Last year I participated in Writer in Motion and this year I’m working as a forum moderator. If you’ve never heard of Writer in Motion, I highly suggest first checking out their site followed by my Writer in Motion journey last year. The next round of Writer in Motion (WIM) is getting ready to open soon. Spots open for marginalized writers on June 25th, all writers on July 2nd, with the writing prompt (aka picture) released on July 9th. After that you have roughly a month to write a 1,000 word story based on the prompt documenting your journey from a rough first draft to a pretty finalized edited version. Along the way you get to know your fellow WIM participants, exchange beta reads, have an actual editor give feedback on your short story and be invited to a virtual taco party at the ending.
Okay, so you now have a brief overview of WIM, why you should you participate in it? Well…
1. Get Out of a Writing Slump
Last year WIM came at a time when I was making no progress on revisions. Like a lot of others, I experienced anxiety from COVID and didn’t feel like doing anything creative, let alone write. I spent my free time being addicted to Animal Crossing. But WIM forced me out of my funk. I had a set weekly schedule so I could start my self-edit to finish in time for the beta edit and editor edit. There’s really no consequences if you don’t, other than not being able to share your posts with the others, but having a schedule with a simple goal of getting through 1,000 words each work was more attainable than getting through a 100,000 story with no fixed timeline. It still took about a month after WIM to be able to throw myself back into revisions, but I did push through. It’s gone through a few more revisions and beta reads since then and I’m officially querying a year later.
If you at a similar point but your WIP seems too daunting, you don’t even know where to begin for a new WIP, or need to rediscover your love of writing, I’d suggest giving WIM a try. Start small, and build up your creativity and energy before tackling something big. Who knows, that 1,000 short story might turn into your next MS– several past WIM participants have gone on to turn their stories into full-fledged novels.
2. Try a New Genre
In my round there were several writers who tried out a different genre or POV, including myself. At the time I’d been writing fantasy for several years. In my initial brainstorming session after seeing the prompt picture for the first time, I jumped around between genres and tones. I’d thought I’d land on a more fantastical one but was drawn more to the little fluffy contemporary piece that reflected a certain point of my life. Writing something set in present day instead of a magical 18th century land was a shift, but it was also refreshing. A chance to flex my writing muscles.
If there’s ever been a genre you’ve wanted to write but didn’t have a full-fledged story idea or weren’t sure how, WIM is the perfect time to experiment. You only have to write a 1,000 word short story, not a long novel. Same goes if you want to try a new perspective. Curious about second-person? Tired of third-person past and ready for first-person present? This is the chance to break out of your comfort zone.
3. Challenge Yourself
It’s also a chance to challenge yourself if you’re an over-writer. The 1,000 word limit really only comes into play for the beta and editor feedback to keep it fair, so for your first draft and final you can go over. Personally I’d recommend trying to stay as close to that 1,000 word limit as possible. It forces you to make the most of every single word. Don’t say something in twenty words when you can say it in ten. Cut back on the info dumping and make sure the reader has the bare minimum information required to understand the story. Watch dialogue, make sure it’s natural for the character but isn’t too long-winded. Delete/replace overused words. All lessons that came in handy with my later revisions.
If you’re an underwriter it can be a different kind of challenge. Sure you can write something less than 1,000 and be fine, but why not flesh things out a bit and aim for the 1,000 word limit? Draw things for your protagonist, make them fight for the resolution. Delve a bit more into their backstory or really paint the scene. Crank up the tension and stakes.
4. Fight Imposter Syndrome
Imposter Syndrome basically means believing that everything your write is horrible and should never see the light of day when compared to other writers. In my experience it most commonly kicks in after getting into a writing slump, reading somebody else’s WIP, or having nothing but endless rejections/bad writing news. Because WIM involves chronicling the journey of initial idea to final, polished work you can follow along and see how those incredibly written stories that put yours to shame started out. While there might be a few great first drafts out there, the majority are messy. Run-on sentences, misspellings, grammar issues, pacing, inconstancies. Even the best works start out rough.
You also receive a variety of feedback on your writing be it from the WIM participants or an actual editor. You might think that what you wrote was mediocre, but then you read a lovely compliment about your writing. Maybe somebody pointed out some small detail you included on purpose and really love, or saw deeper meaning in a line that was a throw away (yes, you so meant that all along). Or just a few words of encouragement. It’s amazing how one comment can brighten your day or writing confidence.
5. Make Writing Friends
Finally, participating in WIM could lead to new friendships. If I could give my younger self writing advice it’d be, writing doesn’t have to be a solo journey. There are a variety of resources, groups, and Discord servers dedicated to helping writers on their journey. WIM is one of those resources. Last year there was a Twitter DM group for participants. You’ll be assigned partners to exchange stories with, and are free to interact/comment on one another’s edits each week.
If you’re new to the writing community, take advantage of the connections and meet new writing buddies. If you’re looking for a beta reader, in need of querying advice, or banging your head against the wall over a certain section, see if anybody is willing to help (there’s probably at least one).
You can keep to yourself and not engage with the other participants, and some do. There’s nothing wrong with that. But you don’t have to. And sometimes having writer friends can make the difference between whether or not you break out of that writing slump, feel confident at trying a new genre or challenging yourself, and fighting imposter syndrome.
There’s no monetary awards for participating in WIM or first place for best short story. That’s not WIM’s purpose. It’s purpose are some of the reasons laid out above. To bring writers together and show how much a piece of writing can change from initial concept to final result. If you’ve written less than a hundred words or more than a million, you can still get something out of it. Even if you don’t take the plunge yourself, you can always follow along with the participants. But you won’t know, unless you try. So go check it out: https://writerinmotion.com/