Just a quick post to talk about something I’ve just discovered in my own writing life: writing with other writers.
It all happened when a friend of mine asked if I wanted to join her for lunch and some writing time. I’ve never been one to study or work with others around, and I had some reservations about how much I would get done with the ready distraction of a friend around, but it was a writing day for me, and she’s great, so I thought I’d give it a try.
We started with lunch, talking about life and writing and such, and then when we were finished, we moved to a local coffee shop.
We were there for nearly four hours, almost all of that spent on consistent, profitable work.
It was amazing. I struggle with focus a lot in my writing, getting distracted by Facebook, research, nitpicky details, discouragement, or whatever else, but having her there, knowing she was working too, made my focus so much better. Since then I’ve written with her or a few other writing friends a few different times, and each time I’ve gotten so much more done than I would have on my own, even on bad writing days.
In addition to better focus, I also feel more accountable. Not only just in feeling accountable to work while they’re working, but also in feeling accountable for sticking to the time I set aside for it and actually making progress. After all, I can spend a lot of time “working” and not get a lot done, but knowing that when we’re done, I’ll be asked what I accomplished helps me to remember my goals and to take the steps I need to achieve them, whether I’m working with that person or not.
On top of that, it’s also just nice to have company and quick access to feedback. Whether trying to find the right word or working through a plot problem, having someone on hand to help –and getting to help them in return–is really rewarding. And when that person knows you, your work, and your craft, it’s even better.
Now, there are a few downsides to this strategy, mainly in having to work out scheduling, having less workspace (which can be rough if you take up as much space as I do when I’m working on editing and world-building), and the danger of being too over-reliant on others to get you to work, but thus far the trade-off for me has landed in favor of writing with others, at least some of the time. At the very least, as I continue to manage the balance, it’s another great tool in my writer’s tool belt.
So, what about you? What have been your experiences working either by yourself or with others (it doesn’t have to be writing)? Do you find one or the other more helpful in being productive, accountable, or otherwise? Is it situational to the job? Personality-based (I’m an introvert too, by the way)? What about larger scale groups or designated times like Nanowrimo’s write-ins or Night of Writing Dangerously? Collaborative stories?
Tell me about it below!