Wednesday, 19 March 2014

5 Community Writing Opportunities

What is Community Writing? It is the literary answer to Social Media, catering to the fact that we are increasingly more mobile and connected to the virtual world wide web which allows for new, more collaborative approaches towards the creative processes.

Traditionally, the writing process was a solitary task. Written works were hidden away, shared in very limited circles during the actual writing process. With the rise of digital media and the increase in the production of content, new text forms and new opportunities for writing have emerged. 

Community writing opportunities come in any number of forms and there is one for nearly every type of writer. If you are eager to share your work earlier, sites like Wattpad are surely for you. If you want to keep the actual words closer to heart, but still need help fighting the occasional inner demon or writing block, then Twitter, NaNoWriMo and Writing clubs are places for you. This blog will give an overview over 5 different platforms that can support you during your writing process as well as give you a jumpstart in building your readership.

1) Wattpad

Launched in November 2006, Wattpad is today the largest reading and writing platform in the world. By June 2009, the Wattpad app had reportedly been downloaded 5 million times. Unsurprisingly, Wattpad's usership is skewed towards Y Generation teens/twens and women. This mimics the customer mix of the e-book industry. On top of that, users actually spend up to one hour a day on the platform according to Wattpad. That is a quite an amount of time for teenagers to spend reading in a world filled with a veritable buffet of virtual distraction.

Wattpad has quickly gained a name as a place to upload original and fanfiction stories in a first draft/while writing format. It allows writers to get feedback during the writing process and to get recognised for popular content. Even published authors have discovered the avid story lovers and readers the platform attracts. 

Wattpad has 22 categories of free content work for you to explore. The currency there is not money, but an open dialogue between writers and readers on story ideas. Constructive feedback can help a writer improve their craft during the creative process and gives readers an opportunity to shape a story by providing a different perspective. It also allows writers to build a rapport with their readership earlier than ever before. Finally, content can gain more visibility through the activities, feedback and endorsement of its readers. 

2) Authonomy is a website owned by HarperCollins and was launched in September 2008 to source new literary talent. It allows writers to publish their manuscripts and gives reader-reviewers the powers to vote their favourite stories to the editor's desk. At the end of each month, the five books highlighted in the editor's desk widget on the website's homepage will be submitted for consideration to an editor. They will be reviewed and might result in a publishing contract. In the meantime, the authonomy blog and community provides real-time feedback to writers as soon as they publish their books. This feedback in turn may help writers boost the popularity of their stories if heeded. Two authonomy sourced titles are Fairytale of New York by Miranda Dickinson and Melanie Davies's Never Say Die

3) NanoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo

Each November is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) at Writers from all over the world flog together to write 50,000 words each in the span of 30 days. Or at least that is the goal. And beyond that anything else is up to you. What you write, when or how falls under no rules, but you have a great community to commiserate, discuss, cheer you on and be inspired by. Locally, write-ins will be organised. Sessions where writers from the same areas come together to add to their word count. In Luxembourg they happen every Saturday in November. Either during write-ins or via various Twitter hashtags you can also join write-sprints. Lasting anywhere between a few minutes to an hour you try to get as much on your page as possible in the given time frame. Nanowrimo is a great place to get the first draft of a novel down, simply explore a new world or just write whatever comes to mind to clean your soul. If you hit 50,000 words at the end of the month and verify your word count through the website you will get a winner badge and discounts on a number of writer products which can be super helpful in your future writing endeavours (e.g.: discounts on Scrivener, the editing software).

Since 2011, summer sessions for NanoWriMo are also available under the moniker CampNaNoWriMo ( In 2014, they will be held in April and July. Slightly different from November NaNoWriMo, Camp NaNoWriMo lets you choose your own word count goal, you may join a cabin of 7 writers instead of a forum and the cabin message board is only visible to cabin members. It is a much more intimate writing experience and you get to know your fellow writers much better. More than one great writing friendship has been struck up in CampNaNoWriMo. 

Noteworthy published works produced during NaNoWriMo are The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Adam Douglas, to name two.  

4) Twitter Hashtags/Aliases

Recently I have also found some great Twitter hashtags that encourage writers in their literary journey by either offering a community or challenging us to achieve certain writing goals. Others again are just a great way to share some of your short fiction and keep your creative juices flowing. Here is a list of some of my favourites with short descriptions:

#WriteChain: Set yourself a daily word goal and celebrate the consequutive days on which you meet it under this hashtag. Each day where you meet your goal becomes another link in your write chain.

Friday night word-sprints for everyone. Motivate others to add to their word count and get encouragement in turn. Plus it is super fun to shout out new word counts at the end of each sprint. 

Friday phrases. 140-character flash fiction, story prompts and poems each Friday night. Great place for some quick writing fun.

@SprintShack: Write-sprints around the clock. Whenever the mood strikes you, join fellow writers in their race towards a bigger word count.

#Writerproblems: a great place to vent about the frustrating aspects of the writing process, help others out of a rut or commiserate.

5) Writing Clubs and Writing Buddies

Setting up a writing club and organising regular meetings can be a great way to get out from behind the screen. And social media makes it super easy nowadays.

Sometimes we find ourselves in a rut because we are unsure where our story should go next, we are suddenly out of ideas or have one of our days where we doubt every step we make. Those are the perfect days to call up a writing buddy or put down a few questions you want to discuss in your next writing club meeting. Writing clubs/Writing buddies are also great in helping with goal settings and keeping. They hold you accountable for the writing goals you set with them and you in turn can help your buddy/fellow members out. Writing clubs are a great place to challenge yourself, connect with fellow writers and get valuable feedback from people that know how trying the writing process can be at times. Writing buddies on top of that are often your most understanding cheerleaders, but also at times your toughest task masters which help your get over that finish line you set yourself. 

Where to find a writing buddy? I found mine through NaNoWriMo, a book club on Goodreads and by joining a local writing club. The club I found through Google. Nowadays, most writing clubs have at least a Facebook page. If there is no write club in your local area you could found one or join one virtually.

What are your favourite community writing hounds? Any other platforms to recommend?

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