The World of Writing Streaming: An Introduction to the 4 Types of Writing Streams

What is a writing stream? Who can do them? Where can I find them? Learn the answers to these questions and more, including the four types of writing streams in this introduction to the world of writing streaming.
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You've probably heard of gaming streams before: live broadcasts online where someone plays a video game with a virtual audience, and anyone can talk with them via text in chat. But did you know there are a wide variety of other streams too? Everything from cooking streams to exercise streams to makeup streams to—yes!—writing streams.

I'm a professional editor who's been running a writing stream for over two and half years now, and it was an incredible honor for my stream be featured in Writer's Digest's recent "101 Best Writing Websites," coming in at #11.

(Writer's Digest Best Live Streams and YouTube Channels 2020.)

Writing streams are a great resource for writers, though they can be a little confusing to navigate for newcomers. So today I want to go over four different types of writing streams, give some examples, and walk through how YOU can best benefit from each of them, starting with...


Workshop Writing Streams

Workshop writing streams are similar to real-life writing workshops. They concentrate on going over certain writing topics (such as show vs. tell, conflict, worldbuilding, etc.) then practice them by writing prompts together.

This is the type of writing stream that I do. Viewers choose the stream's topic in advance, then after a short discussion, we do a writing exercise together to practice it. We also have freeshare at the end of every stream, where any viewer can get live feedback on their own stories.

Here's an example of an exercise stream we did on "voice." We discussed what "voice" in writing is, looked at some examples from books, then the viewers and I wrote our own story together using what we went over. I'm a huge fan of the funny and voice-y opening that we created.

Here's an example of a prompt stream we did on character description. We used the website to generate some faces created by artificial intelligence, then practiced describing what they looked like. Since they don't actually exist, we could go as wild as we wanted with no feelings hurt!

If you're looking to hone your craft, get some constructive critique, and/or attend a workshop while social distancing, then a workshop writing stream might be right up your alley.

Community Writing Streams

Community writing streams are based around viewers writing short stories to the same prompt, usually before the stream itself takes place. Everyone starts with the same inspiration, but ends up in very different places.

TaleFoundry is an example of this kind of stream. Each week they have a new prompt, and anyone is welcome to submit a piece of microfiction (250-350 words). A few of the submissions are chosen at random, then read on stream by the host Benji.

In addition to being a great source of inspiration, live feedback is also given to each piece that's read aloud.

Here's an example of one of their recent streams, where the prompt was "moth to a flame." They had a couple encore readings, for a total of 11 stories read aloud. Maybe yours could be next!

If you're looking for inspiration, want to get some quick writing done, and/or attend a virtual short story open-mic from the comfort of your quarantine, then a community writing stream might be a great fit for you.

Project Writing Streams

Project writing streams are the most common type of writing stream. They're typically one person streaming themself as they work on a writing project: a novel, short story, or something similar. Writing in solitude can be difficult, so joining others in a virtual space can both ease stress and perhaps inspire new ideas.

BrenNailedIt is one such writing streamer. Her stream is usually made up of several writing sprints, 30-minute sessions where she works on her own stories and encourages viewers to do the same. Every month she has a Twitch Writer's workshop where viewers can submit their own short stories to get feedback, and she also writes flash fiction for viewers as giveaway prizes. The focus is on celebrating victories, big and small, while taking steps toward achieving your goals.

RabenWrites is another project writing streamer, who mostly writes his own stories on stream while also delving into creative tangents with viewers. He's never shy about moving away from the project at hand to examine resources, websites, or other excellent pieces of writing. His background in science education makes him tend more toward the nuts and bolts of craft, structure, and connections between words and readers.

TravisTavernTalk is also a project writing streamer, who has written and published eight full length sci-fi and fantasy novels on stream, and has no sign of slowing down. He shows the self-publication process step-by-step, so his streams are an excellent resource for anyone looking to do the same.

Here's a short introduction to Travis's stream, where he discusses his stream's talk show, write night, and more, all with his amazing handlebar mustache!

If you're looking for someone to write with, or just a relaxing stream to put on in the background as you work on your own stories, then a project writing stream might be perfect for you.

Celebrity Author Writing Streams

Finally, there are streams run by celebrity authors. These are a great way to get started in the world of writing streams if you're not quite sold on the idea yet. Rather than listening to a stranger talk about their stories, you can listen to a favorite author instead.

Patrick Rothfuss is the author of the popular fantasy series The Kingkiller Chronicles. He mostly streams during fundraisers for his charity Worldbuilders, and he usually makes time for some Q&A with viewers.

Here's a video from last month, where Patrick Rothfuss streamed with Jim Butcher (author of The Dresden Files) and they discussed magic systems, among many other topics.

Brandon Sanderson is another popular author who streams occasionally on YouTube. Most recently he's been streaming signings, while joined by the boisterous parrot Magellan, and answering some questions from viewers.

Streaming on YouTube is similar to streaming on Twitch, and you can see one of Brandon Sanderson's most recent livestreams here, as well as the archive of his previous streams.

All in all, the world of writing streaming may be small now, but it's growing every day. If you're an aspiring writer yourself, or if you want to get the writing workshop experience without leaving your home, then give one a try.

There are plenty more streamers than those listed here too. Just take a look at the "writing" tag on Twitch, pick someone who's live, and see what they're all about. You might find a new writing buddy!

Check out the writing tag on Twitch here:

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