On Writing

Writing for Wattpad

I am a writer.

I love saying those words. While many a person is a writer, it feels like something that is mine. I’m not the only writer from my school, or my work. It’s not a unique thing, but in so many ways, it is. No one writes a story quite like another person, we’re all different in our writing, and that’s why I love saying it.

I am a writer, but not like another writer, who is not like another writer, and so on.

Writing can often be a very lonely experience. While I love being alone, I do not enjoy being lonely. It’s why writers join groups and workshops and communities where they can showcase and talk about the things that they love. But ultimately, you still go home and sit at your desk and write alone.

No one really sees my writing but me. University I was forced into groups to get feedback and give feedback, but nowadays, I only let a select few people see my work and only if I’m super happy with it – which isn’t often.

I came across Wattpad at the end of last year, where I wanted to be a part of a social media site that praised unpublished writers. Wattpad is essentially that, it’s a platform for literally anyone to write whatever the Hell they want. Some people take it seriously, some people have a laugh, it’s entirely up to you what you want to do with it. I joined because realistically, I needed feedback. I was so afraid to hear what my peers said about my writing because writing is so personal, but strangers? Hey, you go for it. But what I didn’t realise is how different writing for Wattpad is compared to what I usually do, and here’s why.

Wattpad is a first draft showcase. I updated my story once a week (gone up to twice because of popular demand) and each chapter is written only a few days before uploading. I check for grammar and spelling, including making sure it’s consistent by reading previous chapters, then hit upload. There will be many things wrong with it, there will be things that I’m not happy with and want to change, but after 300 people have viewed it over night and I’ve already received 30 comments, I’m not about to take it down and tinker with it. This story will be a skeleton of what it can potentially be; the characters and plot aren’t crafted perfectly yet, and the message isn’t fully developed either. It’s a first draft, and I’m not the only one who thinks so.

I read stories from other user’s aswell, and in author notes and introductions and descriptions, they all claim that this is ‘version 1’ or an ‘old draft’ of a story they want to develop further. When Anna Todd, author of the ‘After’ series, uploaded her story to Wattpad and got 600 MILLION views and earned a publishing deal, she did not copy and paste her Harry Styles fanfiction from Wattpad to a manuscript to the publisher. She went back and edited and rewrote the Hell out of it. And while people loved the first draft from Wattpad, she knew that with everything tightened and sharpened, this story would go on to be a bestseller, and it has!

I am scrutinized for every single sentence I write. And don’t worry, this is in a good way. Recently, I’ve got regular readers and commenters. While I do get a lot of comments that just say “omg I ship them so hard.” which is great and cute but not exactly constructive feedback, I also get comments that ask and prod things that they don’t feel are right. This can be inconsistency, a sudden change in the narrative, a weird character trait that wasn’t there before, or even weird language that looks out of place. I have a lot of American readers. I am English. My story has English characters in the U.S, and so American readers tend to point out when the American characters sound “too English.”. I wouldn’t have received this kind of feedback from peers (who are all English), and so it’s kind of really valuable to me.

I get praise. OK, this might just be me, but I do really enjoy praise. Even if it’s a bit patronizing. I love it when people thank me for things and tell me I’ve done a great job, because I do work hard, I do put effort into things, especially when it comes to writing. Because the people on Wattpad are strangers, it’s very easy to get shit flung your way. It’s a very honest platform, and so when I get comments (and even private messages!) saying how much they love my story, I know it’s honest, I know it’s genuine. It isn’t clouded by the fact that they’re my auntie or my brother and they feel like they have to be nice. They tell me because they want me to know that I make them happy every Monday and Friday (an actual comment I received). This also tells me that the story is definitely something I can pitch to agents and there’ll definitely be some interest. Popularity doesn’t mean something is good, but it’s a clear indicator that it’s something that people want to read.

I grow a thick skin. This is along the same vein as being scrutinized. While I don’t get horrible and rude comments on my story, I know my story isn’t for everyone. And sometimes, they will say that the chapter is a bit off. However, when I say grow a thick skin, I mean it in the sense that I’m slowly starting to care less about who reads it. When my work colleagues asked for my account name so they could read it, I got very nervous. I’d talked about writing on Wattpad but I’d never told them to go read it. But now, they all read it and talk about it with each other, and I feel like I’ve grown a little bit. I obviously care about their opinion, but it just means that when my dad asks for my account name, I’m not so worried that he might not like it. Because he might not, but it’s not the end of the world, is it?

