Monday, January 16, 2012

The Writing Week (Vol. 5) part 210 - Talking Helps

Despite the fact that no member of The League had any pages to present at this month's meeting, we made it a point to remain on track and gather last Tuesday anyway. (I highly recommend that any group do this; sticking to the schedule - even when there are no physical pages to talk about, is a great way to maintain order and regularity, both as a group and as individual writers.) Surprisingly - or perhaps not so - it was actually one of our more productive meetings.

We went around, BSing for a long time, as is allowed. When we meet, everyone brings some food (mainly appetizer type things) and beer or wine for anyone drinking. We meet at someone's apartment - the same one, not on a rotating basis. It's a good time for friends to gather who might not otherwise see each other too often; it's also a laid back setting, which makes giving and getting notes comfortable and easy.

Once the snacking and catching up is done, it's down to business time. Normally, if there are pages on the docket, we'll start with whoever submitted first and go from there. Someone will say, "ok, you're up, Zach" (if I was the first to send, that is), and then the conversation kicks off. Each person receives however much time is necessary for everyone to get their opinions out. This usually takes about an hour per note-recipient, sometimes more if there is only one project on the table.

This past week, since there weren't pages, we just went around the circle and solicited updates from everyone one-by-one. Some people didn't have too much to say, "I'm working on this or that, but I'm not too far along. Here's a basic idea, but I hope to have an outline out by the next meeting." Others, like Jon and myself, were looking for a bit more in-depth analysis on our projects. I was still a bit stalled on my demon thriller, so I asked the group to help me talk through it a bit. 

I have to say, what I got was really valuable. I was looking for feedback on some of the bigger and more important rules of the world and the characters' motivations. By going around the circle after I explained briefly what I was looking for, the group was really able to weigh in and help me come up with some great solutions. I think I'm at a much better place now than I was before the meeting, which is a great feeling. If you're ever stuck, or if no one in your group has any pages, I genuinely advocate getting a meeting together anyway. Sometimes spitballing is the best remedy for writers block.

For now, though, I'm gearing up to head up to the Bocas del Toro region of Panama for some (hopefully) quality beach - and brainstorming - time.

Adios, amigos.