Tonight I had a great experience with my first Google+ hangout. Basically, myself and several other writers came together, connected by microphone and webcam to write. We chatted for fifteen minutes at the top of each hour, then wrote for forty-five. And it actually was helpful.
I don’t know about you but I’ve always thought of writing as something I do in solitude. I go to my office, shut the door and immerse myself. It’s always been something I needed to avoid interruptions. No phone, no TV, no spouse, no pets. Getting that time has sometimes been a struggle but my most productive times were always writing in solitude.
All that changed last March when I went to Rainforest Writer’s Village, a retreat in Washington state I had long heard about and wanted to attend. For four days, we wrote in mass, gathered in a lodge, and I must say it totally changed my way of thinking about the value of writing with others. Again at RWV discussion time was limited. But the energy in the room was invigorating. I sat next to the Vice President of SFWA, Mary Robinette Kowal, a published author and respected leader in our field and just being able to write next to someone of her caliber was encouraging. I felt like an equal, and I was in that process. And somehow that energized me to be productive.
So when the opportunity to do these Google+ hangouts came up, I was excited to try it. It was a very similar experience to RWV. Mary was there again as were Jason Sanford and Paolo Bacigalupi–three very well respected published authors. Others were there like me who are just coming up. But we chatted as equals and wrote as equals. And it was quite encouraging. In fact, Jason Sanford and I both felt we got a lot of writing done we might not have without it. That alone makes it invaluable.
One interesting and challenging aspect of the writing life is how, as one grows in craft and experience, one adapts methodology, etc. Learning the value of writing in good company is one of those moments. I’m already signed up for Rainforest Writer’s Village again for 2012, and I can’t wait. In the meantime, these Google+ hangouts will be an awesome substitute.
If you’re like me and you can’t imagine writing with others around, I encourage you to take a chance and try it. If it doesn’t work for you, no one will fault you for just closing the window. But don’t miss the chance to share the vibes and network with awesome peers. It may change the way you look at your writing in good ways.
For what it’s worth…