Our first six months
Write Together was started on Sun 8th May 2011. I was writing alone in a pub in Peckham for about four hours. It was a productive session but there were a few problems. Firstly, writing on your own all the time is quite a lonely thing and that in itself can be discouraging. There was also the practical issue of needing to leave the table (to use the restroom for example) and not having anyone to look after your things while you're away.
The idea to start a MeetUp group came quickly as well as the rules that would be part of it. Without thinking too much about whether it would work or not, I created the group that night and took care to clearly explain what the group was and wasn't about. The primary objective is to get more writing done. For this to happen meetups had to be frequent, serious and convenient. Frequent and convenient so that people could make it part of their routine. Serious so that we learn to sit down and automatically start writing.
Making it frequent and serious was mostly within my control. I started running two groups a week, one in Battersea (near my work, convenient for me) and one in Piccadilly (harder for me to get to but necessary in order to grow the group). Making it convenient means having a variety of times and locations on offer. Meetups need to fit in with the needs of writers. I couldn't do this on my own, so from very early on members had the ability to suggest meetings.
Our first meetup was in The Secret Garden in Battersea on Thurs 12th May with a very good turnout of four people: Assaji, Ben, Sandra and myself. It was a bit odd at first, sitting with strangers and writing instead of talking to them, but we immediately saw that the concept worked.
The group gradually grew, especially in Costas Piccadilly where it is not uncommon to get twelve people showing up, putting together tables in a row and working alongside each other. The sight is very motivating and satisfying.
Another thing we started doing once a month is to write for two hours and then walk over to the Blue Posts to join the WriteClub meetup for a social drink. These nights have been very popular and enjoyable.
Our biggest blessing are the members who have stepped forward and been event hosts. This has really changed the game and everyone has benefited greatly. Because of them we are now hold more meetups each week, in various locations, at various times. Some are big, some are small, but they are happening and more writing is being done. This is hugely important. A very big thank you to our volunteer hosts and the leadership team.
The future for the group looks promising. We're heading towards 300 members and we've already had 66 meetups in 6 months. That's 11 meetings a month or about 2.5 meetings per week, which is quite an achievement. We now have many regular members who love it and word is spreading. On a busy night we easily dominate the tables at Costas. And although we are not really a social group, it has been a pleasure to meet new people and make new friends.
Those wonderful beautiful hosts
Now, because hosts are SO important, here is a host info page with advice and useful info:
Being an Event Host
To run events where writers sit together and get their writing done. To encourage as many events and places as possible so as to increase frequency and convenience. Hosts can plan events for any time and any place that suits them, even if they overlap with other events. Members attend whichever ones they wish.
There was an important discussion about this in Feb 2012
Discussion on Double and Triple bookings