Writing Community Spotlight: Zathom

I didn’t write anything for almost a decade. Due to circumstances that had me focused on basic survival, I had to leave this intrinsic part of myself behind for a while. I was a child focused on stories and writing them. My entire life revolved around writing and creating, until one day it just couldn’t anymore.

Once I felt stable enough to resume my creativity, I was plagued with fear. Through therapy I had been urged to draw (something I hadn’t done before) to express emotions, because I just couldn’t find the right words. For the first time in my life words were failing me.

Had I lost my creative storytelling abilities?

Thankfully, no. At the end of 2017, I returned to writing and within months I found a wonderful website that inspired me to embrace words again: Zathom.

What the heck is Zathom?

Zathom is a site for writers and creatives and it’s unlike any platform I’ve seen since coming back to writing. It’s a simple interface and has the retro look of a time when I first discovered the internet (the early 90’s!). There are no spaces to chat or to comment on other’s work (there’s an up arrow and you can like things, but it’s completely anonymous!).

There’s just you and a box for your words. There are word limits. When I first found it, it was 55 words. This took so much pressure off of me. I didn’t need to write my magnum opus, I could just start with the seed of an idea. In the past, they’ve offered something called ‘fathoms’, which were three word prompts that you had to use in your piece. Right now, they’ve added an option to upload a photo that you feel fits your piece.

Zathom is a community of writers that go there to write. We don’t talk about writing or ask questions about what our main character’s favourite food is– we just write stories and poems.

In fact, I started discovering my poetic capability by honing in on word choice and rhythm on the site. This led to longer poems that made their way into manuscripts and even into my published poetry books!

Do I really need to join another platform?

I’m going to recommend this to writers until they are sick of hearing it from me, honestly. Sometimes the social politics of social media distract me from my creativity. They can cause anxiety and tension and make things more complicated. For all of the wonderful benefits of platforms like Twitter, sometimes it’s nice to have a low key community. A place to write.

Zathom levels the playing field for me. There aren’t any ads and they offer it free of charge to writers. No one can see if I ‘upvoted’ their piece or not, I can’t see who’s clicking on my stuff– and truthfully, I don’t need that kind of pressure or noise.

It’s also a GREAT warm up place for writing. So many times I’ve written a small piece on the site and then turned it into a longer short story or part of a poem. I look at it as my creative idea bank. And I love reading what others are writing. The range is fascinating.

Also– all they want from me to sign up is an email address. There’s no filling out of some long profile or putting my location or time zone. None of that matters. The writing matters, that’s it.

Also– You Can Win CASH Prizes

When I first heard this, I admit I rolled my eyes. What was the catch? I’ve been around writing enough to know that most people want your work for free/for exposure and that any kind of contest usually involved entry fees or some other caveat.

I entered my first open call, and I ended up winning first prize. I could not believe it. In fact, you can still find that piece of writing called “Silent Heroine” that’s top rated on the site! They sent me an email congratulating me and paid me through PayPal. I think the only thing I did was return an I-9 to them (which they provided). Simple. Easy. Legit.

The Current Open Call

The current call runs through 16 December and I am really excited about it. It’s open to all writers worldwide. As usual, you just need an account to enter. And you can enter as many times as you like!

I’ve taken to popping in there before a writing session and dropping in some words. The word limit is 30 and the subject is wide open. On some days, I’ve even used a photo to prompt my pieces and then I upload the photo (that part is optional).

The prizes are generous, too! Four works will be selected through Community Choice (where you hit the upvote arrow and pieces you like, and believe me, there’s a lot to like!) for $100 each. Additionally, Zathom is providing $5 for each of the first 100 entries (and you can get up to three of those AND qualify for the $100 prize).

I definitely recommend that you check it out. Prizes or not, it’s such a great distraction free community for popping in a few words. I just started work on a novel inspired by one of my Zathom posts and I am so excited about that!

Hope to see you there (and if you do join drop me a DM on Twitter or Instagram and let me know your author name, I’ll be sure to find your work there!)

Sending you all the best writing wishes,

Juliette