Around the time I moved to Houston, I became a full-time freelance editor, and that gave me time to focus on my writing. However, after working at a writing center for two years, I craved talking to other writers. Not only that, but I was new in town. I needed to meet people, and I thought my “people” were other writers.
Some of the problems I noticed when I first moved:
- Writing groups are tough. Although many groups around Houston are open to new members, being a bit of an introvert I did not feel comfortable just dropping in.
- I wanted to write with other writers. Sometimes I wasn’t looking for feedback; sometimes I just wanted to be in the presence of other writers, and write along with them!
- Trying to figure out a place to write was not easy. I could do the library, but what if I wanted to bring my lunch? I could do my favorite café, but what if it didn’t fit my budget this week? Or I could just stay at home and…do laundry.
You may have heard of write-ins online (on Twitter you might find them on the hashtag #shutupandwrite, for example) or you may have attended one as part of NaNoWrimo. At Writespace we consider Write-Ins a three-hour date with your writing. Writespace will be offering Write-Ins all year long, and we already started last week!
I had the chance to co-facilitate our first Quiet Write Write-In last Friday, and lead the first Write Out Loud Write-In this past Sunday. What’s the difference? At a Quiet Write, writers are guaranteed a quiet space to come and write for three hours. The facilitators are there to answer any questions or help you with any writing questions you may have, but other than that, writers can come and get work done in quiet. You won’t have to socialize if you don’t want to!
Write Out Loud, however, is for writers who are looking to chat with other writers and share their works in progress with others. They also last three hours, but instead of a three-hour writing session, there are introductions, writing sprints, sharing what we’ve been working on, and asking each other for feedback. If you feel you’ve been writing by yourself for too long and you need to chat with other writers, you are welcome to come in and spend a Sunday with us!
Some folks have asked me what’s the difference between attending a Writespace Write-In and, say, going to your favorite café. We don’t have freshly brewed artisanal coffee, that’s true. But we have wifi, bathrooms, a kitchen, tables, and more importantly, a space that we guarantee is just for writers. Also, feel free to bring your own beverage or snack (for Quiet Writes, make sure it’s a quiet snack) Walk-ins are welcome too! Whether quiet or social, you can attend any of our sessions and not feel like you’ll be stepping into a clique that you weren’t invited to. All Write-Ins will be free for members, $5 for everyone else.
If you want to see what our Write-Ins are all about, we’ll be having a free Write Out Loud Write-In this Friday, March 20, from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm, as part of Writespace’s Open House Weekend. To make it extra special, we’ll have a free critique session after the Write-In with Writespace’s director, Elizabeth White-Olsen. (If you'd like to receive feedback, bring along the first two to five pages of a work of fiction, poetry, personal essay, or memoir you've written, and seven copies for other attendees.) Both days we will also have faculty readings in the late afternoon/early evening. Friday we will have a cocktail hour. Last but not least, we’ll have $15 gift certificates to all who visit us either Friday or Saturday!
After this week, our Write-In schedule goes back to the regularly scheduled programming:
Fridays: Quiet Write Write-Ins, 12:00 to 3:00 pm
Sundays: Write Out Loud Write-Ins, 3:00 to 6:00 pm
Make sure to reserve a space on our Events page before you head out to the Write-Ins!
Liana M. Silva is Editor in Chief of Women in Higher Education, and is managing editor of Sounding Out! She is a columnist at Houston Chronicle’s Gray Matters and Chronicle Vitae. She is working on a creative nonfiction book about postcards. At Writespace she helps organize the Write-Ins and loves learning about the writing process of others.