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 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.