Real life has been occupying a lot of my time lately, which means that my writing has been scaled back for the past couple of weeks. Even so, I’ve been making a point of doing some writing regularly to keep my upward momentum (or at least, to keep it from going further downwards).
This is where my writing group has been really helpful. Attending the meetings forces me to force myself to have something ready to submit for comment at each meeting (even if it’s just a story outline). That guarantees a minimum level of output, which can always increase again. The more useful thing (for me) right now are the 30-minute “write-offs” that I’ve been invited to. A number of group members work near me during the day, and we’ve found it convenient to meet in a food court for a quick lunch, and then spend 30 minutes working intensely.
One would think that working would be impossible, with all the distractions caused by other people’s conversations, ringing cellphones, and the smells of food. However, sitting at a table with like-minded people, each of whom is busy working on a project (whether it is editing a work, doing an outline, developing characters, or actually writing) can do wonders to focus the mind. Although I know each of us is busy, the stolen glances I noticed the last few times reveal the underlying competitive aspect: Which one of us will get the most work done? I find this low-level rivalry actually spurs me on. At our last noon hour write-off, I managed to draft a two-page outline for a short story that included background, a plot synopsis, details on three characters, and a full three-part story arc. No doubt it will require refinement, but the fact that I wrote all this in 30 minutes, in a noisy food court, says something to me.
1. Even when I think the energy and inspiration tanks are running low, I can produce when I set my mind to it.
2. A supportive environment, filled with like-minded individuals, can do wonders.