Becca and I are passionate about helping writers, no secret there. Two years ago this passion sent us “down the rabbit hole” to create a writing web app with Lee Powell of Scrivener. Some have wondered, Why do this when your writing books already sell well? but the answer is simple: deep down, we’re innovators. If you know our books, you know we approach common writing struggles in unique ways. A site would allow us to explore ideas for tools and resources that work better on the web, helping writers leap forward in a new way.
Building One Stop for Writers was fun, intimidating, and challenging (and still is as Becca & I continue to evolve the site). Understanding the hard work and vision it takes to realize a dream has really made me interested in how other writing sites came to be.
Today I have one of the masterminds behind Prose, a social & writing platform built to share stories, get feedback, and gain visibility. He’s sharing his road to creation, and I hope you enjoy it. After you’re had a read, swing by Prose–you might find a new home for your writing spirit to flourish and gain some new writing friends along the way.
I’m about to tell you several stories within a story.
It’s March 10, 2014, Austin, Texas, SXSW (a technology and music festival of sorts), and I’m Airbnbing for the first time with a guy I barely know. His name is Jeff Stewart and he’s a professional writer. Arms entirely inked, avid dog-and-metal aficionado, amazingly talented author, the guy’s aura radiates pure passionate artistry. He’s attending SXSW to promote a new book, I’m there to promote a new app. We drive to the convention center and make our way into throngs of technothusiasts. I’m sufficiently prepared, with a technology to demo and some cards to share. Jeff, meanwhile, is hauling a sack of book copies. We start networking, and I get lost in the crowd. Then, a few minutes later, he finds me.
“Let’s have a drink, man. Stop what you’re doing. I just had an idea I know you’ll love.”
I’m down. “All right. Let’s do this.” We exit the building. “So what’s your idea?”
“The entire social media experience – but the media content isn’t focused on updates, or on messages, or on images, or on videos, or on songs…”
“…then on what?”
“Writing. The entire spectrum of writing. All kinds, all sizes, all skills.”
“That sounds cool, but why would anyone care?”
He grins. “Because unless you’re a mega-successful writer, getting visibility and feedback is too strenuous. You alone must market yourself and ensure the work you submit is fully edited, developed, legit. I’m seeing a way to empower writers everywhere like never before.”
Next thing I know we are sitting in the Omni, sipping whiskey coke and eating chicken wings, talking about what Jeff is now calling “Prose.”
I get back to Seattle from Austin and share Jeff’s idea of Prose with the board of my company, Arc Reactor, and we decide to collaborate with Jeff and build Prose. We also decide to make Prose look and feel like a game, in subtle ways, through writing challenges and author leader-boards and the like, encouraging writers to push themselves and get their words down with a goal to chase, mimicking the incumbent literary ecosystem. Our hope is that this will help writers grow more accustomed to, and comfortable with, the publishing industry’s intense threshold of creative competition.
We launch our iOS app in September of 2014, and then our web app in January. We decide to experiment with a “$100 Challenge of the Week” later that year. The experiment proves to be a success, and we see how making writing more gamelike and rewarding pushes people to work harder on honing and perfecting their craft. So we introduce Books, Coins, and Juice to let writers make money from their craft via purchases and donations for any kind or size of writing, from a haiku to a chapter to a saga.
Now it’s February of 2017, and we’re working to make Prose better and better. If you love to write, Prose might be the right home for you, especially if you have been looking to share your writing, learn & grow with other writers, and have a surprising amount of fun along the way.
Our mission is to help humanity live its intellectual and creative potential by constantly making the written word experience more social, fun, and rewarding. We are focused on sharing Prose with existing groups of writers who will appreciate having their own community to network and improve as well as their own platform to augment visibility and feedback.
Thank you for reading and sharing this story. I hope to read and share yours on Prose!
Prose, founded in 2014 and headquartered in Seattle, is a social writing platform dedicated to empowering writers worldwide by improving both feedback and visibility. Visit our web app, or mobile app.
Have you visited Prose before? Have any questions you’d like to ask? Let us know in the comments!