The Art of the Write-in

We all hear that writing is a solitary activity, but this is a new age of social media and I end up talking to other writers all the time.  I suspect, if you’re here, you’re the same way.

One of my favorite things about this new era of social writing is the idea of the write-in.  I was introduced to the concept through Nanowrimo – it’s where a group of writers get together and work on their own individual projects in the company of their own kind.

Write-ins can happen in person or virtually.  I personally prefer in-person, because it is an excuse for me to drink hot beverages and eat chocolate. 

They seem to have a strange inverse property.  The more writers present at a write-in, the more work gets the done.   The fewer writers, the more likely you will spend three hours talking about mermaids and Egyptian gods and why cheese is funny.

This may seem like a poor usage of time, but I would disagree.  Being able to chat with fellow writers, especially in real time, is enlightening.  Even if I get no real writing done, I come out of it with story ideas, advice about issues I may have that others know the answers to, and feedback when it’s needed.  Plus it’s some good socialization.

Do you participate in write-ins?  Do you find them useful?

5 responses to this post.

  1. I’ve only had write-ins with one close friend at a time. Productivity depended a lot on how motivated we were. Early in NaNo? Lots of goofing around. Later? Intense, man.

    Every year I mean to attend a NaNo Write-In, but I do not care for strangers and especially not crowds of strangers, especially when I am trying to write. One day, though, I’m sure I’ll try it.


  2. Posted by Catana on 2011/02/17 at 9:48 AM

    I haven’t, except for NaNo itself. I wouldn’t, either online or in person. Not every writer is a solitary beast, but this one is. An in-person write-in would be nothing but distraction. The only way I can write is alone, in silence, and with a minimum of distractions. Online, no, because I have too many ongoing projects to want to take on one that someone else has proposed, or work to a schedule, or have discussions about everybody’s progress or lack of progress. NaNo is the once-a-year high-intensity marathon that gets a novel into the world much more quickly than I’d normally be able to do. Any more would diffuse my time and energy.


  3. I’ve been to a number of NaNo-related write-ins, but I quit because the ratio of talking to writing is way too high and I never get anything done. I do like writing in company with people who only want to type. Virtual write-ins provide a nice balance, even if it means making my own hot beverages – I can ignore the convo when I need to, or challenge people to word wars if I need extra motivation.


  4. Posted by idunno on 2011/03/02 at 4:50 PM

    My experience has been that the ideal write-in is attended by complete strangers, respected acquaintances, or determined/OCD-type writers. If I have a write-in with close friends, I end up goofing off and not getting any writing done. But if I have the other type of attendees, we all tend to keep our eye on our own work with some, but not excessive, socializing.

    Large groups can also work, though what I tend to see there is cliques forming – the hard workers and the socializers.

    All bets are off though, if a participant is a socializer and no good at picking up on social cues (such as the guy trying to talk to me about his Mac even though I was staring at my screen wearing earphones – could there be a clearer sign to GO AWAY short of a literal sign?).


  5. Many of the write-ins I attended more or less sucked. So I’ve given up on them. Then again, maybe they didn’t suck, and instead I am horrible at social interaction.


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