Five steps to a great Write-a-thon

The Clarion West Write-a-thon offers you a great opportunity to set new writing goals – or reactivate old ones – and then write towards those goals in a supportive online community of other writers like you. Clarion West also offers you tools, tips, and ideas that can help make asking friends, family, and others for support simpler and more straightforward.

Here’s our guide to having a great Write-a-thon

1. Set your Write-a-thon goals.

Your goal could be something like:

  • Write 500 words a day
  • Write a story a week (for six stories!)
  • Finish a work that you’ve had in your laptop for ages
  • Complete your screenplay in draft
  • Write an essay – or two – on a speculative fiction related topic of your choosing

We’ve had writers take advantage of the Write-a-thon to submit stories or even get a brand new writing project underway.

2. Decide how you want to involve your donors.

Involving donors can be as simple as telling your friends to visit your Write-a-thon page and see what you’re up to. It’s completely your choice how to handle this. A number of writers have posted weekly Write-a-thon progress updates on their web pages or Facebook walls. Or both.

A few writers have upped the ante by offering character naming rights for donations at a certain level or above. Some participants have offered to match donations, and a few writers have gone so far as to host successful fundraising events and readings.

The key to successful fundraising is simple – ask. You don’t have to ask for the moon, ask for whatever you feel comfortable with. That’s pretty much all there is to fundraising. You tell a story about what you’re doing and why – then you ask.

If you ask for five dollars, that is awesome! Every donation, every bit of support and every dollar counts! Clarion West operates with a large group of hard working volunteers, including an all-volunteer Board of Directors. We have a few staff and no offices – we are entirely focused on the success of our writers. Writers like you.

If you’re thinking about how to ask, we do provide templates that you can use either directly or as a basis for your own note asking friends, family and others in your circle of acquaintances.

3. Create your personal CW profile page.

For the 2014 Write-a-thon, we have revamped this page with a strong focus on making it easier for you to create a page, add or change information and tell people what you’ve been doing.

The profile page is where you’ll first tell people about your goals and any special incentives you have for them. You can also post a short excerpt from your published writing, a work in process, or even whatever you’re doing for the Write-a-thon. This is entirely optional, but it’s a good way to make a connection to potential sponsors. There’s also space for a photo on this page–probably your photo, but it could be an avatar or other image significant to your work. A photo will help potential sponsors connect with you more directly – you won’t just be a name on a page.

You’ll be able to quickly update your profile page during the Write-a-thon. For example, you can post updated word counts, or new notes about what you’ve been working on. You can even thank people who have sponsored you!

You can also include a link on the profile page so people can follow your progress on your blog, website, or Facebook page.

4. Tell people about your Write-a-thon goals.

We hope you’ll tell people about the Write-a-thon early and often. You can send folks email, talk about it on your blog or Facebook page — or, just point people at the Write-a-thon main page where they can see the whole list of Write-a-thon participants.

Wondering what to say?

Take a look at our Write-a-thon page for the Write-a-thon facts and figures and the overall Write-a-thon goal. The bottom line is that the money raised in the Write-a-thon enables us to create next year’s workshop and serve 18 more writers like you.

5. Start writing!

And isn’t that really what it’s all about? You’ve set your writing goals, you’ve decided how you want to work with sponsors and donors, you’ve promoted yourself – perhaps using the tools the Write-a-thon offers or perhaps in your own way. Now it’s time to start writing!

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