• Rachel Paige

Shush Up and Write

So I know I've mentioned before that telling someone you're going to write can help you be more productive. If someone else is holding you accountable, then you're more likely to get moving.


An excellent way to do this is to have a writing group. In one of my workshop classes in college last year, we had a "shush up and write" day in which we all had half the class period to, you know, shush up and write. Everyone agreed that we were more productive in that time. Probably because it's harder to spend an hour watch YouTube videos when there's ten other people expecting to hear you typing.


Me, my current roommate, and a few others started doing these Shush Up and Write sessions outside of class. First in the hallway of our dorm, then in my room when there became too many of us for the hallway.


This year, I lived off campus. Two of the people in the group graduated. We hadn't been able to get together. But I found myself missing those times. So several weeks ago, my roommate and I needed a break from quarantine boredom and decided there was no reason we couldn't still be doing these sessions over a video chat.


We now have a consistent Shush Up and Write night on Thursdays at 9 pm with one other girl from the class. We set up a video chat in our living room via Facebook messenger and the three of us write until we can't stay awake anymore. I'm usually able to write a couple thousand words and the others are productive, too.


Now, the name is Shush Up and Write, implying that we're writing and, you know, not talking. That's not always the case. We usually spend about an hour of the video call chatting, talking about our stories, getting advice, or sharing an interesting thing we learned while researching.


Which makes it even better, because we're not trying to go at it alone. We write, but we also pause to go "Does this sentence make sense" or "Quick! What's something strange I can put in this character's car?" or "What should I name this character?" Often, these decisions get made quicker as a group than I would ever make them myself.


But there is also quiet writing time, which is also wonderful. One night, after my roommate went to bed, me and the other girl kept writing for a while and I think there was about forty-five minutes to an hour in which neither of us said anything. I had the video of her on half my screen and my document on the other half. Knowing she could look up any second and see if I was writing made me want to keep going. Hearing her type made me want to keep typing. Knowing she was getting things done made me want to get things done as well.


If you've never tried a writing group, I urge you to try. It doesn't have to be in person. In fact, I've enjoyed the video sessions more because they're easier to coordinate. You can have time to talk, you can have time to write. But mostly, you're holding each other accountable. You're writing together and supporting each other.


So find a friend who writes and ask them to video chat. If you don't have a friend to ask, try looking around on Facebook or other social media for groups. Since you can't meet anyone in person right now anyway, what's the harm in trying a video call?



Are you part of a writing group? Are you more productive when you write with other people?

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