January 15th, 2021

I'm In It For the Love (Mostly)

Writers in the Storm has always been a labor of love for everyone behind the scenes. Yes, it's work to keep up a thrice-weekly blog for more than a decade, but it usually doesn't feel like work. And the personal rewards are enormous.

I haven't taken a poll of all the other behind-the-scenes peeps, so this is a window into my own journey and my perspective on the magic of WITS, and of giving back to your fellow scribes in some capacity.

I do it for the love...mostly.

The Magic 6 Ingredients

When I sat down to think of why I've been happy to be a part of the WITS Dream Team for ten (coming up on eleven [eek!]) years, I boiled it down to six things.

1. Learning

Writers couldn't do what we do if we didn't love finding out about all the things. We are all about learning.

The writing wisdom of the contributors here at WITS has been mind-blowing. And just think, I get to see all their posts first and do my own small part in making them compelling. Score!

In April 2010, when this blog began, I was about a hundred months pregnant. (My daughter was born two weeks late, at the beginning of that May.) I was pretty beat up by that traumatic high-risk pregnancy and ready for a change of pace. I still had a foot in the technical training world and I needed a break from that too.

My work here at WITS (and at my own now-dusty blog, More Cowbell), kept me sane in the aftermath of that crazy pregnancy and during the early days of motherhood.

What I never expected was that blogging would change my life. That it would cement my writing voice. Or become my superpower. I would never have foreseen that blogging would be the gatekeeper to a successful copywriting career.

Takeaway: Just because it's your volunteer side hustle doesn't mean it can't also be the start of a new career.

2. Networking

Most of us extroverted writers know a LOT of other writers. We go to conferences and workshops and meetups, and start collecting writing pals. True fact: I met the entire current behind-the-scenes team via a Writers Digest Novel Writing conference in 2016.

Now fast-forward to the time of COVID...

There are no in-person writing conferences. However, there are wonderful online seminars and classes, and online writing sprints on social media, etc. Our own John Peragine has Zoom cocktail parties. And here at WITS, we have a rocking comment section.

Takeaway: Even if we don't ever see our online friends in person, their friendship is still deep and comforting and true. Be sure to spend time with your writing friends, even if it's only virtually.

3. Writing Focus

Writing focus is a sometimes unattainable goal for me. I'm an Attention-Deficit Writer in the best of times, and this last year was not the best of any time.

2020 was a year of 14-16 hour workdays in our house. My husband and I both have multiple day jobs, there was homeschooling (*shudders*), and the craziness of feeding a family multiple meals daily.

Yes, we know we're beyond lucky to have jobs, but writing focus poofed out of existence sometime in May.

WITS was a godsend for me through all this. Three times a week, I had to focus on writing, or at least get a post up. At least once a month, I had to focus on my own message to write my post.

Truly, I can't convey how important this community was to me in 2020. Y'all helped me remember: I am a writer (even when I didn't feel like one).

Takeaway: Do whatever you must to reserve time and space for your writing, even if sometimes that means: "volunteer in the writing world."

4. Teamwork

It takes a consistent team of four or more people to manage Writers In the Storm. Each of us "take over" the blog a few months each year and all of us pitch in when then anything goes wrong.

Illness. Broken networks. Late or missing posts. Storms.

All of those things can and will happen in almost 11 years. Year after year, the blog team rolls with it all and helps lift one another up.

Takeaway: It "takes a village" to make magic.

5. Supportive Readers

I shudder to imagine the loneliness of 2020 without the comments section here on this blog and in some of the other online spots I hang out in.

Y'all stop in and visit us each week, and share wisdom, tidbits, and links in the comment section. It fills lil' ole extroverted me right up.

The wonderful people I've met during my tenure at WITS just make me sparkle. And did I mention that the resources shared in the comments section are GOLD?

