Write-a-thon Community Guidelines

Clarion West is committed to providing a welcoming and safe environment for all participants of the Write-a-thon. We’ve written this code of conduct to clarify our expectations for this community.

Write-a-thon (WAT) participants agree to:

Approach all interactions in WAT forums with kindness and respect. Writers (and readers and fans!) of all levels and backgrounds are encouraged to join the WAT. It is our mission to support emerging and underrepresented voices, and we encourage all participants to be open to learning from each other and to engage with each other in a friendly and polite manner.

Respect the confidentiality of your fellow posters. Folks may choose to share personal stories or interactions in these spaces. These conversations are confidential. It is not okay to post about specific conversations that happen in the WAT without direct consent. We expect all participants to ask for consent (i.e., directly asking a poster, “may I share this comment on my Twitter account?” and receiving a clear “yes”) before sharing comments or interactions. It is not okay to describe other participants’ actions or words in any way that makes them identifiable without their explicit permission. If you feel the need to address a question or topic outside of these forums, please do it in a way that respects the confidentiality of individuals and the group as a whole.

 Be sensitive to the language you use and the ideas you express. Be aware that your intentions and words have impact. We understand that fiction often explores uncomfortable or difficult topics and situations. Furthermore, many writers explore outside their comfort zones or areas of expertise. 

  • Use content warnings when appropriate. There are many reasons readers may need a content warning for material that may be difficult or uncomfortable to read. In some cases, the inclusion of this kind of material isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker for these readers, so long as advance warning is given. Please use content warnings to prepare readers who may experience harm by stumbling on certain topics inadvertently. (Examples: CW for injury to a child; CW for sexual violence; CW for death of a parent.) These warnings should be included on the first page of your story at the top, just below any personal information.
  • When your story is being critiqued: 
    • You may be pushing the boundaries in some way, and we want to encourage you to do that—however, you must be open to critique that asks you to stay in your lane. 
    • Try to hear the critique without personalizing it. Realize that intention alone is not always enough to prevent harm or misunderstanding. Stay open.
    • Take time to sit with the critique and your response before replying or making any changes.
    • If you have homework to do, there are many resources available, such as the Writing the Other workshops. 
  • If you are giving a critique for a story you find problematic: 
    • Think about why the story bothers you so much. Are you angry and/or hurt—or challenged?
    • Don’t make assumptions about a writer and their life experience; don’t assume that someone’s intent is to cause harm.
    • When critiquing the story, remember to talk about the story, not the author.
    • If you are offended, this is valuable feedback to the author—marginalized community members tend to self-censor. Let yourself feel what you are feeling and say so as productively as you can.
    • That said, DO take care of yourself. Sometimes the buttons pushed are deep and painful, and you may need support and/or clarification. If you do, please ask for it.
  • In all cases, staff will be available for support should you need it.

 Clarion West is committed to supporting underrepresented voices. We prioritize marginalized people’s safety over privileged people’s comfort. We reserve the right not to act on complaints regarding:

  • “Reverse” -isms, including “reverse racism,” “reverse sexism,” and “cisphobia”
  • Reasonable communication of boundaries, such as “I’m not discussing this with you.”
  • Communication in a “tone” you don’t find congenial or friendly.
  • Criticizing racist, sexist, cissexist, or otherwise oppressive behavior or assumptions.

If you feel that someone is behaving in a manner that harasses or threatens you or others in the forum, or violates this code of conduct, even if it seems inconsequential or minor, please contact an administrator immediately. Clarion West is dedicated to providing a harassment-free environment. We do not tolerate harassment in any form. WAT participants violating these rules may be removed from the event and all further activities at the discretion of Clarion West staff and board.

 Harassment includes written or verbal comments that reinforce social structures of domination related to gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age, and religion, as well as sexual images in our forums, deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention. Offenders asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately. Our full harassment policy is posted here.

Take care of each other. Seriously. One of the most amazing things about Clarion West is our wonderfully inclusive community. We hope you make new connections in this space and engage in intimate conversations that will help you grow your writing (and critiquing) abilities beyond the six weeks of the WAT. Please be respectful of others when discussing difficult or contentious conversation topics. Do not assume your fellow participants’ comfort level. When in doubt, check-in.

We encourage you to continue to cultivate those connections outside of the WAT. You may find your next critique partner or writing group here. Treat them well!

We’re excited to have you participate in this year’s Write-a-thon. May you learn new skills, achieve your goals this season, and most importantly, have fun!