Earlier this month, I had the opportunity and pleasure to attend a writing rally organized by my friend and local writer, Waverly Fitzgerald, at the Fremont Abbey. I have been to gatherings like this before and am a true believer in this model. Put some number of writers together in one room with enough plugs for their laptops, natural light, easy access to food and coffee, and good things will come of it, every time. Funny though, because it seems so counter-intuitive. Writing is a solitary occupation. Why does gathering in the same space with other writers enhance productivity? Well, just as I’ve experienced this before in a much larger context under the superb tutelage of the Seattle 7 Writers (see February 7, 2013 post) I again conclude that it’s simply some kind of magic — something to do with the energy of the collective creative consciousness buzzing around the room.
This time, there were no writing prompts, no inspirational or motivating words by other writers, just a brief introduction by our facilitator, Waverly, and then an opportunity for each of us introduce ourselves and say what we hoped to work on that day. We had a break for lunch, though not formal, leaving us free to come and go as we pleased. And, too, we were free to roam around the building and write wherever felt comfortable. I thought I’d probably move to a different room after lunch but did not. And all but one of our small group stayed in the same room for the entire time — 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. I think we all stayed because we liked the vibes we were getting. We came together again at around 3:45 to say what we had actually written, and if that had changed from our original writing goal. Each writer appeared pleased with his or her individual progress that day which included short story writing, essays, letters, poetry and inroads into a graphic novel.
I started out hoping to get back into my mystery novel, after setting it aside for most of the summer, and possibly write most or all of the denouement. I ended up getting the thing back into my head (where a novel needs to be if one is to make any progress at all) and writing the scene that I knew was missing but didn’t know where to insert it. I also ended up with a list of things that need to go in the denouement and some ideas about what form the final scenes should take. And, since the writing rally, I have been able to move forward and am very nearly finished writing the end of the mystery novel. Hurray for writing rallies!
Of course, you can always host your own writing rally or retreat. Just invite a bunch of your writing friends to your home or even to meet you in a coffee shop. Seattle writer Robert Ray meets with a group at Louisa’s on Eastlake every Tuesday and Friday from 2:30-3:30 p.m. Check out his blog here: http://bobandjackswritingblog.com/ I think this is an ever-changing group of writers who know Ray from his writing classes, but all who want to write are welcome.
My writing group meets at my house every other month for a full Friday of writing, sharing, catching up and general enjoyment. But beware, if you meet with your friends, you will spend a chunk of that time socializing, so build that time into your day.
And here’s the really good news. If you’re a writer in Seattle and want to try out a writing rally, Waverly is hosting another one on September 21. The location is not yet locked in, but will most likely be somewhere in Phinney Ridge or Greenwood. Look here for particulars: http://www.waverlyfitzgerald.com/teaching/current-classes/. Don’t worry if you’ve never tried this before, or that you won’t know anyone there. I’d say that’s a bonus. Nothing takes you away from your writing more effectively than socializing. And writing is, after all, a solitary endeavor.