A Writer’s Recluse, the 10,000 Club and The Arena (January Writing Plans)


A Writer’s Recluse:


Back in 2009 I joined a small internet community of amateur writers.  Back then it served mostly as a safe place for refugees from the Official World of Warcraft Roleplaying forums where I’d been spending too much of my time and energy arguing about and writing things I could never do anything with due to copyright laws and such.


A Writer’s Recluse had actually existed for a couple years prior and was not well regarded among the World of Warcraft community.  As former members of the WoW RP boards the AWR  admins were regarded as elitist and stuck up.  They were alleged to exclude certain less proficient members of the WoW community from participation in their RP discussions for reasons of quality.  They were basically made out to be bad guys because they wanted to tell a good story and weren’t willing to compromise that vision.  Ultimately they seemed like my kind of people.  So when a member of the boards reached out to me and suggested I come check it out, I didn’t hesitate.


To my surprise I didn’t encounter the swarm a teeth-gnashing monsters the WoW community had led me to expect.  No, for the most part my presence was welcomed and after a brief head-butting session with one particular admin (my own fault) I found myself feeling very comfortable there.  At the time AWR had a section of the forums dedicated to World of Warcraft since that was the familiar glue which held the whole thing together, but they also encouraged branching out; writing original fiction, creating our own intellectual properties.  Sure, most of it was fantasy, but they hosted monthly competitions each with their own themes and requirements.  Ultimately, rather than just discuss Warcraft, this was a group of people who wanted to write and to encourage writing.


The best part about AWR, though, isn’t just the encouragement toward writing; it’s the willingness to review, to edit, to provide feedback that each and every member provides at no cost.  They’re just good folks who want to see one another grow and succeed.  It’s easily the warmest and most welcoming community I’ve ever encountered on the internet.  Now, seven years later (holy shit!) AWR is still going strong.  I’ve been made an Admin (which I’m weirdly proud of), Warcraft as a focal point has faded away almost entirely and though the community has shrunken to some degree those remaining are the kinds of people whom I legitimately call friends, even though I’ve never met any of them face to face.


The 10,000 Club:



I wanted to talk about AWR because, as a motivating factor, they play a huge role in how much writing I get done.  At the beginning of 2016 I expressed my interest in writing 120,000 words this year.  That breaks down into 10,000 a month (math!).  It was an idea which resonated with a few other members and just like that The 10,000 Club was born.


It’s a simple idea really; write 10,000 words every month as recreation.  It doesn’t matter what it is; hell I’m counting my blog posts.  All that matters is that you’re doing it for fun.  Keep track of it, encourage one another, talk about what you’re working on and why.  Just keep the pen moving and the gears turning.  It’s amazing really how setting an arbitrary goal can help get things moving.


I’ve learned in the past few weeks that a big part of why I don’t write is that I get blockages.  Not like writer’s block where I sit down and just can’t think of what to write, but more like an idea blockage.  I can’t write This thing because I’m too busy thinking about That thing.  But That thing isn’t really something I want to write, there’s no reason for it.  So it just sits there, gumming up the works while This thing remains stuck behind it.


But the 10,000 club gives me a reason to put everything on paper, regardless of quality or purpose.  This blog post will put me over the halfway point in word count just as I pass the halfway point in chronology.  As for the other 5,000, I’ve got a plan.


The Arena:



The Arena is competition hosted almost annually by AWR in which all entries are posted anonymously.  I created it a few years ago after some complaints that it was always the most popular who were winning the monthly competitions.  So, with a little creativity, I devised a means by which all the submissions are posted anonymously, and there are no assigned judges; everyone votes.  Better, anyone who wants to can submit a starting passage to the competition moderator, and each group of combatants has to build on their assigned starting passage thereby placing them all on equal footing.


It’s a single elimination competition but remains anonymous to all but the moderator until a champion is crowned.  It’s a wonderful competition which has produced some really interesting results over the years and remains one of AWRs most popular community activities.


The Arena is my plan to keep up my 10,000 through January and into February.  I won the first arena in 2010, and made it into the finals of at least one other, but I haven’t claimed a win since that first year.  The problem with previous years is that I tend to get distracted and lose focus.  I don’t recall losing by elimination, but I know I’ve lost by default.


Traditionally speaking, January and February are my most productive months as I find myself finally able to relieve some of the stress caused by the end of year rush at my day job.  Hopefully, the Arena, the 10,000 Club, and my renewed focus on writing will all band together into a Voltron of productive writing and I can continue this momentum through the competition and into more independent writing projects, short stories, novellas and maybe even some publishing.


It’s gonna be a good year.


Eric the Prince



The other day I met this gentleman on the bus:


I was rude to him.  See, Eric the Prince was trying to sell his mixtape (mixdisk?) to anyone who made eye contact with him.  As I boarded the bus I was in the process of untangling the knot in my earbuds with the intent of tuning out anyone and everyone around me.  As I approached his general vicinity I heard him tell another rider that the disk was only $5.00.  She politely declined.


When I sat down near him he tapped me on the shoulder and held up the disk.  I assumed he intended to sell me a copy as well and I declined before he was even able to say anything.  It didn’t occur to me until later that this probably seemed pretty rude.  See, I knew I didn’t have $5.00 on me so I knew I couldn’t purchase it if I’d wanted to; but he didn’t know I’d already heard him try his pitch on someone else.


What impressed me about Eric the Prince, though, was that he was completely undaunted.  In fact, it seemed to amuse him.  Instead of backing off or moving on he gave it another shot.  He spotted my headphones which I was still fumbling with and approached from another direction; he asked me what sort of music I was interested in.  I told him that my tastes were “kind of all over the place” (because I hate genre labels and was still trying my damnedest to disengage from the conversation).  He assured me that his CD was “kind of all over the place.”  I asked him if it was free, he told me it was not, I explained I didn’t have the money and he finally relented.


I was thankful to be left alone, but also a little intrigued.  Eric the Prince had something I do not.  He has the ability to market himself shamelessly, without fear of judgment or rejection; and right to your face.  It’s a sort of out-going courage I’ve never been able to master or muster.  I’m just not an out-going guy.  With that in mind I figured it was at least worth giving him a shot and looking into as a sort of “A for effort” situation.  So I visited the website linked above and found a streaming version of his CD and listened to it for the next 15 minutes or so.


Now, hip hop has never been my genre of choice so I can’t really speak to the quality of the music.  But then, in regards to music, I’ve also been told that I am both a snob and have terrible taste; like a wine-taster who only enjoys Bartle’s and James.  What I can say, though, is that I didn’t hate it and that any one of my 5-6 readers who might enjoy hip hop music should give it a chance.  Stream it, it’s free.  If you like it, do the right thing and buy a copy.


This brings me to the impetus for this post.  Getting your name out is hard.  Despite not being a fan, I really empathize with the Prince’s efforts and am a touch envious of his methods.  It’s much easier, I think, to hawk CDs on the bus than it would be to walk up random strangers and say, “Here, read this.”  Or more accurately, “Here, buy this thing you’ll have to read.”  It’s a question I struggle with.


What’s the best way to get seen?  Especially in a text medium.  To hell with acquiring fans, how do you tell the world, “Hey, I’m here; come look at what I have.”  I guess part of that trick is actually having something.  I’ve got a handful of short stories with a few more on the way, and a novel in it’s infancy.  This is probably the wrong approach, but I can’t help but feel like if there were more people who I knew wanted to read I’d be more inclined to write.


I know that sounds… Wrong.  It even sounds wrong to me.  Writing should be a labor of love, right?  I should want to put them on paper for their own sake, right?  I dunno.