Do you miss the support of your SI writing group? Treat yourself.
Join us for a writing marathon and give yourself some time to explore, write, and discuss your own writing.
The model for the writing marathon comes first from Natalie Goldberg, whose book Writing Down the Bones deserves credit for inspiring the kind of writing marathons that writing project sites do. She taught us the basic protocol: write, read your writing to others, and say only "thank you" after each reading. And do this again and again for as long as you can. That is the model in a nutshell. All you need, really, are some writing tools, time, a few companions, a particular protocol for reading and responding, a common setting, some socializing, a sense of community, and, of course, the desire to write.
It is about the writing act, not the writing product. Most of our writing in school and in the publishing life is about product. We teach our students the so-called writing process—draft, revise, polish, edit—and when that is done, they have supposedly learned to write. What they have learned is one way to write. There is an entire world of writers—and enjoyment in writing—that this process does not tap into. And the writing marathon does. That is, writing for the sake of writing. Writing for the moment. Writing for the immediate audience. Writing as the foundation of other writing by peers who respond directly to your thoughts in their own writing. Writing as the experience of a moment or place. Writing for the self.
Writing groups can change writers. The essence of the writing marathon—reading aloud to others who simply say "thank you," and then writing again and reading aloud again, is the key to the marathon's success. What many people who have done writing marathons realize is that by the second, third, and fourth rounds of writing, they are subconsciously responding to the writers who have read to them. Like the place they are writing in and the world they are passing through on the way to that place, the writing circle that forms as part of the writing marathon is an integral part of the experience, and has an enormous effect on each writer there. It is one of the reasons to try to have as many rounds of writing as possible, for each person's writing reflects the others' as the process continues. This is one of the reasons such a bond can occur between strangers in such a short time, and it is also why people who otherwise would not get along or see eye-to-eye tend to change their opinions of one another after writing together.
Time matters. The more time you devote to the writing, the better.
Consider NWP's Writing Marathon Planning Handout if you would like to conduct your own marathon.