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If you’re like most writers, you only see that novel that wants to get out of you. You eat, breathe and sleep that novel. Nothing short of finishing that novel, polishing it to perfection and having it traditionally published with adoring fans fawning over it will ever be good enough.

book fan

And, if you’re like most writers, after years of toil and heartbreak that special novel is finished, perfect and unpublished.

The advice you get all the time is to keep on writing. So you did. That special novel has several siblings, all of them finished and polished to perfection.

Yet you have no adoring fans fawning over your unpublished babies.

What gives?

Honestly? I don’t know. Though I’ve read on several blogs from those who apparently do know that it’s all a matter of luck.

Wait. What?

Yeah, I’m sure you used a lot of expletives right now. And I’m sure you’re extremely jealous of that writer friend of yours who gets published in journals and whatnot on a fairly regular basis even if you’ll never admit it. We’ll get to how your friend manages that in a moment.

Have you ever considered working on a project that isn’t your novel?

*Opening virtual smelling salts.*

Breathe, just breathe.

You have that writer friend who gets published in journals. You’ve scoffed at them telling you to consider writing short stories and flash fiction – it’s not real writing after all. Yet they’ve been published. Someone actually thinks that their writing is worth paying for. Oh, did you hear that they’ve gotten an agent for their novel?

Don’t faint again.

Do you want to know their secret? Of course you do. They write. A lot. They also get rejected a lot. I recently read that writers who get published a lot aim to receive at least a hundred rejections a year.

*Gulp.*

Yeah, one rejection stings awfully. And it’s a nice form letter or something nearly as impersonal. Imagine wanting to get a hundred of them… Oh, and these rejections are on perfectly good stories with polished query letters – no cheating 😉

Not ready to jump in head first? That’s perfectly okay. There are easier ways to write more. There’s a theory in the blogosphere that the first million words a writer writes is absolutely awful. On the bright side, this doesn’t have to be your first ten novels or so. Blogging counts as writing. The Cracked Flash Fiction Competition on Saturdays also count towards that first million. And, of course, writing on Wattpad definitely counts towards that elusive milestone to get to greatness.

Reason 1 Wattpad is good for your writing: Writing more.

You’re writing more regularly, which obviously leads to a larger daily word count. And you’re learning things that you just didn’t really notice while writing and polishing your perfect novels.

Reason 2 Wattpad is good for your writing: Community.

Even if you don’t pick up on your writing errors, your readers will. A lot of your readers will be fellow writers – because you’ve read and commented on their stories which in turn made them curious as to who this strange reader is. Building a community of fellow writers is an important part of writing. (That’s why there are so many writing platforms and a little thing like NaNoWriMo in November.) You might even find your critique group or beta readers here.

Reason 3 Wattpad is good for your writing: Competitions.

There are many writing competitions out there. A lot of them no-one will ever know you’ve entered. Most writing competitions have high stakes in the form of a large entry fee (especially if you have to convert currency). Competitions on Wattpad are free to enter. Just make sure you read the rules: sometimes you have to be a US resident to enter awesome competitions with publishing prizes. But taking part in competitions are good for you. Not only do you practice writing certain word lengths, writing to a theme/prompt and learning what certain genres require in stories, most of the time the other competitors will tell you what’s working and what isn’t in your story. And so will the judges. (The Fantasy Community on Wattpad is really cool like that.)

Reason 4 Wattpad is good for your writing: Having your work read.

By strangers, that is. Unless your mother is lady Tremaine, she’ll love your writing.

– Cinderella’s stepmother in the Disney movie.

Usually your friends will be just too polite to tell you that your epic romance/fantasy/historical-rewrite is utterly dreadful. Surprisingly, people who don’t like you can be too polite to be helpful. (So don’t try to get your arch foe to read your book and tell you the truth about it.)

Writing stories on Wattpad is a lot like writing that first draft of the story as it pops into your head. I’ve read a few stories that have been unedited of the obvious grammar/spelling/wrong word atrocities. Yet they have been read numerous times. Why? Though I take care to send in my stories as “clean” as possible, these authors prefer punching out a new chapter every week no matter what. I respect that. I’ve even enjoyed the story – though I have to admit that the only way to get through a chapter is to leave a note at the end about “please fix this” and “I really liked this” nicely combined.

I know that stories on Wattpad don’t need to be as polished as something sent to agents/publishers – to do that would cause your account to look like a deserted town in an old western movie – but please fix those typos! I enjoy the whole work-in-progress sneak peek at an author’s world, yet if those glaring mistakes (spelling, grammar, typos, etc.) are what I need to wade through to read the story there’ll be a point where I’ll just stop.

A Holly Black book I can devour in a day (or night!). A Wattpad story in the same genre as Holly’s books take me six months… Why? Grammar, style, spelling, typos, wrong word choices (endower instead of endeavour, divulge instead of delve – I get what they want to say, but using a dictionary instead of the spellchecker which turns a misspelled word into whatever it can recognise as a real word, sometimes the wrong one, really works on my nerves).

