6 MONTHS OF #WRITE52...
- Baby Driver – Music From The Motion Picture |
- Released: 2017, 30th Century Records |
- Produced: Various |
- Genre: An eclectic mix that’s greater than the sum of its already brilliant parts |
NOTES ON A PASSION PROJECT…
Six months ago, I had a problem.
After toiling away on my own website for what felt like forever, fiddling with the copy on every single page ad infinitum, I had reached a point that felt almost like ‘finished’. I was happy with nearly every page. But my blog… tumbleweed.
I had a list of ideas on paper, but I wasn’t doing anything with any of them. A combination of the focus on client work, the difficulty of finding time, and the anxiety that no one would care about anything I had to say anyway, made for a perfect storm of inaction.
And then I started #Write52.
I’ve already written about what happened next, so I won’t retread old ground here. But suffice it to say, #Write52 is a writing challenge based around posting original content every week for a year, which has been taken up by lots of other people who had the same problem with getting their own content out.
#Write52 is a weekly email newsletter, where I get to write and draw whatever I want while sharing incredible writing on an endless range of topics.
#Write52 is a community of freelancers and employed people supporting one another.
#Write52 is a happy accident that has grown organically thanks to the contributions of others.
And #Write52 is the best thing I’ve ever done in my career.
Six months later, #Write52 is so much more than just my own weekly blog or a loose collection of posts under a Twitter hashtag. The project has grown and evolved as more people have joined and new perspectives have been brought to the table.
Now there’s a website explaining what the project is and how to join up, and an archive of every newsletter, containing every post written for #Write52 to date. It’s a cliche to say there’s something in there for everyone, but with over 250 original posts and rising, I would be stunned if you couldn’t find something that piques your interest there.
Since you’re here, you’re probably already aware of Creative Rehab, which I see as something of a sister project of #Write52; having started around the same time in much the same way, and built on the same principles of community, writing what you’re passionate about, and removing entry barriers in the creative industry by providing a platform to showcase work. My colleague and friend Jake, who started the project, invited me onto his podcast to talk about #Write52 (amongst all sorts of other stuff) and was also kind enough to give #Write52 some ad space on the pages of the illustrious zine. And with our very own podcast expert contributing to #Write52 (shout out to Charles!) who knows what might be coming soon…
But if you’re looking for something to listen to right now, and that doesn’t feature my annoying voice (a face for radio, and a voice for mime), then might I suggest the collaborative #Write52 playlist, Music to Write Blogs to? This was inspired by a conversation between Sophie and Penny, two #Write52 stalwarts and music lovers, and features hours and hours of gorgeous instrumental music to help you focus.
And there are even more exciting plans for the future of #Write52. I’m so excited to see where the project goes next.
Listen to your
But don’t listen to me. I would say all that, wouldn’t I?
I picked the soundtrack to the film Baby Driver to discuss this because it’s like a jukebox full of songs that come together to make an incredible combination. That’s what #Write52 is: an otherwise disparate group of topics, brought together to create a little bit of magic.
So why not listen to what other contributors and readers have to say?
So six months in, what have I learned? There are two main pieces of advice I’d like to leave you with:
GIVE MORE THAN YOU TAKE
When I hear people talking about being a part of a community of professional colleagues, one phrase that comes up a lot is ‘give four times what you take.’ I think this is excellent advice, and I want to unpack it a little:
Sometimes sharing personal work online – be it a blog post, a podcast, a poem, a song, a short story, or whatever else – can feel like screaming into the void. It’s a natural part of many people’s creative processes to feel that sense of doubt: will anyone read it? Who cares what *I* think? Is this too weird?
So one of the best things you can do to help your colleagues is to share the things they’ve worked on. And here’s the really important part: actively engage with it and tell them what you enjoyed in it, or which aspects of it really resonated with you.
That last part is so vital because it gives them feedback, lets them know people really are engaging with what they’ve made, and starts further conversations (which can lead to other new projects). It shows others why they should take a look. It gives them something to share. Ultimately, it just feels really good to get that validation. It doesn’t take much, and it has a big impact.
And the great news? We’re blessed to be in an online community of enormously talented, creative people, making and sharing personal things every day. There’s so much great work out there to engage with and celebrate.
THERE IS POWER IN A COMMUNITY
But celebrating others, though… from the outside, I can see how praising other people who do what you do may seem a little counter-productive. After all, aren’t other freelancers your competitors?
I promise you they aren’t.
Within a community, freelancers become colleagues; become friends. They support and encourage each other when things are tough, and celebrate the wins together. They create a sense of accountability that spurs you on when you need a boost. They share their experiences and expertise, free of charge. They share leads that aren’t right for them in case someone they know is better suited.
And that’s where the business case for writing personal content about the things you’re passionate about kicks in. If you love cross-stitching, say, but never mentioned it to anyone in the wider community, when a dream project about cross-stitching arrives on someone else’s desk or appears on a job board then you’ll probably miss out. But if you’ve been sharing your love of cross-stitching for weeks, and engaging with what other people are writing about their passions? Then you’ve got a whole group of people on the look out for your dream project on your behalf.
Plus, when you do get that referral, you’ll have a solid portfolio of work to refer the prospective client to.
One final thought, before I sign off.
At time of writing, a new year – hell, a new decade – is hurtling towards us.
If you’re prone to making resolutions around this time of year, or if you just want to head into 2020 with a clear content goal, the accountability boost that comes with making a public commitment, and as part of a friendly, welcoming community, then you might want to consider giving #Write52 a try.
It might just be the best thing you do all year.
Whoah-oh, we’re halfway there…
- Livin’ On A Prayer – Bon Jovi
- Out of Time – Chris Farlowe
- Mashed Potato Time – Dee Dee Sharp
- I Wanna Make It Wit Chu – Desert Sessions
- Lucky Penny – JD McPherson
- End of the Line – Traveling Wilburys
- Thunder in the Mountains – Toyah
- Red Right Hand – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
- Come Together – The Beatles
- Alice – Tom Waits
- Song to the Siren – Tim Buckley
- Changes – Charles Bradley
- Secret in the Dark (Juan Maclean Remix) – Monika
- Hey, Hey Helen – ABBA
- Where the Wild Roses Grow – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds ft. Kylie Minogue
- Plainclothes Man – Heatmiser
- Ellen – Protomartyr
- At Least it Was Here (Community Main Title) – The 88
- Susanne – Weezer
- Stuart and the Ave. – Green Day
- Sophie – Goodshirt
- Mojo Hannah – Aaron Neville
- Handle With Care – Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins ft. Bright Eyes and M. Ward