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Easily Distracted By Shiny Things
Meanderings from the City of the Red Castle
A No-Pressure Club : First meeting 
7th-May-2016 09:39 pm
So I had this idea a while back, partly from reading Felicia Day's memoir. There's a stretch of time when she's in a sort of support group for artistic endeavours, and everyone else seems to be taking active steps to assure their goals, while she... is playing World of Warcraft or making schedules. Well, until eventually she pretty much tortures herself into writing the first script for the Guild.

And I thought - I've been wanting to do an in person writing group for a while. BUt I don't know many fellow writers in Winnipeg, and of the ones I do know, many of them write slowly, piecemeal, or do NaNoWriMo (And maybe the Camp) but not much else. And I thought, I'd love to see some of these people more, but I'd hate for the seeing of them to become a source of stress and pressure. Where and when Felicia was in her life, she really had both no excuse and need for a really hard push. But I'm looking at new moms, divorcees, anxiety disorders, depression, huge workloads...

So I sent this e-mail to some people (And I am considering at least one more):

I've been toying with an idea for a bit, so I'm going to throw it out there at you all. FEEDBACK IS VERY WELCOME. Nothing is finalized or set in stone. At the very least, if you like the idea of a get together, let me know what times you might be available?

As far as I know, all of you do some SF/F writing, and enjoy doing it. Some are aiming to go pro (Or already have) and some are just in it for fun.

But ALL of us have one other thing in common; a life so busy and full of other projects and obligations that we really don't write as much as we want to, or used to, or you-name-it.

Which means that for most of us, a traditional writing group doesn't work, because they often expect a certain amount of progress daily, or weekly, and sometimes the message, intended or not, is that you aren't really into it if you don't hit some magic number.

Which can be discouraging instead of inspiring. Or, when it inspires you to force out words, can make you miserable instead of happy. Deadlines make some people stubborn instead of purposeful, and some people write or edit once or twice a year in big sprints, spending the rest of the time thinking, planning, and researching, which works very badly with most writing groups. Some people are only productive with a strict schedule, some find strict schedules break them.

However, it's also true that just hanging out with other writers in a group can often be itself a motivator to do stuff, or to ask questions about the things stalling you. it can also give opportunities to brainstorm, blather, and just generally squee, about your own writing, about books you love, about all the things.

So I am proposing a club that gets together about every two weeks to sit, talk about writing, plot problems, worldbuilding, research, tea (Or beverage-of-choice), books, and life. Each session would be in three phases; a semi-formal organized section where everyone in turn talks about storyish stuff they're thinking about, any progress they made if they wish, or asks questions for everyone to try and answer (45 minutes to an hour), a more general conversation and loosening up for a while (this would happen anyhow, why not make it officially allowed?), then one 45 minute writing session, which is optional participation, can be on your ongoing project if any or just an outpouring of words, or can be a set exercise (Multiple set exercises will be available, not just one) followed by a last burst of comments etc. about the writing session. So 3 hours or so total time.

And one of the things about it being a no-pressure club is that the same pressures of life that make writing hard also mean some people will NOT be able to make it every time, and that's okay, too, as long as they do show about once every 3 months or so. (That'd be one session in 6). We need a minimum of three people showing for a session to go forward, though the more the merrier.

Today was the first meeting. We had a total of four people (the couple hosting, me, and one more.) Because the last person arrived rather late (to be fair, even I arrived late; Alex nursed to sleep right when I was ready to leave). The thought that there were only the three of us, and the fact that these are people I don't see as much as I'd like, meant we started very informally, chatting before veering into writing related stuff, did a lot of meandering off topic. Ultimately we didn't do the writing sprint because there wasn't time (though one person, not me, was doing research and notes for an ongoing project while listening and talking). Most of us agreed a more structured approach the next time would be good, but this also allowed us to get some of that out of our system now. (I do kinda regret not doing the writing sprint, but I was half an hour late in leaving their place anyhow).

All in all I call it a success, though a minor one, and we'll have to see how the next one goes. If they all end up this informal, I'll be sad.

Everything is crossposted to DW and LJ until further notice. Post comments here or there. (Comments at DW: comment count unavailable)
8th-May-2016 05:28 pm (UTC)
It sounds like a good start, though - and maybe you'll find that you need both the structured "OK, we're writing/creating now" time, as well as the "let's just talk about stuffs" time.
9th-May-2016 09:10 pm (UTC)
I suspect so; I don't want it to *always* end up looking like any random gathering for tea, but some days, all you want/need is to talk.
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