Black 540 Writers Community logo. Three black circles, each with a number 5, 4, 0

Everyone Needs an Origin Story

Photo of a wooden sign with metal numbers 5-4-0

What were you writing on October 9, 2020?

I just found a post buried in the blog of my personal site, written the day before the Facebook-Official announcement of the birth of 540 Writers Community. We’d just begun, and I was already backpedaling. “An unofficial community.” You know, in case it didn’t work out.

A photo of the first post upon the beginning of 540. It says: Written By: Becky Antkowiak, Date: October 9, 2020, Views 1502, Reading time <1 minute. "Struggling to finish your book draft? Join the 540. This is an unofficial community I'm starting for fellow procrastinators--I mean, writers." Also included: A picture of a typewriter  covered in a pile of alphabet letters.

Original post photo replaced. Current photo created with Canva MagicEdit. I asked for “a typewriter spilling out letters” and Canva delivered.

For two years prior to this post, I felt the nudge to do something.

To find or create resources for the underserved writers I’d met at a couple big conferences. Not new to writing, but new-ish to the writing world, I didn’t feel qualified.

In 2019, I attended Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference for the first time. I watched Edie Melson, DiAnn Mills, Linda Goldfarb, Edwina Perkins, Rhonda Rhea, and others—all encouraging writers to write. Maybe in a decade or two, I’d have enough experience. Maybe I could encourage someone. Someday.

I’ll Try This Instead

While I sat on my maybes and somedays, that nudge didn’t stop.

I met Eva Marie Everson, fearless and funny, leader of Word Weavers International. Bingo. No Word Weavers group in my area. I could start a little critique crowd and that would be good enough. Seven people, maybe ten. Perfect. And I wouldn’t have to start anything on my own. I could just hop on this little ship to Tarshish and avoid the Big Call.

Another gal and I partnered up to start the group in the fall of 2019. We had a fantastic interest meeting, but attendance slacked off during the holidays, so we planned to advertise hard in the beginning of the year. Yes. The beginning of 2020. You see where this is going. Right toward the whale spout. Yeah, yeah, big fish, I know.

As the summer of 2020 slid into fall, I contacted Eva to close the little-chapter-that-couldn’t. “I think God is asking me to do something else. I’m not really sure what it is yet.”

She encouraged me to do the thing, whatever it was. And I quit running. Sort of.

Rather than create something new, I searched for already-existing free, excellent education for writers. I found free, but not excellent. Excellent, but not free. And I found “free at first, but really we want you to buy this package worth $6,247.89 for only three payments of $89.99.”

Giving Up Is Hard To Do

In early October, God and I had a discussion. I didn’t hear an audible voice, but I knew what he wanted.

I was supposed to start a group for writers focused on excellence, education, and encouragement.

Our argument went something like this.

Him: “Done fooling around? It’s time.”

Me: “I’ve never written a book. How can I help writers?”

Him: “I wrote a best-seller. You might have read my work.”

Me: “You’ve seen my track record. I don’t finish anything.”

Him: “I am the author and the finisher.”

Me: “I’m not an expert.”

Him: “I am.”

Me: “I give up.”

Him: “About time.”

And So It Began—with Math

In early October, a small group of writers decided to encourage each other to write.

We formed a little email group. On October 10, 2020, we announced ourselves to the world on Facebook. Back then, nothing was official until it was Facebook Official.

We decided to attempt to write 540 words per day, because Hank Phillippi Ryan gave a fantastic online presentation in which she mentioned the following writer-math:

If a writer needs a 100,000-word draft, that number seems almost insurmountable. BUT if you write 540 words each day, you’ll have that draft finished in just under six months.

For the record, these days, the number 540 is just a reminder to break large projects into smaller portions. If you’d like to write 540 a day, by all means, go for it. One of our original group members, Theresa Ingles, stayed on track and finished her manuscript. (So proud of her!)

The Group Kept Growing

Within a few months, the group was in double digits.

Someone suggested a Facebook group. I agreed to create one if others would help keep the conversation going. And they have. Someone suggested getting together on Zoom to write. So we did. I started inviting speakers to share their industry knowledge and writing wisdom. They almost always say yes. We saw a need for camaraderie, encouragement, and accountability during writing time, so we opened a 540 Write-in Zoom, open 24/7. People had interest in creating an anthology, so it’s in the works. Someone thought a writing contest would be fun, so we had one.

We Have Big Plans for the Future

On the horizon:
– Virtual writing retreats and maybe a virtual writing conference.
– We’d like to hire some of the talented people who’ve already put so much time into volunteering.

Five year plan:
– Writing curricula available for anyone but particularly focused on young writers in developing countries.
– In-person, accessible retreats.
– Critique groups.

And the ideas just keep coming.

Big plans require big funding, but we’ve got a big God. We’re not worried.

Your Turn

Whether you’re a newbie writer or an industry giant, we want YOU to be part of 540 Writers Community.

We treat everybody to the same size virtual hugs. Everyone’s important here.

If you need encouragement, we’re here for you. If you’re ready to encourage others, bring it. The reality is already bigger than anything we imagined in 2020, and the dream continues to grow. Dream with us. Grow with us. Learn with us. Write with us.

Can’t wait to hear YOUR origin story. Drop it in the comments.

Leave a Comment