by Emily Lackey
Six. That is the total number of peer writing groups I have started with friends that have subsequently fallen apart since I graduated from my MFA program in 2014. Six groups. I’ve tried accountability groups, accountability partners, a monthly peer group, a daily writing partner, and morning drop-in writing hours.
The problem is not a dearth of people trying to keep me accountable. I’m lucky to say that most of my friends are writers, and all of us in the same boat–struggling every day to find time to write, slowed down by constant family crises and work problems and everyday chores that keep us afloat: trips to Costco, the co-op, and Cooper’s for the one ingredient we forgot and desperately need to make dinner.
No, it’s not that I can’t find people who also have the same goals as me—to write regularly, to make steady progress on their projects, and to someday get the damn thing published—it’s that our commitment to these writing groups are subject to the same ebbs and flows as our commitment to our writing. So, eventually, every one of these peer groups fizzled. Someone had an appointment that prevented them from showing up. Someone missed the deadline for sending their work to the group. Life got in the way. Things fell apart.
But something changed for me in the last few years. I stopped trying to make the things that didn’t work for me work. Instead, I started looking at the things that did work. For me, that has always been (and will always be) my structured weekly writing workshops at Writers in Progress. Those three hours a week don’t budge. No matter how many times my child throws up on me on how few diapers we have left on the changing table, I show up—we always show up—and for three hours we warm up and write and share and give each other thoughtful feedback.
Week after week, it’s the only thing that works.
If you’d like to join Emily for weekly writing, sharing, deadlines and detailed feedback on your drafts, there are a few spots left in her online Weekly Writer’s Round Table on Thursdays evenings, starting April 13!