Forum Friday: A Question For All Writers

Welcome to the first Forum Friday (on its test-run during the month of August) here at the Read Room. These posts are intended to create a space for conversations about process, craft, grammar, and all things writerly. Anyone can participate, and everyone is encouraged to – so grab your best writin’ cap, pull up a chair, and let’s get to business!

My first question to the writing community is the most basic of all:

Why do you write?

Answer any way you like.

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Writing Challenge, Day 30: Reflections

30 Day Know Thyself Writing Challenge

Day 30: What will you take away from this challenge?

This challenge has been a fantastic exercise in discipline. It’s helped me treat writing like a job: something I must show up for each day and see through, regardless of how energetic (lethargic), creative (stodgy), and enthusiastic (dead to the world) I am feeling.

Needless to say some entries turned out better than others, but in a world where deadlines and chip-away progress are very real and standard I come away with a sense of accomplishment at having simply completed them all. The progress and especially the unanticipated inspiration storms that result from butt-in-the-chair dedication are empowering, to say the least. If only I could apply the same tactics to writing my first book—incremental goals and regular deadlines, that is—I think it would go from dream to reality much faster.

One unexpected spoil I take from this challenge is an increased sense of writing community both online and off. I admit I often fall on the side of cynicism when it comes to social media, and yet—among all of the pontificating, photo-posting, status updates, and other time-suck frivolities—we get these rare gems like Writer’s Relief and WordPress actually, successfully used as platforms to facilitate exchange. Each day I enjoyed reading and relating with comments left by other writers in response to the facebook prompts put out by Writer’s Relief, and each day I was met by a flurry of likes and comments on WordPress after posting my extended responses. I really feel that, thanks to the challenge, I have been able to reach and connect with writers I might otherwise have never encountered.

Thirty days of consecutive posts have also, I should mention, done wonders for my readership 😀 They are modest milestones for my sapling blog, but since undertaking this 30 day challenge The Read Room has passed both 1,000 page views and 50 followers. Huzzah!

Oh, and did I mention I had fun??? I submit some of my favorite entries as evidence:

12 Reasons to Read Julie Israel. You’re Welcome. Here I get into one of my favorite writing forms—lists—and save polar bears as well as school children.

Good Idea, Bad Idea In which I play off the old Animaniacs’ game with a ridicu-list of Dos and Don’ts for facilitating productive writing.

Ghosts, Superhorses, and Sock Monsters The question for this prompt was “What did you write (when you first started writing)?”

Enter Peter McBunterbeans In this entry on my strongest genre (playful/humor) I include an excerpt from a recent short story. Check it out! 😀

Of Swords & Excuses In which I relate a humorous, but unfortunately very true, agenda of reasons for evading the hard work of sitting in the chair and making a start.

Revision, or: Hell & Hot Pockets Tell me you are not intrigued by this title. Um, it’s basically a ranting freewrite about all the things that go wrong in my revision “process”. Also know as Murphy’s Law.

Some of my less playful, but more informative entries:

Stealing Inspiration (#lifehacks) Why every artist should steal.

Fables & Folklore In which I babble excitedly about fables, folklore, and fairy tales as well as why, even as adults, we should read them. P.S. Magical Realism! Woooo!

The Myth of the Muse This post is on inspiration, imagination, and how to brainstorm and generally be a genius.

Of course I welcome reader feedback, too. For those of you who followed, joined, or simply stumbled helpless and unsuspectingly onto one of my 30-day posts, please feel free to enter questions, comments, and interpretive dance moves.

Ask not what your readers can do for you…

30 Day Know Thyself Writing Challenge

Day 21: How do YOU hope to help your fellow writers–now or in the future?

I know that one thing I really value as a writer is a partner-in-crime (reader) who will devote the time and care to sitting down with my work, reading it, and providing honest critical feedback. (A quick shout out to friend and fellow writer KD Shaw, who has graciously accepted it upon herself to slog through an 18-page first draft which I’ve just completed today and can no longer stand to look at! You rock, KD!)

It may be small potatoes, but I think being a critical reader is one of the greatest services I can offer my fellow writers today. What I wouldn’t give for a functioning writer’s circle! Maybe it’s time to revive the old group that used to meet Wednesdays (but then usually ended up going out for Mexican or drinks and swapping gossip rather than reading or writing…)

The other thing I am finding as I struggle to gain footing in the literary world is that every little bit of support helps. I am surprised again and again at the level of encouragement and community that forms in the blogging world—I honestly never could have anticipated it! Likes, comments, and follows all point, however small, to the fact that someone is reading. That in itself is a small miracle.

In that vein, the other way I think I can make a difference for writers at present is simply to return the favor and show active support for them. And in that spirit, today I want to give a big, glittering slice of kudos-pie to Emily Anne Shaffer, who earlier this week self-published her first novel, That Time of the Month. Congratulations, Emily!

As to the future…would it be vain to hope that my writing itself one day fires the writing ambitions of others? 🙂