Writing is hard. It’s your mind against the blank page, against the jumble of words that are terrified to come out. It’s the dark side of you trying to stop the light from coming out of you.

Writing can be nerve-racking and painful.

Yes, it is painful to get the words out when they don’t dare see the light of day, when they are scared of being illogical, embarrassing, or just plain dumb.

And to add insult to injury, it is also lonely. Only you can do it. Just a battle between you and the words.

Well, at least, it is said that writing is said to be a lonely endeavor.

It doesn’t have to be lonely.

When you write, you have to sit down and forget the world exists in order to get the words out on the page, but that doesn’t mean that you need to be alone, sitting in a chair in a dark, creepy basement, or alone in a crowd in the nearest coffee shop.

I have come to find out that I’m a person that works better when I’m in an environment where everyone is working in the same room together. It doesn’t matter if the other people are working on something completely different than I am. What matters is that they are focused on their task.

And when it comes to writing, it’s like magic to me.

When people are working together in a room, there’s a force they generate that gets me going and I can better focus on my own work. I write better, I work better – a.k.a. I’m more efficient. The moment I feel like stopping, I just look around me and the sight of all the focused faces of the people in the group give me the strength I need to keep going for a little while longer.

I have this amazing experience with my writing friends once a week. And the times when we get to work –and don’t get distracted discussing the latest Harry Potter news, or other topics of the sort! –, we write and make so much progress in our novels. It’s so much fun, and no matter how tired I am, I always manage to write at least something .

This past few weeks –thanks to the idea of a friend from work– we decided to do a writing group at work. After all, scientists need to communicate their findings somehow, and one of those ways is through writing papers.

This writing workshop has been a life changer.

We have more structure than in my fiction writing group, because the writing time lasts from 10:30 am until 4 pm, so we need to consider time for a few breaks and lunch in the middle. So, at the start of each day we set 15 minutes aside to tell each other our goals for the day. Then we proceed to work for 45 minutes –either online or completely offline, depending on the schedule – and take 15 minutes breaks. We have a half hour at 12:30 pm to have lunch and repeat the 45 minutes work -15 minutes break intervals until 3:45 pm. During the last 15 minutes, we talk about how we did and what we have left to do.

These writing days with a room full of people have allowed me to progress in my work so much, so fast.

And it’s not just me who is feeling the effect. The others in the group have also felt the results, and they’re so excited about it, that we will be continuing on with a shorter version of the writing group next semester, three days a week!

In both writing groups, I’m still facing the white page, with all the fears it involves, but I’m stronger, because we’re together.

Yes, writing is a battle where it’s you against the page, you against the ink, but you can choose your battleground, your side, and your allies.