Megan Cohen believes in writing in community.
Hi. Megan here. I love sharing the writing experience and building creative community, so I am always dreaming up unusual writing events.
One of my favorites that actually happened was the 24-hour Writing Marathon (2022).
From Noon Jan 11th til Noon Jan 12, I hosted a community writing event on Zoom where others joined me for stints of varying length over the course of the day and night as I wrote for 24 hours straight.
Here’s how it went:
Did people show up?
Yeah! A bunch even said they’d like to do more of this kinda stuff.
But how was the marathon? (Short version, please.)
So fun!!! I wrote so much and made amazing memories and almost fell asleep standing up.
But HOW was the MARATHON? (Long version, please.)
* People from far and near came through to work on their screenplays, journal entries, articles, pitches, grants, song lyrics, plays, letters, tv spec scripts, outlines, case notes, morning pages, plans, memoirs, 2nd drafts, and that’s just the stuff I know about.
* At one point, I looked up from my keyboard to find a surprise drop-in to the Zoom room: AN ENTIRE HIGH SCHOOL CLASS.
* In the middle of my night, a friend from London arrived in the middle of her morning and we wrote together, her on her musical and me on my solo show, until almost the first light of California dawn.
* During one hour I was drafting a monologue with a specific actor in mind; she hasn’t performed a script of mine since 2016 but I was secretly picturing her presence in a role in my new play. When I finished the monologue, she was in the Zoom. She had popped in silently in the middle of the writing session, exactly when I was thinking of her.
* Throughout the event, I accepted donations to directly support the costs of my service work offering free 1-on-1 writing mentorship to houseless writers, elder writers with untold stories, writers from underrepresented groups who also experience extreme financial need, and other under-resourced voices in our community.
* Everyone who joined me during this project (folx who donated, who wrote with me in sprints, who popped into the Zoom to witness or to cheer me on, and who sent lovely notes by email and text to wish me well) helped make this a meaningful, impactful, and unforgettable 24 hours.
Epic! And you actually wrote?
I wrote and edited dozens of fresh pages including pivotal scenes for two plays I am working on, a full draft of a new short story, a series of poems, a new essay, part of a novel, most of a blog post, and an entire children’s book.
One large takeout coffee, one Red Bull, two 12-oz Coca-Colas. Barely a proper bender at all. I did get pretty tired and almost fell asleep on my feet in hour 17, but even when my body was wobbly my creativity was still juiced and my brain still wanted to write, so I kept going.
When you got really tired, did your writing get weird?
No weirder than my usual stuff. (If you know my work you know it’s full of sentient food and non-linear time and geologically inappropriate avalanches, so: pretty weird from the jump.)
Well then, did your writing get normal(?) when you got really tired?
No, but the more tired I got, the easier it was to edit. No hesitations. When I was yearning to nod off I wanted to get rid of anything on the page that was remotely boring. LIFEHACK: if you want to write so you keep people awake, edit when you are dying to sleep.
Cool tip. What else did you learn?
When you throw a party, you get to go to a party. Words are an inexhaustible source of clean energy. Writing can organize you one hour and disorganize you the next. You sometimes don’t know how much you miss someone ’til you see their face. When in doubt, do a midnight balloon drop. And… if you love something (like writing) enough, sometimes a community will gather around to love it with you.
Dude, it was. Thank you for LISTENING.
Doing it again?
Eventually. But not too often! If you want to hear about it when I do, sign up for e-mails here.
want to write more?
Thank you for coming to my website! I made it myself, but put most of it in third-person to sound more “professional” since that is industry standard. Do you think it should be industry standard? I have mixed feelings about the idea of “professionalism.” I like that “professionalism” shows respect, but dislike that it creates distance.
“In the sui generis mind of theater artist Megan Cohen, silliness intermingles with oh-no-she-didn’t moxie; searing smarts blend seamlessly with surreal reverie and a bottomless capacity for feeling.” –San Francisco Chronicle–