7 Second Life Ways to Give Your Writing a Boost

by Joan Kremer on July 10, 2008 · 8 comments

in Benefits of SL,Places for writers,Virtual tools

Yeah, I know—writers are supposed to chain their butts to the seats of their writing chairs if they want to achieve real literary success. But it’s the rare writer (Emily Dickinson is one of the few who come to mind) who can thrive solely in the airspace between the fingertips and the keyboard (or the pen tip and paper, if you employ the old-fashioned method of writing). Most of us have to fill the creative well every now and then before it dries up like an old leather shoe.

Attending the blogging class by Kitviel Silberberg (Teddy Gross) that gave me the know-how to start this blog

So, while I surely don’t want to discourage any writer from the essential practice of applying butt to chair and writing, writing, writing . . . when it’s time to fill the well or break through a block, virtual reality can be as rewarding as the physical one.

Here are just a few ways writers can benefit themselves and their writing by taking a trip into Second Life:

  1. Enter a writing contest. For some writers, their muse jumps much higher when poked with a contest prod. There’s at least one writing contest every day in SL, and usually more. One of my favorites is the daily prompt/contest run by ItsNaughtKnotty Canned of INKsters. Write 500 words about the day’s prompt, stick it in the INKster’s mailbox under Shakespeare’s smiling face on Cookie Island, and you could win a small bit of money and warm recognition for your efforts. There’s nothing like a writing prize to boost one’s ego!
  2. Participate in a reading. Even more common than writing contests are open-mic events across the world’s continents and islands. Poetry readings where the lonely poet can jump in and read are held just about every day. Or check out an open-mic event open to either poetry or prose. One of the best I’ve discovered is the Wednesday Writers’ Circle at the Waterstage on Cookie Island, put on by the wonderfully supportive people behind the Written Word group in SL.) Or maybe you’d rather tell a story: Perfect! Several story-telling groups invite your participation in their regular events.
  3. Get a lesson from a pro. The SL writing community is rapidly approaching the top of my list of “best-kept secret resources for writers.” This virtual world is full of writers of all experience levels, including many published professionals who love to share their work and their wisdom to help other writers. They offer classes, workshops, readings, advice, and support—often at no cost or on a donation-only basis—and seem genuinely interested in helping those of us with less experience.
  4. Role-play your characters. Are your characters stuck in a scene? Is one riding a horse but you haven’t a clue what it looks like atop a horse? Or a surfboard or hot-air balloon, but you haven’t the time, money, and/or courage to try it out in First Life so you can describe your character’s experience? Well, you can do all of these and more from the financial and physical security of your own home! Your avatar can do in this virtual world just about anything a person can do in the real world. Sure, it’s not exactly the same as doing it in real life, but it’s amazing how much the virtual experience gives the sense of the actual one. Try it—you’ll see!
  5. Travel to exotic locations. Similar to the previous point. Sure, actually living in the jungles of Burma in First Life is very different from anything you can currently experience in Second Life. But the amazingly detailed replicas of locations throughout the world are almost as valuable as traveling there in First Life—and sometimes even more so. After all, you can’t fly up to the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome to examine its tiniest details like you can at the incredible replica created by Vassar College in Second Life. And it’s a heck of a lot cheaper!
  6. Trade critiques with other writers. Getting feedback on your work is not just important for improving your writing, it can also provide motivation and accountability (both of which tend to be in short supply when doing the lonely work of writing). But you have to meet other writers to find a critique/writing buddy, and that’s where Second Life can produce for you. In addition to one-on-one trades I’ve made, I’m planning to set up organized writers’ groups at Story Mountain Center for Writers, with regular meetings just like First Life writers’ groups.
  7. Play. Relax, have fun like you’d never allow yourself to do in First Life, and go back to your First Life keyboard or paper refreshed and invigorated by laughter—it’s amazing the creativity that pours out after a good time! (In a future post, I’ll share some of the crazy things I’ve done in SL that I’d never for a moment consider doing in FL. (If I forget, remind me of the Dancing Cow!)

My list could go on and on . . . but I would love to hear from you! If you’ve ventured into Second Life, what kinds of events or activities have benefited your writing? Please post a comment to share with the rest of us!

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 FuzzyD20 July 12, 2008 at 10:31 pm

A well considered perspective. It certainly is a great networking resource and continues to become more useful all the time. I personally use it whenever I can although it seems many of the writing groups have become so popular that they are now not nearly so helpful as they used to be. Keeping it a bit smaller and connected gets a lot more useful feedback between people who know each other and have a stronger mutual respect.

2 DAT TING July 13, 2008 at 4:14 pm

I was trying and trying to think of ways that SL would benefit the writer’s community. Your list is great! I didn’t even know they had a blogging class. I would like to go to that one day when I don’t have 6 little critters to run after 🙂

3 Joan Kremer July 13, 2008 at 9:27 pm

fuzzyd20: Thanks very much for your comment and for adding that perspective about the large writing groups. I definitely agree with you there and am hoping to organize smaller peer support/critique groups that will be more useful. I have found groups so large that they’re almost useless, and I suspected that it was because they grew too big.

4 Joan Kremer July 13, 2008 at 9:31 pm

Hey dat ting! Thanks for writing! I think you’d like this blogging class. When the pups are older and calmer (ha-ha), check it out. Here’s the SLURL for Kitviel’s home base (The Learning Experience): http://slurl.com/secondlife/Akamu%20Cove/164/116/26

5 second hand surfboards (1 comments.) March 5, 2009 at 2:32 pm

Great advice! Its amazing when you look back at old work and realise how much you’ve improved when you really get involved in making yourself a better writer. I personally find attending writing groups and getting feedback from other writers the most rewarding practice. Thanks again

6 horde guide (1 comments.) December 30, 2009 at 8:12 am

You said: “Role-play your characters” & “Your avatar can do in this virtual world just about anything a person can do in the real world. I myself find that playing as a horde character in the game World of Warcraft allows me to get out of my boxed in thinking and soon creativity abounds.

7 Storage Tanks (1 comments.) March 5, 2010 at 11:04 pm

Loved the article. writing has always been one of my dreams and I recently started to pursue it. But it is not simple as I thought. These tips will really help me out. Thanks a bunch for it.

8 executive recruitment (1 comments.) May 26, 2010 at 7:14 pm

Writing is hone of my hobbies… and I never though I can use Second Life to help me writing skills. cool idea. Thanks

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