The Key to Completing Your Writing Project
Welcome to Shut Up & Write! You’ve taken an important step in making your dreams come true: you’ve committed to writing one hour every week. You’ve also joined a community of writers – just like you – who support each other in achieving their goals.
The Shut Up & Write! method was developed over thousands of meetups with the participation of thousands of writers. This document will provide you with the background on our method to help you succeed in your writing project.
Everyone Has a Story to Tell
We are all storytellers. We tell stories every day of our lives. But making the jump from kicking around an idea to developing the skill, craft, and discipline to write effectively takes a plan and lots of determination.
To that end, Shut Up & Write! has divided the writing process into eight steps: ideation, structuring, drafting, editing, restructuring and revising, polishing, publishing, and promoting. The key to making it through all eight steps is finding your starting point and writing steadily to “The End.” It is this consistency of practice that will drive your success.
The key idea of the Shut Up & Write method is to identify where you are in this eight-step process. Keep it simple — don’t try to brainstorm, draft, and revise all at once. One step at a time.
We are in the process of developing resources and opportunities for our members who are at any point in the eight-step writing process, but our strength and proven success at Shut Up & Write! events is to focus on step 3: drafting. It is the discipline of showing up to the page on a regular basis that makes the other seven steps possible.
The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.
~ Mary Oliver
The Eight Steps of a Writing Project
- Ideation – Teasing out your best story idea
- Structuring – The clothesline, snowflake, or mind map that helps visualize your plot
- Drafting – Focused and consistent creation, so don’t edit, research, or restructure while drafting (This is the proven success of Shut Up & Write!)
- Editing – Reread with honesty and a red pen
- Restructuring and revising – Find the holes and fill with prose
- Polishing – Make it shine and find your voice
- Publishing – Traditional or self-publishing
- Promotion – Find your audience and open a dialogue with them
There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you.
~ Maya Angelou
Why Our Method Works
Making the time to write one hour per week is an empowering and ultimately rewarding experience, but it needs to serve as the foundation of your daily writing practice. Here we’ve put together some information that has helped other writers – just like you – complete their writing projects.
Shut Up & Write! was created for two primary reasons. First, we provide a community of active writers in which our members — both experienced and novice writers — can work together. Second, we teach a step-by-step method to give writers the discipline necessary to reach the most important phase of any writing project, “The End.”
You can’t get published and become widely read if you can’t finish your writing projects. And you won’t finish anything if you don’t develop the discipline to sit down and write on a daily basis. You can start to develop this discipline by setting aside one hour per week as a minimum. Shut Up & Write! provides the foundation and support to meet this goal.
The three enemies of the writer are 1) the internal editor, 2) the internal critic, and 3) the internal censor. This is why at Shut Up & Write! we encourage you to avoid composing, editing, censoring, being critical, researching or outlining during the hour. Whatever you’re writing, it’s not a “thing” until you finish the first draft. Don’t fuss with names, details, or research; make a note and keep moving.
New members of Shut Up & Write! often comment on the power of writing in the company of others. It may not be logical, but somehow being in the company of other actively working writers is a tremendous motivator. This is the true secret of Shut Up & Write!: the energy, enthusiasm and camaraderie you will draw from your fellow writers will help you complete your own work.
Shut Up & Write! Event Format
Please arrive 10-15 minutes before the start of the event in order to get the most out of your writing session. The organizer will lead brief introductions (simply your name and what you’re working on is plenty) and then the group will write for an hour, or more if it’s a marathon. Afterwards there will be 15-30 minutes of social time to get to know each other and possibly discuss personal writing successes such as getting published or overcoming writing resistance in some small way. There will be no critiquing, exercises, lectures, ego, competition, or guilt.
And that’s it! Our format is simple and straightforward, but that’s because it works. It’s already been tested and proven across tens of thousands of events, and the level of accountability and social support provided by our method and community have had real results for writers all over the world. All it takes is the commitment to showing up.