Monday, May 30, 2016

Why I Don't Post Stories Online (But Kinda Want To)

Wheel at Wray Castle
Flickr Credit: Ian Livesey
Every now and again I return to the same old struggle—do I share my stuff online, or do I not?

Not sharing my stuff is my favorite option by far, which is why it usually wins. I don’t want to so I don’t. Easy as that. Except…

I remember sharing my stuff back in the day. It was fun, mostly. When I was a baby high schooler, I wrote these stories where my friends and I were characters in super spy stories, and it was great. Blatant self-insertion, of course, but the only people who read my bad writing were my friends, and we all got a kick out of it. After that, I ventured into the realm of publishing fan fiction. Those were better, and people seemed to like them, too. Truly, this lifestyle had its charms.

The immediate feedback, for example, was great. Nothing makes you feel more bouncy than receiving a positive review on a story, especially when they shared their reactions. I love reactions, even now. I enjoy positive feedback on my writing more than is appropriate for a writer.

I also liked being kept on a schedule. It helped to have to publish something every week, and knowing that people might notice if I didn’t post on time was a big motivator in getting things done. That’s one of the reasons that blogging works so well for me! I am being motivated by the same thing.

I could tweak the story to suit my readers. In general, this is probably not the go-to writing tactic, but if people were interested in seeing more of a character I’d neglected or something, I had the power to make it show up. How gratifying.

Likewise, catering to a specific audience brings with it inside jokes, a bubble of fame, imaginary fortune… Silly, but I liked sharing back then. I’m way more hesitant now. I cringe a little bit even when I share WIP snippets on this blog.

For one thing, I don’t like the idea of people stealing my stuff. Which they totally could do, because this is the internet. And maybe it is a little bit of an overreaction to care when I’m just sharing 300 words on here, but uploading an entire work? Everybody knows how to copy-paste. That’s why I mostly stuck to fan fiction in public places—those weren’t wholly original ideas, so nobody could properly steal it anyway.

Posting stuff online is not the greatest way to earn respect. Obviously, there’s value in building a platform, but Figment, WattPad, FictionPress? The first thing that pops into my head is teenage girls who exploit their readers with emotional plotlines and subpar writing skills. Which is fine, of course. I was one of those girls, and if I hadn’t had that stage in my life, then I wouldn’t be here. But doing that would feel like a step backward—at the very least, I’d lose respect for myself.

It would feel wasteful. If I’m posting something online, I think it’s good enough to share with the world. But if I published something online, it would rule out publishing it for money—traditional or indie—because why would people pay for something they can read for free? For that to work, I’d need to post something I’d feel sure is not worth selling. But then, why would I put it where others could read it if it were such low quality? I get kinda stuck.

via
In the end, I’m just like Rebel Wilson’s crystal meth GIF. Mmm, better not. It’s fun to post things online, but it’s not something I’m comfortable with unless it’s fan fiction or too short to copy. But hey, just because it’s not something I’d ever do doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the idea, if only for a while.

Do you post your writing online? Why or why not?


12 comments :

  1. I used to post stories online on Wattpad but I got a little feedback and later on, none at all. You should write for yourself but it's discouraging to not get any feedback. Plus, I deleted my stories from there. Now I'm going to see if I want to get self published or not.

    Also, after reading the stories I want to read, I'm going to quit. I have had enough of Wattpad. It used to be so good but now it's like some kind of twitter knock-off. 2013-2014 Wattpad was so good...

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    1. Oh yes, that is disappointing. :/ Getting feedback is important, and if the community doesn't provide that for you, I understand why you'd want to leave.

      I wasn't on Wattpad, so I wouldn't know. Still, it's unfortunate that you're losing a community you liked.

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  2. Weelll...*twirls awkwardly* I do think there are definitely risks to posting writing online and it DOES depend on what you want to do with it eventually. *nods* If you're pursuing traditional publishing for a novel, I definitely think posting it online is not a good idea. BUT. I honestly don't think posting writing online will lose your respect. 0_0 I actually doubled the people who were interested in my writing when I joined wattpad. I have a stack of people who've declared they'll read whatever I write now. ahah. I mean, obviously those are just WORDS. And we'll see if I actually get published. ;) But yeah! For me it's definitely increased my audience, showed people that they like my style so now they want moooore, and definitely given me a helpful encouragement boost because writing is lonely.
    So it's definitely not something for everyone! And depends on what you want, what you're comfortable with. But I don't think it's a thing that'll make you lose respect. :) Just my two cents, I guess!

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    1. I mean, I realize that suggesting it makes you lose respect is a harsh statement because there are some really good writers out there (and considering the reputation I've noticed from you on Twitter and so forth, I recognize that you live in that cloud). But I feel like you're kind of in a minority, I guess? I'm happy for the new audience that Wattpad has brought you, but just how I know these things go... I dunno. I guess we all have different experiences with things!

      Anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts, since you have a more active perspective on the issue.

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  3. This is really interesting (obviously. You always are.) When I was sharing snippets of my writing, I got all stupidly paranoid and did it as screenshots, which was a bit dumb because then there were all these squiggly lines under strange words, and I also forgot to double check and ended up with a really large tense mistake I couldn't easily fix. But at least copying and pasting wasn't an option. Your point about waste was a good one, but you could also think of what you're sharing as an unfinished product that will need work but is already worth sharing, if this makes any sense. I do agree that positive feedback is very nice, even if I'm not much of a writer.
    The schedule thing is probably another reason why blogging is so good for me. Anyway, hmm. If you ever do share your writing, I would read it :)

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    1. Aw, thanks. Well, that's okay if it was a little off! Sharing snippets is in part about just sharing things as they are, and knowing that they won't be edited for a while yet!

      And thanks, Shar! XD I appreciate it.

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  4. I've always posted snippets but I don't think I'd ever post an entire novel or whatever - like you said, that often rules out a chance of having it traditionally published. I mean, optimistically that will happen one day :)

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    1. Indeed, optimistically. And if that's what you or anyone wants with their work, then I hope that's what they get out of it!

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  5. Basically, you've expressed everything I've ever thought about publishing online. I'm also a forever-revisionist so I never think anything is ready for the world (internet or not).

    This is definetly an issue that requires some thought for every writer:)

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    1. Ugh, tell me about it. OUR WORK IS NEVER DONE! But yes, it's worth thinking about for all writers.

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  6. I don't post my original stories online anymore--pieces sometimes, but never the whole thing--but I do fanfiction all the time. But that's more because I have a series I've been doing for almost 4 years, and I'm committed to finishing it, even though I'm busier than I was when I started and finishing it is taking ages. :p After it's over... I don't really know. I'll probably find something else to post, but for online stories, I'll probably stay in the fanfic realm.


    Alexa
    thessalexa.blogspot.com
    verbosityreviews.com

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    1. Yeah, that's the other thing. You can't always foresee the circumstances that make getting through a story difficult. It can end up being quite the burden. :/ Still, fanfic is a perfectly fine place to stay, and I hope you enjoy it!

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