Of all the exciting events in New York, the one I look forward to every week is the Shut Up and Write Meetup. Every Wednesday, at 7 PM, about 20 writers meet at a cafe near the Columbus Circle. Before the writing session begins, we introduce ourselves and the projects we are working on. Then we write for one hour. And after the hour is up, we hang out for a bit or head home.
We have a plethora of writing projects and genres in the group. We have a TV screenplay writer, historical fiction writer, a memoir writers, a sci-fi writer and so on. Each person comes in with their own project and spends the hour working on some aspect of the project. The skill-set of the writers varies as well. We have the dabblers, who want to write but not sure about the topic. We have people who are working on specific time-bound projects. And then we have writers who have dedicated years to their projects. I once met a writer who is working on her book for the past five years! I am in awe of her dedication to her writing project.
I find the meetup to be inspiring and relieving. The meetup helps me focus on free-writing instead of editing every sentence as I write. I observed that most writers in the group write in their notebooks instead of laptops. I tried it during one writing session and could see why that was an excellent strategy. I spend almost every waking moment in front of a screen: either my laptop or smartphone or Kindle. While writing on a laptop, I always have my internet browser open to research something or check social media. Writing in the notebook helps me disengage from technology and deep-dive into my thoughts. It also helps me play around with the writing project in a manner that a computer doesn’t allow for. And most importantly, it helps me indulge in the joy of writing as I used to as a child – just me and my notebook and my favorite pen, lost in my own little world.
Another wonderful benefit of attending the meetup every week is that it allows me to let myself off the hook for the rest of the week. Once I put in the hour on Wednesday, I can be at peace knowing I put in my writing time for the week. And I can get a surprising amount of writing done in one hour. I write about 7 to 8 pages per writing session, whereas I struggle to write even 3 to 4 pages on my own.
I highly recommend the Shut Up and Write meetups. Give them a try and let me know what you think!