because I tend to like my space and I’m a bit of a hermit that way – no social outings anymore? OKAY! no problem!) lol…

      Three blog entries a week is amazing – that’s a tall task! Good for you! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • I DO love my Starbucks! It actually only takes about 30 minutes to get to town (one way) a little more depending on if there’s school buss traffic. The best part of where I am is that my current town only has 750 people who live in it however, we’re only an hour from Atlanta, an hour from Chattanooga, and 30 minutes to a town with more stores and shops 🥰. The nearest movie theater is still pretty far away 😅 but we’d rather drive extra distance for the drive in anyway 🥰. Mountains make everything worth it! Most weeks I have plenty to write about. I have a new post going up tomorrow and when you read it… you’ll understand what I mean 😅

        Liked by 1 person

  2. One of the things I like best about writing is that there are so many different paths. It’s also cool when someone discovers a new way of making it more successful for them. One point you made that stands out above the rest is accountability. My critique group (once a week for four hours) is a luxury. Many people roll their eyes or think, “How can you possibly meet for four hours? I wish I had that kind of time.” I’ll answer that by saying (1) I’ve earned it. Three out of the four of us are retired and have the time. I worked my butt off in my career to get here. (2) Time passes fast when you’re doing something you like. I not only love getting their feedback and constructive criticism but I’m invested in their novels too. We’re about to go on a five-week break, and I’m interested to find out if I stay equally committed.

    I used to write only when I was in the mood, but knowing I have this opportunity to get regular feedback, I’m much more dedicated. While you’re not interacting with your peers (other than the five minutes), knowing they’ll show up to write with you provides you with accountability. Happy writing, BB!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I have dreams of being part of a casual writing group so I envy you but not in the ways you listed. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people respond to me with “looks like you have time on your hands” especially when I tell them what my hobbies are or what I like to spend my time doing. First of all, I made time for it. Second of all, everyone has time for things they want to do (they have it because they make time for it – see point #1). lol.. And the tone in which they say this makes it sound like the activity I am engaging in isn’t as “productive” or “worth my time” when in reality, no one has the right to tell you what is worth your time or not (especially if you enjoy doing what you’re doing)!

      Wooo that was a bit of a rant lol haha sorry about that! But yes, you worked hard in your career and now you want to spend your time doing things that bring you joy- you have EVERY right to! And I’m so glad you share some of that with us, Pete! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Not sure how I missed your comment. (I rely on my email notifications that don’t always work.) One of the guys in our group is in Guatemala right now, writing his heart out. We just touched base the other day, and it sounds like he and I are the two who have stuck with writing during our hiatus. I don’t begrudge the others who have other things of a higher priority.

        I agree with your point (though that hardly qualifies as a rant.) Too bad you can’t hear my upcoming rant with my dental insurance company tomorrow 🤣 when I call them. I’m aggravated that I have to waste my time to phone for something that should be a no-brainer. I had a crack in my tooth, and my dentist put on a crown. Pretty standard—so why they’re not picking it up irks me.

        “Looks like you have time on your hands” sounds like a putdown or someone making excuses. If we want something badly enough, we make time for it, though as a full-time working mom, I’m sure it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh wow, I’m glad you’ve found such great and supportive groups!! YAY!

    It hasn’t been my experience that writing is lonely! Huh! Maybe I’ve been lucky to find a lot of writing friends online and in-person (if we count that I visit Sonya in Prague around once a year). On the other hand, I’ve been involved in forums where there was extreme toxicity and just total nightmarish stuff going on that I had to yank myself away from with a certain amount of force because I’d been drawn in and didn’t want to depart. I’m NOT saying that will happen with you, because the forum you found sounds really nice! 🙂 I think my point (if I’m trying to make one here) is that you have to weed out a lot of bad influences to find good online writing friends, but it can totally be done! YAY! I’m glad you’ve found a nice community! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, I think if you’re going to join a writing group- making sure you’re joining the right group is so important to your success and comfort level. I wouldn’t join a sci-fi/fantasy writing group because that’s just not what my content is about or what type of content I want to be writing. The writers’ hour isn’t a regular group of people, it’s just writing sessions open to all (whoever wishes to join) so the participants will change every time/day. But it’s a great tool to have when you feel like you want to just be writing with other people (even though you’re not really communicating with anyone during the majority of the hour). 🙂

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    • Yes, to be honest at first I was a bit weary.. I’m tired of zooms and isn’t it going to be weird just sitting there silently on zoom.. but after I tried it and saw results I was fascinated at how helpful that was (something so simple)! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, this sounds pretty amazing. We used to have write-in sessions in Malaysia, but that’s changed once COVID rolled around. The concept is the same. Just a bunch of writers meeting up to motivate each other with their presence. Not too sure if they have an online version now.

    And I love how you take care of life stuff before joining, because clearing your admin duties really does help clear your mind for writing as well. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, I wonder how I would do with an in-person version. I’m not much a small talker but I feel like if there was an exact same version where you weren’t expected to mingle (maybe like a writer’s cafe!) I’d love to attend bc I’d know we were all there for the same reason! That I feel like would motivate me to be even more productive with my writing in that time allotment. 🙂

      Like

      • Yup, we were explicitly told to save our small talk for after the allotted hour, so basically we all just sat close by in silence. Writing is a lonely path, so it’s great to have that feeling of community sometimes. I wonder how the online version would feel in comparison!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. that is an interesting concept, and I would find it very helpful to be a part of such a group if I were writing a book. writing my blog is more of a solitary venture for me, so I don’t think I would be very good company on the London site!

    Liked by 2 people

    • The beauty about it is (and this is the real beauty for me bc I’m not a small talker like you), you don’t need to participate in anything, you just join to write on your own (sharing is not required)! 🙂 Glad to see you back here but no pressure! Enjoy your time 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I don’t know if I’d try something like this. I like it theory and can see how it’d help someone develop the habit of writing. BUT I took an online college class last year [out of pandemic boredom] and came away feeling like I do best when I lean into my free-spirited nature. Still, I’m intrigued.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. This sounds excellent for many writers. I’m glad it works for you, Jen. I seem to relish in unscheduled writing, when the idea or moment presents itself. Like you, I enjoy my alone times (could it be because of being with 15 preschoolers all day long?) I have never felt like Covid has trapped me or depressed me. I count my blessings for that!

    Liked by 2 people

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  9. I have been thinking about joining the ‘Writers Hour’ for some time but keep putting it off. Thank you for your description of how it works and how it has helped. My biggest challenge is giving myself permission to write so maybe this would help with that…….

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s amazing! I am so glad to hear you will give it a shot! It’s really been nothing but helpful to me! I don’t always have time to join but when I do I try to make the most of it! I also don’t join if I know I am really not in the mindset to write because I don’t want to start associating negativity with that experience if that makes sense! And yes, everyone has permission to write – for so long I thought I didn’t have stories worth telling but I found out we all have these stories in us and we are capable of sharing it if we really want to! All the best! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. This sounds like a pretty fun activity to do. The idea of unscheduled writing and how it can be both fun and challenging is pretty great indeed. So glad to see you enjoying such an activity!

    I think I might give this a try someday. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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