Hey writers! Get over yourselves with tandem writing sessions

the_thinkerOne of the biggest stumbling blocks for me, getting into this whole “writing a book” thing, had been actually sitting down and doing it. It wasn’t a matter of writer’s block for me, or laziness, or ADHD. (Okay, maybe sometimes it was a combo of the last two.) Some days, I just couldn’t seem to get into the groove. Reading “The Journey from the Center to the Page” (thanks, Samer!) has been helpful, but I recently discovered an activity that has upped my productivity significantly: tandem writing sessions!

My cousin Cheryl down in DC is writing a novel, and found it really hard to get big chunks of work done, too. She said that she used to do this with a friend of hers, and would I be interested? I’ll give anything a whirl once. Here’s how it works:

  • We have set appointments twice a week in the morning. One of us calls the other at the appointed time.
  • We each say what we’re going to try and accomplish in that session, and how long we’d like to work for. (For us, it’s generally an hour at a time.)
  • We also offer each other suggestions or share experiences that might be helpful.
  • We hang up and get to work. I use the SelfControl app for Mac to block my access to email, Facebook and Twitter during that time.
  • At the end of the hour, we call each other and relate how it went, what we were able to get done and what the next steps are.

Wash, rinse, repeat!

The accountability is what’s been the most helpful part of this. Sure, I can make a “meeting” with myself in my iCal to get work done, but knowing that I have to call someone, have a plan and execute itgives me that much more inspiration to get tough chunks of the book worked out. Also, working in tandem with someone who’s not in the same room doesn’t offer up the temptation to just sit there and chat for the whole hour.

All-in-all, a resounding Zandt Family Success Story, and highly recommended to others.

One Response to “Hey writers! Get over yourselves with tandem writing sessions”

  1. Janesse says:

    GREAT idea! Have tried it in person a few times and resisted chatting by creating pledges (i.e. “I pledge to go the bathroom only after 20 minutes of continous writing without talking.) Not being together in person might reduce the need.

    National Novel-Writing Month, http://www.nanowrimo.org, which is great too ’cause you can eyeball your own and each other’s word counts graphed on your profiles, and being in a buzzing cloud of other people facing writing challenges is fabulous.

  2. Beth Kanter says:

    Great idea to have a writing partner. I’m writing a book or rather co-writing a book with Allison Fine. I don’t think I’d like the solitary writer experience – I like collaborating too much – and the bonus that it keeps us on track.

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