Saturday, 8 May 2021

The Writing Hour

My normal writing place is a cafe -  pretty much any cafe. 

I that it's time limited -  you can't sit there all day, in fairness to the owner. So you have to get on and write. I like that people will bring me tea, that there are things and people to look, but no actual distractions that I need to worry about. It's quite possible to avoid the internet too, if you never ask for the password. It's a neutral space. It works for me.

Except, of course, that hasn't been possible for months and months now. 

Instead I have home - now my workplace for the day job too. It's incredibly difficult to focus and feel creative, I find, with my work diary at my side and my husband in the house. Writing needs a certain kind of concentration, that mysterious 'in the zone' and it's very hard to find it at home.

Until now. Because I heard about something called the London Writers' Hour. People were raving about it. Apparently you log onto a Zoom meeting (I KNOW). Hundreds of other writers log on too (I KNOW! But bear with me). There are welcomes from the organisers (who are charming and lovely), and people 'set their intentions' in the chat - that is, they write a message saying what they plan to work on. And then someone reads something inspiring, and we're off. Fifty minutes on a Zoom meeting of silent working time. You can switch off your camera, or keep it on. You can minimise the meeting, or keep it open to scroll through the faces of other people working occasionally (I find this distracting). At the end of 50 minutes there's a brief chat about how people found it. And that's it. Available every day at 8am, 1pm, and 4pm.  (Oh and don't worry about the London bit, people log in from all over the world) 

Your eyes may be rolling. Mine were. But guys, it works. It really does. The act of coming together, the setting of intentions - it creates a focus. Seeing others working away on all sorts of writing -  poetry, PhDs,  fiction and non fiction helps me take my own writing seriously and reminds me that it has an important place in my life. It's fun to spot friends among the hundreds of faces and names. And the inspirational readings are great! Here are some  from last week: 

"Just know that everyone’s writing is terrible. Until it’s not. No one’s stuff is right immediately. You gotta work it. Refine it. Shape it. Spend time with it. It’s a relationship. Between you and what comes from you. Not easy. Gonna be terrible before it’s not. And that’s okay.”

– Ava DuVernay

“If you expect to succeed as a writer, rudeness should be the second-to-least of your concerns. The least of all should be polite society and what it expects. If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.”

– Steven King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

I admit that I find the 50 minutes hard sometimes, and I've never managed a whole week of writers' hours. The day job is overwhelming right now and I have lockdown fatigue. I am looking forward to cafes opening again. But I am grateful  -  very grateful -  to the writers' hour and I will continue logging in. If you want to too, you can sign up at   And there are ways to support the scheme by becoming a patron as well.

Happy writing! 

1 comment:

LuWrites said...

Keren I totally agree! Hate zooming generally and large crowds of zoomers - but have to admit I find the Writing Hour a lifeline to writing time at the moment. Also, it's nice to see you there when I look through the crowd! x