6. FUN

First of all, y'all actually appreciate those off-center posts I write. (Ex: The Bikini Wax Theory of Writing.) Plus, all of the elements above add up to a tremendous amount of fun. Many, many thanks to all of you - both readers and contributors. It says a lot about you that this endeavor has stayed fun for this long.

Do you do volunteer work of any kind? If so, what kind? How do you give back to other writers? Which of the six reasons resonates with you? Please share your stories with us down in the comments section!

* * * * * *

About Jenny

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By day, Jenny provides corporate communications and LinkedIn advice for professional services firms. By night she writes humor, memoir, women’s fiction, and short stories. After 18 years as a corporate trainer, she’s delighted to sit down while she works.

When she’s not at her personal blog, More Cowbell, Jenny can be found on Facebook at JennyHansenAuthor or at Writers In The Storm.

29 responses to “I'm In It For the Love (Mostly)”

  1. lorispielman says:

    We love and appreciate you, Jenny!

  2. barbaralinnprobst says:

    What a wonderful reflection, and so welcome right now! As a regular WITS contributor, I enjoy and appreciate the opportunity so much. One of the reasons is getting to interact with those who comment, and knowing that in a small way I have helped someone that day. That is such a wonderful feeling! Another reason is for me—it gives that other part of my brain, the more analytical part, a chance to get some exercise! When I write fiction, which is what I do the other 29 days a month, it's an immersion in a more intuitive, creative part of myself. When I write my WITS blogs, I step back to think from a wider perspective. That's part of me too and it feels good to put that part to use. Then I can return to my fiction-writing self feeling more refreshed 🙂

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Barbara, I know several authors (myself included) who see blogging as kind of a "morning pages" for their other writing. It is their brain clearing warm-up to the fiction. It's was interesting to read your comment and see that it's the same for you. 🙂

  3. ecellenb says:

    In the pre-pandemic days, I volunteered as an ESL teacher in Mexico with a group of folks from the U.S. and Canada. The kiddos are all homeschooling now, so that ship has sailed.

    On our two year journey, traveling through Mexico, the Wednesday night writers meeting has served as my sanity hour and a piece of home.

    WITS continues to have a pivotal role in my life. I am in awe of the many gifted writers who contribute posts to the blog and grateful to be a part of it.

  4. Eldred Bird says:

    I have to say that WITS and everyone involved have been a godsend for me as a writer and as a human in general. As an "off the bench" player at WITS, I appreciate the opportunity to step in when needed and share my successes and failures, and learn from the experiences of other as well.

    The sense of community is strong here and I love that. Being an introvert, it's hard to make solid connections with people, so I'm thankful for the extroverts like Jenny and John who have pulled me kicking and screaming out of my dark corner and into the light.

  5. I'm an addict...an addict for learning. I should have a tattoo that says "life-long learner...pardon my curiosity." I ask a lot of questions. I read a lot of stuff. I dwell joyously in research rabbit holes. My brain is a busy place...and a hungry place. WITS is like meals-on-wheels: nourishment delivered to my door/screen. Just open my mouth and spoon it in.

    Thank you, Jenny and the gang, for including all of us. For inspiring us. For teaching us. For hugging writers in their personal storms. And for being there when the blue skies return.

  6. Stephanie Claypool says:

    Hi Jenny, I'm kind of shy so I hardly ever respond on blog posts, although many of your and other WITS contributors posts have sparked my muse, nudged me into the chair, and lifted me when I was down. You have inspired me to be brave and share. Thank you for this blog and all you contribute to many more silent readers like me.

  7. #2 - Networking has been a lifesaver for this (also) extrovert. I am so thankful for Zoom which is allowing participation in a Writer's Critique Group and book clubs.
    #1 -Learning. Also grateful for technology that is providing online webinars.

    Thanks Jenny, for reminding us of joys and fun of writing!

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Extroverting in a pandemic world is rough, isn't it? Thank goodness for the Zoom groups and for social media. They kind of help us all get through.

