If writing is something you've always fancied trying but you've not really had any experience of it, there is only one way to improve - practice! Reading articles online is a good idea to get a general feel of how to properly format your posts but really, the only way to truly find your voice and learn is to actually write something. If you're a fan of superheroes, pop culture, horror, whatever, MPU is definitely for you! Best of all - it's free!
What do I have to do?
Over the 6 week course, you have to write a total of 24 articles. Sounds pretty daunting, but actually it isn't at all. You need to write 4 a week so the workload is pretty manageable, even when life sometimes gets in the way of things. The posts can be as long or as short as you want (mine usually ended up being around 1000 words or so, as I have a tendency to ramble on!) and they can be about absolutely anything you want (I'd safely say half of mine involved Spider-Man in some way). You can make quizzes if that's what you like - you just need to be as creative as possible!
At the very beginning of the course you are added to a secret Facebook group with all your other MPUers (that's what they call you) and you're assigned a mentor. The Facebook group is a great tool as it allows you to communicate with a load of really interesting people. It also lets you share ideas if you ever get stuck. Each week, the team put up a video that gives you some advice; not necessarily advice on ideas but advice on the art of writing. Everyone in the group is really supportive of one another, so it really feels like a proper community.
The mentors are all really awesome too. Obviously, they're all different and I only had one so I can't say how they all worked, but I found the comments were all really positive and encouraging. They are all active members of the Facebook group also and you frequently see comments saying 'annotations are up on somebody's post' and each time they usually compliment the post. If you're new to writing, they're also really helpful with basic grammar as well. I would consider myself a fairly confident writer, but at the beginning of the course I was a bit out of practice, so there were a few instances where I needed a comma instead of a full stop, and so on. I found as I went on, there were less and less grammatical points made in my posts. I obviously found my rhythm again thanks to my awesome mentor! (Thanks Samuel!) :)
24 Articles?! That's a lot!
Yeah, I thought that too. I decided that I'd give it a go but my main concern was formulating ideas. I'd written a few posts before the course, but they'd been really quite infrequent as I wrote posts whenever I got an idea. When I saw the brief (four posts a week for six weeks), I sat down and came up with a list of things I could talk about. Before I knew it (and with a little help from a friend I talked things through with) I had 24 ideas that I could write. Talking it through with a friend and considering what I'd like to write about really helped me formulate ideas.
The Facebook group was also a great source. I didn't need to use any of their ideas but the other guys in the group were really supportive of each other. If someone posted saying "Man, I've got 3 done this week but I'm totally blank on my 4th", others would comment with ideas they could use straight away. Even though we were all a bunch of strangers, we were all in the same boat and we all wanted to help each other - like I said, a community!
Was it worth it?
Undoubtedly, yes! As the course went on, I felt more and more confident in my writing. I felt like I developed my style further and pushing myself was exactly the motivation I needed. The four articles a week never seemed like a drag and, above all else, it was really fun! I loved sitting there writing and telling the internet all of the pointless information I knew about stuff or discussing crazy theories I might have had. It was really fulfilling to see my total reads continue to increase on my profile. Best of all was the night that TWO of my posts were featured. In this one night I saw my reads increase by 80 thousand - seriously, this blew my mind!
One of these posts caused quite a debate and I had my first ever trolling in the comments. This was the moment I knew that I had truly made it as a writer. The discussion in the rest of the comments is actually really interesting to read and the fact that something I wrote caused this discussion is a really proud moment for me.
All of this is down to pushing myself and participating in MPU. Like I said, I feel like my writing improved and the fact that I had less and less comments from my mentor on each post was great. Basically, it was exactly what I needed! The real sense of community was brilliant to be a part of and everyone is really positive. The mentors are really enthusiastic and are all really helpful in the Facebook group, whether they are your mentor or not. So if you're sitting there thinking about giving it a go, why not give it a whirl? It's free, you meet a load of really cool people and best of all, you learn how to write awesome articles! Go on - you know you want to!
If I've convinced you, you can apply here: http://moviepilot.com/mpu