By Johnnie Alexander
A few weeks ago, three friends and I—from four different states and three different time zones—got together on Zoom to brainstorm a story I’m working on.
Thanks to Zoom’s gallery view format, we could see each other as we talked through our ideas. It was a fantastic way for us to connect with one another across such long distances.
Here’s a quick intro for those who aren’t familiar with this meet-up platform.
Similar to Skype and Google Hangout, Zoom provides a way for people to talk with each other online. Its options include both a speaker view and gallery view. Participants can mute/unmute their audio and hide themselves from the video if they want. There’s also a chat feature, and the host has the option to record the meeting.
In the free version, two people can meet together for an indefinite period of time. Groups of three or more are limited to forty minutes. The paid version has no time limitations and provides the purchaser with a dedicated meeting url. (The free version assigns a random url to the person scheduling the meeting.)
As I’ve said, Zoom is great for brainstorming with far-away friends. My agent and I have also chatted via Zoom. Because we could see each other, we probably talked a whole lot longer than we would have on a phone conversation. But I don’t think either of us minded that!
Here are a few more examples of how I use Zoom.
- The Mid-South Christian Writers Conference committee meetings are in Memphis, but I can still attend—via Zoom—even when I’m in Tampa.
- Two other writers and I host a weekly online program called Writers Chat on Zoom. Our guests have included literary agents, authors, marketing specialists, and other publishing professionals. We usually record our programs and post the link on our Writers Chat Facebook page. Tuesday mornings are a weekly highlight for our close-knit community. (You’re all invited to join us!)
- Because of its screen-share feature, Zoom made it easy for me to record the fiction-writing class I’m teaching for Serious Writer Academy.
- On my new website, Novelists Unwind, I feature videotaped interviews with other inspirational authors. You guessed it—I use Zoom to record these interviews with my guests.
Because of its great features, Zoom has given me new, fun ways to get together with faraway writing friends, create community, and enlarge my platform.
Morgan Tarpley Smith, one of my brainstorming pals, wrote about our Zoom meeting in a recent post, “‘Zoom’ into a New Way to Brainstorm,” for the International Christian Fiction Writers blog. She shares a little about the company’s history and how the app works so please check our Morgan’s post for more info.
Writing is a solitary profession—we all know that. But Zoom changes that, allowing us to easily connect with other writers and with our readers, too.
How could you use Zoom?
Johnnie Alexander imagines stories whether she’s at home in Tampa or Memphis. She’s the author of Where Treasure Hides and the Misty Willow Series. Sharing her vagabond life are Griff, her happy-go-lucky collie, and Rugby, her raccoon-treeing papillon. Connect with Johnnie on her Facebook page or on her website.