At a dinner near the end of last year I got to talking with a group of fabulous RMIT - PWE women about a NaNoWriMo stint I'd done the year before with a group at the Abbotsford convent, convened by successful crime writer P.D. Martin. I had done a writing course with Phillipa some years ago and even though she's a crime writer and I'm not (one Scarlet Stiletto shortlisting aside) I found her so professional, generous and supportive that I jumped at the chance to join this group.
I started a new manuscript and it was great fun - most of us managed to write about 8,000 words on each of the Sundays we met. Predictably a great deal of editing was necessary between sessions and—as Phillipa had warned us—there were often sections of the writing we'd produced where later we had no recall of ever having written it.
So years later at the dinner, after some mutual moaning about not having the time/discipline/motivation to write as much as we'd like, we decided to meet one Saturday in each month to—for want of a better plan— just "shut up and write".
We booked a room somewhere central, all chipped in to pay 6 months worth of the amazingly cheap fee they charged, and so began Writers-on-Saturday.
Three sessions in it's been very gratifying. Some of us meet for coffee first and we do break for half an hour for lunch. Otherwise it's into the room with laptops, heads down and write, 11 - 4.
It's true that most of us have no excuse for not doing this in the comfort of our own spaces or homes but it's helpful to have none of the excuses in this setting like the ones we resort to at home -
- "I might just check my email/twitter/text messages/blog."
- "I might just pop in a load of washing."
- "What's that Archie? Pleeease take you for another walk? Oh all right then, come on."
- "Surely it's time for another coffee by now."
- "I might just check Dashboard for another word for amazing."
...and so on.
The room we've booked only takes 10, tops, and though others have expressed an interest in joining, unfortunately the spaces aren't there.
But it's a lovely thing to do. We stay in touch, catch up with who's writing what, what plans there are for the next manuscript, competition entry, website or blog and the focus stays reliably on writing.
I think all of us who attend so far would recommend it as a productive thing for any writer to do - unless you're fabulous, disciplined, successful and already an inspiration to the rest of us.
Then you're on your own.