Write-a-thon FAQ

What is the Write-a-thon?

The Write-a-thon is a six week online fundraiser, sponsored by Clarion West and in operation since 2004. For more than a decade, the Clarion West Write-a-thon has provided a place for both established and emerging writers to publicly create summer writing goals on their own Clarion West-provided Web page, then write toward those goals (almost any type of writing is encouraged, including screenplays, dialog and narrative for illustrated works, essays and other forms of literature) and – using CW provided tools – collect pledges from supporters.

What are the dates of the Write-a-thon?

The Clarion West Write-a-thon runs from June 22 to August 1.  Registration closes at midnight Pacific time on June 22.

Can I write screenplays or poems or essays or other non speculative-fiction work?

We welcome any form of written work for the Write-a-thon. We want to make sure that you can work to your goals. So, while you can write traditional fiction (and many do!), work on a novel, short story or mid-length piece, you can also work on your screenplay, essays, dialog and narrative for illustrated works – whatever your writing project is, the Write-a-thon is there to support it.

Does it cost anything to enter?

No! If you’re a writer and want to support other writers while getting a head start on your own writing goals, the Write-a-thon offers you a chance to work among a community of fellow writers, get tips, tricks and support for both writing and fund-raising from Clarion West while setting and meeting your own writing goals.

While it’s by no means mandatory, we do suggest that each writer make a small sponsorship donation to themselves as a method of getting started and making sure that the PayPal button on their page works.

How can the Write-a-thon help me with my writing goals?

The Write-a-thon offers you a comfortable, personal online environment to work, a toolbox of proven tips, tricks and ideas to jumpstart your fundraising, and a supportive community of writers like you. Also, having a public goal is fantastic motivation to write.

How many writers participate?

Participation in the Write-a-thon has been growing since we began more than a decade ago. Last year we had 345 writers, this year we’d love to see at least 360.

Will I meet other participating writers?

While Clarion West does not host forums, we do have an active Facebook group, and we plan to run Tweetchats and a Google Hangout during the Write-a-thon. More details will be posted during the Write-a-thon.

Do I have to fundraise to join the Write-a-thon?

The Write-a-thon is a fundraiser for Clarion West, but it’s about the writing first. You’ll have a PayPal button on your page so your friends and family can find your page and support you even if you don’t ask them.

We know you’re a writer, not a fundraiser, so we make fundraising as easy as possible – and perhaps even a little bit fun – with tools, tips, and ideas. The Write-a-thon is Clarion West’s major fundraising effort for our six week workshop, and we’re here to support you should you choose to help us make the workshop possible.

What support does Clarion West provide Write-a-thon writers for fundraising?

We provide a welcome kit with flyers you can print out and post, email and blog post templates, and tips and tricks for fundraising. We also provide a personalized profile page where you can write about your goals, your progress, and anything you’d like to offer your sponsors.

How will I know if someone has donated to support me?

Every Friday night we send out sponsor reports so you can easily see your donor status.

Who gets the money donated during the Write-a-thon?

All donations support Clarion West and its  workshops. Clarion West is a nonprofit educational organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (Federal EIN 91-1352168).

I know I have sponsors, but I haven’t received any sponsorship reports.

There are typically two reasons this happens. First, your spam filter may be filtering the reports. Please add writeathon@clarionwest.org to your list of accepted senders. Second, we may not have your correct e-mail address. Email us at writeathon@clarionwest.org and we’ll work with you to a solution.

How will my sponsors know if their PayPal donation went through?

PayPal sends an automatic confirmation email immediately after the donation is complete. In addition, Clarion West sends a thank-you letter which can be used as a tax receipt in the US. For donations of up to $25 or donors who do not provide a postal mailing address, we send the thank-you letter via email.

Can my sponsors send checks directly to Clarion West instead of using PayPal?

Of course! They can send checks payable to Clarion West with a note about sponsoring you to Clarion West, P.O. Box 31264, Seattle, WA 98103-1264. We’ll take care of everything. But for many people, PayPal is far more convenient, and for us, the convenience of receiving the money electronically along with reports far outweighs the PayPal fee.

If I collect checks from my sponsors, does it matter whether I send them in at the beginning or the end of the Write-a-thon?

Keep in mind that the Write-a-thon is six weeks long. It doesn’t matter to us, but your sponsors might prefer to have their checks sent in relatively quickly so they don’t have to keep them in mind as they balance their checkbooks.

Is there an easy way to sponsor several writers?

Yes! There’s a PayPal button on the main Write-a-thon page. You can click that button, make your total donation, then let us know in the notes field how we should divide the donation. Alternatively, you can send a check with a note by postal mail to Clarion West, P.O. Box 31264, Seattle, WA 98103-1264.

Does Clarion West care how the donations are made?

Whatever works best for you and your donors works for us. While we receive more of the donation from checks, PayPal’s convenience factor is genuinely worth the small fee they charge.

Can people make a pledge now for a donation later?

Generally speaking, no. We are not set up to manage deferred payments. If there is an unusual situation, please let us know and we will do our best to work with you.

How much is everybody else writing?

It depends on the writer. Some of them write a lot and post about what they’re writing on Twitter, Facebook, or their personal blogs. Some just write a lot and don’t tell anybody. Some write down any words that they can. Some are revising instead of writing new material, and some are submitting their work.

Do I have to post what I write during the Write-a-thon on some publicly accessible site?

No, you don’t. Some people do offer their sponsors the opportunity to see excerpts from their writing, either on their own websites or through email. Most people don’t publish what they’re working on before they submit it to their intended markets.

Tip: Offering your sponsors an opportunity to catch even a bit of your work in the draft or pre-publication stage is a great way to encourage more donations.

The PayPal button on my profile doesn’t work yet. What’s wrong with it?

Enabling the PayPal buttons is a manual process and it may take a few hours for one of our volunteers to enable your button.  If it’s been more than two days since you’ve signed up and your PayPal button still doesn’t work, please email writeathon@clarionwest.org and we’ll get it fixed.

Can I post my word count to my Write-a-thon page?

Yes. If word count is one of your Write-a-thon goals, you can easily publish your ongoing word count to your page by simply logging in, visiting the page and updating the count in whichever field makes the most sense to you.

Can I change other information on my page?

Yes! Maybe you’ve thought of a reward to encourage your sponsors, or you’ve sold a story you want to list in your publications; you can now revise your own page to reflect your news.

Is Twitter a good place to ask for sponsors?

Absolutely! Use the hashtag #Write-a-thon, and feel free to talk about your progress, your process, and your goals, your trials, your tribulations, your joy. Send your friends to your Clarion West Write-a-thon page. Ask them to sponsor you.

TIP: You can easily link your Twitter account to your Facebook page (if you choose), so that publishing a tweet will automatically post to your Facebook page. This is a great way make posting to multiple social media venues easier.

Is there a Facebook page for the Write-a-thon?

Yes! We’ll be promoting the Write-a-thon extensively on Facebook through our Facebook Group page at http://www.facebook.com/groups/2424444143/ as well as Clarion West’s official Facebook page.

I signed up for the Write-a-thon, why isn’t my name listed?

We don’t know, but please send us email at writeathon@clarionwest.org and we’ll figure it out. Also, please check which Write-a-thon you signed up for. This is the Clarion West Write-a-thon, benefiting Clarion West in Seattle. You might have signed up for the Clarion Write-a-thon, benefiting our sister workshop in San Diego.

I have another question that is not answered here.

For questions not covered here, please send email to writeathon@clarionwest.org, and our volunteers will get back to you as soon as they can. Thanks!

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