Yes, this is the best bonus track ever. Yes, this song is a bit creepy at the end but it illustrates what it’s like being a writer. We sit alone in room, lit only by the computer monitor, typing away. At some point the company of our imaginary friends isn’t enough. We start to crave the companionship of a breathing human being as much as we crave writing another chapter. And of course, we don’t want too much company because introversion and all that but we still crave a little people time. Thankfully we can satisfy both cravings at the same time!
If there’s a writing community where you live, meet up with them for some writing time. That’s right, you’ll be among a group of writers who occasionally talk to one another but mostly you sit in a coffee shop or library and write. It doesn’t matter if those around you are writing in the same genre because you’re all fulfilling the same dual need.
Now I hear some of you saying “But I live in the smelly nether region of nowhere! There aren’t any creative types to hang out with!” And I hear others saying “I can’t write outside of my sacred writing space.” Well for you, my friends, there is the internet. Yes, it’s often a distraction (darn you, cat videos!) but when used wisely it can be a useful tool.
Mary Robinette Kowal introduced me to Google +. I know, say what you want about the site itself but video chat is the most wonderful way to get some writing done without leaving your creative space. It also allows you to get to know writers from all over the world, while being productive. The way Mary runs her writing hangouts is that everyone chats for fifteen minutes and then writes for forty-five minutes. At the end of the writing time the cycle starts over and repeats until everyone has to depart for other things. You can also do this on Skype and FaceTime and the length of writing vs. socialization time can be adjusted to fit your/the group’s needs.
Another option is a chat room. One of my mentors introduced me the online writing group that she belongs to. It’s a private group of professional writers, which is why I’m not naming it or the site, but the group logs in to a site that they created for this purpose. It doesn’t have any fancy graphics or features. It’s just a chat room. However, like the G+ hangouts the main focus of the group when in the chatroom is to socialize, work out plot problems, and get writing or editing done. The members hail from all over the world so no matter what time of day it is, there’s usually someone logged in. Now what makes this unique, other than the privacy, is that the members have friendly writing battles.
I know. “friendly” and “battle” are words rarely seen in the same sentence and for good reason. In this case it really is the truth. We set a time frame, usually thirty minutes, and we write as much as we can during that time. When time is up we share our word counts and congratulate everyone on how much they accomplished. It doesn’t matter if a member got 1,000 words down or 100. They receive equal praise from the group. If a member is in the midst of edits they’re welcome to battle with the writers by editing as much as they can in the given time frame. Again, it doesn’t matter if they completed edits on two pages or two sentences. The progress is equally praised because everyone in the group has a family to take care of, or a day job, or both in addition to being an author. There’s a mutual understanding of how life can get in the way of creativity so any progress on a story is an achievement worthy of praise. It’s a wonderful way to work.
Whichever site you choose to try, if it doesn’t work for you, don’t give up. Maybe video chat is too intimidating. (Watching yourself write can be weird at first.) Try writing with your camera off, try other sites, find or create a group with dynamics that feel right to you. It can take a few tries to discover exactly what kind of and how much interaction you need. This is a big world. No matter what your needs are, online there’s a place and people who can fulfill those needs without additional cost or inconvenience to you.