I love write ins. They are absolute life-savers. Seriously, they're super-duper awesome, and if you're a writer and haven't been to one before (or even heard of them), you don't know what you're missing.
I was first introduced to the idea through the famous and fabulous event known as National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo, as its participants fondly call it). During this month-long extravaganza, writers meet up in libraries, coffee shops and other casual hangout spots to crank out as many words as they can. There is usually no or very little talking involved, except for the occasional question if a writer gets stuck and needs some quick feedback. The point is simple: to eliminate all distractions---pets, screaming kids, spouses, the real housewives of whatever city---and do that writing thing we're supposed to do.
I know on the surface, sitting in the same room with a bunch of other writers doesn't seem that extraordinary. After all, I can do that at home too, right? Well...yes. And no. Here's the thing: No matter how incredible our writing may be, no matter how well our characters resonate with our readers and our prose stirs the soul, we're not superheroes. We're simple, flawed, limited human beings who need support. We need folks to bounce ideas off of, folks to drag us down from the pedestals we build for ourselves, folks that can, if necessary, look us in the eye and tell us we've gone stark raving mad.
Writing groups exist to fulfill that need, either in a physical sense or increasingly, in a virtual one. Blogs like this one are a perfect example. We may not all be in the same city, state or even country, but we're still connected across time and space, encouraging and uplifting each other, pushing one another to succeed. The brilliant Mark Twain once said, "Keep away from those who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you believe that you too can become great."
And sometimes that greatness just comes from being in the same room with a like-minded soul. Sometimes it's just knowing that someone is nearby who's doing the exact same thing you are, experiencing the same sense of elation at their accomplishments and struggling with the same kinds of challenges. Sometimes just knowing you aren't alone is enough.
Today, it was more than enough for me.
P.S.: If you're not part of a local writer's group and you're looking for one, check out a funky little site called Meetup.com. It allows you to search locally for just about any kind of club or organization your heart desires, all from the comfort of your own home. Ain't modern technology grand?