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  • The Future of WriteWords
    by david bruce at 14:17 on 15 June 2015
    Hello there
    We have seen the recent discussion some of you have had about the site and how much quieter it is nowadays. This is true and of course we, the WriteWords team, have been thinking about this ourselves.

    Since we started WW, the web has changed enormously and hundreds of creative writing communities have sprung up. Many have died along the way but WW has continued to be a warm and welcoming place, even if there are less of us around. We want it to keep going and retain its original ethos of being a supportive, encouraging and safe place to post your writing, but clearly we need to find ways to make the site flourish again as it once did.

    We would like to know what members most value about WW and what you would like to see change or improve so we can begin to try to make the site the thriving, bustling place it used to be.

    One option of course, is to remove the subscription fee. Many of us, not just the founders, have felt that the subscription fee has helped to give WW its unique atmosphere - only those serious enough about their writing will stump up, so it keeps the levels of engagement pretty high. If we removed the membership fee we would certainly attract more members, but we would have to rely on advertising revenue to survive. Perhaps we could offer an ad-free site for a fee, but allow full access to an ad-based site for free? Or would that create the danger of lowering the quality of contributions to the site too much?  

    What do you think about the membership fee? The groups? Are there too many, too few, should they be refreshed? ...or anything else really. What can we do to help WW thrive?
    We look forward to seeing your comments on this thread!
    David, Anna and Richard
    The WriteWords Team
  • Re: The Future of WriteWords
    by Freebird at 16:48 on 15 June 2015
    Hi David,

    firstly, I would like to thank you because WW has undoubtedly been the single most helpful resource that has helped me towards publication.
    To have a place where we can upload work privately to have it properly critiqued is absolutely invaluable, and I think that keeping the subscription fee is quite important in filtering out who is taking their writing seriously (though I did note that the fee had gone down this year).

    I would hate to see WW close down because it is a particularly warm and supportive community, that links writers who might not otherwise get the input and cameraderie that helps them to keep going in their work
  • Re: The Future of WriteWords
    by Jennifer1976 at 19:22 on 15 June 2015
    Hi David,

    I agree with Freebird. I think having a fee of some kind means that the site is more likely to attract serious writers.

    However, I'm not sure that if I was to join now, I would feel like I was getting value for money. I will obviously renew my membership, but I do wonder if it is the amount plus the lack of current activity that is putting new members off. Not sure what can be done about that.

    It is the lack of members that is the crux of the problem, I think. If there were a solution for that, then the subscription wouldn't be a problem at all. It never used to be when the site was busier.

    I don't think I'd have carried on writing if it wasn't for people I've met on here, so I feel very loyal towards WW.

    All the best,

  • Re: The Future of WriteWords
    by Bazz at 19:48 on 15 June 2015
    Hi David, I've been on this site about ten years now, and its been invaluable to me as a writer, but I think now's a good time for this discusison. The fee is definitely keeping the numbers down, and to be honest I don't really know what it's for, other than keeping people out. I think changing that, or at least maybe halving it, would be a positive step. I will continue to stay on the site, but I wonder how many there are that might not?

    As for the groups, perhaps giving them a bit of leeway before they head to the graveyard might take some pressure off them. Giving them a two month grace period instead of one? Otherwise I think they work well as they are, the popular ones thrive, the less used ones peter out. I do think something like the short story group could start up fresh, there's no point in a group that has thirty members and none of them use it...

    To have a place where we can upload work privately to have it properly critiqued is absolutely invaluable

    And I absolutely agree with this!
  • Re: The Future of WriteWords
    by TassieDevil at 06:59 on 16 June 2015
    Just a quick reply as I'm on hols. Good to see this discussion.

    Obviously I'm very supportive of WW and want to see it flourish. I feel that the fee needs to stay although a further reduction might help. I don't care if this sounds elitist but we need to attract people who do have some writing skills and who are ready to give as well as take. There's are great bunch of like minded people on the site now and I fear some of those May leave if anyone could join without some financial commitment.

