Write-Review-Publish – the lowdown

As part of my recent work with Inkspired, I held an event in conjunction with the portal’s people that we called Write-Review-Publish.

It was a full-day event in which the intention was to:

  • Distribute writing sparks/ideas
  • Encouraged writers to brainstorm in groups about their story idea or spark
  • Write about 2,000 words
  • Review each others’ stories and give feedback
  • Rework and polish the piece
  • Publish it through Inkspired.
(Picture by Sandymanase)

(Picture by Sandymanase)

This was a new endeavour for me, a new kind of event, and I jumped into it enthusiastically. So did a lot of other people! We had so much interest in it that, after I posted the details up on the NaNo Brisbane Facebook group, I wound up increasing our booking because I thought we’d run out of space!

We didn’t quite get the turnout I had expected (feared?), given the interest a whole heap of people showed, but it was still pretty impressive: we had about 20 people, which is a healthy turnout. It’s a good number to wrangle, I find.

I had set up a whole schedule for the day, laying out time pockets for each stage of the process. The schedule only really existed for about an hour or so, after which I realised that the writing habits and process of the different attendees were going to make it too hard to enforce. I quietly abandoned the schedule idea; after all, these things aren’t set in stone, and the idea was to foster and encourage creativity and writing, not squash it by trying to force it into predetermined boundaries.

Instead, I opted for moving around the room and checking in on people every now and then. It gave me an opportunity and excuse to chat with people, some of whom I didn’t know very well. It gave the day a more relaxed atmosphere, too.

Overall, it went pretty well. Everyone who came wrote a bit of something new, though not all got to the point where they were ready to share it. Some worked with the Inkspired website and uploaded their pieces.

When I arrived to set up for the event, one of the Inkspired creators and developers collared me to tell me about a new feature they had just finished putting in (literally the night before): reviewing. It was a bit raw, but it worked! Writers could now save a draft of a chapter in Inkspired and nominate some reviewers. The reviewers got an email with a link, and were able to go in and mark up the draft with comments.

It was a wonderful addition to the day. There were a couple of issues we gave feedback on, which is probably why Inkspired took a couple of weeks to announce the feature to their userbase, but it worked well enough for us to get some goodness out of. It made the feedback portion of the process much easier than I had anticipated, and everyone was impressed with how it worked.

So, while no-one actually hit ‘publish’ on the day, a whole bunch of people signed up and got involved. A couple of us have since published our pieces and released them into the wild. (More on mine in another post soon!)

The Inkspired people seem keen to do more events like this one. I am, too! (I’m being cautious with not overloading myself, but I do hope to do another one before too long.)

I think the day could be improved, though. 

Now, before I go on, I want to be clear: the attendees were wonderful. You were all wiling, receptive, and brave enough to dive in to what we asked you to do. This is in no way a comment on anyone who was there (or not there); this was a new thing I was trying, and it needs some tuning. So let’s look under the hood and see what we can do.

The event felt a little too loose to me, like it was missing something. I’m not entirely sure what that something was. I think people got to very different places with their pieces, though I’m not sure if that’s a bad thing. I don’t know if there was not enough structure in the end, or too much driving too fast. I’m not even sure if anyone shares my feelings! What I am sure about is: it could be better.

Here’s where I need some help. I’m really curious about what others think, so I can try to make the right changes, should we try this again. So for those who attended, I would love it if you could answer the questions below. For those who couldn’t make it, what do you think about an event like this?

Like with the Writers’ Asylum, I really do take your preferences and suggestions into account when putting this sort of thing together. 

Some questions I’d love to hear from you about:

  1. Have you published on Inkspired yet? If not, do you intend to? Why?
  2. What was the best thing about the event?
  3. What didn’t work for you about the event? If possible, can you say why it didn’t work?
  4. What did you think of the prompts? Did you use one?
  5. Was the feedback you got on your piece useful?
  6. Any feedback for us on the structure of the day? Did you think you had enough time for everything you needed to do? Was anything missing?
  7. Would a more guided writing event be something you would like? For example, a more directed writing challenge rather than open, free writing?
  8. Any suggestions not already covered?

Feel free to comment here, or email me if you prefer.

I think that’s everything. Obviously, if there’s anything I haven’t covered, please feel free to fill in the gap and tell me all about it.

Thanks to everyone who got involved or showed an interest. I couldn’t do any of this stuff without you guys. Here’s to next time, and more great writing being done!

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