Monday, September 20, 2021

Introducing Medium #IWSG

You may have noticed this new logo in our sidebar. We're pleased to now be connected with Medium, a publishing platform that will allow our members to write, read, and connect with each other by using #IWSG when they post a story or an article. 

Every day, writers share their words on this platform, which has an audience of more than 170 million monthly viewers. 
We would love to invite you to publish the stories you're proud of.  

How to Publish

1) Join the Medium Partner Program (it’s free!). How it works: Any time you publish a story on Medium, you can choose to earn money by making it part of our member-only content. Or you can keep your story free and accessible to anyone. The choice is yours. 

2) Review your author profile to make sure it looks stellar. You’ll want to optimize your bio, too.   

3) Craft your story. Here’s how to write a story on Medium. (You can also check out this video walkthrough of all of the features in the Medium editor.) Be sure to visit Creators Hub, Medium’s official blog for writers, which features tips and writing advice.

4) Add the tag “IWSG” to your story so your work can be discovered by fellow IWSG writers on Medium.  5) Hit “Publish.” If you’d like your story to be eligible to earn money, make sure to check the “meter my story” box.

6) Connect with your readers, build your audience, and track your earnings in your Partner Program dashboard

Thanks to Juneta Key for some of her first-hand experience with Medium for the following tips about how to format your publication.

Formatting Tips for Medium

  • Use the big T for formatting your Title. Highlight text formatting bar will appear.
  • Your subtitle under your main title should be a sentence with a period. Use the little t in the formatting bar.
  • Use the big T in the Medium formatting bar to format subheading in the body of the post.
  • Use white space for easy reading. Two to three-line paragraphs are suggested because dense paragraphs are hard to read and readers will skim them. They will totally skip harder-to-read posts. Remember most people are reading on phones.
  • Medium likes the title to state what the post is about. In other words, by reading the title the reader should know exactly what type of information is in the post. This gives you a better chance of being picked for distribution by Medium. If you are part of the Medium Partnership Program which pays for read time this will matter to you.
  • All images should be cited. Unsplash is integrated with Medium, and will have the citation there already. When you click in the body of the post there will be a plus sign to the left. It gives you options to upload images from the computer, to search Unsplash, and use other formatting options. If you bring in images from outside the Medium platform, cite the image, even if the image was taken by you, the author.

Medium's Distribution Standards

  • You can use links with a call to action ( CTA), but try not to make it obvious or too much like a sales pitch. For instance, "Follow me" or "Learn more" are appropriate. Be sure to hyperlink your CTA's.
  • You can put a brief bio at the end of the post and use the separator command to set it off. A bio should be simple and not more than 2 or 4 lines at most. You can put a link in your upper bio, but you are limited by characters.
  • You can use linktree which creates one link, but allows you to link to all of your social media if you wish.

Medium basic rules and Medium Help Center.

Titles and Subtitle on Medium Post by Medium Medium Rules

Juneta Key already has two publilcations on Medium: Writers Gambit and The Art of Short Fiction

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Cheers to Us and to the Ninja

The IWSG is once again on Writer's Digest's list of top websites for writers. 

That's a huge accomplishment considering we're a group of volunteers that are probably as easy to wrangle as a group of hyperactive, coffee-swilling ducks with zero sense of direction. And one smartass cat. Who would ever guess a group of peeps from all over the globe could work together to build something as wonderful as a write's network that puts the heart and soul of the writer first? 

Alex, our ninja, that's who. So, this post is a moment to pause and say thank you to the guy who thunk it up and makes it happen every month. (If you all only knew how many times he had to remind this writer to get her stuff done, you'd scratch your head and wonder---how does he do it all?  Or---has he ever wanted to choke someone?) We may not be able to answer those questions, but we can say THANK YOU, Alex!! Keep up the good work! 

