Posted by Alex on June 25, 2020
I heard about Wattpad years ago, but I never ended up using it–then, back at the start of May, I was told by a teenager that they read hundreds of stories there.
After setting up my account, posting tons of stories from years ago, and from recent times (and even some poems), I thought I had done well. But, alas, nobody came.
So then, I figured the next step was to write something new on Wattpad, and see what happened. My first idea was to just write a little short story–flash, even. But that just felt odd considering how many of those I had uploaded already.
After reading a few other posts after trying to share my stories with little success, I realized that some writers there post just a few hundred words for every “chapter.” Sure, some indeed had thousands of words per chapter, but then there were some who just kept the posts nice and short, but then they had dozens of shorter posts. I figured, “This seems reasonable. It’s popular on the phone, right? It makes sense. Let’s do short chapters!”
So I started on May 14th. I wrote about 300 words, maybe even a few less. Then I decided, “This is short. I could do this again tomorrow!” So I did another 250 words on the 15th. And another on the 16th.
At first, it was tough coming up with what the story was going to do. In fact, I think the first several posts are the weakest by far. But I just kept writing, making sure that there was something interesting in each post so readers could either learn something new about the characters, plot, or setting–or at least make sure that some action and stakes were shown.
Then, I finished 10 posts. Perfect, that’s a chapter! With now back to 300 words or more for the last few parts, it was around 3000 words for the whole thing. That felt about right for a chapter in a normal book.
So then I wrote 10 more posts, this time getting into the meat of the setting and revealing more characters. I ended on even more crazy points and cliffhangers, at least what would be normal enough in a novel’s chapters. At this point, my birthday had just happened and I had helped a friend move and moved myself (all on the same day!). But I refused to miss a single day.
Now, I have 45 posts. My story is 15,000 words long after a month and a half. And perhaps more than my “actual” novel project I had been working on, I now believe this story will be finished and at novel-length far sooner–all because I just made myself write a story every day until a plot started revealing itself to me.
It’s crazy, too. I started feeling good about 250 words. Then I kept wanting more words. And then, even 300 wasn’t enough. Now, my posts are constantly trying to go past 400 words as if my narrative and characters are trying to force their way out of my fingertips and out onto the page.
They say that Terry Pratchett, probably my favorite author of all time, wrote exactly 400 words every day. Even if it was in the middle of a scene or in the middle of a sentence, they say that he would just stop and pick up the next day. While looking up this fact seems to reveal that he only did this for a few years, it still doesn’t change the fact that he would have produced one fantasy-lengthed novel at almost 150,000 words once a year at that pace–it’s no wonder he wrote over 40 books just in his famous “Discworld” series.
The lesson here is to sit down one day and really write each day after, no matter how many or how few words you do–just keep consistent. Don’t slow down, and if you can speed up, then you should try. It’s just like building up stamina by doing push-ups or jogging. You won’t be able to run a marathon all-the-sudden, but going from a 5-minute walk every day to a 10-minute walk, and then eventually working up to go a marathon is exactly how you reach that goal.
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2008/jun/12/terrypratchett (400 words a day quote)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_Pratchett (40+ books in “Discworld” series)
https://www.wattpad.com/story/225076003-dead-end-daily-part-upload (the daily writing link mentioned)