I never stop writing. And this is the most important one. Writer’s block is awful, I’ve had it for days, weeks, and months before. But, thanks to Wattpad, I am writing every single week. It gives me inspiration for new stories, for other stories I need to work on, and even for blog posts (getting meta here). I always find it it easier to write to deadlines, and now I have a deadline twice a week. I have readers who get excited when I update and tell me so, and it’s one of the best feelings in the world.

If you’re stuggling with finding feedback for your work, or are even a little insecure about your work, I think Wattpad can be a very interesting place to find it. A lot of people do just go on there to read smut or about a girl falling in love with Harry Styles, but if you want to showcase your smut or your Harry Styles fanfic, then you’ve got your audience! If you want to present your poetry, your skeleton draft (like me) or even you fully-developed manuscript, then it’s also perfect. There’s an audience for every kind of story on Wattpad, and they’re waiting for yours.

For anyone interested, here is my story. I don’t like self-promo’ing too much so that’s all you’re getting!

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  1. amandalynn9204

    June 27, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    I am defiantly read your story once I get out of work, I’m sure it’s awesome! Can’t wait 🙂

  2. kimmiegg

    June 27, 2016 at 9:21 pm

    I’ve never heard of WattPad, but it seems as if there are numerous benefits in writing for it! Keep up the great work 🙂

    1. Aishwarya V

      October 9, 2016 at 7:50 am

      Hey you need to join it is the best story telling community.

  3. Ravenclaw Book Club

    June 27, 2016 at 10:21 pm

    What an interesting way of talking about Wattpad. I know that it’s mostly for fanfiction and full of terrible writing, so hearing someone talk about it as a place to get professional feedback is kind of refreshing. I used to post stories online on a German site all the time, but I honestly don’t like the idea of doing that anymore. It’s really cool that you’ve found such a lovely, supportive community tho. 😊

    1. hollie (hollieblog)

      June 27, 2016 at 10:24 pm

      I know, I was quite cynical about it first. But even when people aren’t using it seriously, it gets them into writing more! And like Anna Todd, fanfiction can take you to amazing places!

      Mine is an original story but yeah, over the months I’ve used it people have been really supportive and respectful and it’s really refreshing ^_^

      1. Ravenclaw Book Club

        June 27, 2016 at 10:53 pm

        Honestly I’m really mad that Anna Todd even exists, so she isn’t a good example for me. 😂 But yeah, I guess she proves that fanfiction can get you places. It worked with Fifty Shades of Grey too haha.

        1. Akaluv

          June 28, 2016 at 10:40 pm

          My feelings about Anna Todd are the same as yours. I used to write on Wattpad. It’s full of fanfiction and poorly written stories. If you don’t write romance, YA fiction or fanfiction, it’s a waste of time being on that website. Also, it takes about two years to get noticed. You are better off trying to actual write your stories and publish than be on Wattpad. Well, this is just how I feel.

          1. hollie (hollieblog)

            June 29, 2016 at 5:50 am

            Ok, I feel like I need to use another example xD Taran Matharu uploaded his story, The Novice, which is a completely original fantasy novel which he then got published after receiving a couple million views. He does interviews and event talks about publishing online and using Wattpad to your advantage.

            While I agree that there are bad stories on Wattpad, there are some fantastic hidden gems too by writers who really care. Despite not reading fanfiction, I also think we shouldn’t look down on it; it’s a creative outlet that gets people into writing in the first place. I also think all writers should support each other, regardless of what we think of the writing. they could just be starting out, and it’s better to encourage them to improve then to just outright dismiss a whole website that they’re using for a exposure to feedback.

          2. Ravenclaw Book Club

            June 29, 2016 at 10:20 am

            Good to know!
            I kind of agree with you. When I used to be on a site like that, most of the popular stories were quite terrible. 😀

          3. Akaluv

            June 30, 2016 at 12:37 am

            Thanks for understanding^^ I do think all writers need to start somewhere, so in that sense Wattpad is good, but it’s not perfect. Then again, nothing is 🙂 Thanks for responding to me =)

      2. Akaluv

        June 29, 2016 at 4:16 pm

        Before you read my response, I am in no way trying to start drama with you. I’m just stating my opinion.