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Monday, September 6, 2021

5 Times It’s Okay to Write Just for Fun by Colleen M. Story

Most writers feel pressured to make money from their work. It’s no wonder, as our culture values monetary rewards above all others.

Current research shows that three out of four American college students consider it “very important” or “essential” to become “very well off financially.” That’s nearly double the numbers from 1970.

Add to that the desire to “look good” in front of our peers, the tendency to judge our writing even before it’s finished, and the fear of failure, and you have a situation ripe for discouragement and writer’s block.

What happened to writing just for fun? Surely that’s what you did when you started out. Maybe you’re missing that carefree creative feeling.

If so, below you’ll find five times it’s okay to let your guard down and allow your imagination to run free.

1. It’s Okay to Write Just for Fun If You’re Just Starting Out

This is the best and easiest time to write just for fun. No one is expecting anything of you. If you’re writing in secret (and haven’t told anyone yet), so much the better, as no one will know what you’re doing.

It doesn’t matter if you publish, make money, or win awards. This is your time to simply write for the enjoyment of it, so take advantage of it!

Motivating Tip: Realize that many experienced and successful writers may envy you! Once they have publishing deadlines to keep, marketing tasks to complete, and too much to do, many long for those early days when they were free to just write without worry.

When you start thinking about publishing and all the rest, stop yourself and take a step back. You have time now to explore your writing nature. Allow yourself to fully inhabit this part of your journey. The other parts will come soon enough.

2. When You’re Not Ready to Publish, Write for Fun

You may feel pressured to publish right away, but no matter what your friends or peers may think, it’s always best to wait until you have a lot of words under your pen.

It’s a more common mistake to publish early than it is to wait too long, so don’t feel like you have to justify the time you spend writing right away, or even within a few years.

Take the time you need to discover your author’s voice and the types of stories you want to write. When you are ready to publish, you can begin to pursue that goal, but give that desire time to grow until you’re ready to face the challenge.

Motivating Tip: Writer’s guilt is an affliction that plagues many writers, particularly when they’re learning their craft. You may feel guilty for the time you’re spending alone in a room with your laptop when you could be doing something else more “useful” or practical.

Remember that you’re writing for a reason. It may be a fun hobby for you, but you may also be answering a calling or following a lifelong dream. Honor your reasons, whatever they may be. Writing is a beneficial practice for many reasons, and as long as you’re enjoying it and are committed to it, there’s no doubt that you’ll benefit from it, no matter whether you ever publish or not.

3. When You’re Stuck on Your Current Project, Switch Gears

You’ve been working on your novel for a while now, and you’re struggling. The plot isn’t coming together, or maybe your characters are acting, well, out of character. The pacing is off, or you can’t figure out how you want to end it.

If you've been banging your head against a wall for a time on your current project, it can help to switch gears and write something different just for fun. Try a poem, a short story, or a children’s story. Write a magazine article or a slice-of-life story.

Don’t worry about how good it is or whether or not you’ll publish it. Allow yourself to write purely for the joy of following your imagination, and see where it takes you.

If you succeed at leaving your inner editor behind, you may discover the solution to the problem plaguing you in your novel. It's amazing sometimes how loosening up your writing chops can bring your creative muse back to the table.

Motivating tip: You know that if you spend too many days in a row doing hard workouts, you’re eventually going to push yourself too hard, risking injury.

The same can happen with writing. After working hard on a project for a long time, you need an easy day to step back and allow your creative muscles to recharge. Writing something entirely different with no pressure to publish can help you do just that.

4. If You Don’t Like the Idea of Publishing and Book Marketing, Write for Fun

Today’s publishing market is very competitive, and it’s not easy to gain a foothold among all the other great writers out there. Most writers want to try, but you may not be one of them.

Maybe all you want to do is write your stories in peace. You can share them with family and friends, and that may be enough for you. If so, there is no reason to feel like you have to do more.

Motivating tip: Writing can provide several benefits to your life that you may not have thought about. Even if you never publish or receive a dime from your work, writing can help you heal, express yourself, explore hard questions, recover from trauma, and reflect on experiences.

