Shut up and write

It can be hard to make friends in a new city.

When moving as part of a cohort, like for first year uni or a graduate job, there are plenty of others in the same boat. But when you just show up knowing only a handful of friends (or friends of friends) it can be tricky to figure out how to meet people. So far, my main strategy has been to use Meetup.

I dipped my toe in the water with a couple of Shut Up and Write groups. I’m lucky that in San Francisco there are quite a few to choose from. The idea is that you show up to a cafe, grab a coffee and have a brief chat to the other writers. After about ten minutes the organiser starts the timer and, to put it politely, you be quiet and write for an hour. Afterwards you have a bit of a chat, and then you go home.

The first event I went to was for writers in their 20s. I’m pushing the age limit for this group but am in denial so I went along anyway. They were a friendly and enthusiastic bunch, mostly working on novels or creative writing. For some curious reason, I was the only one using a laptop and not a pen and paper.

I tried another Shut Up and Write group, one without an age limit. This group attracted a more diverse mix of people. I was particularly impressed by the middle-aged organiser of the group, who was using a smart phone and a roll-up keyboard to revise her 77,000 word novel. Perhaps I should suggest she come and show the 20 somethings the marvels of modern technology.


Now that I’ve given Meetup a go, I’m a total convert.

I’ve also used the site to join a book club, an expat group, and a couple of groups for journalists.

Unfortunately, my search for a netball group didn’t yield any results.


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