In an ideal world, writers would just sit down at a computer, and the words would flow effortlessly from brain to screen. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. We’re all stymied by writer’s block from time to time.
Launched January 2, the service has proven so popular that it will soon expand to seven days a week, according to Figment CEO and co-founder Jacob Lewis, who says, “Figment Daily Themes give people the motivation and the direction to begin writing. And writing a little bit every day makes us all better writers.”
Figment’s audience is made up of young scribes working on everything from short stories to poems to novels, so the Daily Themes are broad in nature. That said, each one is developed to help writers work on a specific element of craft, including character, setting, dialogue and verse. Some have come from famous writers–Lev Grossman, Aimee Bender and Nell Freudenberg have contributed, and future Daily Themes will be written by the likes of Judy Blume, Susan Orlean, Nathan Englander and Jeanette Winterson.
“We’ve had writers share variations of the prompts they’ve used with their writing students, ones they’ve used to kick-start their own writing and even prompts they themselves received when they were creative writing students,” says Lewis. And while Figment was created to help young writers, the Daily Themes advice could help any writer. Lewis says guest contributor Helen Simonson, author of the novel Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, recently instructed subscribers: “Begin a story with: If the doorbell had rung last Tuesday, perhaps things would have turned out differently, but the doorbell rang today and I opened the door without looking because I was late for…”
Figment members can share their responses to the Daily Themes on the Figment site to earn special badges, editorial shout-outs and obtain feedback from others in the community. “Daily Themes expands our audience in really tremendous ways,” says Lewis, who created Figment with Dana Goodyear. Both are veterans of The New Yorker, where she was once a staff writer, and he was managing editor.
Launched in December 2010, Figment has grown into a community of more than 100,000 registered users who have posted more than 250,000 individual pieces of writing, with an average of 1,000 new pieces going up on the site every day. “It’s an incredibly engaged, vibrant community, where users can read amateur and professional content–we work with dozens of publishers to distribute excerpts and create content around new books–and create their own unfiltered writing,” Lewis says.