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How to host a writing day

writing together If you're like me, you find sitting down to write your book in silence alone in a room agonising. Every time I do it I can feel the energy draining from me. There's an urgent clamour of Stuff That Must Be Done Immediately, from answering an email to sorting out invoices to stripping the beds to (in desperate cases) cleaning the fridge. Sometimes I can push through and find my flow; more often I grind to a halt. 

As I've said in this blog before, I write best away from my 'work' desk: in the library, at the airport gate, even in a coffee shop. Anywhere I'm surrounded by people and their anonymous hum, away from everyday work and domestic chores. And it turns out I'm not the only one. 

So a while ago I had the idea of setting up a writing focus day for members of The Extraordinary Business Book Club, and it was a blast. Six of us met in a beautiful Kensington flat (rented through Vrumi), set our intentions for the day, and then simply wrote. We took a lunch break, and people made their own tea and coffee throughout the day, chatting quietly if they happened to find themselves at the kettle at the same time, discussing sticking points, getting fresh perspectives. At the end of the day we compared notes, celebrated how far we'd all got, and marvelled at how effective the process had been. 

I thoroughly recommend it as an enjoyable, productive way to blast through your writing. Here's a few pointers if you fancy organising something similar: 

1. Decide who you want to work with and how many there should be. I'd say a group of 4-8 is about perfect: fewer than that and you'll struggle to afford a dedicated room for the day, more than that and you won't really get a sense of what you're all working on and be able to support each other effectively. I use Eventbrite to allow the right number of people to buy tickets - it's useful because you can also email them directly through the system with all the details. 

2. Agree the budget. I charge £45 a ticket, which just about covers the hire of a room for four: if I get more people I may need to upgrade to a larger room and/or throw in refreshments too. This isn't about making money: I'm using it to write my own book, and I'm not setting it up as a training day, so all I'm trying to do is cover my costs. 

3. Find a good venue. You'll need a large table, enough chairs, power sockets, wifi, access to a loo and refreshments. Ideally it needs to be easily accessible: near a tube station in London, near a train station and/or with good free parking elsewhere. Vrumi is a great tool for finding affordable venues in London, elsewhere you can approach cafés or pubs with upstairs rooms, or venues such as town halls, museums or galleries, all of which tend to be beautiful spaces, more inspiring than a soulless office block, and also cheaper. 

4. Over-communicate. Let all attendees know what they'll need to bring, where it is, when it starts and ends, and be clear that it's NOT a training day (if that's how you're treating it). Remember that people need telling everything at least three times: it might sound a faff but I promise you you'll save time if you send an email when they register, an email a week or so before and another 48 hours before, because if you don't you'll spend more time answering questions individually. 

5. Set the expectations and the tone of the day. If you've organised the day, you're the leader, even though you're not leading a formal session. Make sure everyone's introduced to each other, knows where the loo/kettle/wifi code etc are. And encourage each person to introduce their book briefly (you might need to be quite strict about this) and commit to what they plan to achieve in the course of the day. I usually get everyone to check in at lunchtime to see how they're getting on and if people are stuck invite them to talk through the problem - they might get useful feedback from others in the group but usually just the act of talking it through gets them unstuck! And at the end make sure everyone reflects back what they achieved, what they learned, and celebrates each other's achievements. 

If you do organise a day like this, I'd love to hear how you get on - and feel free to invite me!

 

This entry was posted on 12 April 2017 at 18:55 and is filed under writing. You can leave a response here.

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1 response to 'How to host a writing day'

Sherry Bevan says

Such a fabulous idea though I would add that I'm one of the other types of writer - I like complete silence! Writing in a coffee shop or an airport would be my idea of hell. Just goes to show it takes all sorts to be an author!

Added on 18 April 2017 at 13:56

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