    I'd be quite willing to propose and guide a new short story group although I'm conscious that my meglomaniac tendencies might then become more obvious and put others off. I have tried promoting WW through other sites like Womagwriters although Patsy? Collins didn't bite so far. Perhaps it might be about promoting a paid site, I'm not sure.
    I'll be interested in other members viewpoints.
  • Re: The Future of WriteWords
    by Alex29 at 07:30 on 16 June 2015
    Heck I had hoped this wasn't going to start again I like the site - I belong to others and I don't use them - and they are free - they aren't the same it isn't possible to get to know folk and it isn't competitive here - I need that right now. I am doing what I do and it is nice to know others are out there trying to do their thing and to actually talk about what we are doing - which you can not do if it is open to all - having stitled defensive conversations is not helpful or honest .
    The thing I most like about WW is the range of interests and the crit groups but I like to hear about other folks projects without the need to tell them they have misspelt something in a first draft that won't make it through revision anyway I think that encourages folk to keep writing - till they have got something to post for crit.
    Being a member here is important to me and has been significant in validating the effort I put in to my work everyday - when life is crap but I am still writing I can log in and know there are other people trying to use their writing voices too and for a few min' I feel I am not so strange.
    If I have a tech problem or a writing issue it isn't often that someone doesn't comment helpfully.
    I am not the only memeber of the group and I respect all of you, if things change I will give it a go rather than loose it all together but I do think that having looked at the competition a site is what you make it - and nothing has stopped change thus far - one of the other huge sites I use is going back to charging  as reciprocal work help with crit/book covers/formatting etc was getting interesting to Tax and Benefit authorities in the US.
    I also like this site because having used the US ones now I find this one is more grounding in terms of the situation in the UK and in language  use - so far nothing has been  super super or amazing or any other extrordinary attitude that might not cross the Atlantic that well.
    This site  has a good working environment - the lack of abuse and attack is reassuring - I can't be doing with dross when I am trying to write - I get that in my 'real' life I don't want it on line and avoid using sites where it is an issue.
    I hope the site continues but if not well I am sure I will keep writing anyway and so will most of you. Best Wishes MC
  • Re: The Future of WriteWords
    by Alex29 at 07:35 on 16 June 2015
    Ha! The thing I would change? This editor! I thought I had lost that.
    The bit I didn't get to was that I really like that this site doesn't act as a slush pile for a publishing house - something I find abhorant as it puts others out of work.laughMC
  • Re: The Future of WriteWords
    by a.m.edge at 16:37 on 16 June 2015
    I really value the supportive nature of the site. I've been here two years now and have learnt so much from other members. 
    I think you need to keep a fee but you could reduce it. 
    Why not advertise by summarising the accomplishments of each group, whether they be self-publishing, traditional-publishing, prize-winning, agent-securing etc.?
    It does give a surge of activity when new members join certain groups but sometimes it is not sustained. Not sure why. Sometimes it can take a while for members to comment on work; perhaps people lose patience? Do we need new guidelines about this?
    Guest commentators for groups? 
    WW in-person conference/workshops?
  • Re: The Future of WriteWords
    by Freebird at 17:16 on 16 June 2015
    It does seem that when people gain publishing success they seem to move away from WW, which is a shame - although understandably they don't necessarily want to upload work for critiquing when it's going to appear on the shelves in a year or so.
    There seemed to be a mass exodus at one point and I don't really know why that was, but it hasn't quite been the same since then.
    I agree that some advertising of successes might go a long way towards enticing new members. Certainly I recommend it to people who want to start their journey towards being a published writer, but a lot of people start and then fizzle out quite quickly
  • Re: The Future of WriteWords
    by Alex29 at 22:47 on 16 June 2015
    I  can already see on my publishing trip that scheduling coments and content becomes something of a work load issue - anyone running a blog - tweeting etc and doing newsletters is going to be struggling with critting and may be some don't like to chat at that stage either as their comments are part of their platform building blog... keeping it fresh friendly and real makes it sound like washing powder ad copy - I am happier chatting on (laugh) than I am giving advice while I have yet to get published  -but not everyone is like that or wants it  and TBH we have all been in the postition of the new member with work up - we comment at the expense of our own time and they buggar off. But some do stay and gradually join in - I did  -and the place scared me rigid when I first said 'Hi' - obviously now I need shutting in a cupboard for peace of others periodically.
    I tend to chat while I work - I have done 12 hours today- nothing unusual just my life right now  -but it is admin and typing up, studying, designing and developing my web sites - moving files between Scrivener Ywriter and Word and making sure my type on point for tomorrow is the same in all dox because it damn well wasn't this am...printing off and filing - I don't need the violins here - but may be the other members writing longer stuff  unlike me - are also trying to hold down jobs, enjoy their families and do all of the above as well - a flit in to say hi  1 x in 3months may be all they can do...
    I still haven't found a local writing group - there is one in Bournemouth I believe which is an hour away and another which may be more creative writing called Black Dog in Lyme Regis - another awkward trek for me  - I would like some face time with other writers but unless this site actually packs up I can't see me loosing much sleep over it - may be there are Facebook groups I don't know - does WW have a private/publicc Facebook group page for those who prefer that way of doing things? Do we Tweet? Should we brew up a bash on Twitter? Seems like work for marketing bods if more members are required - go where they hang out - that seems to be the advice I get given about drumming up readers. 
  • Re: The Future of WriteWords
    by Pen and Ink at 12:39 on 17 June 2015
    I think some people may have left because Facebook offers an immediacy of communication that is not available on here. What is available here is feedback on your work and that is its most valuable purpose and asset. Perhaps, as MC suggested, a private Facebook group could be added so that members can chat with more spontaneity than they can here, whilst keeping this site as the place to post work for critique within the groups?
  • Re: The Future of WriteWords
    by Freebird at 13:04 on 17 June 2015
    yes, it's the posting and critiquing of work that is absolutely essential to progress as a writer, and that has always been the real benefit of WW
  • Re: The Future of WriteWords
    by TassieDevil at 13:14 on 17 June 2015
    The Facebook idea appeals to me too although I'm not a Facebook person these days. Thanks MC and Pen & Ink. That immediacy and extra intimacy does offer an alternative.

