yeah write #69 summer challenge grid is open: discipline and writing in small spaces

You have to know the rules before you can break the rules.

That truism applies to so many things, and I’ve always applied it to writing and other art forms. So many people will look at a photograph or a particular book and declare, quite falsely: I could have done that myself.

How? How could they have done it themselves?

What do you know about photography or writing, you ask these people.

So much, they answer.

Like what specifically, comes your next question.

Well, more than that guy who took that picture or wrote that book, they snort mightily.

Prove it, you say.

Okay, they say.

And they immediately start a blog. This Awesome Picture Taker Writing About Writing Things, they call it. At thisawesomepicturetakerwritingaboutwritingthings.blogspot.com.

And you get to make awkward conversation about it everyday in the hallway at work because you were the one who encouraged them to express themselves on the Internet in the very first place. Your breakroom coffee cools then finally freezes over as you’re patting shoulders, drying tears and assuring them that, yes, their crappy photography writing blog is wonderful, and they’ll soon enough get more traffic, hey, just be patient, and everybody starts out with just their mothers reading for three years.

You’ve got to know the rules before you can break the rules, you now want to tell these people. Then you feign hearing your office phone ring and, as soon as you get back to your desk, you email them the link to yeah write. Knowing yeah write will distract them for a good two months, you sit back and open a fresh game of Words with Friends. Your work here is done, and ours is just beginning. We’ll whip them into shape starting in 3…2…1…

Why have the yeah write editors been so adamant about the summer series 500-word limit?

To give you the discipline to leave out unnecessary words even when you don’t have a word limit. Why spend so much time listening to us just to win one of these challenges? Take what you’ve learned and apply it to your entire blogging experience. Don’t be that awful person who writes a 2,500 -word post on how you’re writing for yourself and you don’t care what anyone thinks and who cares about good spelling and grammer. And please don’t end the post with “word” or “that’s how I roll”. I will deny we ever knew you.

Why are more and more submissions to the yeah write grid being sent back to the bloggers for reworking?

Enforcing the publishing guidelines while providing constructive criticism became necessary for two opposite reasons:

What a terrible feeling for those who wrote their hearts out, didn’t quite hit the mark, yet got 35 awesome comments and, on voting day, felt a disconnect between those supportive comments and their bottom ranks on the grid and no editors’ mention. No one wants to be the kid who gets a blue ribbon just for showing up with his shoes tied. Those bloggers wanted to be fully competitive in the writing challenge like everyone else.

On the flip side: what about those who months ago would throw something onto the grid, ignoring the guidelines, definitely not bringing their best stuff, then grab their 50 awesome comments while laughing all the way to their highest page view count in months? Do you think they cared about any rules of writing? Do you think they cared about the yeah write community? With the grid now being moderated, we’re about to find out.

What’s the best way to become a better writer?

Read, read and read some more. You’ll understand better the flow of language and why the uncluttered sentence works best in a small amount of words. You’ll learn when it’s necessary to tell your readers the man you helped find his wallet was a black guy and when it isn’t (hint: it usually isn’t). Openings and endings will become less of a challenge. Little details about the works you’re reading, such as how long it took for the writer to complete a short story (what? 10 years? wow) will go a long way toward your understanding the first draft, subsequent drafts and editing process—yes, even just for a fun blog post about your grandma’s favorite shoes.

What’s the best length for a blog post?

If it’s compelling and interesting, there is no limit. People will bookmark and come back to it when they have more time. But, let’s face it, in most blogging circles, we’re not expecting blog posts to rival The Atlantic or some of your friends’ Facebook statuses. We’re surfing through while at work or relaxing during kids’ naps or what have you. You’ve lost half your readers at 1,500 words. You’ve lost yeah write at 1,000.

Be creative, be interesting, if you’re not feeling it one week, step away—we’re not going anywhere. Don’t insulate yourself by surrounding yourself with like-minded people: open your mind to other types of blogs than the ones you read day in and day out. Avoid melodrama and pathos and manipulating your readers’ emotions with your writing. Read your post aloud. Any sentence that causes you to stumble while speaking needs reworking. Don’t forget the “so what” of your anecdote, essay, fiction, creative non-fiction, fun blog post about your grandma’s favorite shoes. Show us your natural personality. If you’re naturally boring, show us someone else’s. Good writers work it out. 

