Our guest today is familiar to all of us: the one and only Robert Lee Brewer! We heartily appreciate the time he took to write a post for us. (He’s a busy guy!)
Thank you, Robert!
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Around the end of 2013, I was asked to write about the platform challenge I hosted on my personal blog in 2012 (here’s the whole challenge if you’re not familiar – http://robertleebrewer.blogspot.com/2012/05/how-to-build-or-improve-your-writer.html). It led to many great things, including Wordsmith Studio!
The challenge itself sprang from the crazy idea that what worked in the poetry challenges on my Poetic Asides blog (http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/poetic-asides) might also work for writers interested in developing their writing platforms. After spending a few weeks developing daily tasks, I figured, why not try it out?
What I Expected
I really didn’t know what to expect before posting on the first day. I posted some guidelines in advance to generate some interest and get on writers’ radars, but I really wasn’t sure if there’d be any traction once we got started. Lucky for me, there was.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that people weren’t only actively participating and learning new tricks in the process, but there was also a community forming. In the comments, people were sharing information. When we got on Twitter and Facebook, these same writers continued sharing and building connections.
Eventually, a group formed (originally called the “Not Bobbers”) that would become Wordsmith Studio. Of course, I didn’t expect that kind of awesomeness, but it makes sense with hindsight. After all, many of the tasks were designed to connect people and share.
I learned many lessons from the experience that I think other writers and bloggers can apply:
- Crazy ideas are worth trying. My super-successful poetry challenges and popular platform challenge started as crazy ideas that I thought might work (but that could’ve failed just as easily). If I let the possibility of failure prevent me from trying, I would’ve missed so much.
- Make it about your readers. One goal of the platform challenge was to increase my blog traffic, but I didn’t make the challenge about increasing my blog traffic. Instead, I made it about helping other people increase their exposure using methods that I knew from experience worked.
- People like challenges. Challenges can be a lot of fun, and the best ones offer intrinsic benefits. For instance, the poetry challenges offer poets the opportunity to create a lot of poem drafts to re-work afterward. In the platform challenge, writers learned more about blogging and social media.
So what does 2014 have in store for me? I have some plans. For instance, I’m currently running a Get Started Write Challenge on my WritersMarket.com blog (http://blog.writersmarket.com/), and Poetic Asides will have its annual poetry challenges in April and November. Will there be any other challenges offered? Your guess is as good as mine.
My 2014 will include some speaking engagements across the country, including an appearance at AWP in Seattle, Poetry Hickory in North Carolina, a Business of Writing Summit in Louisville, and as a National Feature at the Austin International Poetry Festival.
On the personal front, I’m excited that my wife just started a new job that is literally across the street from where we live now. Since I telecommute, I still have the shorter commute, but it’s a lot cooler than the 2-hour round-trip she had been doing.
That’s a snapshot of the awesome awaiting me in 2014, but I know that the people reading this post have great, crazy ideas that are ready to bloom in 2014. I’d love to see what you’ve got in store in the comments below. How are you going to make 2014 totally rock?
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Bio: Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and the author of Solving the World’s Problems (http://www.amazon.com/Solving-Worlds-Problems-Robert-Brewer/dp/1935708902). He’s married to the poet Tammy Foster Brewer, who helps him keep track of their five little poets. Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer (http://twitter.com/robertleebrewer).