Side projects club

Almost everybody has one.

That unfinished novel. That blank canvas. That pile of yarn yearning to be a hat.

Completing a side project can be slow going. Most of us crave structure in our creative endeavors, and with no one breathing down our necks, we’ll put them off for a day. Or two. Or seven.

Enter the Omaha Side Projects Club.

Cara Heacock, 26, a Web developer at software company Big Wheel Brigade, started the club with a few friends in September when she was having trouble motivating herself to get her side coding work finished.

“I thought this idea might be helpful: In a group setting, everybody get together and work on whatever their side project happens to be, in a group space,” she said.

The very first meeting drew a crowd of about 20, but then attendance began to fall off. So Heacock started promoting the club through websites such as Twitter and Meetup.com, and the idea caught on.

Heacock said busier days draw about 16 to 20 people. The group meets from 12:30 to 4 p.m. every other Saturday in the CoVis CoWorking building, 920 S. 107th Ave.The group is free, but attendees can make voluntary donations to cover the cost of hosting the website, sideprojectsclub.com, and Meetup page.

The meetings are mostly open-ended, Heacock said. Club members can come and go as they please, and most of the time is spent in silence while attendees chip away at their projects — group members are asked to work on quiet endeavors, so no power tools or instruments allowed.

Every four weeks, members share with each other what progress they’ve made.

“It’s just something about getting to work around other people that are also passionate about something,” Heacock said. “The accountability of other people who are expecting you to show up and work on your thing is helpful.”

As the group grows, so does the diversity of its members’ projects. Some code, some write novels, some draw, some sew.

Wendy Holley, 34, has been a member of the club since the beginning. A Web developer at Farmers National, Holley spent most of last month’s meetings working on her book for National Novel Writing Month.

Holley said she has completed about the first quarter of her book. She had hoped to write 50,000 words of her story about a teenager living on Mars, but she spent much of her time researching the red planet and didn’t quite make it.

“But I was proud of myself for putting words on paper,” she said.

Contact the writer: 402-444-3131, blake.ursch@owh.comtwitter.com/blakeursch_owh

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