Four years ago, when I joined, I dreamed of becoming a slush pile reader. Because of serious health problems where I was hospitalized every three weeks to three months, having a regular job was out of the question. Because I've always been a Super fast reader with a high comprehension level, I thought maybe I could get a job with a traditional publisher reading through the submissions (slush pile) might be the perfect fit for me.
I quickly found out that job was for interns. Then I discovered FW. My favorite spot was the Critique Circle. I thought the notion to receive a critique, you must give one. I dove into it and took it seriously. My next goal was to possibly volunteer to become a judge. That was back in the day when members took turns; now they use professional judges. I didn't qualify at first (I can't remember what the qualifications were, but I believe you needed some first place wins in your level and at least one EC (in the top ten overall). While I was working on that, I decided to see if it would be feasible so I challenged myself to try and read and comment on every challenge every week. It was one of the smartest things I did. I learned so much. In the meantime, I was absorbing everything I could from those who were willing to give me advice.
I remember one comment told me I started almost every paragraph with a name or pronoun. I felt a twinge of hurt and thought he was exaggerating, so I looked. Boy, was my face red
when I realized not only every paragraph started that way, but almost every single sentence began that way! The next thing I remember is someone telling me I used the wrong spelling of the word compliment. Again, I thought he was wrong or perhaps there was a difference in US and UK spelling. Well, after grabbing my dictionary, I realized that indeed complement and compliment were two different words.
Soon, I discovered similar things on others and I started sharing my newfound wisdom. I made an effort to comment regularly, and was soon finding out subjective things that worked or didn't work.
One thing the site offered that I utilized was Jan's Writing Basics. I remember one lesson and will still tell people her advice. When you see the topic, write down the first five things that come into your head. Then throw it out because it's likely others are thinking of the same thing. It is brilliant advice. If you can't think of an out of the box way to utilize the five ideas, Chuck them out or it's possible your story will be like many others.
Another thing I learned was that Okay should be written out or the first two letters capped, so it's OK, but ok is not okay, okay?
Jan took a short break, FW decided to encourage challenge buddies or critique groups. That's when the requests started pouring in. I'd have up to 15 people a week asking me to start a group (I was in one) or be a buddy.
Next thing I knew someone asked me if I would be willing to edit a project for money! I poured over resources, one referral became two, then suddenly I was offered more work than I ever dreamed of.
I'm telling you this lengthy story, to let you know with perservance, hard work, and wonderful people like those at FW that so many things are possible. I would urge you to go to critique circle and start leaving constructive feedback (don't forget the positives) and comment on as many challenges as possible using the sandwich method (positive, constructive, positive). Personally I try to leave 2 positives for every constructive and give specific examples.
You never know what may come out of it. I still pinch myself in case I'm dreaming