And Writing Club was born!
It was an idea I'd been mulling over for a while. I'd really love to say that I have the discipline to do any hard thing I want to do, but the older I get, the more I accept that accountability is really, really effective. I recently applied this principle to my fitness goals and I've had dramatic results, only missing one gym session in three months. Writing is something I really enjoy and has proven really valuable, but I always feel like I have more urgent work to do and it always gets pushed back in favor of the day to day deadlines.
But what will matter more in ten years? A hundred? The only things that will outlive me are my writing and my cast iron skillet. Plus, I find the process of writing deeply satisfying. It's one of the few activities that I really lose myself in, and I would like to spend more time doing it.
So I kept trying to set aside writing time on my own, but the drafts and ideas piled up three years deep. So I thought, what if there were coworkers who would write with me every week? Who would notice if I didn't show up, and who would help celebrate the pieces I shipped?
When Reggie and a few others were enthusiastic, all the pieces fell into place. And it's been fabulous!
Six months in, we've got a good rhythm going. I can tell that good expectations were set up front because it needs very little organizer attention. Each week two to eight people show up without reminders. I can also tell it's being discussed organically because members invite new people regularly.
People have published talk proposals, conference talks, internal RFCs, blog posts, and meaningful personal writing. I have certainly published way more than I would have otherwise! So far I recapped a conference, dusted off and shipped a lingering draft, and spent many Writing Clubs writing a thorough recap of my first grad school course. I also did some private writing, including thinking through who I am writing for and why I am doing it, a very freeing exercise.
"But we don't have time for that!"
Yes, if your company is on the edge of death, go get some customers. If your job is on the rocks, go do your core work. But if you've got those two things locked down, spend some time writing. Writing is thinking. Writing clarifies and focuses, distilling your idea to its core and surfacing any snags. It's also communication, persuasion, design, and prioritization. Giving talks and publishing blog posts helps you get better known, teaches your community, raises the profile of your company too. It nudges the world toward the world you want it to be.
How we set it up
Writing Club ✏️ has a few simple components:
- a charming pencil emoji that always appears next to the name of the club :)
- a recurring calendar invite, every Thursday at noon with a video call so people can call in
- a posted guide that sets a tone for the Club, lays out basic ground rules, tools for staying focused, and some prompts to help you generate writing ideas.
- a chat room in our corporate chat client (optional)
For the first five minutes we go around the room and share what we plan to work on. Then we write quietly. In the last five or ten minutes we talk about what we did and how it felt. Then we adjourn!
Steal this idea
Please take this idea! This document and the guide are posted under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License so grab it and adapt it to your organization.
Have you done a similar experiment in your workplace? I'd love to hear about it.