Write-a-thon Tips, Tricks & Perks


Write-a-thon events: Join our Slack!

If you’re in the Write-a-thon, you’ve been emailed an invitation link to join Slack. When you join, you’ll be automatically given the invitation link to the #writeathon-welcome channel. If you missed the link or have questions, please email us at helpdesk@clarionwest.org.

Here’s what you can expect to find there:

  • Weekly writing prompts;

  • First look at our 2020 Craft Talks, 40-60 minute videos talking about the craft of writing with Clarion West instructors;

  • Affinity groups;

  • Channels to keep the conversation going after writing sessions.

Writing sprints, classes, and other events:

We’re still living in a digital world, but that just means there’s no commute time to get to our online co-writing sessions, and you don’t have to pay café prices for the coffee. Registration for writing sprints, classes, and other events begins June 14 for Write-a-thon participants. Participants will be provided with the full schedule for registering. 

We are not holding a lottery for writing sprints and classes in 2021, however, please register for only one event in advance. If you are interested in more than one, pick your first choice to register for in advance, then wait until within 2 days of the other classes or sprints you're interested in and sign-up if there is still space.  Visit the schedule to see a sneak peek and learn more about what's coming up. 


Earn badges for your progress! You will automatically receive a badge just for completing your participant profile. Earn a badge for each week you participate in the Write-a-thon, for being the most engaged in Slack, for reaching your fundraising goal, and for having the most donors! See the badges here

Tips & Tricks for a great Write-a-thon

There’s no wrong way to participate in the Write-a-thon, but if you’d like a little more guidance, here’s our step-by-step guide:

1. Set your Write-a-thon goals.

Pick a writing goal, something that will challenge and motivate you, and tailor it to your time and energy. Sample goals:

  • Write for 15 minutes a day

  • Write 250 words a day

  • Write a story a week (just like this year’!)

  • Write 8,000 words a week (we call that a “Swanwick”)

  • Complete a story, novella, or trilogy

  • Submit three stories to professional markets

  • Revise a story or chapter a week

  • Write five complete poems

  • Finish the story, novel, screenplay, or epic trilogy that’s been sitting around for a while

  • Write an essay or two

2. Create your personal CW profile page.

The profile page is where you’ll tell people about your goals and any special incentives you have for them. You can 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 update your profile page at any time 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.

Click here for the Write-a-thon Participant Guide. 

3. Join the Write-a-thon Slack page.

After you sign up, you'll immediately be given the invitation link to the Write-a-thon Slack Channel. Use it to access the Write-a-thon community (see above).

4. Start writing!

That’s what it’s all about. 

5. Raise some funds (optional).

We hope you’ll tell people about the Write-a-thon early and often. You can send folks email (we even have a template you can use to get started), 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 shiny, happy Write-a-thon participants.

Wondering what to say?

Talk about what writing and Clarion West means to you—and what it means to the world of speculative fiction and the voices that dare to tell the important, weird, and diverse stories that make up the field. All donations support Clarion West, so you’re asking them to support an organization you care about!

Some writers post weekly Write-a-thon progress updates on their blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, or email lists. 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. Every bit of support and every dollar counts.

Make a list of potential sponsors:

  • Relatives

  • Friends and neighbors

  • Coworkers

  • Teammates

  • Members of your religious community

  • Members of your online community

You can email each potential sponsor directly from your Write-a-thon Dashboard. If emailing, try to personalize each email if you can—a personalized greeting and message can go a long way toward making your potential sponsors glad that you reached out to them.

Need help with the email options? You can look through the Email Guide for help. 

We’ve also seen some strategies in the past that might work for you:

  • Offering to name characters after sponsors (also known as Tuckerization)

  • Sending sponsors books as rewards

  • Doing Kickstarter-style reward tiers

  • Giving fans sneak peeks of new work

Be sure to post updates to your Write-a-thon page! Keeping your page up to date on your progress toward your goals is a fantastic way to give your potential sponsors incentive to click the donate button.

Once you have sponsors, it’s up to you how often you contact them. We recommend sending out a weekly email to your sponsors, updating them on your progress. Consider giving back to your sponsors. Some writers share excerpts of work they’ve done during the Write-a-thon; others send their sponsors a completed novel or short story draft once the Write-a-thon is over.


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