Thursday, August 4, 2011

Write-ins

Once again, the blog topic is inspired by today's events.  I'm currently at a SWAG write-in.  We have two different kinds:  public write-ins where we go someplace easily accessible to the community, and informal SWAG-only write-ins, usually held at one of our homes.  We try to rotate, because we all seem to live about a half an hour from one another.

The biggest challenge in our write-ins is focus.  When you have half a dozen writers (more or less) all gathered together, we often want to chat.  It starts with what we're working on, or something we read recently, and then we notice one another's laptop screen savers, or talk about a local current event, or the weather, and suddenly we're talking far more than we're writing.

That's usually when we decide to do a word sprint (also called a word war) to get us back on track.  We do a timed run of writing, usually 15 or 20 minutes long.  When the time runs out, we compare how many words each of us wrote during that time.  There's no prize for the winner, except bragging rights, but bragging rights count for a lot in our group.

One could make the argument that the write-ins are there for the social interaction, and I'd be hard-pressed to contradict you.  But the reason we agreed in a meeting several months ago to give these a try was because a lot of us had trouble finding time to write during the week, and then we were too busy on the weekends, or resting up from exhausting weeks.  It helped bring writing to the forefront as a priority.  While I often don't write more than a few hundred words at the write-ins, the momentum can carry me for several nights.

I doubt many writers' groups would want to copy our model, but, for us, it works.

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