However, as much as we would love to pat ourselves on the back, a suspicion was beginning to nag: Was anyone actually writing?
Exploring the nagging doubt...
Each session, we were spending more and more time listening to these incredible people and not actually working on writing or collaborating on ideas. Each session, we would set proposed development goals that could assist people in moving their story or script along and yet we could not see or hear any results...
One of the commitments we made when we started Line by Line was that we would provide a structure and support for participants to reach a treatment or a first draft of a feature by the end of the eight session program. To this end, we had set up an online forum so that people could upload their work and share it with the community, get feedback and keep moving on the story.
However, no one was sharing.
Addressing the nagging doubt...
So, we decided that the following two LxL sessions were going to be about us; we were going to be the speakers and we were going to inspire each other to write. The task: bring a key scene from your project and have it read out loud and work on it.
Before we started on that though, we conducted an inquiry as to why people were not sharing and what Line by Line could provide to support and inspire each other in writing. What was interesting was that people felt very comfortable sharing within a room in person but not uploading their work and receiving a barrage of email feedback. So it became clear that the community in the room was working for everyone but the online community was not.
When asked what we could do to support each other, the proposed solutions turned out to be pretty simple:
- That everyone post in the online community each week what goals they were setting for themselves in the coming week and whether they had met their goals from the previous week;
- That we provide chocolate as a reward for people meeting their goals.
Needless to say, the reading of the scenes out loud in a room was a wonderful exercise. The writers got to clearly see - objectively - what worked and did not work in the scene. The feedback was generous and considered and constructive.
And, best of all, everyone who had not written a scene left the room committed to going home and churning one out for the next session.
Lesson learnt: all that is needed to inspire writers is sharing, collaboration and chocolate!