Let's Write Together, but Apart, but Together

Over the past weekend, I read The Frustrated Songwriter’s Handbook (click on the cover for an Amazon link). I picked it up several months back, and to tell you the truth, I can’t remember exactly how I came to purchase it. I think I read a comment somewhere, probably reddit, and was intrigued. I do remember the person mentioning they used the precepts found within for writing fiction.

Obviously, the focus is on composing songs, but the core principle can be applied to any creative act: Force yourself to create as much as possible within a limited amount of time.

In the case of the book, the idea is to write twenty songs in a twelve-hour session. The authors state that some people will end up with six, others thirty. It matters not. What does matter is that during those twelve hours, you attempt to move full steam ahead and not get stuck on the cycle of endless rewriting and deliberation. Save the wrapping paper and ribbon for when you actually have a gift to give.

Of utmost importance is to just let your mind spill its guts. Don’t try to pick them up and put them back in your brain’s abdomen. It will survive. You need to force your inner critic to sit down and shut up. Make him wait out in the lobby while you play in your office.

To give you a quick idea of the process, I attempted a mini-session last weekend, spending one hour writing two songs. It felt amazingly liberating. When it comes to creating, I’ve always had a problem finishing, but with this method, it came easy. I had to finish because I had to move on to the next song. The only thing that kept me from working longer was a visiting guest.

The other key concept of this book is The Songwriter Lodge: A group of like minded people that share their twelve-hour creations and provide feedback. Essentially, it’s a guaranteed audience and reward for your long day of work.

Let’s face it, we need objective folks telling us their thoughts. Not just to inform us that our brilliant creation is actually not so brilliant, but also to tell us that our crap creation intrigued them the most!


Now that I’ve armed you with the ideas behind this book, I’d like to propose a shared challenge — a sort of Writer’s Lodge.

I would ask you to join me in setting aside a specific Saturday where we spend as much time as we can, up to 12 hours, just writing as many stories as we can. They can be sketches, they can be outlines, they can be summaries. They just need to be stories – a beginning, a middle, and an end. Don’t make them perfect. Don’t even make them good. Just make them as quickly as you can.

Then some point soon after, we can share what we’ve written and provide feedback, using something like Google Drive to share the documents and make comments. Maybe even a Google Hangouts session. Hopefully this will encourage the participants to chime in with “Oh yeah, I like that!” or “That one’s a bit too derivative, maybe you can change it by…”

Anyone game?

-Phillip

0 thoughts on “Let's Write Together, but Apart, but Together”

  1. I love this idea, Phillip! As usual, you have offered up an insightfully USEFUL post to ignite a fire under my butt. As far as finishing…well…that’s always been my Achilles heel as well.

    I was just lamenting to my man that the writers group I attend once each month isn’t doing it for me-too much nostalgia and not enough concrete critiquing-not that I have a plethora of finished products to work with, mind you, but what I do read is well received with little constructive criticism. And I know I need that.

    I was telling the man that I could better use that Saturday time writing and finding an online critique group whose focus is a bit tighter. Then you propose this idea, in the midst of an idea avalanche, I might add.

    So, yeah, I’m game!

    1. Woohoo! Funny how things fall into place like this, just based on a whim. Glad to hear you’re game. I’ll be trying to organize this on the back end and putting up a post with more details soon.

      Thanks Angel. 🙂

  2. I don’t know if I can do 12 hours, but I definitely like the idea of trying to write a lot in a limited amount of time. Maybe you could host an hour flash fiction session where we write as many flash fiction as we can in an hour? Or something of the like?

    1. Read my Redux post if you get a chance and maybe I can rouse your interest. 🙂

      I also like your thought about the flash fiction, but I’d hate to limit the format of the marathon session to just one type of writing. I *do* think that could be another fun session to put together at some point.

      Appreciate your feedback.

  3. It is a great idea, but during the summer, but weekend are pretty much booked doing outside stuff. Maybe do a redux in the fall/winter?

  4. I’m certainly game, if my husband and kids would be willing to give me up for a whole Saturday. Moms are in high demand, 24/7. But I think it sounds like a great idea. How flexible are the rules? I have about 6 shorts in various stages right now…could I dedicate the day to working on any combination of these WIPs?

    1. Well, with the songwriting, they explicitly state that you should only create new material and not bring anything prior to work on. The idea is to use the time not to ‘edit and fix’, but to just create.

      I personally don’t see any issue with people using the time as they see fit. I figure the first run of this will be a big experiment anyway, to see what works and what doesn’t.

  5. Do you think it also counts/works for novels? Like, write X amount of chapters in 12 hours. I’d love to join in, actually; because I’m going to be so busy once Autumn hits, I want to finish my first draft ASAP, and these things definitely will help.

  6. Hey guys, Nicholas Dobson just linked me to this project.

    I started a writer’s lodge in Germany about one and a half year ago and I can tell you the method DOES work for writing, but gives you some hassel in presenting your texts at the end of the day (playing music recorded in 12 hours takes 15 to twenty minutes, reading that many texts takes… long).
    I’m not sure how this could be dealt with concerning a virtual lodge (especially since a lot of comments seem to be about wanting to have one’s texts critiqued) but perhaps by marking two of the texts written as the ones one wants people to look at?
    And/Or by setting away time for the next day to actually read the text? (After writing for 12 hours, one doesn’t always have the energy left to read/listen to a whole lotta text.)

    Anyway, do you have a date yet and would you keep me posted?

    Kind Regards,
    Tobias

    1. Hi Tobias. Glad you found us and I’m thrilled to hear that Nicholas Dobson found it somehow. Interesting to hear about your experiences with a writer’s lodge. I was thinking about the critique part, and thought perhaps everyone would have one week to read and make comments on peoples stories. This should ease the pain of that part.

      As far as a date, nothing yet. Had to postpone due to some personal issues, but I hope to have something planned within the next month or so.

      Thanks again for stopping by!
      Phillip

      1. Do you think you could perhaps send me an email once you’ve got a date?
        Here’s my email: Tobias ‘here’s an at sign’ Fixofabsurdity dot de

        That would be great!

        Gotta get back to writing now, am in the middle of a lodge day!

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