Last month, as I was pondering my writing life, I felt like I was missing out on something.
I was actively writing and had just promised myself to submit at least once per month. I had just finished working as an editorial assistant in poetry for the upcoming Issue 6 of The Lindenwood Review. And I was about to start a writing internship that would take me through December. But despite this active writing life, I was ignoring something big: my writing platform. At the time, I didn’t think of it as “platform” but in less fancy termas – “putting myself out there.” I knew it something I needed to do, and yet I dreaded it – the time it would take, the research I would have to do, the accounts I’d have to create …. I kept putting it off.
Then in the last days of September, I got an email from Writer’s Digest prompting me to join in the October Platform Challenge (#PlatChal for anyone on Twitter) hosted by Robert Lee Brewer. I am a WD subscriber and a fan of his Poetic Asides column, but I’d not been good about reading the WD website (part of my platform problem was my lack of being online). I was intrigued, and despite my hesitation about taking more onto my already busy schedule, I signed on the imaginary line and began.
The Challenge has truly been.. well, a challenge for me. Some tasks were harder than others, and some I enjoyed more than others. Some I was tempted to ignore completely (I didn’t!). But they all had something in common: All got me out of the writing closet and into the writing world.
I was pushed to join social media sites that I never understood and had previously avoided like The Plague (can we say “Twitter?”). I started a new blog dedicated to writing after years of letting my old blog languish in cyberspace. Robert got me to define myself as a writer, to create and follow an editorial calendar, to reach out to other writers, and to look past the last day of the Challenge into my writing future.
I still have a long way to go and a lot to learn along the way, but I feel like I am solidly on track. I’m excited NovPAD and NaNoWriMo, two things I would not be doing if not for the words of encouragement I received through the Challenge. I’m thrilled with how much fun Twitter is and how many amazing resources and opportunities I’m aware of about because of it. Through the Challenge, I learned about several conferences and live events (three of which I’m attending within a span of three weeks this fall). And I’m enjoying writing on a blog again – I didn’t realize how much I missed it.
But the biggest thing I’ve gained (and the part that I have enjoyed the most) is the feeling of being connected to the greater writing world. Writing is a solitary venture, made more solitary by virtue of my geographic location (i.e., The Middle of Nowhere). I’ve made wonderful contacts in my MFA program, but the Challenge introduced me to writers from around the world – some emerging, some with a dozen books under their belt, all people I would not have met (albeit virtually) if not for the Challenge. And because of the avenues I’ve learned about this month, we can connect anytime through blogs, websites, Twitter chats, and other virtual hangouts. I feel like a new door has opened. And I am grateful.
Whether you did the Challenge with me in real time or complete it on your own time, I’d love to hear your favorite task from the 31 days! Not interested? That’s okay – share your own platform tip!