Writing is a solitary occupation.– Bernard Cornwell
It’s true, writing is generally a solitary practice, but it doesn’t have to be lonely. If you haven’t tried co-working, the benefits may surprise you.
Writers do work with agents, editors, and publishers among others. Those interactions may be conducted in person, but are often through email or phone calls. While writers often thrive on alone time, some contact with other creative people can be a real energizer and even a comfort.
That’s where co-working comes in. Co-working allows you to check in with fellow writers. You get to give and receive encouragement or just say hello. You can ask for craft or technical suggestions if you choose. All without having anyone commenting on your actual writing.
The first question to consider is how much support do you want or need? I am in two co-working groups; one meets weekly, the other meets monthly. Having a weekly or monthly online meetup time encourages me to get more writing done, even on a day I might not have felt like writing. These groups have helped me to meet deadlines and led to new professional contacts. One of my co-working groups meets on Friday afternoons. Some weeks I would have considered my work done by Friday afternoon. The impetus of my co-working group has led me to finish a piece or start a new project. It’s not unusual for me to continue working long after the group writing is done, because once the ball is rolling…it keeps rolling.
For professional writers this is a time to get work done with a little fellowship. For those starting out, nothing improves your skills more than spending your time actually writing and it’s nice to have colleagues.
Let’s get to the nuts and bolts of starting your own co-working group. If you know some writers or participate in a critique group, you can invite those contacts to form a group. There are also many online groups you can post in. You may ask for writers who are working in the same genre. Sometimes critique groups form out of co-writing groups.
Here are the basic guidelines for the groups I participate in.
- Pick a regular day/time to meet up online, either weekly or monthly.
- Pick a way to meet like Zoom, Discord, Skype, etc.
- It seems to go smoothest if one person runs the meeting (you can take turns if you like).
- Whoever is running the meeting checks in with everyone and asks what they’re working on. This is a pleasantry, but it also gives everyone a chance to get to know each other. It’s not unusual for an author to take a moment to ask the group for suggestions on a project, or mention an upcoming event that may be of interest to the group.
- Set a timer for 30 minutes. Everyone mutes their microphone and gets to work.
- Check in with everyone when the time is up.
- Set a timer for a second 30 minutes and work again.
- Do a final check in and say goodbye.
Your group can tweak these steps, but it is amazing how much work can be accomplished in just an hour of focused writing.
— Pamela Evans leads the SCBWI Central VA Co-working group and is a member of The Writing Tribe Co-working group. She is a writer and teacher. She is best known for The Preschool Parent Primer, The Preschool Parent Blog, and The Preschool Parent Book Review which can all be found at www.ivyartz.com