Last week there were ten of us who came together in Portugal to write. Normally when I write I spend ages procrastinating in the name of getting my cognitive wheels oiled and ready. But a time limit of two days and peer pressure meant I couldn't do that this time.
It was a remarkable experience as we represented different disciplines, professions and world views with people travelling quite far to get there, including from Australia and New Zealand. Some people knew each other from the area of Community Informatics, but for most people it was the first time they were in conversation. Despite this the final piece of writing was remarkably consistent - more like one person writing on different days than different people writing on the same day.
Flashes of the two days come back to me as I remember the silence of concentration when we were writing alone. Anyone coming in during those moments might have thought we were doing individual activities but it was very social in all sorts of ways. You were writing for the immediate group and about something that we had already discussed. There were also IMs and jokes being exchanged during the silence.
My observation is that it was a commitment to learning and a humility (and pragmatism) that goes with that that made us feel like the event was such a success. We'll probably get three journal articles out of the process. Ten people and two days seemed to be the right number of people and days for the activity. The two days were quite exhausting.
For myself it was wonderful as I get so caught up in projects that I don't have time to research and write, but which is what I love to do. It was a privilege to take those two days and I'm really really now going to set aside one day every week for writing.
It was a fascinating process, with more notes abut it on the wiki.