I keep saying it, I know, but write club is awesome (For those wondering what the hell I’m talking about, I recommend this post and this post on Angela Slatter’s blog*). Turns out it’s a remarkably popular idea too – I’ve had a couple of conversations where people wondered how Write Club worked, and it seems Angela gets asked about it as well, so I figured I’d share my** thoughts on why write club works for those who may be curious.
Reason 1) Angela Slatter is Fricken’ Awesome
Granted, I say this quite a bit on this blog as well, but it doesn’t diminish the fact that it’s true. Even if you ignore the fact that she’s a superb writer whose keen critical eye has stopped me from looking like a goose a couple of times this year, and the fact that she’s generous with both her time and connections, she’s one of the people I enjoy catching up with once a week. If you’re going to hang out and write regularly, I suspect it’s handy to actually like and respect the person you’re hanging around with.
Reason 2) Low Numbers
The more people present, the more likely you are to find someone looking for a distraction at the same time you are. When there’s two of you, you’re only likely to simultaneously hit a break-point in the writing about once or twice in a four-hour period, and even then it’s easier to have a quick chat about the problem you’re pondering and make a fresh cup of coffee before going back to work.
I suspect you could probably get around this with larger numbers where the sheer clatter of hammering keys would become pressure to get working again, but that’s only a theory based on seeing photographs of nanowrimo get-togethers.
Reason 3) Chocolate and Good Food**
Seriously, don’t try write club without the chocolate.
Reason 4) Long-Term Projects
It’s telling that both Angela and I were working on novels when the first write-club happened, and that we’re generally better about keeping to a weekly schedule when there’s long-term projects on the cards. Partially this is because there’s two people trying to puzzle out similar problems when you get stuck, and partially because writing individual short stories would have more break-points where you look for distraction due to shorter scenes and quicker finish-times.
I also think Write Club is at its best when it’s keeping me in contact with a long-term project I’d otherwise let laspe when things get hard. There were a few times this year where Friday Nights were the only time I’d work on a draft, but it kept me in contact with the work and saved it from getting burried beneath a mountain of angst and apathy.
Reason 5) Synchronous Goals
Lets not be coy about this one: I want to be a full-time writer. Angela wants to be a full-time writer. Both of us seem to work towards the same kind of milestones in terms of making that happen. For all that the social aspect of Write Club is fun, we’re there to work. We both churn out words away from write-club, every week, and odds are we’d be writing even if write club didn’t ever happen. In no way, shape or form do either of us regard writing as a hobby and we’re generally the type of folks that’ll argue gently prod friends in productive directions if given the opportunity.
Mindset matters, I think, if something like Write Club is going to work. The world spends lots of time telling you that writing is a bad idea, that you can’t possibly make it as a writer, so agreeing that this is bullshit and having similar ideas of what it means to be a professional ensures write club reinforces your process rather than detracts from it.
The other advantage lies in being able to reinforce the habits that work and learn from the skills the other person’s got (Angela is far smarter than I in matters of the writing business, strategy and networking, for example, so there’s always something to be learned from her in these matters. Buggered if I know what I bring to the table, except maybe a dogged belief that neither of us is going to fail. And possibly access to Kim Newman short story collections).
* The short version, for the click-link adverse, is that Write Club is an agreement between two writers to sit in a lounge-room once a week and write. It also involves coffee, chocolate, short bursts of writer-angst, and screaming “write” at the top of your lungs whenever the other person looks like they’re slipping into dangerous levels of procrastination. The process works remarkably well
**Angela, of course, may well disagree with all of the above.
***I’ll admit that I’m probably letting the side down one at the moment. Not that I can’t cook, but I tend to make a lot of stuff Angela can’t eat.