Yeah write #69 summer challenge grid is open for submissions. Bring us your best stuff.

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yeah write #69 badges

[image width="200" height="200" align="left" lightbox="true" caption="You can grab this one. Click to embiggen. Then right-click and select save this image." title=""]http://yeahwrite.me/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/yw_wwb_bww.png [/image]

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  • Click in the upper right corner of this page on the plus symbol and the hidden widget containing the button badge codes will drop
  • Copy the code of your favorite badge, then paste that code into the HTML view of the post you’re planning to submit to the grid
  • If you’re having problems accessing those, feel free to grab the one in this post. Your backlink will be yeahwrite.me/69-open-summer or yeahwrite.me/69-open-hangout

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[header_box_1 title="yeah write #69 writing prompts"]

all your story are belong to you

[check_list]

  • Read the summer FAQ page for other details: the grid is being moderated and if you’re missing an element outlined in the summer FAQ, your post will not be published on the grid
  • Let the prompt lead you, but do not include the prompt in any way in your post, not at the beginning as an intro, not at the end as a footnote. If you reference the prompt in your post, your post will not be published on the grid
  • Remember: no more than 500 words. If your post exceeds 500 words, yup, you guessed it—no publish for you
  • If the prompt takes you from thunderstorms to watching TV at your grandma’s house to how much you love Pat Sajak to the oldest person you’ve ever kissed, we want that story the furthest away in your imagination from the original prompt. Let your imagination loose
  • Keep your writing style! Do you tell stories with humor? Prose? Verse? Photos? Illustrations? Keep doing that. We’ll read Shakespearean drama on our own time
  • Cut away at everything unnecessary to your story
  • Don’t forget to badge your post
  • The grid will close to new submissions Wednesday at 9 pm US eastern
  • Voting for your favorites will open Wednesday at 9 pm US eastern then close Thursday at 9 pm

[/check_list] 

[divider_header_h3] This week’s prompts [courtesy of Tom Slatin] [/divider_header_h3]

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  • Describe an odd or unusual writing habit or ritual you have 
  • Name something you’ve given away that can never be replaced 
  • Do you have any irrational fears?

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28 Responses to “yeah write #69 summer challenge grid is open: discipline and writing in small spaces”

  1. I found yeahwrite from a friend’s blog, so I decided to join in. This is my first time linking up (fingers crossed for approval). It is always fun to have someone push your writing, and I think that is exactly what you do here.

    • Welcome, Ellen! Please enjoy your stay with us this week!

    • TERRELL EDWARDS [Sun] 12 Aug 12 at 10:20 pm

      I agree with what Ellen said. It’s nice to have a place that writers can go to’ Share their works with others and even compete’ pushing their creativity to it’s limits. i’m a writer myself so i’m very excited to discover this site.

  2. “Avoid melodrama and pathos and manipulating your readers’ emotions with your writing.”

    I actually got a little choked up reading this. Thank you. My burgeoning, blog-induced mood disorder thanks you.

    • Amen, sister. I’m not tripling my meds just to read somebody’s blog.

      • I actually hesitate on my post this week because it is way more emotional than usual for me. I considered changing it to be happier and calling it fiction or making myself follow another prompt, but then I thought I should try to leave my safe zone a bit during the summer series. I’m existentially incapable of handling sadness without humor, so fingers are crossed I struck an appropriate balance.

  3. You know I just love to gush about Yeah Write. I do love the summer series, I can’t wait to see what happens when it’s over and to see how things change when the rules are loosened.

    The only thing that doesn’t work well for me – and this is not a complaint or a criticism, just my opinion – are the prompts on Monday morning. My schedule doesn’t give me a lot of time to process them and write something and that’s been my struggle. I was starting my non-summer posts up to a week before. Which now that I think about it is pretty funny since clearly I wasn’t editing them down. But I’ve made the Monday prompts work every week so far except this one and it’s not all about me, so it hardly matters what I think!

    And yes, thank you to everyone who keeps this running and keeps trying to make it better. I can’t think of a better place to spend my time.

    • Prompts are optional starting next week! Thanks for spending your free time with us. We’re better than a $10 movie.

