Back when I first started seriously writing, I joined the Wattpad platform to share my stories, get feedback, and meet other writers who were going through similar bookish journeys. Though I wasn’t aware of it back in 2015, writing serial fiction online was, and remains to be, greatly different from producing stories for the traditional market.
However, I did find some similarities in the process of learning about the industry and how drafting a book can occasionally be an isolating and lonely experience. In using Wattpad, I discovered that having a team of people around you who support you and provide actionable feedback is invaluable and motivating, allowing me to finish multiple books over the course of a single year. While not all of those books were publishable quality (though admittedly some did end up getting picked up!), I learned a lot… and made some mistakes along the way. Here are the top five bite-sized tips I like to give to new writers so they have some guidance in their writing process.
Tip 1: Write for yourself
How do you write honest, interesting, and intriguing content? You write for yourself. You examine your own life and your own experiences and you turn that into words on paper or on a screen. Writing for yourself allows you to communicate versus entertain; you then only have to worry about pleasing yourself versus a wide variety of other people you can’t control.
Writing comes from the heart - but everyone experiences times when they lose themselves in the act of getting a story out and making a proper impression or having affirmation from others. If you write for yourself, you’re more likely to tell a story that you personally enjoy and relate to, and therefore communicate a unique message.
Tip 2: Perseverance – that thing you need
Publishing, and writing in general, require a certain level of tenacity and stubbornness to get the job done. No matter what your writing path or your career goal in your writer’s life, you will be required to be tireless in your efforts and create your own drive for success. Positive Wattpad or beta reader comments may help you be motivated for a short period of time, but overall, you are the creator of your own purpose and impetus. This doesn’t mean you can’t take breaks or do things for yourself - quite the opposite actually. Let yourself live, but don’t let yourself lose your passion. Never give up!
Tip 3: Defining ‘good’ writing
Through the process of talking to many different people about writing, it struck me very early that what one person calls good writing, someone else might think is an absolute trash pile. I think there’s a difference between good writing and a good story, but again, this is entirely subjective and depends on the personal preferences of the reader or evaluator. For me, good writing looks like Andrezj Sapkowski’s “The Malady” - found in a sampler of stories from the Witcher universe. The Malady is a beautiful take on the story of Tristan and Isolde, and is undoubtedly one of my favorite reads ever, in my entire life. However, I have no doubt that someone out there will read it and hate it.
Good writing does not equal good storytelling, and good writing is somewhat individual. I can’t quite define it, but I know it when I see it.
Tip 4: Comparing yourself to other writers is a good way to make yourself upset
Please, everyone, if you take only one thing away from this, remember that comparing yourself and your journey to what others are going through is a great way to get yourself frustrated. Not everyone has the same experiences in life, just like not everyone has the same experiences with their writing. If you find that you’re unhappy with where you are, stop, evaluate, and take action to make a change. You’re more than capable of turning your negative feelings into achievable goals. The more you compare yourself to others, the more you take value away from yourself and the things you have done or are going to do, and I definitely don’t want to see any of you give up your dreams because they don’t align with what someone else is doing or has done.
Every artist is different and unique. Just because you don’t do the same things or have the same techniques as other people doesn’t mean you’re wrong. Find your own voice and write the things that make you feel free and alive and happy.
Tip 5: Enjoy the ride
Debbie Aruta at The Writing Cooperative wrote it best:
“Writers have no choice but to write down what is in their head. We do not have the luxury of ignoring the voices in our heads and wishing them away. They bang longer, harder, louder when ignored. We must write them down. We must begin our adventure even if we do not want to write. We can fight it all we want, we can argue with ourselves, but in the end, if we are made to write, we will write. There is no other choice.”
Enjoy the process of writing. Enjoy giving life to the worlds that you’ve created in your mind. Don’t let anyone steal your thunder.