When you maintain a regular writing practice, you may also experience other benefits such as boosting your creativity, increasing your brainpower, improving your ability to communicate with others, and getting to know yourself better. All of these reasons are more than enough to justify continuing to write for the fun of it.

5. Make It Your Goal to Write Just for Fun More Often

 “Is this book good enough? Will it sell well? Will anyone want to read it?” Questions like these can leave you anxious and stressed, and those feelings chase creativity away. Yet we often allow ourselves to get caught up in these sorts of thoughts when we’re writing our stories.

When we write for fun, on the other hand, our work tends to be more creative and inspired. It’s when we get bogged down by deadlines and marketing that we can start to write formulaic and clichĂ©-ridden stories.

You need that spark inside you to fulfill your potential as a writer, so whenever you find that it’s fading out, make a point to do what you need to do to get it back. Often that involves play, so go have some fun!

Motivating tip: Take yourself on a writing date. Head out to your favorite park, café, library, or other location, armed only with your pen and notepad or laptop. Allow yourself to just be for a few minutes, then write whatever comes to mind.

Observe the people around you and make up a story about them, or choose a picture you see and write about that. Be outrageous in your writing and allow yourself to push the boundaries. Go farther than you normally would, and just enjoy the experience.

When you finish writing, close the notebook and return to your life. Later, you can look at what you wrote to see if you want to do anything more with it, but don’t expect anything. The exercise was simply for fun. Anything beyond that is gravy.

When do you allow yourself to write just for fun?

Note: For more on overcoming self-doubt and deciding to be a writer no matter what, see Colleen’s new book, Your Writing Matters: How to Banish Self-Doubt, Trust Yourself, and Go the Distance. Get your free chapter here!


About the author: Colleen M. Story’s
latest release, Your Writing Matters, helps writers determine once and for all where writing fits in their lives. Her previous release, Writer Get Noticed!, was a gold-medal winner in the Reader’s Favorite Book Awards, and Overwhelmed Writer Rescue was named Book by Book Publicity’s Best Writing/Publishing Book in 2018. Her novel, Loreena’s Gift, was a Foreword Reviews' INDIES Book of the Year Awards winner, among others. Her next novel, The Beached Ones, is forthcoming from CamCat Books in spring 2022. Colleen is the founder of Writing and Wellness ( and Life and Everything After ( Please see her author website ( or follow her on Twitter (@colleen_m_story).

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

IWSG Anthology Contest, #IWSGPit, and IWSG Book Club

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

The awesome co-hosts for the September 1 posting of the IWSG are Rebecca Douglass, T. Powell Coltrin @Journaling Woman, Natalie Aguirre, Karen Lynn, and C. Lee McKenzie!

September 1 question - How do you define success as a writer? Is it holding your book in your hand? Having a short story published? Making a certain amount of income from your writing?

Today is the deadline for the IWSG Anthology Contest!

Guidelines and rules:
Word count: 5000-6000
Genre: Sweet Romance
Theme: First Love
How to enter: Send your polished, formatted (double-spaced, no footers or headers), previously unpublished story to admin @ before the deadline passes. Please include your full contact details, your social links, and if you are part of the Blogging, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter IWSG group. You must belong to at least one aspect of the IWSG to enter.
Judging: The IWSG admins will create a shortlist of the best stories. The shortlist will then be sent to our official judges.

The next #IWSGPit Twitter pitch event is January 26, 2022!

Every year there are some great success stories. You could be one of them.

See the #IWSGPit page for full details.

The IWSG Goodreads Book Club kicks off with two books to chose from this month – Parallels: Felix Was Here and Tick Tock: A Stitch in Crime.

If you haven’t read them, there are some fantastic stories within!

How do you define success? Entering the contest? Going to participate in #IWSGPit? Which of those two book club books do you want to read?