“Someone called my name.” A dozen people heard the same prompt and started writing.
We all wrote diligently for 40 minutes without editing. Writing down whatever popped into our heads without stopping was one of the group’s guidelines.
So our goal was to write, not criticize.
Set a Writing Goal and Find a Way to Achieve It
Last year I participated in a life-coaching group. Our purpose was to set goals we had always wanted to fulfill. We then coached each other on how to achieve them.
My goal was to write in my journal 500 words five times a week.
Many writers write every day regardless of circumstances. I know Jack London wrote 1000 words every day. I also know Graham Green wrote 500 words a day. In Making a Literary Life, Carolyn See made a compelling case for writing 1000 words a day and one thank-you note every week.
Being a time-challenged professional in the 21st century, I decided to go with Graham Green’s method. If I managed to achieve the 1000 mark in one day, I’d reward myself with a soft ice cream swirl at Cessy’s in Carlsbad.
For my writing journal, I bought three 6-by-4 inch notebooks for $3 at Staples. I have tried using other kinds of notebooks. I also tried keeping a journal on my computer.
But the 6-by-4 inch notebooks work best for me. They fit in my purse, so I can take them wherever I go. They also change color, so I can distinguish the old ones from the new ones.
Also, because I’m tactile oriented, I like the feel of writing on paper. I love feeling the texture of the words as they take shape while I write them. And writing by hand stimulates the brain the way writing on a keyboard cannot.
All You Need to Write Better Is a Friendly Nudge
Once I learned how to achieve my goal, I dropped out of the life-coaching group. I wanted to continue writing in my journal every day; however, I also wanted the support of others pursuing the writing craft.
Yet I had never acted on that desire until last week. In her weekly newsletter Damn Fine Words, James Chartrand said, “This week, I want you to try something a little different. I want you to write some fiction.”
She said it would help me write better copy. I didn’t need any more encouragement than that to find a writer’s group.
The Writer’s Challenge
I had never been to a writer’s group before; so I didn’t know what to expect.
We read the group’s guidelines together, which are based on Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones. The facilitator gave us our day’s writing prompt, “Someone called my name.” Then we let our imaginations and pens take over.
When time was called, we all shared our stories, again without criticizing anyone’s efforts. We were there to witness each others achievement.
Even though some people in the room were more advanced, each story had high value. And because everybody had the courage to share, he or she was well on the way to being a more confident writer.
Check out Writer’s Ink if you want to find a writer’s group in the San Diego area. Meetup.com also lists groups. Finally, Hera Hub sponsors a writer’s lounge, which provides accountability to women entrepreneurs who need to write to promote their businesses.