Champlain Publishing’s latest project, Publishing: Digitized and Personalized, is set to launch on February 3. This particular collection of essays explores aspects of the publishing industry as it expands into a digital world. With topics ranging from digital printing to crowdfunding, this anthology is sure to teach you quite a bit about the adaptations publishing has gone through.
I recently got to chat with Kara Joyce, Champlain alumna and contributing author, about her piece on writing forums. A graduate of the Professional Writing program, Kara had been active in writing forums even before her time at Champlain.
“I joined [Figment] when I was a junior in high school, and it drew me in because it was so cool! They have some interesting discussions, some great writers to read and react to, and an easy-to-use website. Not to mention, the site is now owned by Random House, so there’s a lot of great connections to famous authors,” said Kara.
Writing forums are a great way for writers to find others with the same mindset and interests. In these supportive communities, you’ll find people willing to compliment your work and give you constructive criticism all in one—the trick is just to get involved. When you join a forum, you need to peruse the posts, even if you don’t know anything about the topic. Forums, while different from a classroom, have a workshop-esque nature to them, though they lack the concept of instant gratification.
“In a classroom, at least in my experience at Champlain, you’d write a piece and bring it into a critique class or post it online and everyone would always have to comment on it,” she said. “No one has to comment on what you post online. I’ve seen questions go unanswered, writing go uncommented on…. If you’re looking for something instantaneous, it’s not always the best option.”
Kara took a break from posting on forums after she got accepted to classes at Champlain because she was able to give her writing to peers and professors for feedback. She didn’t need to rely as heavily on the online community because she had direct access to people that could help her. Kara even focused her senior Capstone project on writing forums and created one of her own.
Gravedigger’s Pen was designed to have writers draw inspiration from unique gravestones—but not without leaving a token of respect for the deceased. The rules were simple: go to a cemetery, find a headstone that inspires you (name, design, etc.), take a picture of it, leave a token of respect, write about the stone, and then post it. This idea came out of Kara’s semester abroad in Dublin, Ireland, where a rather artistic stone inspired her to write, and she wanted others to feel the same kind of inspiration she did.
However, now that she’s graduated, the idea of being active on forums is creeping back into her mind. She doesn’t have “daily contact” with as many writers anymore, and she’s dying to ask more questions and learn more about writing from a larger community. She says she used to get a lot of feedback about what could elevate her pieces and help them achieve their full potential. And since the feedback comes from anywhere and everywhere, participation in forums is almost “like having a critique group across the globe.”
“I see forums as not just a great place to get questions answered and post writing, but a great place to network. Just like any other public internet space, there’s always an opportunity to meet someone new and start forming a bond with them over writing. Who knows? You might find your newest writing buddy there,” she said.
And while Kara’s essay in Publishing: Digitized and Personalized offers a lot of advice for writers who are looking to get started on forums, you should still do some research of your own.
“If none of the forums mentioned seem to fit, check out some other articles about forums [found online]. I found most of these by reading articles and looking at the Writer’s Digest forums,” said Kara. “If you’re looking for something genre-related or some website you feel more comfortable on, don’t stop looking till you find it.”
As Kara says in her essay, there’s a forum out there that’s right for everyone. You may just have to do a little digging.