Hashtag Games: Actively Building Your #AmWriting Community
In my humble opinion, one of the most important things for a writer is to find their writerly tribe. That is, a group of like-minded writers who act as a support system for one another as they travel the bumpy #amwriting road together. Because, trust me, folks, it’s bumpy. So, so bumpy. I’m talkin’ potholes the size of moon craters that’ll knock you out of alignment in 2.5 seconds flat if you don’t have people who get your pain to set you back to rights.
So, that’s all fine and dandy, but how does one go about finding such a crowd? There are countless different paths, and each individual has to discover their people in their own way. That’s just how the world turns. However, there are a few things I’ve discovered that can help build a sense of community among your writerly brethren. And that’s the first step, isn’t it?
One such method is participating in weekly #amwriting hashtag games on Twitter. There are several different kinds, so I’ll start by giving you a rundown of your options. Again, everyone is different, and one type of “game” might suit you better than another. When you stop to think about it, that’ll likely equate into finding a tribe best suited to you, as well. Win/win.
This is where the host of the hashtag supplies a word, and the #amwriting crowd is tasked with hunting down lines that include the provided prompt. Or, in some cases, simply evoke the meaning or feeling of the word in some way.
For example, if the prompt is “pride,” a writer can post a line from their WIP or pubbed work with some variant of the prompt (i.e. pride, proud, prided, etc.) or they can find a snippet that conjures a sense of “pride” from their characters. It doesn’t have to include the word itself, as long as the meaning is there.
This is where the host of the hashtag provides a picture or short prompt and participants are encouraged to write a brand-new piece based off those bits of inspiration. This is often referred to as “flash fiction” or “very short stories.”
Some prompts can be a combo of the above two. Just be sure to investigate the rules before diving in! ❤️
The hosts of these often supply the daily (sometimes weekly) questions at the beginning of each month. There is typically a theme of some sort. For example, this month I’m participating in the #Debut19Chat, which is geared toward authors who have their debut novel scheduled to release in 2019. Every day, there is a question aimed at allowing the writers participating in the chat to share bits about themselves, their writing process, and/or their soon-to-be-published book baby.
These are really, really great places to meet people going through journeys similar to your own!
These are scheduled weekly chats where the moderator will post questions during a specific time period (usually an hour-long window). Participants respond and chat threads are created where you get a chance to meet and bond with other writers. I adore these because they take place live and are a fantastic avenue to network with other writers in real time!
How, exactly, does participating in these events build community, you ask? That’s easy. Most people who post in these hashtag games do so because they want to share their words, but they also get excited to see what other people bring to the table. I peruse the hashtags I play and see what other people are sharing. I leave comments on ones that really get me in the readerly gut, and oftentimes, that leads to conversations. Those chats don’t always go anywhere beyond that one single instance, but I’ve met some of my closest writer friends following random comments that have turned into long threaded conversations and, eventually, mutual writerly love.
I’ve also wound up with some kick butt beta readers this way. Think about it… the snippets you post give a fun little tease of your voice and story. If someone enjoys them, it’s usually a good indicator they’d be a good fit for your book baby. And finding quality beta readers is hard, we all know that. Especially when you churn through your tried and true group, do more edits, and find yourself floundering for fresh eyes.
Basically, #amwriting hashtags are a great way to connect with other writers who share your style and enjoy the same things you do. It’s a recipe for writerly love!
But wait... there's more! They’ve got other benefits too! One of them is kind of obvious, and something I’ve slightly touched on already, only from the other side of things. But think about this… when you’re the one reading through the hashtag posts of your fellow writers? There’s a dang good chance you’re gonna run across an author or two (or more!) you never knew existed yet screams to your inner readerly self. I’ve found some ah-maz-ing authors via hashtag games, both pubbed and not. Because, yep, I’ve also been the person reaching out my *gimme, gimme* hands in hopes of scoring a beta read of a story I’ve grown to adore via the snippets shared on hashtag games. I’ve also purchased more than a couple books for the same reason and been anything but disappointed.
Now, the last benefit might seem a bit farfetched to those of you new to the “squishing words into 280 characters” world. (Imagine the agony when it was still 140 characters! I can’t even remember those days… I might have blocked them out of self-defense. Bwuahaha.) Anyhoo… when you transfer lines from your WIP and plop them into a tweet, one of two things is bound to happen. Every. Single. Time.
You’re going to be forced to tighten your writing to fit everything into 280 characters
Sometimes this is detrimental to the cause and leaves you frowning at the end result. But I can honestly say, most of the time, I end up going back to my original document and changing the words to match the tweet version. For real. It’s crazy how much this helps you to discover areas where you were being wordy for the sake of being wordy. It teaches you to cut and tighten and strengthen and… yeah, I’ve learned a great deal about my own writing simply by trying to cram it into a small space.
You’re going to catch "whoopsies"
Things you might have read over a dozen times and missed will suddenly stick out like a sore thumb when you have only a few lines segregated out to work with.
But guess what? There are also times where your fellow writers will point something out. Yep, you’ll turn thirty shades of red if this happens, because you’ll realize you posted something for all the world to see that had some glaringly painful blunder. However, don’t let that get you down, because it happens to the best of us, and I can honestly say… I’ve learned so much from those kind souls willing to point out my slipups. Because, while it might feel brutal and ouchie, remember… they’re fellow writers. They’re doing it to help you grow, not to tear you down.
So, the question is: how do you find these kick butt hashtags so you can start participating today??
Easy peasy. Check out and follow Free Writing Events on Twitter. Every day, they post a listing of the daily hashtag games. They also post a ton of other really awesome writing events, contests, etc. So, whether you chose to do the hashtags or not, it’s a great account to follow because it’s rife with writerly awesomeness!
And, as a shameless plug, I’m gonna drop this here:
Starting today, August 9th, and every Thursday going forward, I’m hosting a hashtag game specifically aimed at the LGBTQ+ community!
#writeLGBTQ 🌈 is for LGBTQ+ authors and cisgender straight writers with LGBTQ+ main characters. It falls into the prompt word category above. I’m truly hoping it’ll be a place for members of the LGBTQ+ #amwriting and #amreading world to get together, share our words, find new authors to squee over, and form a little bit more of that community I raved so hard about.
Until next time,