Whether it’s writing an essay for school or trying to finish a novel, many writers know the difficulty of finding the time to jot down a few words – and Shut up and write! aims to provide a solution.
Shut Up & Write!, an international nonprofit dedicated to helping writers focus on their craft, has been bringing together writers from around the world since 2007, according to its website. Held in person and virtually, Shut Up & Write! Meetups allow writers to come together and write, without distraction.
For Columbus-based writers, Shut Up & Write! hosts free weekly chapter meetings at various locations in Dublin, Ohio, and downtown Columbus, said Dublin Chapter organizer Kelly Privette.
“We don’t have prompts, we don’t do readings, we don’t do reviews — none of that,” Privette said. “What you do is you show up, you’re friendly to people, and then for an hour you focus on whatever you’ve been working on. It’s all about giving people the time and place to do whatever they want to write.
Privette said she started with Shut Up & Write! when she was in college and considers it a valuable experience for students. Having a place outside of school to focus on her writing helped her form new relationships while in college, she said.
“I was looking for an opportunity to meet people outside of my academic environment and also to have a dedicated time and place for my creative work,” Privette said. “I was very busy with my schoolwork and always felt guilty trying to find time for creative things, so having something on the schedule that says ‘That’s when you’ll do it ‘ really helped me with that.”
Jeremy Thweatt, Head of Outreach for Shut Up & Write!, said Founder and CEO Rennie Saunders launched Shut Up & Write! in San Francisco in 2007 when he struggled to find the time to write his novel. In order to hold himself accountable, Saunders arranged a meet up at a local coffee shop and soon found it helped him write more consistently – other writers agreed.
Over the years, more and more chapters of Shut Up & Write! started until it grew into the organization it is today, Thweatt said.
“We are a global community of nearly 100,000 writers from over 50 countries who find support and accountability from free writing events,” Thweatt said. “We organize these events so that you can put a calendar on your calendar to have time to dedicate yourself to writing.”
Writers of all experience levels and backgrounds are welcome to attend the get-togethers, which are designed to be non-judgmental spaces, Privette said.
“We have professional writers who do technical writing or vertical writing, and then we have a bunch of fiction writers, poets, journalists, I mean, all kinds,” Privette said. “It really came as you are; it doesn’t matter what you’re working on, how long you’ve been writing, or how good you are at writing.
Before the pandemic, Shut Up & Write! the events were held in-person only, but Thweatt said the pandemic led the organization to start offering an “online events chapter,” which hosts virtual meetups. He said virtual meetups – which take place on Zoom and Google Meet – have created new opportunities for members around the world to connect with each other.
“Through our virtual events, we’ve been able to connect and befriend people all over the world,” Thweatt said. “I’ve made meaningful connections with writers from all time zones at this point, which I love, especially at a time over the past two years when we’ve all been increasingly isolated.”
The best way for interested writers to get involved with Shut Up & Write! is to register for one of the meetings, said Privette. Meetings for the Dublin chapter are Wednesdays at 6 p.m. at North Market Bridge Park, and downtown Columbus meetings are on Fridays at 8 a.m. at the Roosevelt Coffeehouse.
Interested writers are encouraged to use the Shut Up & Write! dating page to view a list of nearby in-person and online events, Privette said.
“The memories I have of those bands are about the people more than the writing,” Privette said. “Writing happens, it’s productive, it comes and goes. But what gives more to the environment than just going to a café alone or going to a library alone? These are the people who accompany you.