  8. WordPress informed me today this is my 8th anniversary. For those eight years I've faithfully posted a blog every week with only a couple of exceptions. I also post poetry twice per week. I owe it to readers to make the effort. Truthfully, the blog has given back to me in more ways than I can share here. It's also the reason I appear as Ontyre instead of Christina Anne Hawthorne. 🙂

    This blog, though, is, for me, a vital ingredient in my life. It's one I try to make time for each day and will save to read later if I can't. One of the attractions is that it feels like visiting family (well, how I imagine that to feel these days). My stories are about hope and purpose and I find that same atmosphere right here. So, yes, please continue those off-center blog posts. I've learned that I don't always grasp knowledge when looking at it straight on. So often, it's the heartfelt posts I read on this blog that provide that lightbulb moment.

    So, thank you, thank you so much. What you do each day is invaluable, not just to those like me who'll leave a comment, but to those who don't.

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Thank you so much, Christina! I always look forward to seeing you here in the comments section. And congratulations on achieving your own eight year anniversary...that's awesome. Blogging and interacting with the readers of that blog are such an addictive, fascinating, personal endeavor. Thanks for being part of our journey. 🙂

  9. I've learned so much over the past couple of years since I discovered WITS. Thanks to all of you for keeping it going, and for caring to give back.

  10. dholcomb1 says:

    My volunteer work has started to wane in the past several years as the kids have aged. One is married and out the door, finishing up his DPT and graduating in May. The middle will graduate in May with three undergrads and a Master's. The youngest is still in high school. I've always volunteered at the boys' schools, with their sports teams, and other kid-related stuff. I volunteer at church in various capacities, but there's been less of that during the pandemic. For the better part of fifteen years, I was the volunteer, non-medical, facilitator for the local Crohn's Disease & Colitis support group, but that dried up as social media groups became more prevalent, plus we lost our room at the hospital. I've also done some miscellaneous volunteer work, too.

    I do a little editing on the side. I'm helping, paid work, an author friend with her WIP--ironically, she's the one who introduced me to WITS years ago. I do grammar checks for another. I do some other writerly-related other work, too.

    Learning is the most valuable tool I utilize from WITS. There's always something to learn, improve upon, do better or differently, and it's explained in such a clear way.

    Jenny, thank you for all you do. I appreciate you so much.

    Denise

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      We appreciate you too, Denise! No post feels all the way complete without those late-night comments of yours. 🙂

      I had no idea you had such a strong and vibrant volunteer life. That's absolutely wonderful. I hope you can get back to the in-person efforts once the current craziness passes.

      • dholcomb1 says:

        Jenny,

        You are so kind.

        I have Crohn's Disease, so that was part of why I took a leadership role. I even testified before the Maryland State Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. I was invited to speak in DC before Congress, but my kids were younger then, and I didn't have a sitter.

        • Jenny Hansen says:

          Crohn's is an evil disease. I know that, like my blood clotting disorder, it is somewhat manageable but the balance requires a lot of vigilance. Plus the attacks are brutal. My friend Ann suffered a long time before she figured out what it was.

  11. This blog is something I look forward to reading and sharing frequently. Keep up the great work!

  12. Kari Mumy says:

    I always read, but seldom comment. Please do not mistake my silence for lack of appreciation of WITS. Since the first issue I read, I have found inspiration and uplifting information on the pages. Now with the red death version of covid-19 stalking our lives and living in near total isolation, I have found my productivity, energy, and enthusiasm dwindling. Ir is only online resources like WITS that keep me going.

    We all need to continue caring for each other and sharing as much joy with the world as we can.

    Stay the course!

    Kari

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Kari! Thanks so much for coming out of lurk mode to leave this sweet comment. I agree that joy is the only way we're all going to get through this pandemic intact. COVID has been an absolute bitch slap.

  13. Gwen M. Plano says:

    Your 6 reasons are perfect! Thank you for sharing a bit of the behind-the-scenes delight.


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