        I’ve talked to Taran Matharu before; he is a nice guy. I’m happy he found success on Wattpad; however, finding success on Wattpad isn’t easy. I was on Wattpad for four years before I decided to stop writing my original stories there. When I started on Wattpad, I wrote fanfiction for a very popular anime and gained 2.5K followers. I used to read and write fanfiction, so I know it can be a creative outlet to get people into writing. I wrote fanfiction on DA, A03, and fanfiction.net. Most of those websites contain some of the best fanfiction I’ve ever read, some of it even publication quality. Can I say the same about Anna Todd? No. I know this is a hot topic, so I’ll tread lightly. I don’t have a problem with fanfiction. I have a problem with promoting adult relationships about abuse to teen girls. I also have a problem with using someone else’s fanbase to get money. However, that is a topic for another conversation. As for the “hidden gems” you’ve mentioned, I know a lot of writers on Wattpad who are amazing. The problem is, Wattpad rarely promotes those writers.

        What I am trying to say is? Wattpad is a good website to write on if you have certain expectations. Many writers go there hearing about these few success stories and think they can make it one day. The odds of getting Wattpad success is rare, and getting published is likely not to happen.

        Out of all the good writers on Wattpad, only a few – romance writers, young adult fiction writers, and fanfiction writers – will get noticed. If you don’t write in those genres, you will barely get reads unless…
        1. You stay on the site for years

        2. Get featured

        What is Wattpad good for?
        1. Building your author platform

        2. Meeting other writers

        3. Getting feedback by joining book clubs

        I don’t want writers going to Wattpad thinking they will be successful. The threads are full of the “hidden gem” authors waiting for their time to bask in Wattpad’s light, and it doesn’t happen. All I’m saying is, manage your expectations. I currently have 3,190 followers on Wattpad, and I still feel the same way about the website. If you are a serious writer looking to publish, use Wattpad for fun, but don’t go looking for anything more. I hope that makes sense :/ I just don’t want more people to get their hopes up. Of course, everyone may have a different experience, but these are the things I’ve noticed.

        Sorry for highjacking your blog post, I don’t mean to.

        1. hollie (hollieblog)

          June 29, 2016 at 5:33 pm

          Ok, I feel at this point people are misinterpreting my post

          I do not think people should go to Wattpad looking for success. I also never said this. I’m sure many do, but this post isn’t actually about giving advice to writers or anything like that. Many people use Wattpad for many different things, but ultimately, it is for fun. A lot of people use Wattpad for fanfiction and, like the other sites you mentioned, I think that’s great.

          While I agree that Anna Todd’s writing promotes abusive relationships, I am not going to tell someone to not write a story because I don’t like it. It’s the reason why Wattpad exists, because it’s a story you want read and it doesn’t exist, so you get to write it yourself. Wattpad is, generally, a hobby for most people, a place where people can read more about their fandoms or even just ideas they have in their head. I am in no way telling people to go to Wattpad to “find success”, but I am also not prepared to tell people there’s no point in doing something because they won’t get famous for it.

          I started on Wattpad because I wanted to get feedback on my writing. I wanted to grow in confidence since I rarely showed my work to anyone. That’s all that this post was about and how it can help other writers/people in similar ways.

          I might edit the post if it’s so controversial about the whole Anna Todd thing. I’ve never actually read her book, but I thought it was a good example of moving from a first draft and using the feedback to edit your story into a novel, regardless of the content.

          1. Akaluv

            June 29, 2016 at 5:36 pm

            Ah, I see, sorry if I misread your post, and I agree with you, people should put their stories out there to get feedback 🙂

          2. hollie (hollieblog)

            June 29, 2016 at 6:00 pm

            It’s alright. I appreciate the discussion anyway, it’s what the comments section is all about! 😀

          3. Akaluv

            June 30, 2016 at 12:35 am

            I’m glad you enjoyed the discussion 🙂 I promise, I am a nice person, I just let my strong feelings about writing get away with me sometimes^^ Thanks for talking with me, though.

  4. Aishwarya V

    October 9, 2016 at 7:51 am

    I appreciate the comment section and I want to say never give up :)!!

  5. boundrose

    December 22, 2016 at 6:56 pm

    Awesome way of looking at it. I just started wattpad and this really gives me a fresh perspective. Thank you for writing.

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