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How to do all your writing in a hammock

Pre-pandemic, my partner and I loved to host.

He’s an academic; most of our friends at the time were, too. Every semester I’d watch their gripe-o-meters and stress-o-meters nudge higher and higher until, by grading time, my friends were little more than exhausted, groaning husks of themselves.

So we applied our love of hosting to our community’s shared need for both emotional support and practical accomplishment. We opened our home for grading nights at the end of each semester. 

The invite was simple: our door would be open between 5:00 and 11:00pm on Tuesday. Come whenever, leave whenever. 

A light-skinned woman with short, grey hair, black-framed glasses, and a yellow sleeveless tank dress is reading a book in a brown leather hanging chair that has the feel of a hammock. She holds the end of a bookmark to her lips.

We put snacks out, or everyone went in on a food order, or folks brought nibbles and beer. Friends plopped themselves down around the table, or on the couch, or by the fire in the winter. We talked and laughed a bit, but were usually really good about leaving each other alone. So much was accomplished in one night. And it felt so good. 

I want that feeling for you as you write. That feeling of being held up and given energy by friends. Of being cozy by a fire. Of being delighted by how much you can accomplish with company. 

Do you have it?

Who is your hammock, holding you up while you’re writing?

Who ensures you don’t feel paralyzingly alone in your work?

Who is your sounding board, your accountability buddy?

Who can help you generate momentum or energy when you feel fresh out and have for days, weeks, months?

Who cheers you on and reassures you that you can, in fact, write?

Who helps you see the way through when you’re stuck?

If you don’t already have ready answers to those questions, I offer you this handful of ways you can connect with others to nourish yourself and your writing in the coming year. As always, they are inspiration, not prescription.

  • Host a writing or coworking event for a group of friends, like our grading night—doesn’t have to be all writers, doesn’t have to be in person.
  • Join a community of fellow writers, like the Nonfiction Authors Association (paid) or a local writer’s Discord or Facebook group (free).
  • Join an online writing hour so writing time is in your schedule, like Team Moxie Power Hour (paid) or A Very Important Meeting (free).
  • Work with me on process or product.
  • Ask a buddy if you can text them at the end of every day or every week your word count or a note about a writing-related task you’ve accomplished. They respond with a celebratory emoji. Done.
  • Exchange draft readings with a peer. 
  • Schedule regular time in your calendar to poke around the websites or read the newsletters of hubs like Catapult or LitHub. Reading across genres, thinking about reading and writing, and engaging with critical essays can strengthen craft, generate sparks of inspiration, and help us feel part of a network of thinkers rather than a solitary laborer in the void.

Where do you find community? How do you ensure you’re not swimming upriver alone?

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