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Shut Up and Write brings energy to working in silence

Nonprofit sets time for Bellingham writers to gather in community-driven accountability

An illustration of people sitting and writing around a table that resembles a globe. “Shut Up and Write” is a global nonprofit committed to building communities of writers with a time to meet every week. // Illustration by Sam Fozard

The global nonprofit Shut Up and Write has joined the collection of writing groups at Village Books in Fairhaven, offering structured productivity every Friday from 9:15-11 a.m. 

Spanning from Seoul to Seattle, self-motivated facilitators around the world follow the model of Shut Up and Write, for people to gather and work side by side in silent support. A timer is set for 75 minutes for each member to make progress toward their writing goals.  

“You’re harnessing your own attention with the help of knowing that people are around you harnessing theirs,” said Kendra Wagner, the facilitator of the Bellingham group.

The group is open to anyone with writing tasks on their to-do list, whether it’s a novel, an essay for school or a presentation for work. The meetings are free and open to all skill levels.

Wagner has been a facilitator for Shut Up and Write since 2021. She saw the meetups as a way to combat isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

After moving from Seattle to Bellingham in 2022, she brought the writing model with her and began a new group at Woods Coffee. When it grew too crowded, she reached out to Stephanie Dethlefs, the writing community coordinator at Village Books, for a larger and quieter place to meet. 

“We didn’t have anything like that, all of our groups were more targeted toward specific genres,” Dethlefs said. 

Shut Up and Write is what Dethlefs calls a “generative group” because of its focus on productivity without the pressure of sharing. Most writing groups at Village Books revolve around an expectation of interacting with other people’s work through workshops and conversation. 

“There’s very few at Village Books that are like this, where it’s not about critique, it's not about reading out loud, it’s not even about prompts. This is very unique,” Wagner said.

Dayna Patterson is the assistant head of the Hacherl Research and Writing Studio at the Western Libraries, a study and accountability resource at Western Washington University. She described a time management method called the Pomodoro Technique, in which a timed work period is sandwiched between goal-based check-ins. This is mirrored in the structure of Shut Up and Write, where writers set intentions at the beginning and reflect on them at the end of every meeting. 

The Hacherl Research and Writing Studio works to provide support and resources for students on campus. This includes access to language support, meetings with studio assistants and feedback on drafts and long-term projects. Patterson explained that outside sources can provide writers with feedback and accountability that helps them through difficult moments. 

“For a lot of people, having somebody to be accountable to besides a professor [is] a little bit lower stakes,” Patterson said. “It helps motivate people, especially when they’re burnt out or tired.”

There are 11 writing groups meeting at Village Books every month, with three new ones that started in January. They range from nonfiction to environmentalism, fiction, poetry, prompts and children’s picture books. 

“Any time that you can be in a community with other writers and sharing the highs and lows and holding yourself accountable in a group is beneficial. Because that’s how we learn from each other,” Dethlefs said. 

You can find more information about the writing groups at Village Books here.

Halley Buxton

Halley Buxton (she/her) is a city life reporter for The Front. She is in her final year at Western with a major in creative writing and a minor in journalism. In her spare time she loves reading, writing with friends and collecting CDs. You can contact her at

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