I joined the Writing Challenge group in 2015, since then I’ve written 4 novels, 3 novellas (published), and so many flash pieces that I’ve lost track of the count. It is by far the most supportive writing group I’ve ever seen or heard about.
Writers may be a bunch of introverted anti-socialites in person, with a few outlying social butterflies (at some point we have to promote). But online, we can be quite the social group. Even offline, as long as we are around other writers, artists, and other weird people, we converse and share stories. We have a kind of bond, even when we are feuding.
As such, I’ve been a member of several groups, from the Writers’ Guild of Acadiana, to the St. Louis Writers Meetup Group, and others, but none that I feel the depth of closeness with than the Writing Challenge group on twitter.
When I first signed up, I didn’t even like twitter. I only signed up because my brother kept pestering me about it. “You need a twitter account.” I guess all the cool kids were doing it. I signed up, got a bit of a following, and started seeing this goofy hashtag appear everywhere. I don’t remember what month I sighed up, but I’m pretty sure that the temperature outside was warming up. And I was working nights at the time, because I remember asking if there was a time deadline for logging words.
I signed up because I had finally, after a long break in my writing, started drafting this novel concept called CORP. I haven’t published it yet, and there is chatter of revision between the voices in my head based on some of the feedback I received from agents, but I’m still in that group. I knew that if I didn’t write every single day, that I would lose steam and not finish. I needed a challenge.
I should point out that I titled this post without the word challenge deliberately. It’s not a contest. It doesn’t involve doing something silly like dousing yourself with water or eating a spoonful of cinnamon. It’s more about setting a goal and sticking to it. That goal, for us, is 500 words per day or 1 hour of editing. We update our stats to a Google doc, and then tweet our counts in the monthly hashtag. Most importantly, we support each other, share helpful advice, and the mood is always super positive, even when people are having a bad day. In fact, if I don’t meet my writing goal, I know there will be a kind voice there the pat me on the back.
I’ve met some amazing people in the challenge, including the famous Beverly Lee, who’s novel The Making of Gabriel Davenport appeared in a review in the Huffington Post. I was blessed with the opportunity to read an advance copy before it ever hit the shelves, and offer my small bit of input on what I thought about the story. I have met other similar authors and shared the most wonderful interactions with them, but I can’t list everyone here. The list of twitter handles is in the Google document for the site. And everyone on it is worth following on twitter.
Though I often link to the group website from my humble little blog, I was inspired to write this post when another twitter friend, Drew Martin, shared a link with me yesterday on his blog. The post can be found here. I had almost forgotten that I mentioned the group to him. It’s been so long that it feels like forever. When he mentioned me, I was touched, and realized just how much the group has meant to me over the last couple of years. I knew that I had to write a post about it to.
In our own way, we’ve become a weird little family on twitter, and I check the hashtag frequently to share tweets and offer my own encouraging words. There are certain kind of people in this world, who make you want to be a better person, because their kindness rubs off on you. This group is full of them. At the end of the month it doesn’t matter who missed a day, or who “won” or “lost.” There’s no prestigious award, and nobody fact-checking your progress. At the end of the day, it’s all about helping each other meet our writing goals, inspiring one another to write every day, and being a family. I think if there was one social media account that I would miss, it would be twitter, despite the months that I fought my brother about even setting up an account. This group has changed me forever. My personal thanks to everyone in the group for being the awesome people that you are, and for helping me to see it through.
Now stop playing on the internet and get your words in 😉