WRiTE CLUB - The Final Bell



When 2020 began I had big plans for WRiTE CLUB. Some minor tweaks for this year, but most of the changes would be for 2021 when the contest will have its tenth anniversary. I was hoping to do something special, and at the same time possibly expand its reach.

Then COVID-19 happened.

Even though this contest is 100% virtual, with no social distancing limitations or other restrictions, the world – specifically the writing world – was in too much upheaval to find a lot of time for it. Participation was down significantly, mostly with contestants, but reader/voters had fallen off as well. I have to admit, this kind of surprised me. I'd have thought a distraction like a writing contest would be just what everyone needed. That's not to say that what was going on in the world didn't deserve our full attention - because it did - but every now and then we need to spend time with the things that make us smile – so we don't forget what it's like.

Looking back over WRiTE CLUB's nine year history, it has always been harder than I thought it should have been to get the writing community – which is massive – engaged. At times it felt like I was pulling teeth to get people to read a pair of 500-word writing samples and choose one that shined brighter than the other. Linking up with the DFW Conference gave it a significant boost, but even that waned after a couple of years. Writers would take interest in its appeal and become one of its champions...for awhile...but eventually they would drift away as well. I tried everything I could think of to encourage reading/voting, Twitter campaigns, Facebook blasts, even offering prizes, but nothing seemed to gain the traction I believe our contestants deserved. This year only served to put a harsh spotlight on an ever-persistent problem.

And then there was other issues.

The foundation of WRiTE CLUB was one simple ingredient – anonymity. This was a WRITING contest, not a popularity contest. I was probably foolish in believing this could work, but I'm an optimist at heart. From time to time voting irregularities in the bouts would popup that cast a shadow over the proceedings. It was obvious (but not provable) that people were being directed to certain bouts - and in some cases certain contestants. I'm sure that type of influence has always been going on - to some degree - but it is much more noticeable (and impactful) when voter participation is low. That's one reason I'm always trying to boost participation. When something like this happens it tarnishes the contest, breeds negative comments, and ultimately drives participants away.

The questionable sportsmanship – combined with the pressure to squeeze water out from a stone – has been a constant strain on me and this year it pushed me to the right edge, even to the point where I considered pulling the plug.

Then I come across a note like 1221bookworm posted where she stated that comments received during the contest last year helped her expand their submission and it was published last February in an online Literary Journal. This – and other stories like this – are the real reason I do WRiTE CLUB and I can't quit on that!

What I do need though, is help. Me and my wife can't keep doing this all by ourselves. In order for it to grow and expand its influence, we need others to step up. And do what, you ask? Things like solicit celebrity judges. Solicit slushpile readers. Solicit more sponsors in order to add more prizes. Find ways to boost our signal online. Monitor for things like voting irregularities. Help compose announcements. The list is endless. If that is something that interest you, then leave a comment below or send me an email to dlh(dot)hammons(at)gmail(dot)com. Why not become a member of the WRiTE CLUB team.

For right now, this is WRiTE CLUB signing off for 2020. We'll be back in 2021 – bigger and better!



 


4 comments

  1. Quoting from your post DL...
    The foundation of WRiTE CLUB was one simple ingredient – anonymity. This was a WRITING contest, not a popularity contest. I was probably foolish in believing this could work, but I'm an optimist at heart. From time to time voting irregularities in the bouts would popup that cast a shadow over the proceedings. It was obvious (but not provable) that people were being directed to certain bouts - and in some cases certain contestants. I'm sure that type of influence has always been going on - to some degree - but it is much more noticeable (and impactful) when voter participation is low. That's one reason I'm always trying to boost participation. When something like this happens it tarnishes the contest, breeds negative comments, and ultimately drives participants away.


    ...I am glad this has been addressed, DL, as I felt this was apparent this year.

    I'm also glad to read that despite this you will be continuing with Write Club. Reading success stories from previous years' contestants that are in part, due to/a result, of the project you created, must make you extremely proud.

    Thank you again, for all the time you invested, this year and every year previous, to host this contest. I hope it continues to grow.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I appreciate WriteClub existing.
    A to Z was way down this year too, and I know it was largely because of Covid. It's possible that creative people feel more drained by all the mental and emotional pain that came with this. I don't know. I personally feel like more is an uphill battle, but I keep hearing about people I know dying or visiting death's door but just barely managing to mostly come back. It's a lot. I really hope next year gets better.
    Stay safe!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you so much to you and your wife and to all those who have helped in this years contest. I learned some very important things in regards to writing. When I was chosen to be in the first thirty, it was such an encouragement to me. Thank you for everything.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi DL and to your wife - you both deserve much appreciation for all the hard work you put in to Write Club ... congratulations on successfully completing this difficult year's challenge. All the best and it's good to know it'll be back in 2021 - take care - Hilary

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