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Finding Rest, Finding One's Stride
This is Roots + Branches, a free newsletter on the craft and joy of writing and creativity by Root creator and award-winning author Dr. Julia Skinner. I hope it supports you in your creative journey!
I've mentioned elsewhere that I set monthly themes for my co-writing group, and after a few asks to share those, I wanted to shoot off a brief newsletter with the what and why of creating monthly themes for your writing practice, particularly when writing alongside others (and *especially* when you’re trying to build up writing skills at the same time).
Why monthly? In my case, it's because we only spend a few minutes at the start of each session talking about that theme, before we dive into our individual writing projects, so being able to return to it throughout the month gives folks different ways to connect with the concept and fold it into their own practice.
How do you pick themes? I choose themes based on the core beliefs I bring to my writing space and hope to help cultivate in others, including:
That our writing practice is about saying 'yes' to our writing (and building a practice we love) rather than 'no' to everything else.
That we can build time to connect with our practice even when we're busy, and that writing can be productive and sustainable.
And that we don't need to impose expectations and mentalities from our larger grind culture onto our writing. We do our best work when we enjoy it and when it nourishes us rather than depletes us.
So with that in mind, here are some of the early themes that reflect those beliefs.
The first monthly theme is rest and relaxation, which may seem counterintuitive for a co-working group, but it's a critical part of a sustainable writing practice that you enjoy.
Starting off on this foot, by focusing on how to create an easeful writing practice and on giving ourselves permission to have downtime, sets the tone for the kind of writing group I personally want to be in (supportive, encouraging, enjoyable) rather than one I don't (strict goal setting, stressful, competitive).
Future themes I plan to cover are: boundaries (you know I love talking about boundaries!), different avenues for goal setting, mindfulness and intentionality, and building space into our days for writing (even if just a few minutes here and there).
Selfishly, I'm excited to be hosting these writing groups because they're the kind of space I'm craving, too. I love having a space to set a simple intention based on a skill I'm practicing, along with actual dedicated writing time.
Having the space to do that in community with other creative folks is a dream come true, seriously: I find I stay focused and am able to get a lot done when I'm writing in a group.
I'd love to know, do you have monthly (or weekly/yearly/etc) focus areas for your writing?
What other habits best support your practice?
And if you'd like to join me for Mycelia, my fun and friendly skill-building co-writing space (which I hope you do!) you can learn more here.
Newsletter subscribers get 50% off Mycelia as a thank you for your support, always: Just use the code SUBSTACK when you check out.
See you there!
P.S. Yearly paid subscriptions to my newsletter are now 50% off, too, so if you’ve been wanting to peek at those recipes behind the paywall or learn more about my process as a food writer, I hope you’ll join!
Thanks for reading Roots + Branches!
I'm on a mission to help my fellow creatives build sustainable, joyful writing practices that give their biggest, most magical, and important ideas space to come to light.
Thank you for your support, and happy writing!