Creative writing during meetings (shh!)

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Okay, I shouldn’t be asking you this. It might get you into trouble. Still, I can’t help myself:

Have you ever tried creative writing during a meeting?

Maybe it sounds irresponsible and risky—what if you get caught? People might even argue it’s downright disrespectful. Still, if you’re serious about creative writing on the go, you’ll know better than to pass up such a golden opportunity.

I know of someone (let’s just call him Barry) who admitted to creatively writing during a big meeting.

“It was brilliant,” Barry said. “I wrote this amazing story while that dull meeting dragged on. People were drifting off, staring out the window, looking at their phones, all busting to get out of there. But my pen was blazing! If they had seen the heat coming off my page as I wrote, someone would have reached for the fire extinguisher!”

Barry got away with it, it would seem. I asked him how he did it.

Here are Barry’s ground rules for creative writing during a meeting:

  • Don’t tell anyone what you’re doing, not if you value your job.
  • Try and remain peripherally aware of the meeting conversation, just in case someone asks you a question.*
  • Do not smile when you write. People will notice.
  • Try and frown a little (as if you are taking serious notes), and look up every so often at whoever is speaking (as if interested).
  • Do not write profusely. Write in stops and starts as if taking notes.
  • Never attempt to creatively write if you are hosting a meeting. People will definitely notice.

If you find yourself, like Barry, in one of those meetings where your role is little more than that of a human seat warmer, why not open up your notebook and get writing. Like Barry, you may discover a wonderful story waiting.

*How Barry answers a question when he hasn’t been listening:

“That is an excellent question!” Look around the table, raise an accusing brow. “Would you mind repeating it for those who weren’t paying attention.”

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