Monday, January 16, 2012

Coworking, Groupthink, Collaboration, TPR

Have you heard of the co-working movement?

There actually was a New York Times article about how groupthink is a possibly harmful trend in society away from solitude and creativity.

There is a trend. I created TPR as a collaborative space. I host writing classes in my studio where we group write. I love Downton Abbey because of the whole ant-as-worker idea. The situation of those servants is enviable, all working together to cook, clean and serve, that sounds like my kind of dream. Many hands make light work. That is why people with kids have playdates. That is why GenX parents are paying so much attention to our children, in our own childhood we spent too much time alone. Or something. Don't get me started.

So I disagree some with that article. All I have to do is experience a totally packed yoga class and feel how much power there is in the combination of focused attention. When there is group focus, so much that is non-measurable gets done. The world is changing to accommodate that. I predict we are seeing a paradigm shift and we are moving away from old ideas of success and individualism to something so much more collaborative.

 So the challenge therefore is discipline. A way to work on our individual projects, and at the same time pool our resources. Find ways to support each other, but collaborate on energy and attention. Attention = Power. I am dangerously close to being new-age-y here. But you will know what I am talking about when you think about those moments at a concert or a ballgame. You have experienced it. Think about a party with a good host and the way talk and enjoyment flow. You have experienced it raising your kids and running marathons. Hell you have experienced it watching marathons. There is energy in crowds. It is learning how to manage the work along side the interaction. It's learning how to manage our creative process. It's learning how to use our intuition and apply solitude and concentration to get something done. It is learning to trust the creative process and knowing when to join the group and just get the dishes done and when to do butt-in-chair. Or perhaps the discipline is in making the work the ordinary, the everyday, the norm. It doesn't have to be brilliant. But that is better explored in a different post.

So I hadn't articulated the idea of groupthink when I started TPR, I just knew that it was something I wanted to explore. But now I know what The Practice Room is. It's a virtual coworking model. Maybe not the best one, just the first one that I have come up with. But it's the way of the future and it is only with experimentation and practice that we will get better at it.

 Dianne has an excellent post describing what we do over there. She is a marvelous host every Monday evening 8 pm eastern time zone. Write with her tonight. Try out the energy for yourself.

In other news, I have updated my class page with the first class listing of 2012. Click through here to read about it. We have begun experimenting with using our time together towards developing individual projects using the-crockpot-of-awesomeness model as described by the lovely TPRer, Marisa. We use directed exercises and conversation to supply images as ingredients, then let time simmer them into something complex and nourishing and hot. The final part is what you do on your own. Write, write, write.