Layla F Saad’s Writing Cabin: The body doubling group for writers
By Andy Penfold
Feb 01, 2024
When Layla F. Saad first ran a month-long challenge, called Me and White Supremacy, on Instagram in 2018, it spoke to thousands of people around the world.
The #meandwhitesupremacy challenge encouraged people to examine the ways in which they consciously and subconsciously uphold white supremacy.
More than 80,000 people downloaded her guide to the challenge, and the idea is now a bestselling book. It’s received rave reviews from fellow writers (Latham Thomas, Rachel Cargle, Glennon Doyle), not to mention the odd movie star (Anne Hathaway, Sophia Bush).
Another interesting thing about Layla: she’s a passionate member of FLOWN. And now, uses FLOWN’s Community Session platform, which allows any FLOWN member to run their own virtual co-working sessions, Layla has created a virtual space for writers to come together and focus on their work.
We caught up with Layla to find out more…
Interview with Layla F. Saad
You're a writer, but that's not the full story. Tell us about yourself and the work you do?
I'm a writer, podcaster, speaker, mentor, and teacher. These days I like to call myself a cultural worker. In part because it's easier than listing off a lot of roles!
But more importantly because it speaks to the true nature of my work, which is to create cultural works that make our world a better place.
My cultural work sits at the intersection of social justice, healing, and liberation. At this intersection I write books, host conversations, mentor changemakers, and teach about how we can become good ancestors.
How did you find FLOWN?
I am one of many women who are now finding out they have ADHD. At 39 years old I received an ADHD diagnosis and it totally changed my life. It helped me to understand many of my strengths, but also many of my challenges – including executive dysfunction and task initiation.
After finding myself stuck in (another!) unproductive rut for a few weeks, I put out a call on my Instagram page for any tips on overcoming executive dysfuntion. One of my followers recommended FLOWN and the power of body doubling.
I was skeptical at first, as an introvert I didn't think 'working in community' would be my thing. But I was at my wits end so I decided to give the 30-day free trial a go. I was hooked from the very first Deep Dive session!
I did more work in those two hours than I'd done in weeks. And so effortlessly too. I've been using (and recommending!) FLOWN ever since.
What do you use FLOWN for?
I've used FLOWN for all kinds of things: emails and administrative work, writing Patreon posts and newsletters, social media marketing, creating workshops, writing an essay for a book anthology, brainstorming new projects, planning out my week, and more.
I've even used it for a relaxed at home painting session. I'm currently using my Writing Cabin sessions to work on my third book.
As a writer, how does FLOWN help you?
As a writer one of the hardest things for me is often getting into that flow state. Even if I designate an afternoon or a day for myself to write, I find that I get easily distracted or will procrastinate. But with FLOWN I can dive into my work pretty much straight away.
Having both structure and accountability makes it easier for my brain to understand that it's time to 'turn on work mode'. I get more done in a two-hour FLOWN session than I do if I have the whole day to myself to work. And the quality of work tends to be better too.
Why do writers benefit from writing groups and body doubling?
Writing is wonderful, but also very lonely. Writers are usually alone with our words, our books, and our own thoughts.
Most of us like it this way, but it can also feel very taxing. Especially when working on longer pieces such as books, dissertations, programs, etc.
Writing with a community 'alone but together' allows us to focus on the work we love, while also not feeling so alone. Knowing that other people are also working alongside us playing with ideas, mapping out concepts, trying to reach a word count, or editing pieces is motivating and comforting.
What is your experience of ADHD like?
ADHD and autism define so much of who I am. I discovered I am both at 39 years old and it made my life make so much sense.
Being AuDHD is both beautiful and challenging. I love that being AuDHD makes me someone who is very creative, idealistic, social justice oriented, and quick to learn and master new skills that I'm hyperfocused on.
I wouldn't be the person or writer I am if I were not AuDHD. But by that same token, I wouldn't struggle with some of the things I do if I wasn’t AuDHD.
Executive dysfunction as I've mentioned, being easily overstimulated, having quite a low energetic capacity (even more so since I've started unmasking), finding 'the easy things difficult, and the difficult things easy', and more. But I wouldn't have me be any other way than who I am.
What's your biggest FLOWN success story?
One of my biggest challenges with projects is always time management.
Even when I know I have something due weeks or months in advance, I won't start working on it until the last moment and I will be absolutely stressed out the entire time. By the time I deliver the piece, I'm in absolute burnout and shutdown.
However, last year thanks to FLOWN I managed to complete two projects way ahead of schedule and with none of the usual associated stress and overwhelm. One was a personal essay for an anthology I was invited to write for. And the other was a workshop I was invited to create and deliver for a friend's group coaching program.
Using FLOWN's deep dive sessions, I was able to properly plan my time, work with focus, and get both done way ahead of time. This would have been impossible without FLOWN!
How does it feel leading your own FLOWN sessions?
I am absolutely loving it! I was a bit nervous to begin with as I've never done anything like this and I was worried that I wouldn't have the energetic capacity to lead weekly sessions. But I was surprised by how easy and enjoyable it is.
I'm diligently making progress on my book, moving the needle forward one day at a time, while getting to meet and engage with a global community of writers who are also working on things that matter to them.
It's extremely fulfilling and one of my favourite parts of my day.
What's next for you? Writing projects in 2024?
My big goal for 2024 is to write my third book – a manifesto for people who are striving to be good ancestors, who want to build a better world without losing themselves along the way.
This is a body of work I have been cultivating via podcasts, books, and mentorship programs for years now, and I am so excited to finally be working on this particular book.
Though publishing a book is usually a multi-year process, I'm excited to see the progress I make with my book proposal and book manuscript over the course of this year with FLOWN and my Writing Cabin sessions.
Join Layla F. Saad's writing sessions
Layla's sessions are scheduled throughout February. Find out more about the partnership and book onto sessions here.