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.
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.
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."
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?
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!
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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.