Need Help Write Now - a Website to Inspire Writers

by WordChazer

Writing is a creative process. It is also one that can be improved by using marketing and education techniques. Need Help Write Now aims to show writers how this can be achieved.

Need Help Write Now (NHWN) is a website based in North Sydney, Australia. It offers a place for writers of all levels to learn from each other, help and guide, support and celebrate. The site is 'a self-managing team of responsible writers', according to the founder. The core idea is that the writing process can be broken down into a series of 12 steps, adhering to the S M A R T goal-setting principles of producing work which is Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic and Time-related. The process also encourages participants to undertake regular, structured writing projects at set times and work to improve existing skills with the help of the mentoring team. Once those skills are mastered, there are also opportunities to learn more about how to market work so that it is more likely to be published and read, and a chance to pass on these skills to others in turn. A regular newsletter aims to inspire, motivate and teach at the same time, while a list of writing mentors shows the founder’s inspirations as well as offering places to look for further advice.

Header photo by Nic McPhee at flickr.

A Newsletter Provides Silent Support

I relate better to those areas of marketing designed to appeal to people who prefer their cues written rather than spoken, so I know how powerful a newsletter can be. These days, many people prefer video or visual cues, but I blank them completely, preferring silence or music to spoken and visual prompts, if it’s all the same to everyone? I’m more likely to start a sentence with ‘I read an article…’ than ‘I saw this program on TV…’.

The founder of Need Help Write Now maintains that rejection and rewriting is part of the process of becoming a successful writer. However, keeping up the will to write when all those words are meeting with rejection can be hard. That’s where the community and support elements of the site’s newsletter and buddy system come in, because there’s always someone around to commiserate, offer advice and pour a mental glass of wine in consolation when a hard luck story is shared. 

Twelve Seasons of Growth

Look for the #SydneyReads hashtag

Recently, the founder began to release a series of stories about characters arriving in North Sydney from around the world. A new installment of Twelve Seasons of Growth is available every month on the 12th of the month, and proceeds (currently $4.35 per print copy, free for downloads) go towards the upkeep of NHWN. Think of it as a modern day serial, of the kind which Dickens wrote and published. The author and website owner is hoping to reach 1212 subscriptions by, yes, you guessed it, December 12 this year. Look for the hashtag #SydneyReads on Twitter.

Accountability Inspires and Drives

As part of the requirement to be accountable, writers are asked to share the creation and marketing campaigns they’ve undertaken using the S M A R T system, issuing themselves with a challenge in the process. Accountability works wonders, as those on weight-loss programs will agree, and it’s no different for us writing types. NaNoWriMo attracts thousands of participants every year, all intent upon writing their novel within a month. Jo Harrington, writer here at Wizzley, proves that it’s not just novel writers who can motivate themselves to write. She wrote 365 articles in her first year here, after joining in December 2011. Yes. One article of 400 or more words per day. At time of writing she has published 622 articles and shows few signs of slowing up.

The founder of Need Help Write Now admits she writes because her surroundings inspire her. I’ll attest to that: having worked with senior academics and research scientists for several years, I find the atmosphere at work is intellectually creative and that the conversation topics spark off thoughts in my brain which won’t go away until I’ve committed them to a hapless screen (any screen!) within reach. I find that article ideas are like aliens, they’ll break out any way they can, and often show no mercy to my carefully ordered dayjob schedule or any other plans I may have made. Buying a smartphone with a text file facility is the best thing I ever did, and on upgrade, one of the things I insist a cellphone has these days is the ability to draft text in some format and either email it to myself or cut and paste for publication online. Fortunately for me, most smartphone makers have now caught on to this requirement, so I can be productive during my daily bus commute to work. As advised by NHWN, this is my structured writing time, when I write whatever comes into my head, or the article that has been festering in my subconscious overnight.

