Writing Routine

How to Get Started On Wattpad

What is Wattpad? 

Wattpad is a website where you can post short stories and novels, as well as read and review stories of all kinds. 

Initially, I was very hesitant to get started on Wattpad. I'm naturally suspicious of posting my creative writing anywhere online--ever since my Livejournal days when people would steal my fan fiction and repost it as theirs, I have a major paranoia about having my hard work stolen! 

However, once I started posting on Wattpad, I really started to enjoy it. Plus, it's always fun to have new outlets for reading. I've read so many great stories on Wattpad--some short and some long--and it's so much fun. 

Why Wattpad? 

If you're a new writer (my most recent newsletter was about getting started writing if you've never done it before), it can be overwhelming to think of having someone else read what you've written. 

Socially, we tend to have this notion that if someone shows us their art, we know they can get better. We really love to watch artists grow as they paint or sculpt or whatever. Conversely, when it comes to writing, it's very difficult to be a starting writer. People have very strict ideas of what is good and bad. I have seen some halfway decent fan fiction get absolutely torn apart due to things that can be easily fixed with grammatical knowledge and formatting. But because we have this idea that you're either a great writer from the start or a bad one, people tend to give up--or, they tend to react badly to any criticism whatsoever, and so they never improve. 

Wattpad is a great way to get around that fear. When it comes to feedback, sometimes it's best to start about amateurs and then, slowly, through writing communities, work on getting better. 

Getting Start on Wattpad

I wanted to post a few tips for getting started on Wattpad. It's very easy to get overwhelmed when you first register--there are so many stories, so many tags, so many new things to learn. Here are some tips: 

1. Use Canva to make your covers. 

Canva actually has pre-made templates for Wattpad covers. How convenient! One of the most daunting things of uploading your first story is that cover, right? It's the first thing people will judge. I also use Unsplash for stock photos for covers. 

2. Learn how the tags work. 

The tag system on Wattpad uses hashtags--much like Twitter or Tumblr--but in a completely different way. Some tags are very general (like #boy) and some tags are very specific (like #high-school). Search through the stories and learn how tags work, so you can better tag your stories & find readers! 

3. Join challenges.

Both of my stories currently on Wattpad were written as part of challenges! Challenges are a great way to just get writing, regardless of what ends up happening. (Full disclosure, I don't love either of the stories I have on Wattpad, but I'm working on them!) The challenges on Wattpad can give you great ideas of what to read and what to write. 

Want to read my Wattpad stories? Click here.  

20 Writing Prompts for Actual Adults

Danny and I taking part in an experiment together. Since we have more time in the evenings now, we are spending 20 minutes of them writing. This isn’t really anything particularly special. We both enjoy writing, but we have trouble “making time” for it. We both committed to Camp NaNoWriMo this July, but immediately found ourselves unable to keep up with even the tiniest of goals. However, we can motivate each other to write for 20 minutes on a very specific goal. That meant we needed writing prompts. 

And let me tell you: writing prompts for adults are sparse out there! 

We both also, generally, hate writing prompts: they are too vague or overly specific. They rely too much on making split-second decisions instead of just allowing the writer to tease out a little story. Or, as we realized, they are all aimed at getting children to write. 

It made me realize what a need there was for good writing prompts. Danny and I sat down together and wrote 20 writing prompts for our project. Our best advice when using these prompts is to allow yourself to create a story however you want; a prompt that might seem mysterious might be made less mysterious through clever writing. Because I love my fellow writers, here they are for you to use too! 

  1. The absolute worst day
  2. The absolute best day
  3. I found tire tracks 
  4. Save them all 
  5. A summer feast
  6. She found a bullet in the yard
  7. A flag, a bottle, and a balloon 
  8. He has a cold 
  9. A new kind of myth 
  10. A coffee cup, snakes, a sunny day
  11. He suspects she’s lying 
  12. Her last meal 
  13. The new girl in town 
  14. The one thing you need is… 
  15. A voice in the distance screams “____” 
  16. She found a flyer that say “____” 
  17. The three lies she told her boss
  18. An ice cream parlor on a hot day
  19. A small town grocery store
  20. A silver lily, a dog, a muddy book

My Writing Routine

Do you ever wonder what other people do at work? When they get in, what's the first thing they do? 

I spend so much of my time writing -- and thinking about writing, and researching writing -- that writing dominates my thought process and my routine at work. But when it comes to other writing, what's the routine? When I'm not checking my email, researching, or writing work-related material, what do I do with my writing life? 

I research (a lot) & make lists (a lot). 

About 65% of writing for me is researching & planning. I have successfully kept notebooks since my freshman year of college and while I haven't been as organized about it as I wish I was, I still have a vast amount of information I've collected throughout my life. Lists of quotes, ideas, stories, authors, books I want to read... I've written down basically every idea and thought I've had since 2007 and that's pretty awesome. 

It's something I still try to do today. I read; I research; I make lists. These things inform my writing in ways that are obvious and not-so-obvious. 

The Little Things

I write best under very specific circumstances. Early mornings where I have the house to myself. A cup of coffee. A candle. My notebook. My favorite pen. And good music and/or a good movie. I can write for hours like this. 

My house also has to be clean. Before I can write, before I can really get any work done, my house has to be in order -- at least the part of the house I'm in (whether that's my office or my kitchen working area). That usually means I organize and tidy up my desk area, wipe down the counters, clean the floors, and set up some flowers or a candle. I just like a cozy, clean vibe before I can get down to work. 

I mean, why work in a messy place when I can work in a clean place? Plus, less cluttered surroundings leads to less cluttered thoughts. 

Actually Writing 

When I actually get down to writing -- and I mean, really writing -- I lose track of time; I can't pay attention to anything else. All noises blend into one that lulls me into my task. My notes are there only to glance at and perhaps add to or reference, but I don't spend more than 30 seconds looking at them at a time. 

Writing is an all-consuming task that can either be immediately time consuming or can be like picking pills off a sweater (that is, dull, useless, and painful). Everyone has their own unique writing routine -- things they like to have, things they have to do before they can write -- but this is mine. And it's worked so far.