16 Feb 88. Write More with Writing Dates
Of course writing is often done in solitude.
But even the most introverted among us can benefit from a structured group writing environment.
This isn’t the same as workshopping your writing or taking a class.
A writing date is meant to keep you making progress on your book.
In this episode, discover how regular writing dates can make you a stronger and more prolific writer so you finish a higher quality book faster.
Mentioned in This Episode
Hey there and welcome to Nothing but the Words. I’m your author coach, Candice L Davis.
I hope your week and your writing are both going well.
We’re still in the first month of 2022 as I record and release this podcast episode, and I’m still crafting some of the resources I want to offer this year.
In 2020, my goal for the year was to create half a million dollars in value for my clients and for anyone in my space who wants to write a truly solid, valuable book.
I created my own measurements for that value, of course, but by my estimation, I met and exceeded that goal. I definitely exceeded it.
This year, I’m settling in right at that same number. I’m committed to creating at least half a million dollars in value for my clients and anyone in my space who wants my help.
That brings me to the idea of co-working. In December, Rachel Luna, who’s both my coach and my client, offered her clients an opportunity to work with her for an hour or so every day for a week.
When I say “work with her,” I mean we were invited to show up on Zoom, briefly share what we’re working on, and then get to it.
There was some encouragement but no coaching and no teaching.
So why did we keep showing up just to sit and work?
Can’t we just work alone?
Well, yes, obviously we can.
As a proud card-carrying introvert, I treasure my time alone. For much of my day, almost every day, I work alone, and of course, I write alone.
But pre-pandemic, I also had a habit of going out to work.
I worked in the lobbies of nice hotels on occasion, but most often, I worked in my favorite café.
It was a huge space with lots of tables and lots of outlets and extension cords, so I rarely had to wait for a great place to set up and write.
Some research has shown that working in an environment with moderate ambient noise can be good for your creativity.
My experience has taught me that’s true for me. That’s why I spent almost every Saturday and Sunday working at the café.
However, I’ve also found you can get similar benefits with or without the ambient noise.
When I logged on to Rachel’s co-working sessions, I was there with a clear focus and a task to complete, and so was everyone else.
Even though we were all working on our own projects, and even when I didn’t know any of the other attendees, there was a sense of teamwork and support when we showed up to work together.
I was also much less tempted by distractions, like scrolling through Instagram or research rabbit-holes.
If your writing routine is consistent and productive, then I don’t suggest messing with it. Stick with what works.
If, however, you’re not writing as often as you’d like, if you’re not making progress the way you want to with your book, then you might want to consider getting out of your writing silo.
I’m a huge proponent of getting feedback on your writing, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about getting yourself into a space where you have silent support.
Obviously, we’re still in a pandemic, so working in coffee shops isn’t the best option for most of us, especially in colder weather, when we’re forced indoors.
Luckily, we have virtual options that are just as effective.
If you want to get out of your writing silo and take advantage of a group energy, there are several ways you can do it.
You can set up writing dates with a friend or colleague who’s also writing a book.
Set up a Zoom room and meet, say, every Sunday afternoon for an hour.
It’s important to agree to no interruptions.
If someone else comes into your space for a moment or you have to jump up to deal with something urgent, it’s good practice to turn off your camera so you don’t become a distraction to the other writer or writers on your writing date.
Start by sharing your writing goal for the session. It could be to finish a specific chapter or write 1000 words or just to finish your outline.
Actually I shouldn’t say “just” finish your outline. Your outline is incredibly important.
Then, you just get down to writing. If one of you prefers music, mute yourself so the music doesn’t distract the other person or people on the call.
One of you might want to quietly check in at the 30-minute mark, but this is simply a space to write, not to ask questions or give advice.
When your timer goes off to indicate the session is over, bring it to a close.
Don’t nudge your friend to keep going because you’re on a roll. You can keep going on your own.
The boundaries around this space are part of what makes it powerful. Your brain knows that when you show up, you not only get to write for this period of time, you only have to write for this period of time.
No one involved should ever have to be worried that it’s going to run over time.
You may want to set aside 5 or 10 minutes at the end to share your progress. Did you hit your goal or not? Did the writing come easily or was this a more challenging session? Did anything come up that you want to share?
And if you’re really comfortable with each other, you might take a moment to read a couple of paragraphs or a page of your writing.
That part can be scary, especially if you’re not used to sharing your work-in-progress with anyone, and I don’t necessarily recommend you do it unless everyone involved is in agreement with it and no one feels forced to do it.
Keep in mind that you’re not there to coach each other. You might give some feedback about what you like in the writing, but this is raw material, so it’s not really in a place for criticism.
This is an opportunity to lift your words off the page and give life to them. It’s also an opportunity to learn to be less precious about your writing.
That being said, you can skip the work-sharing part entirely and still greatly benefit from writing dates.
My recent co-working sessions with Rachel Luna reminded me of how productive writing dates have been for me in the past.
I’ve had writing dates with my husband, who’s a screenwriter, and with friends off and on over the years. A few years ago, a business partner and I co-hosted writing dates for our clients. They’ve always been a great experience for me.
A writing date isn’t magic, of course. It won’t do the work for you, and sometimes you might set out to write 1000 words and end up with 300. But there is something magical about the focus and the commitment that comes naturally in the writing-date environment. It tends to be cumulative. As you show up for your writing more and more, your brain begins to expect it. Your creativity and your ability to think like an author will also grow.
You can certainly set up writing dates on your own. It’s not complicated.
Or you can show up for mine. Starting in the next couple of weeks, I’m going to offer periodic writing dates at no charge.
I’m still working out the details, but it will be a chance for you to jump on Zoom with me, as well as other authors, and get into the writing zone.
We probably won’t do any reading of our work, but I may save some time at the end of each writing date for a bit of Q&A, so I can answer your questions about writing and publishing a world-class book.
If you want to get in on my writing dates, make sure you’re on my email list.
You can join at CandiceLDavis.com/jumpstart. When you sign up for the free guide and video, you’ll also be subscribed to my email list, where I’ll be sending out the information for the writing dates.
That’s all for this week’s episode, my friend.
Thanks for listening to Nothing but the Words, I’m your author coach Candice L Davis, and I’ll see you next time.