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Female Role Models in Writing and the Arts

Need Help Write Now’s founder has a marketing background, but she also recognizes the power of the determined and inspiring female, and like many female writers before her, has realized that writing is a unisex role. Women can be writers, just as men can. Women like Candace Bushnell, Sue Grafton, J K Rowling and Freya North make a living from their words. In their own name. Gone are the days of Currah, Acton and Ellis Bell (the Brontes) and George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans). Mind you, J K Rowling still felt the need to take the pen name Robert Galbraith when she wrote a novel that wasn’t in the Harry Potter series, although a pseudonym is often used when writers target a genre outside the one in which they are known.

From Blogging to Pro Bono Writing

'But why write for free? Surely I should be being paid for my work?'

There is an extensive blog with two years’ worth of information on subjects of interest to writers, including details of meetups and further material from writers on writing. I’ve met a few of my online writing contacts over the years, and we always seem to have a comfortable few hours talking about articles, influences and other things which could only be of interest to creators and owners of the published word.

Need Help Write Now has a page on Pro Bono writing. Why does any writer want to write for free? Because sometimes it opens the door to something better. A writer can write something for a charity, a small start-up, a niche event, thinking no more of it. Then it goes viral, for no apparent reason. I’ve had Editor’s Choice awards for articles I wrote because I was interested in sharing what I had seen. I’ve had them for writing articles about my dayjob. That means the articles are featured on the front page. This publicity reaches even the most non-committal reader, who probably landed on the front page in search of something else. And, as I can personally say, working with passionate volunteers is the best way to kick start a sluggish braincell. Last I was at my volunteer role, I walked out of a film showing to go and empty my brain onto the computer. That mental flushing has become at least four articles, all kick started by the film showing that night.

Inspiration in the form of a mug?

A Helping Hand

For those who say ‘I have always wanted to write’ Need Help Write Now offers a helping hand along that road. Writers of all levels are encouraged to contact the founder, for help, advice and to share stories, whether of success or failure. No financial outlay appears to be initially required, unless purchasing copies of the Twelve Seasons of Growth series, and participation is entirely voluntary. Although based in Sydney, Australia, the newsletter is international, and the only thing non-Aussies would miss out on is the meetups organized locally. There are virtually no downsides to this idea, as it is possible to fit the 12-step program around any lifestyle, contributing to the newsletter as necessary to inspire and teach others.

Need help with writing? You Need Help Write Now.

Updated: 05/03/2014, WordChazer
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DerdriuMarriner on 07/15/2017

WordChazer, Did they meet the subscription goal of 1212 by the 12th day of the 12th month?

WordChazer on 06/04/2014

Eda will be pleased, thanks Emma. NHWN is on my to-do list too, but I'm up to here with work at the moment. I am very much a solitary writer but I can live with groups at a distance. It was Eda who mentioned NaNoWriMo, not me. All credit to her and the team for the website. I just wrote about it.

WordChazer on 05/13/2014

No problem, WiseFool. Glad to have found something useful for everyone to look at.

WiseFool on 05/13/2014

Thanks for bringing this site to more of us, WordChazer! Certainly looks like a useful resource.

WordChazer on 05/05/2014

One of these days, Susan. It's always good to have influences from people outside your day-to-day existence, I find. Newsletters do that for me, and the accountability is familiar too.

Telesto on 05/05/2014

Thanks Paula, I really enjoyed reading this. Always good, I think, to have support, writing can be such a solitary occupation. If you sign up to Writers and Artists, they send out a helpful newsletter too.

AbbyFitz on 05/04/2014

This group sounds like just what all us aspiring writers need. Sometimes a person may have a goal and not have a clue how to get there. Everyone needs a little direction now and then.

ologsinquito on 05/03/2014

Whoops, I forgot to end my question with a question mark.

ologsinquito on 05/03/2014

What a great idea. Haven't you noticed that, in general, writers are very helpful toward one another.

WordChazer on 05/03/2014

I'm on a roll here. Three days with writing, eBay, washing, ironing and tidying. In that order. I have several ideas bubbling and three clients banging on the door wanting 'work, please'. There's dayjob proofreading to do as well if I fancy a change. I'm happy. Mother-in-law is coming over in an hour or so to take us for supper, other than that, my writing time is my own. Hence why I finally found the time to sit down and write about the group. Also, it fits in well with my goal-setting project, which I really need to finish publishing.

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