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Free Write, Just Write Magic

book inc writer Tina Goodyear wonders if it's magic or just the accountability that gets her writing for an hour when she shows up for Project Write Now's Zoom write ins.

By Tina Goodyear

March 07, 2024

There’s some kind of magic going on during Project Write Now’s Free Write sessions. I don’t know if it is because Elizabeth (Liz) Jannuzzi, the session facilitator, is some kind of wizard, but when I see her face on Zoom at 9 a.m. on Wednesday mornings, I write.

That the titles of these drop-in classes are Free Write or Just Write should have alerted me I would actually be, well, writing, but title alone doesn’t guarantee anything—not for me anyway, as I’ve earned a black belt in resistance. (See my previous Journal, “Embracing Resistance with Dani Shapiro.”)

But as it turns out, there’s magic in giving myself a free hour to write and having to check in with fellow writers about what I accomplished. It puts a gilded frame around 60 precious minutes of the day. Who knew?

I’ve often prided myself on being flexible, secretly scoffing at people who are unyielding with their schedules. I knew someone long ago who did her laundry every Tuesday and ironed on Wednesday without fail. (Does anyone iron anymore?) While I will never reach that level of routine, I have developed a new appreciation for putting boundaries around important things and freeing up time for them. For example, I managed to carve out writing time almost every day for a year while I was a Peer Artist Leader for book inc’s Memoir Incubator. But true confession: I never wrote at the same time every day or for the same length of time every day either. I used life, job, family, health, heck, even laundry as an excuse, when anyone who knows me well knows that my husband does the laundry. Still, any excuse sounded like a good way to escape writing.

All those excuses fade away when Liz appears with her headset on my laptop screen with the other writers who join us. All those faces provide motivation to write. With a few quick check-ins about what we plan to work on during the coveted free hour, we turn off our mics and video and get busy. That’s it. I literally just write, and it flows freely.

I wonder now why I don’t just free write every day at 8 a.m.? Am I too reliant on Liz’s beautiful face to get me started? Then I recall why book inc worked so well: accountability. The idea that others were counting on me freed me to finish a 50,000-word draft of a memoir I had been writing in my head for over a decade. Accountability is subtle but powerful. After an hour of writing on Zoom, I have too much pride to check back at 9 a.m. empty-handed. Worse, I would feel like I let Liz and my fellow writers down. I would be letting myself down. 

These Wednesday writing sessions are so productive that I sometimes wonder if I should apply this principle to other things in my life: Free Vacuum. Free Cardio. Just Go to the Doctor. Just Be More Patient. Just Clean Out the Junk Drawer. Hmmm… nope. How can I reasonably be expected to do any of these things without Liz cheering me on? Besides, the joy of having a clean junk drawer is fleeting and easily undone. Writing for an hour with the virtual energy of fellow writers holds a promise of long-lasting joy. If I didn’t just write, I might just wither. It is, as the title suggests, freeing.

So, just sign up for a Just Write or Free Write class. Just do it. Free yourself. You know you want to. The laundry can wait.

Project Write Now’s Free Write sessions are offered at various dates and times. Register here to Free Write! 

Tina Goodyear

Tina Goodyear is a board member of Project Write Now and a book inc Peer Artist Leader. She recently completed a draft of her memoir, FROM THE NECK DOWN. When not writing or teaching the art of writing, she helps adult students earn college credit for their work and life experiences.

Tina Goodyear is a board member of Project Write Now and a book inc Peer Artist Leader. She recently completed a draft of her memoir, FROM THE NECK DOWN. When not writing or teaching the art of writing, she helps adult students earn college credit for their work and life experiences.