IN late 2009, a San Francisco author called Rennie Sanders had an idea. Writing was a solitary process, but was there any reason why it had to be done alone? And so he sent out a message to see if any writers would be interested in joining him for a weekly session in a local café.

The idea wasn’t to talk or network or meet other writers (though that came too).

Instead he was offering a space where for one hour a week, you could sit down and, without distraction, get stuck into writing your novel.

Sanders’ group was called Shut Up and Write. Not only was it an immediate success in San Francisco, but pretty soon the idea spread, first across California, then around the US and all over the world.

This month, the Shut Up and Write movement has reached Salisbury. Phamie MacDonald, local children’s writer, illustrator and owner of Fizzy Lemonade Graphic Design decided to set up the group after hearing about the idea from a friend: ‘I saw a friend in Holland had gone to a Shut Up and Write and as a freelancer, working from home, I thought it would be brilliant to meet up with other writers and freelancers and have some enforced quiet time.’

Phamie’s group, however, isn’t just for writers. ‘They don’t have to be writing a novel or even be a writer – it’s for anyone that needs some quiet time to get something done.’

As a freelancer and writer myself, it’s probably not a huge surprise that I think what Phamie is doing is a great thing in bringing creative types in Salisbury together. But I also think that the Shut Up and Write movement taps in to something wider about the modern world.

As technology speeds life up, so the demands on our time become ever greater.

With ever-increasing ways of getting in touch with people, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with the neverending influx of emails and texts and message requests.

But life doesn’t have to be like that. Back in 1986, the Italian Carlo Petrini set up the Slow Food Movement in response to the opening of a McDonald’s in Rome: Petrini’s argument was that good cooking took time, and that some things in life were better to be shared and enjoyed together, rather than being consumed as quickly as possible.

Shut Up and Write might be more about silence rather than slowness, but its principles feel essentially the same.

Because having a moment of calm in the middle of modern living is not just good for writing: it’s also good for the soul.

Shut Up and Write! meets every Friday morning, 10am at the Boston Tea Party.