When I first began writing this post, I couldn’t decide on something. After writing 800 words, my mind was made up.
Originally, I wasn’t sure whether I liked websites such as Wattpad.
Wattpad is a reading and writing website. You can sign up for free (though there is a premium version that costs money), and from there you can write anything you like, publish it onto the site, and anyone can read it, so long as they also have an account. When you post a story, you can upload one chapter at a time, so there’s no pressure to have a finished novel up your sleeve when you sign up. There’s no limit to how many stories you can write or read.
There are two factors here: the readers, and the writers.
1. There’s a book for every reader, whether you’re 12 or 30, male or female, looking for quotes, jokes, advice, or fiction. If you type ‘nerd girl and bad boy’ in the search bar, you’re going to get at least one million romance stories to swipe through on a rainy day. (Not that I would know.)
2. And now, writers. From youngsters writing short stories about One Direction to older people with stories longer than Les Mis, you get all sorts.
There are a handful of writers on Wattpad who have gathered a crazy number of followers (over two million in some cases), and these writers can now be paid through the newly introduced ads that pop up between chapters.
However, just like Instagram and YouTube, undiscovered creators can easily be discouraged because they aren’t being recognised.
I’m not saying that the ‘Wattpad Famous’ don’t deserve their popularity – they put in a tremendous amount of effort writing and editing their stories and dealing with the pressure of keeping their readers happy. I congratulate them, honestly. But that doesn’t help the thousands of writers who try and try and don’t get recognised for their own efforts.
In some ways I can call myself an ex-Wattpad-writer, but I don’t really have any right to be frustrated with the system because I never kept a story uploaded long enough to get many views (I would delete my works a lot).
The first time I uploaded a story onto Wattpad, it was about a group of superheroes who went to high school like ‘normal kids’. The villains were taking over the city and – gasp – their secret lair was hidden under the science classrooms at school, where they were using sciencey-things to charge their evil powers. (I don’t know, okay? I hated science at school, so I don’t know why I thought I could write thoroughly about it generating an evil gang.)
I was a young teen in those days, and six months later I deleted the story and that account. It probably only received twenty reads anyway.
My second attempt was a poetry book, which got a better reception than the superheroes. I was followed and liked by a few other poets, all who had as little views as I did. We commented on each other’s poems with phrases like ‘this is the best thing I’ve ever read!!!!!!!’.
I soon grew bored and deleted that book and account, too. (What was the point of posting on Wattpad if you didn’t get famous?)
My last attempt at Wattpad was as a seventeen year old, and what I fondly think of as my first ‘proper’ novel. Which was probably only 20,000 words. Still, I was proud.
This novel was called “Bird and Olive”, and was the most indie love story of 2015. Olive wore her long hair in braids and Bird wrote poetry, but he had a secret karaoke talent – such talent caused Olive to fall in love with him, and they lived happily ever.
You know, this novel did relatively well. I gained about 300 followers, received likes and legitimate comments, and I think people actually enjoyed the story.
I deleted that account and story when I was leaving school, and since then I haven’t delved into the realm of Wattpad. It’s definitely a thing of my past; now I’m more focused on getting published in magazines (and maybe one day a book).
As I said at the beginning of this post, I originally wasn’t sure whether I liked such websites. (They’re filled with bad grammar and cliches and love triangles.) But I changed my mind.
Because who cares if a thirteen year old doesn’t have great grammar? They’re writing, so good for them. They’ve found a place to let their writing be seen, and are opening themselves to learn and to receive feedback and to offer something to others.
Who am I to tell someone not to try? Who am I to judge someone’s writing just because they’re not traditionally published? Yes, I struggle to read badly written books and poor grammar. But I’m not going to tell someone they shouldn’t write. If you had read what I wrote as a thirteen year old you’d probably cringe, too.
So no, Wattpad isn’t my scene, but I’m not going to hate on it either.