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.
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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