Saturday, February 7, 2015

Should You Use Wattpad?

I became acquainted with Wattpad via an article by a published author who used it as a way to get her writing projects done. I'm a huge fan of frictionless creativity and it seemed like writing on the go might be a way to get my Martin Fierro project underway (a project I postponed for several years). I found the Wattpad site, easily made an account, and started writing. Within a few days I had several chapters, a bio, and a temporary cover.

Although some dismiss Wattpad as YouTube for writers the reason I love Wattpad is the ability to write anywhere. I use the free app to write and edit on my iPhone often using the voice recognition feature. I can also write on my iPad and laptop. I never lose chapters or notes that previously littered my studio. With my currently insane schedule it seems the only way to get any writing done.

Another great feature is the keypad which has arrow keys so you can move quickly through text. Each chapter displays the word count in the upper right corner. I love Wattpad's simple interface but it needs a preview button to complement the edit and save buttons. I currently use Chrome's back button to preview my edits. I also wish there was an easy way to type the em dash. In most programs I use option+dash but that only gives a single dash in Wattpad (workaround–use two sequential option+dashes to make an em dash). Another function I would like to see is a variety of custom Wattpad links to embed on a blog or website (view the current embed feature below). A notes section for authors only would be cool. I currently keep notes in a chapter I save as a draft (a non-viewable option for all chapters). The ability to add illustrations would be great too.

Facts about Wattpad as of April 2014:
  • 85 percent of traffic and usage comes from mobile devices,[14]
  • 35 million unique visitors per month,[14]
  • over 100,000 story uploads per day,[15]
  • over 2 million writers

I suspect that most users of Wattpad are readers of fan fiction, romance, or Sci-fi and that humorous detective novels such as Martin Fierro might get lost on Wattpad (one indicator of the fan fiction emphasis is there is a box where you can cast your characters. Since My Dinner With Andre is one of my favorite movies I cast Wallace Shawn as Martin Fierro). As of today I only have 283 views. But achieving massive readership on Wattpad is not my real concern. I use it for convenience and incentive. If I know at least some are reading my work I tend to look forward to writing sessions a bit more. Conversely if I knew thousands of people were following me it might inhibit writing. So for me the balance is about right.

Let me know if you have any additional comments on how to effectively use Wattpad.

Brad Teare–February 2015

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