Shut Up and Write Conventions

Expectations

So, you fancy yourself a writer? Great! Now get writing. Part workshop, part writing circle, part game, the point of the Shut Up & Write project is to provide each other with the motivation and feedback we need to get into and maintain the habit of writing every day. To keep us on track, I’ve established the a set of conventions. Here’s a summary for reference, and the complete explanations are spelled out more specifically below.

Summary of Conventions

  1. The primary focus of this group is on short creative fiction (fantasy, sci-fi, surreal, weird, horror, etc).
  2. Membership to SU&W requires at least minimum active participation (as outlined here.
  3. Submissions will be sent via email or Facebook following the guidelines below.
  4. If you submit an assignment, then try to provide feedback on a few other submissions.
  5. Anyone may issue additional challenges at any time in accordance with the challenge guidelines.
  6. Treat each other with peer-like respect, friendly humor, and brutal honesty

Explanation of Conventions

Conduct

We’re all adults and most of us are at least acquaintances. Be respectful of each other, but also be brutally honest. If you don’t have a sense of humor or are easily offended, then you’re no more welcome here than if you simply enjoy being a dick. Basically, imagine we’re all stuck in a college club together, enjoy the idiosyncratic mix of kindness and irreverence, and take it all with a grain of salt.

Membership

A group can only get so large before it becomes impersonal, so I’m capping the membership and am restricting it to those who actively participate. If you are removed from the group or wish to leave, then understand there are no hard feelings, and you’re welcome to join us again in the future.

Active Participation

This is a group for active writers, not spectators. The expectation is that you will contribute regularly to the assignments and/or blitz challenges, both submitting your work and providing feedback. There is no hard-and-fast rule for how much you participate, but if you may as well not be in the group, then you won’t be.


Assignments

These are the “big” projects assigned every four weeks. The default word count is 1,000–5,000 words. This allows participants to submit something, even if time is short. It also allows others who become more invested in the assignment the chance to more fully develop their ideas.

Topics

Each assignment will have a topic (e.g., “It’s the End of the World”). There will be a poll in the Facebook group during the week leading up to the new assignment to suggest and select topics. For organizational purposes, the poll will be titled “Assignment [000] – Topics.” Anyone new or who participated in the last assignment may suggest a topic. The topic will ultimately be selected by me, but I’ll go with the winner of the poll unless there are extenuating circumstances.

Announcement/Discussion

New assignments will be announced on the Monday one week after the topics poll. For organizational purposes, the announcement post will be titled “Assignment [000] – Discussion.” It will include the topic, a brief description of the topic, and the due date. Participants should post questions about the assignment as comments on this post so that the general group feed doesn’t become cluttered.


Submissions

All submissions must be in by midnight of the due date. Submissions should be sent to me directly via email or Facebook.

Formatting

I intend to host submissions on this WordPress site, which provides a measure of security that doesn’t restrict access in too cumbersome a manner. To preserve formatting such as bold and italics, I’ll need submissions to be in a Google Doc compatible format (e.g., .rtf, .odf, .doc/.docx, etc). Alternatively, you can send me .txt or .md files written in Markdown, which I use. Basically, whatever you choose to write your stories in should be fine.

Posting

One week before submissions are due, a post titled “Assignment [000] – Submission” will go up. As I will be posting each submission to this site, I will create new comments to the submission post for each entry and inform each participant of this assignment’s password, which will allow them to view all other current assignments. Assignments will be password protected to prevent any form of public display from rendering these stories ineligible for submission for further publication.

Feedback

Everyone has time constraints, but this group is as much about helping each other to become better writers than it is about showing off your work. Ideally, everyone will read every submission and provide at least some feedback on each, but time constraints may make this difficult for some. The general suggestion is that if you submit assignments, then provide meaningful feedback on at least two other submissions. You can interpret that as you see fit, but a paragraph or two of observations wouldn’t be off the mark. Feedback should be posted as replies to comments on the submission post. Note: if there are submissions that haven’t received feedback, please focus on them first.

Assignment Timetable

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
4 Poll Starts

Submission Begins
1 Poll Ends

Submission Ends
Assignment Posted

Feedback Begins
2
3
4 Submission Begins

Poll Starts
1 Submission Ends

Poll Ends
Feedback Begins

Assignment Posted

Challenges and Other Writing

While assignments are the focal point for SU&W, they aren’t the only writing welcome here. In fact, this is a writing circle as much as anything, and members should feel free to share current work and seek feedback. There are also some fun ways individual members can spice things up.

Personal Challenges

Challenges come in two flavors. First, there are personal challenges, which apply to the current assignment. This can be something like, “I challenge Phil not to outline his story,” or “I challenge Sara to write in the second person.” Personal challenges should be posted as comments on the discussion post. These challenges are, of course, entirely elective, but who doesn’t like a challenge?

Blitz Challenges

Got a great idea for a short assignment—perhaps something that should only take a day or three to turn out? Great! Post it as a blitz challenge. Be sure to set a word count target and be clear about other parameters. To keep things organized, title the post with “Blitz Challenge [date]” and create an opening comment titled “DISCUSS” where participants can ask questions or just let you know they’re in. Anyone can post blitz challenges at any time, and the topics can include poetry, memories, and anything else you think up.


If you have any questions about the conventions of the Shut Up & Write project, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly or post questions in the Facebook group. Thanks again for joining us, and I look forward to your writing.

—Phil Selman