  4. I am so glad to have participated in this writing series. It has really helped to bring a focus to my writing. The 500 word count was frustrating in the beginning because apparently I liked to blab a lot. Now that I have sharpened my editing quill my posts are something I’m really proud of, whether I do well on the grid or not.

    Thanks again all you judges for your awesome tips!

  5. I find the word count to be incredibly helpful. Even though most of my posts are around 500 words anyway, it helps to hone them down a bit. As for the grid, it seems like there is a faithful group of Yeah Write submitters – is there a way to calculate votes based on the submitters’ votes? Maybe two voting categories – one for the internet readers as a whole and one for submitters voting on other submissions? Just a thought. Feel free to totally disregard. It just seems like some of us are coming back week after week and really trying to hone our writing skills. Improvements that might be missed by the general readership are noticed by Yeah Write faithfuls.

  6. And I screwed my thumbnail up. Ha! My internet has been wonky and I had the worst time linking. Y’all know us, right? Ellen

    • Yeah, you’re good. Thanks for the compliment in your earlier comment. We’re working hard to get everyone to a good place.

  7. The magic here is that it is a community, not a linky or a blog hop. I believe in the power of words.

    And believe you me, I snorted at this little gem: “Show us your natural personality. If you’re naturally boring, show us someone else’s. Good writers work it out. ”

    Thanks.

    Ellen

  8. I love the word count limit because it helps me prune with a more critical eye. Most of my posts are under 800 words, but I love the laser focus it takes to crate in 500 words or less.

    I also love it as a reader — there’s something about knowing that others have worked as hard as I have to bring something unique and important (answering “So what?”) that makes me really appreciate all of the writing more.

    I was giddy all weekend knowing that a couple of dozen talented people were sharpening their knives in anticipation…

  9. I want to add my Hey, Yes! to the changes. The last couple of weeks reading through all the blogs has been far more pleasure than chore. I’m a newbie who avoided the challenge grid more than once because I tried to wade through 50 blogs and gave up. I’m looking forward to the changes after the summer series. I will do my best to bravely read 50 blogs who keep bringing this level of awesome-sauce. Or I will happily toddle myself over to the hang-out grid. Either way.

    I am freaking allergic to “that’s nice.” It breaks my heart. So more power to you. It’s tough to be ruthless, and I thank all of you from every molecule for that.

  10. Really? “And please don’t end the post with “word” or “that’s how I roll”. I will deny we ever knew you.”

    Can I still use the always-popular Just sayin’ ?

  11. Those of us who read the grid before the word-count hammer came down can see that submissions now are tighter, more structured, more crafted and generally better. Bonus: with the 500 limit, nobody is going to waste three precious words on the dreaded “But I digress. . .” Great work, all.

  12. I’ll say this again, but I do like the changes you’re making to Yeah Write. I think they are for the better. I’m seeing the improvement not just the posts I submit to the grid, but in the other writing I do. I like not feeling rushed to make sure I finish a post by Tuesday at Midnight so I can get a spot on the grid.

  13. I’m sure I sound like the Department Of Redundancy Department, but I just needed to say thanks to all of you yet again. The editors, the behind the scenes brainiacs, my fellow readers and writers, and to everyone who votes.
    I am really enjoying (or at least appreciating) the changes made around here, and I think they are all for the better. Also, I am getting pretty darn sad that I won’t be around as much in September when I go back to work.
    You guys are the bees knees.

  14. I am not a fan of the word count. I understand the reasoning and appreciate why you do it, but just not a fan. I am not here to argue about it, the hangout grid works just fine for me.

    But I want to make sure that Flood knows my response last week to getting my work handed back was obnoxious and I am sorry for it.

    Anyway, you are all doing good work here and I appreciate it.

    Thanks again,

    J

  15. Holy crap this was helpful. I mean, SO CRAZY HELPFUL. As a graphic designer, my professors used to always love telling us that bit about learning the rules before you break ‘em. And you know what? They were right then, they are right now, and so are you folks at yeah write. That rule applies, whether you’re talking about writing, photography, design or mixing an adult beverage and calling yourself a bartender. Life takes some learnin’ and I for one am here to learn. Thank you.

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