How A ‘Writers Hour’ Can Keep You Accountable
I don’t know how I found The Writers Hour, perhaps it found me.
All I know is that since November, I have been logging on almost daily to a Zoom call with upwards of 300 writers, and I haven’t wanted to stop.
The process is simple; we set our writing intentions and open up whatever we’re working on. We then mention what we’re working on in the chat box, with the rest of the other writers.
One of the hosts reads an inspirational quote to get the creative juices flowing. It might be something like this:
“From the day my husband told me he was leaving, I was writing — a lot. I wanted to make something of my altered life, to break into song, to cry out on paper. Reminding myself that no one else would ever see what I wrote — with my ballpoint pen in my wide-ruled spiral notebook — helped me be less censored and less afraid. Later, I could decide to show or not, because whether anyone ever read it was not the most important thing.
Writing or making anything — a poem, a bird feeder, a chocolate cake — has self-respect in it. You’re working. You’re trying. You’re not lying down on the ground, having given up. And one thing I love about writing is that we can speak to the absent, the dead, the estranged and the longed-for — all the people we’re separated from. We can see them again, understand them more, even say goodbye.”
–Sharon Olds (chosen by April)
It really makes you think, and gives you that inner fuel for the next 60 minutes. Around half of the attendees have their camera on (it’s optional, but it does show presence), and we all raise a cup in unison, toasting the beginning of the next fifty minutes.
We write in silence together, until 5 minutes to the hour.
Writing in this way serves to keep you accountable in a few ways:
Three scheduled writing sessions daily, Monday to Friday, means there’s no excuse for missing an 8am morning sesssion. If you’re someone that struggles with setting a habit like me, having some regularity in your diary will help you forge a writing routine.
No one is making you show up — it’s your choice. But you soon find that the rewards of showing up and belonging are far greater than hiding away in a corner to write. You don’t have to use the camera, but there’s something very cohesive about seeing a gallery of faces, all deep in thought.
Opportunity to get in flow
Every session is different. Sometimes, you might only be able to scrape together a few hundred words. Another time, you may find that steam is coming off the keyboard — over 1000 words down and they keep flowing. The hosts gently whisper you back to the room, although if you’re in flow you’re encouraged to keep going — they don’t mind.
It makes you feel like a writer
As Benjamin Hardy says, if you want to change your life you need to change your identity. And as James Clear says, if you want to change who you are then work on your daily habits. I’m not ashamed to admit there was a frisson of inner excitement when Janet Street Porter was once writing on our Zoom call. There are other well respected writers attending the sessions, and theres something edifying about writing alongside them.
Writing can be an immensely lonely endeavour — especially so under government lockdown. There is something quite beautiful about writers pulling together and showing up, no matter how they’re feeling, knowing that showing up is half the battle.