How I Ended Up as a Twitch Streamer

How I Ended Up as a Twitch Streamer

When the Covid 19 pandemic started in early 2020, my life changed in a dozen little ways. But as someone who already worked for herself from home and didn’t leave the house often, my daily routine didn’t change much. There were a lot of extra things to stress about, of course. But many of the people in my life felt the sting of heavily lockdown more keenly than I did.

My husband, for example, absolutely hated teaching from home. Despite my misgivings that teachers and students returned entirely too soon to the classroom, he was thrilled to return. He much preferred a separation between work and leisure spaces.

The people who suffered most from the lockdown were my extraverted friends. The people who used to going out regularly or traveling with friends and family. One of my friends admitted to feeling suffocated from being surrounded by the same people every day.

Desperate to help a friend find purpose while most of the world felt adrift, I offered a gentle nudge toward Twitch. I had actually been encouraging this friend to consider streaming for some time. She’s a theatre major with nowhere to perform. Twitch would offer her access to an audience eager to share her passions. And she could choose which of her talents she wished to share.

It took quite a bit of encouragement, but she eventually labeled herself Flutterdye and took the plunge into livestreaming.

I supported from the sidelines

One of the best things about Twitch is that you don’t need to have a huge audience to benefit from most of its features. You can become an affiliate with 50 followers, which unlocks access to creating custom emotes and allows people to subscribe to your channel to support your efforts.

But most of the people I know who stream didn’t care about the money or even affiliate status when they started. In the case of my good friend, Flutterdye, she was looking for an outlet. A chance to be artistic and interact with new people at a time when she couldn’t escape the four walls of her home.

And it only took a few weeks before she started meeting like-minded individuals who turned to Twitch for the same reasons (some of them with a great deal of success).

Flutter and I already spent one night every week chatting and playing games, so we simply moved this game night onto stream to share with our newfound friends. But it wasn’t long before my husband joined the two of us in playing games with several of our new friends.

I’m no stranger to online friendships – in fact, my marriage started as one. Most of the streamers we met were variety streamers who focused primarily on playing video games with a sprinkle of just chatting now and then. Some of them are extremely good at certain types of games, but most are just playing to have fun or hang out with friends.

It didn’t take long for my husband to decide he enjoyed these activities so much, he wanted to start his own twitch channel.

Twitch Streaming entered our household

My husband is a teacher, so his primary concern about streaming on twitch was that his students might discover his channel. To keep his identity a secret, he bought a few cheap masks he switched off between wearing whenever he was on camera. Ironically, if he were starting today, he probably would have opted for a vtube avatar, but they hadn’t really caught on when he dove into streaming.

It became clear pretty quickly that streaming was a good fit for my husband. It provided purpose to time that otherwise felt pointless for him. But it also presented our first major challenge for the pandemic. Until that point, the two of us shared an office whenever he wasn’t working. But I often work late into the day, and my work isn’t really compatible with someone streaming in the same room with me. (My keyboard is loud.)

As soon as my husband returned to working in the classroom, we cleared out the temporary office he used for teaching and turned it into his first streaming studio. But it was small, hot and just on the other side of the office where I write. We quickly decided he would need a bigger, cooler space, and the laundry room in the basement suited best. It took most of a year to clear out the space and make ready, but he now has quite the streaming studio – including bright lights and green screen.

Incidentally, it didn’t take long for the masks he wore for streams to become stifling. So when his audience encouraged a face reveal, he turned it into an event.

Twitch is way more than just games

As with my good friend Flutter, I shared stream time with my husband. (We still stream ‘divorce court’ every Saturday.) But I had few aspirations toward running my own channel, despite constant encouragement from my husband and friends’ communities. I’m not good at games, after all, and the things I spend my time on seem dreadfully boring to watch. (Or so I thought.)

At the point, the closest I ever came to streaming was occasionally going live on my Facebook author page to update my followers about my various projects. I eventually moved these sessions to Twitch, which seemed more suited to it and quickly found a far more receptive audience in attendance. But I borrowed my husband’s channel for these sessions, still believing there was little reason for me to start my own separate channel.

At last, November 2021 rolled around. I signed up for my local writing group on discord so that I could attend some of the digital write-ins, and discovered that one of the local coordinators streams her writing sessions.

My first reaction was shock. People show up to watch other people write? But isn’t that dreadfully boring?

It turns out I had it all wrong. It’s less about entertainment and more about atmosphere. Writers, it turns out, like to know that others are sharing their experiences – sometimes in real time. In fact, many writers work better if they have other writers to encourage them and help them stay on track.

As a writer who has spent many years developing a particular type of discipline, I felt suited to offering this kind of help to my fellows. So one morning, on a whim, I decided to stream a writing session that produced a short freebie for my blog.

I finally took the plunge

My first stream consisted of a frameless facecam, a background word document, and a post-it-note explaining I might be quiet while I was writing.

I expected crickets. Instead, many of my twitch friends showed up to support and encourage me. I’ve often been astounded by the generosity and kindness of the audience my husband friends have gathered since they started streaming. Several times we have run joint charity streams, and we’re always blown away by the results – which always far outshine our expectations.

I’m not sure why I didn’t expect any of that to apply to me, but I’m extremely grateful to everyone who proved me wrong.

It didn’t take long for Twitch’s writing community to find me. They’re an astounding community, full of encouragement, always ready and eager to help with a problem or to offer friendly advice. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so quickly welcome, especially when I felt so far out of my element.

As time goes on I have acquired a beautiful layout, amazing custom emotes, and dedicated followers who regularly drop by my streams to chat and share my writing sprints.

Streaming has presented a fair number of challenges. For instance, my work always takes longer when I pause to chat in between. And sometimes I worry I procrastinate too often on camera. (The goal is productivity streams, after all!) I’ve had to learn to be more flexible, and sometimes I have to keep the intent to stream in mind when I set my schedule for a week.

The foreseeable future

But there have been a lot of benefits as well. I discovered that the Pomodoro Technique works really well for me, even when I’m not streaming. And every time I hesitate to hit the start streaming button, I end up having a lot of rewarding reactions with the people who visit my stream.

I can’t help thinking how helpful Twitch’s writing community would have been for me when I first started writing. It would have been so much easier to focus if I had someone running writing sprints. But Twitch was very new back then, and not really used outside of gaming circles.

This isn’t something I ever imagined myself doing. But I’m sharing something I already spend my time on. And it makes the process feel a lot more rewarding than having to wait until the final product to even talk about it.

I know I haven’t talked about much other than writing these days, and this is certainly writing adjacent. But starting my own twitch channel turned into quite a journey, and I thought I should share at least a few words about it.

If you’d like to share one of my writing sessions, my twitch channel is over here. I usually stream 3 times a week with special events for book releases!

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