Monday, June 29, 2009

Joywriting 101

Writers are, by the nature of the job, solitary creatures much of the time. No matter what kind of writing we do – fiction, journalism, corporate – the very act of transforming our mental images into words on a page (or screen) is one that we do alone, alone, all all alone (to quote Coleridge).

We like it – that’s why writing is our vocation. But sometimes, just sometimes, it would be nice to have some company.

That’s why so many writers join professional associations (such as PWAC, the Professional Writers Association of Canada, or CANSCAIP, the Canadian Society for Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers). Some writers form groups or collectives, either meeting in person or through technology using regular email check-ins or chat forums to stay in touch and share their work, challenges and feedback.

For the month of July, my writers’ group (we call ourselves the Storytellers and meet once a month in a café downtown) is trying something new: we’re going to write something every day and ping the rest of the group with a one-word email: “Done.” It’s a challenge, a way of setting a goal and attempting to meet it. Call it a deadline, even - something writers have a love/hate relationship with!

The purpose of the exercise is to encourage each one of us to carve out time for fun writing every day. We call it ‘joywriting’, a term coined by my 13-year-old son. It’s when you turn your attention to the project that is calling your name, the fun project, the one that allows you to escape this world and enter the imaginary one that only you inhabit. Joywriting.

We may all be joywriting alone, but that “Done!” email will connect us to each other - and challenge us too.

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