Reason 5 Wattpad is good for your writing: Learning to be a reader.

It sounds obvious, but to be a good writer one has to be a voracious reader.

Though only reading your favourite traditionally published (or self-published) authors has its merits, reading the work of Wattpad writers teaches you what works and what doesn’t from a very raw place.

Without all the razzle-dazzle of an actual e-reader or printed book, you can take in the story, the words, the imagery and decide for yourself if this is truly worth your reading time. Let’s face it, if something’s published and you had to pay to get it (or steal from a torrent site? Not sure how that works… Do you read free books? Check out what Damyanti Biswas has to say on the matter.), you immediately have this idea in your head that it was good enough for someone else to invest money in it so it has to be worth your time as a reader. On Wattpad there’s no such razzle-dazzle. Except for the pretty covers…

How can you make your reading experience more fun?

Please vote on stories if you have no idea what to say, but you liked the story. And if you do know what to say, say it! I love reading stories on Wattpad and telling the author what I liked, what could do with fixing (where did that cat disappear to?) and of course telling them that I want to read more.

Reason 6 Wattpad is good for your writing: Experimenting with different writing styles.

You decided long ago that writing in first person narrative is superior to all other forms and that’s what you’ve stuck to. Or third person. Whatevs. Now is your chance to break out of your mould and try different things. Not a fan of short stories? Try them, you might even find that you like them. Do you always write the first draft of your novel by only writing the big scenes and then filling in the rest later? Why not try going on that emotional journey with your main character from the start to the conclusion?

With the Tales of the Onyx Labyrinth  I had this vague idea for a novel. But with all my other projects, who really has the time? So I made time. The same for my other series on Wattpad. I write each chapter as a short story. Though I’d like to run off and write all the parts that I’m really interested in, it’s important for the character to experience everything that will make them the person they need to be for the really interesting stuff. I try to keep each chapter interesting and action-packed so my readers don’t feel cheated.

Reason 7 Wattpad is good for your writing: Learning to deal with comments on your babies.

As writers we freak out whenever someone says anything about our writing – whether good or bad. Every story is a baby we brought into this world and everyone who looks at it is a potential threat. Get the neutrino blaster ready.

– The Penguins of Madagascar on Nickelodeon.

Stay frosty. Your writing is a product. Yes, you’ve been heavily emotionally invested in it for quite a while now. But ultimately someone has to buy it. So, they’ll have to like it. How do you know if someone liked your work? On Wattpad they’ll read, like and comment. (Though I’ve seen a lot of stories read, lacking likes and comments… Probably an oversight? Mm.)

I’m open to receiving comments on my stories. I even take some of the advice I receive. Though when someone tells me that the story needs editing and they didn’t even bother to use capital letters/punctuation/the correct form of certain words, I ignore it as easily as I ignore the pigeons cooing incessantly in the acacia outside my study – difficult but do-able

Reason 8 Wattpad is good for your writing: Having a deadline.

Most Wattpad “experts” will tell you that you need to update your story at least three times a week to have ultimate success. If you don’t mind publishing utter rubbish (who can write three chapters a week and have it good enough for scrutiny?) then go ahead. Of course, if you’ve already written an entire novel and want to publish a chapter a day you should go for it. Algorithms can be your friend.

Deadlines. I push myself to write a publishable chapter a week (every week is for a different series) and then publish it on Wattpad on Fridays. So every Friday I have a new story up on Wattpad. Sometimes life interferes and I miss this deadline, but I’ll still write that story and get it published before the next Friday’s story’s deadline. Sounds a little crazy, but it works. Without this external deadline, I probably wouldn’t have written Stories on Scrolls or Tales of the Onyx Labyrinth yet.

Reason 9 Wattpad is good for your writing: Experimenting with different genres.

You’re a paranormal Young Adult writer. That’s it. You’ve found your niche and you’re sticking to it.

Really? You’re not open to trying new things? In the last month alone, I tried my hand at Chicklit and Dark Gothic Fantasy. My Chicklit story Just Deserts rose to #593 in the Chicklit category. I had fun writing this Cinderella-esque story. As for the Gothic story Wishmaster, I only uploaded it last night so we’ll just have to wait and see. I have to admit that sticking to the rules of the Gothic genre opened me up to a whole new world of writing. I mixed it with Dark Fantasy because I actually like the full world building it allows.

Go experiment. Just maybe you find something awesome.

Not a fan of Wattpad? Not a problem. There are other writing platforms out there. Though almost all of them require a monthly user’s fee. And some of them are closed to outsiders. The whole point of writing platforms (at least to me) is to have an online portfolio. But whatever writing platform you use, it’s really all about writing more, taking part in competitions, and building a writing community (most writing platforms are good for this).

So go and learn, I mean write, more. You’ll be surprised by what you find on your journey.

*Click on image to enlarge.*

So, do you use Wattpad? It’s free to join – whether you’re a reader or a writer. How do you feel about online portfolios for your writing? Have you found a community you feel comfortable in? Any writing platforms you’d like to share?

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