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As many of you may know, we have a mostly-new new mod team on the site, including myself. Justkt has been great about getting Standback and myself up to speed on the site, but it's going to take some time to get to know the community, at least it will for me. I was here in the early days of the private beta, but had to limit my participation for a while.

The site's been in beta for a long time. We've been discussing ways to improve levels of participation and site quality. However, it's all hypothetical without knowing how the community uses the site.

I'd like to hear from you: What have you gained from the site? How has this site improved your writing? What kind of writing do you do? How many professional wordsmiths do we have here?

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    "This site has helped my writing by making it easier for others to edit it!" :) – Jeff Atwood Feb 24 '12 at 20:24
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I hate to undo your grim observation of this question having received no answers, especially with a trivial answer, but I also hate to let it languish. So--

What have you gained from the site? How has this site improved your writing? What kind of writing do you do? How many professional wordsmiths do we have here?

I have definitely gained a few things here. I've been trying to make it a point to ask intelligent and useful questions which many people could make use of, and I've gotten excellent answers. My three favorites involve estimating the length of a screenplay, developing your personal voice, and creating boring characters, and I've only been here a month. I haven't had a chance to do much writing lately, but I think the answers to the personal voice question might give me some added confidence when I do get back to it.

As for what kind of writing, I do almost entirely fiction, usually sci-fi or fantasy or at least magical realism. But I try to incorporate elements of horror, romance, adventure, mystery. It's all part of a good story. The characters matter most. I'm fairly new to narrative writing, only been doing it for two years and only during occasional spare time while getting a comp sci degree. But I plan to take it more seriously in the future-- I'm going to make strong efforts to get a short story professionally published this summer.

Professional wordsmith? Definitely not at the moment. I'm one of the better writers I've met among people my age (20), but I've got a long way to go and I'm looking forward to it.

Guess that's everything. I hope other people answer these questions as well.

  • The "boring characters" question was a really good one. :) – Lauren Ipsum Apr 24 '12 at 12:58
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What have you gained from the site? The opportunity to rub shoulders with seasoned professionals and enthusiastic newbies alike. But not just that - the ability to ask these people the kinds of questions that have been bugging me for ages (sometimes for years). And even more - to get valuable and actionable advice in return.

How has this site improved your writing? I've only been here for a couple of weeks and so it's too soon to tell generally, but specifically - it's sure helped me to learn how to phrase questions that are acceptable to (and sometimes even popular in) this community.

What kind of writing do you do? Novels, poetry, flash fiction, blog posts, technical (user manuals), software (yep, writing code is writing in my book), reviews (books mainly), creative non-fiction, writing tips, health tips, journal type items and general observations on life.

How many professional wordsmiths do we have here? Actually, I'd love to know that myself. Some of the information on user profiles is exceedingly sparse. I'd like to see what works the people frequenting this site have published so that I can check them out for myself. Perhaps an extra field on the user profile would be in order.

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I have to say, I LOVE this stack.

I post on other SEs for research but none of them are quite as welcoming, tolerant and helpful as this one.

What have you gained from the site?

Three main things:

  1. The feeling that I'm giving something back to writers who are just starting out.

  2. Help with specific problems I'm facing with a project in progress.

  3. Being forced to really think about writing as a craft when formulating answers or reading other people's.

How has this site improved your writing?

DRAMATICALLY! I posted the question, 'How do you communicate to people that writing is a job and prevent interruptions?' and the advice I got completely changed my approach to the way I work. I'm a lot more productive now as a direct result of that advice.

I was also struggling with an epilogue that both my agents and editor felt wasn't working but I couldn't figure out how to fix it. The posters on here gave me the answer and my agents LOVE that new epilogue. I know I wouldn't have come to that resolution without Writing SE. Another question also helped me restructure the start of my novel.

What kind of writing do you do?

I'm a multi-genre novelist: psychological thriller, YA Sci-Fi, literary fiction, screenplays. I write whatever takes my fancy.

How many professional wordsmiths do we have here?

That's a tricky one to answer, what’s your definition of a professional? Being traditionally published? Self-published? Writing full-time? Earning a living from writing? Having a degree?

Here's where I'm at:

I studied creative writing full-time for 4 years at 3 different universities and voraciously pursue further study independently. I've written full-time for 8 years. I've completed two novels, one novella and a screenplay. I'm plotting my third novel now. I've edited traditionally published novels for other writers and have helped them pitch to and secure agents. I have two top agents myself (long story), and am about to submit to publishers in a month or so (although I'm very aware that securing an agent is much easier than securing a publisher). But I don’t consider myself a professional wordsmith. I find writing so complex and challenging, I’m not sure I’ll ever feel like pro. Perhaps I'll feel less like an amateur if I get a publishing deal... and perhaps not!!

But I do love this stack!

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