It is often observed that, "The practice of writing begets more writing," which I, at least, have certainly found to be true. But more than that, the act of writing creates connections to readers (not to mention other writers) in unexpected and delightful ways. Perhaps this is because writing is always personal, even when giving over nothing but relatively dry facts and processes. There's always a perspective, a point of view, buried in the most mundane of procedures. So how much more so when the topic is something deeply and specifically personal?


Which is why so many members of the THWACK® community look forward to this time of year: for the chance to read, and even participate, in the December Writing Challenge.


That's not just idle speculation or opinion. As with all things at SolarWinds, we have solid facts and data to back up that observation. Last year the 2017 Challenge attracted:

  • 32 days of posts by a select group of 26 authors (including 12 THWACK MVPs).
  • Over 255,000 THWACK points awarded


But beyond the raw figures, the challenge opened a window into the private lives and personal thoughts of the participants. We read about hopes and dreams, successes and setbacks. Each day’s entry allowed us to catch a glimpse of the person behind each THWACK ID and avatar.


This year will be no different, even as the format changes slightly. Rather than a new word each day, the 2018 Challenge features a single writing prompt:


“What I would tell my younger self.”


Each day, a featured writer (whether from the SolarWinds staff or our THWACK community) will share their thoughts, and the community is then encouraged to respond with responses, comments, or advice of their own. Participants will earn THWACK points (2,000 for writing the featured article, 200 for commenting).


At the end of the week, a summary article on Geek Speak™ will highlight some of the more engaging contributions.


Because a society without rules tends to descend into chaos (or in the case of THWACK, a passionate debate about who is the greatest starship captain of all time), let me clarify how this will work:

  • Each day a select author will post to the 2018 Writing Challenge Forum, which you can find here.
  • The post will appear at (roughly) 12:01 a.m. CT (GMT -6).
  • Once that post appears, the community is encouraged to offer their thoughts in the comments.
    • Commenting will earn you 200 THWACK points.
    • One comment per person per day will earn points.
    • You are free to continue to comment but points are earned only for the first comment per day.
  • You have until midnight U.S. CT (GMT -6) to comment.
  • For weekend posts, you have until Monday at midnight U.S. CT to comment for the Saturday and Sunday posts. That way, people who take their weekends seriously are not penalized.
  • If you have questions, feel free to post them in the comments below.


So sharpen your pencils, gather your thoughts, and get ready. Because December 1st is only 5 days away!