Writer Rant: Forum Life and the Modern-Day Word Gladiator
Welcome to Writer Rants–where every Friday a writer just lets loose on whatever the heck is bugging them this week. Enjoy.
Most cities in ancient Rome had a large open space in the center, known as the forum, where people would gather to do business, discuss ideas, catch up on news and see friends. Many forums had a platform that people could stand on to deliver important speeches.
Forums still exist in the modern-day world but mostly on the internet, where people sit in computer chairs when delivering important ideas. Today’s forums are valuable resources in that they contain evergreen information in a searchable format. They are especially helpful for writers looking for information on how a specific content marketing platform works, for example, or advice on writing a fashion article entitled, “50 Ways to Tie a Toga.”
Writer forums may even be a great place for a client to find and hire a writer. A client once hired me because he liked the information I posted in a forum. Finding work through writer forums does not happen every day, but it does happen, so always be on your best behavior when participating in professional forums.
Internet forums are also great places to meet kindred souls. Writers of all sorts congregate in forums but freelance writers working from home often use forums as a social outlet. Writing can be a lonely experience and forums provide the social interaction dedicated writers need, especially those of us who never get out of the domus.
When Your Favorite Forum Turns into a Coliseum
Rome also had a coliseum that showcased deadly combats of gladiators and wild animal fights for public viewing. Unfortunately, forums can occasionally turn into coliseums where torch-wielding mobs set upon any hapless fool that blurts out an inappropriate comment. Forum mobs are painful to endure, uncomfortable to witness and difficult to control.
This is especially true in writer forums. Writers are “word gladiators” by nature; words are our weapons of choice. The best writers can cripple an enemy with the sharp turn of a phrase.
What if you post something stupid and find yourself on the wrong end of an angry forum mob? Relax – everyone makes mistakes. You are not the first person to play the Roman fool in a forum and you are probably not the last; there is no need for you to fall on your own sword. Once you realize you have made a mistake, apologize to the forum. Be specific and be sincere in your apology.
The most reasonable citizens of the forum will accept your apology and move on, although many may not come right out and give you the thumbs up. The least reasonable in the room may light ethereal torches to burn your effigy for several pages in the thread. If your post was exceptionally flame-worthy, you might find yourself thrown to the lions in several threads throughout the forum.
Don’t let previous mistakes or bad experiences prevent you from participating in your favorite writer forum. These forums provide valuable information, resources, and social interaction that you need to further your writing career. Whether you are a writer who wants to share information about your craft or a writer/client looking to hire a writer who posts a particular viewpoint, modern forums are a great place for writers.
Lynn H is a freelance available for projects at WriterAccess.