When dining out, a good meal isn’t all a writer can find on the menu. Such an outing can offer up a few hundred words for a main course, or a good chunk of an outline on the side, perhaps even some editing for desert. Even better, these tidbits come without calories. More and more, I’m finding that writing out rather than in my home office (my recliner) provides a welcome creative spark.
This isn’t a revelation. Writers have been working in coffee shops for untold millennia (I’m assured the Egyptians served a good latte), bars, and any other place with a comfy chair and good Wi-Fi (which the ancient Egyptians invented, of course). Often this is because the home is not a good work environment. Whether it’s because the house is occupied by rambunctious children and/or an unaccommodating spouse, has no comfortable place to write, or whatnot, many people have to get out to get work done. Some view the home as a place of rest and not work. Others simply feel too comfortable at home to write. Whatever the reason, there’s nothing new about writers writing outside the home. And, occasionally, a writer will have a snack or a meal while out and about and writing.
So why am I bothering to write about an already commonplace occurrence? Because I’ve come to enjoy the benefits of Shut Up & Write!. This organization brings writers together at local meetings across the country so they can get work done. The structure is simple: once a week you come together, chat for a short amount of time, then enjoy a complete hour of uninterrupted writing.
Sounds simple, and sounds like much ado about nothing, right? Well I (and Benedick) disagree. Oftentimes writers stall out not through block, but because they don’t dedicate time to write. Surely a person can find a measly hour a week to write, though, right? Well, when you have a busy schedule and add on the potential problems with writing at home, it’s easy for the week to slip by without managing a single word. Shut Up & Write! gives writers the opportunity to slip away from their daily grind and grant themselves a bit of writing time. What’s more, you’re not confined to just one hour a week. If there are multiple meetings in multiple locations around your area, you’re free to attend any and all of them. If you find your schedule simply won’t allow you to get away to a meeting in a given week, that’s no problem. Attendance is voluntary, after all.
For me, Shut Up & Write! isn’t what’s keeping me writing. I’m off on an injury disability, and so get loads of time (in my easy chair) to write to my heart’s content. Except sometimes it feels like a slog. It’s nice and quiet–too quiet; it’s nice and comfy–too comfy; it’s right in front of my TV–a simple distraction. My one hour a week at Shut Up & Write! is on a Thursday, a time of the week when I’m starting to flag. The meeting gives me a vital period of reinvigoration, which gets the old imagination churning again.
You might be wondering what Shut Up & Write! has to do with dining out. It just so happens that my group meets at a lovely Iraqi restaurant with a menu chock full of delectable items. Most groups meet in places with food options. While there, you can stick with water, you can come early and get a full meal plus desert, or you can do any and everything in between. The choice is yours. At Shut Up & Write! food may or may not be on the menu for you, but writing certainly is.