Writers Who Write Together, Write Forever: Local Wordsmithers Unhindered by Lockdown
While accountability gets tossed around the nightly news faster than a hot potato these days, Shut Up & Write members around the world make it a top priority, committing to gathering weekly, regardless of global circumstances, with one goal in mind—write!
Based out of San Francisco, Shut Up & Write is a non-profit organization spawned by sci-fi writer Rennie Saunders in 2007 when he wanted to commit to his own project and make himself accountable to show up once a week and write. The idea spread and today there are tens of thousands of members worldwide.
Joining on their website is free and they offer a wide range of tools, tips and resources along with their global, in-person writing events (now done online during the COVID-19 crisis). Every skill level and project is welcome, whether it’s a University thesis, legal document, poem, screenplay or novel.
Rebel Heart Books in Jacksonville hosts the local chapter which can be found on Meetup groups and is overseen by organizer Gabrielle Pullen.
“We started just over a year ago and it’s amazing how it’s grown organically,” says Pullen, who also instructs writing and composition for students. “It attracts people who want to write, who are really serious about it, and it makes for a strong community.”
With no critiquing or reading of one’s writing, members simply gather, briefly share the project they’re working on and then write for an hour. Afterward, attendees can hang out and socialize.
“It’s as if the intention of our consciousness is amplified, helping writers stay on track and knock something out in an hour, sometimes with greater ease than if they were just working on their own,” explains Pullen.
Tips like re-read no more than a paragraph from the previous week, begin your first sentence within 10 seconds and don’t edit along the way help tighten writers’ focus as they head into the hour-long session.
“I think during this global situation, when people are being given time to do something, Shut Up & Write is a great structure that can help writers achieve their goals,” Pullen says. “Because the creative process is so solitary we inevitably bump into a sense of isolation, so it’s really helpful to meet others who are also in their own little worlds.”