Saturday, October 15, 2011

LitReactor Launches Site for Writing, Learning, and Community: Is it Worth It?

Tomorrow, Oct 1, a new website is being launched to create a working community and learning environment for writers. Huffington Post was granted exclusive access to the site early and wrote a little post on it, singing its virtues (for the most part). In fact, it lead off the mag's book section (under "Media") with the post.

I find it fascinating that another website geared toward charging writers for the privilege of getting peer feedback is being given so much attention. There are tons of similar websites out there (including mine!) geared to this end, all set up by writers like me who are trying to make ends meet by doing what they love—sharing their knowledge and giving advice. I guess we could all get a day job, oh wait ... THERE ARE NO DAY JOBS! Not in California anyway (at 12+% unemployment).

So, we do what we all do best: write, teach, try to make it in the writing life.

I love that LitReactor is launching. I love that "name" authors are participating like
Chuck Palahniuk (who I think walks on water as a writer). I love that some innovation and creative thought is going into this new site. But (yeah, isn't there always a "but"), is it really worth it to pay for peer feedback? Here is what the Huffpo post said:

peer critique has become quite common in sites such as these; in return, users can usually expect a more moderated, and considerate feedback space. A community is only as good as its members ..."

I've made no secret of my hatred of writing groups. I think they are a complete waste of a writer's time. Mr. Palahniuk has a quickie video on the new LitReactor site that gives his reasons for why writing groups are important: to paraphrase—they help keep you on track with goals and force you to be accountable for results. Okay, but you can hire someone to call you every day to do that. We all have to be accountable. But what about the critique part? Do you really want to pay to have other writers who don't know any more than you do tell you:

"Loved the story"

"Sorry, didn't work for me."
"Great characters .. .but maybe you should turn everyone into a robot?"

I'm sorry, but this kind of "feedback" is utterly useless to me as a writer (and I suspect to you to). Read my post on writing groups for a fuller version of my rant :
writing groups post.

I think it is disingenuous to taught this site as more than it is: a nicely thought out, but run-of-the-mill money generator. I'm all for making money and doing so doing what I love to do. But, I would never charge anyone for the "privilege" of
crowdsourcing feedback. If the source of the feedback was the likes of Stephen King, or Caroline Leavitt, or Masha Hamilton—fine. I'll gladly pay.

But, in this context, sorry. I don't need any more writer friends, I don't need to hear how "bitchin'" my story idea is, I don't need to get validated by anyone who's bailing out their writing boat at the same speed I'm bailing out mine, and I just bloody don't have the time to maintain another bloody social website that requires me to accumulate badges and "rewards" for participating so I can see my name in "lights," like I've just scored the highest hit-count in World of Warcraft.
I'm all for incentivizing writers—but you can keep your badges and pats on the back.

What do you think?

Now go be brilliant.


sbo said...

Wonderful blog! I found it while searching on Yahoo News. Do you have any tips on how to get listed in Yahoo News? I’ve been trying for a while but I never sbo
seem to get there! Many thanks.

Jeff Lyons said...

Sorry SBO... no clue...
J :)