On Halloween weekend, TL;DR Press ran a horror write-in. When I first heard about it, I misunderstood the format. I thought there was going to be a workshop at the beginning, going through horror-specific writing techniques and approaches, which was appealing to me because horror isn’t a genre I have much experience in writing.
But, shortly before the session was due to take place, I discovered that the people running it had put together some resources we could access, but that there wasn’t going to be an actual workshop. This was entirely my fault, for not reading the information properly. However, I was glad I made the mistake as, otherwise, I wouldn’t have considered turning up for the event at all.
The format was actually just going to be a communal writing session, with prompts and sprints and general encouragement. This didn’t appeal to me as much, as I didn’t have much confidence in my ability to write horror. Plus, it was starting at 9pm, which was quite late for me to try and do any sustained writing.
However, as I had the evening to myself, and an upcoming submission opportunity for a horror story, I decided to give it a go anyway. After all, since I wasn’t leaving my couch, I figured I could call it a day at any point, if I wasn’t getting anything out of it.
I should have realised that anything organised by TL;DR Press was going to be awesome. The folks on the Slack are really great, and I love spending time with them.
At the start, I was offered a random prompt, made up of a character and a brief scenario. I accepted the offer, since it’s always useful to get more inspiration, and the idea I already had for my potential story was very sketchy.
I was given ‘receptionist’ and ‘first contact with another dimension’ – and that ended up fitting really well with the idea I was already working on.
We did 20-minute sprints, broken up by feedback sessions and sharing how we were getting on. After briefly freaking myself out when it felt like something was running over my foot (it was my laptop cable), I settled down and got to work.
And, from a standing start, after 90 minutes, I had a complete first draft of a 1,500 word story! And it was a story I certainly never would have written the same way, if I hadn’t turned up for the write-in. The best measure of success for a writing event, in my view, is coming out of it with a piece of writing I never would have written if I hadn’t attended. So, this was a definite success!
So, the moral of the story is – always take opportunities to spend time with other writers. Writing can be a solitary activity, and I don’t think there’s ever been a time when I’ve connected with other writers and I haven’t benefited from the experience tremendously.
Yay for fellow writers! And yay for communal writing! And yay for mutual encouragement!