    Also janieclothiers pertinent comment has helped me appreciate the value of expressing ourselves within this site, ameliorating the skills we use in writing everyday.

    I love this site.
  • Re: The Future of WriteWords
    by Anna Reynolds at 13:32 on 17 June 2015
    Thanks everyone for lots of lovely support to keep the site going, and also some really useful ideas and thoughts for us to chew over and get back to you on progress for the future of WW.
    Much appreciated!
    Anna, David and Richard
  • Re: The Future of WriteWords
    by FelixBenson at 14:03 on 17 June 2015
    I am little bit loath to raise my view on this again, as when I raised it in the Forum some months ago it got fairly short shrift...some seemed to think I was denigrating other members who led groups, I wasn’t. It's just my opinion...but the Site Experts were a big draw for me. I think having some key groups (but not all) led by Site Experts can make a difference to levels of activity in the group – it’s not the only factor of course, but I do think it matters.
    When I started writing, I hadn't met any published poets, novelists or short story writers at that point - and I really wanted to. I hadn’t heard of any of the WW experts, but their CVs spoke for themselves. The educational strand of WW matters I think. Setting writing challenges can get people thinking and motivate them to stay in touch.
    I never have had any issue with the fee - I don't think it's too high. I think a free site might encourage plagiarism, and there are issues around putting a piece of work up on an open website for criticism and then submitting it for publication as an ‘unpublished’ piece of work.

    When I joined, in 2003 briefly, then again in 2005. I felt like I could easily see what I was getting for my money anyway. 

    Aside from the warm, welcoming and supportive environment (a safe place to upload work and get commentary, which WW undoubtedly is and this is the most important advantage to it), I was also getting all these things that I lacked and desperately wanted:

    - Critical feedback from fellow writers -published and unpublished
    - Interviews with figures from all areas of the industry
    - The opportunity to ask questions of other writers on any area of writing
    - Jobs and opportunities
    - Handy lists of publishers and competitions

    But I wonder whether the lack of Site Experts (and the Interviews) nowadays has made the site quieter.

    It's absolutely true that all the comments we writers on WW receive are just as useful, it’s having a range of views that matters, and some members continue to give amazingly detailed feedback, but generally speaking I personally have received the most detailed feedback from groups with a Site Expert. By that I mean on-going commitment to comment and engagement with the same piece of work, detailed advice about how to rewrite and redraft. And this (alongside the generally supportive comments) is the sort of feedback I was after.

    It's a real shame that the Short Story Group is stagnating but it is an example of what I mean. Becca was great – but now that she has left I think it might take someone like her who has the time and expertise to help people work on their writing to make it live again. There are many flourishing groups which aren’t run by Site Experts, but just as many have died. It takes a lot of time and goodwill to run a group, as well as willing, contributing members. Not everyone has the time and energy to work on keeping up the flagging motivation of others.  

    Will more Site Experts and Industry interviews re-energise WW? I don't know. 
    Other suggestions that occurred to me:
    Did you think about having an online magazine linked to WW which publishes member’s work? I know there are various magazines that members run or are involved with on the poetry side, that might give people a platform to publish work and reviews and attract support and membership.
    Could some of the WW fee be funnelled into an annual competition? Competitions do seem to get a lot of attention, and on the poetry side, many small presses have replaced open calls for submissions with competitions. I don’t say that’s the best thing for writers, but competitions do bring buzz.  

    Whatever you do, I will stay a member regardless. I need somewhere to get feedback on my work, and I still think WW the best place to get it. 

    Edited by FelixBenson at 14:05:00 on 17 June 2015
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