Tag Archives: Writing Process

The Wattpad Writing Contest Sucks

Two weeks ago I recieved a message from the Wattpad staff about some writing contest. Something about writing a short story about “a time where you stood up for the truth” or something. I totally disregarded it. If you’ve read any of my writings over at my other blog you should be well aware that there is no “truth” to anything I write. Everything is foggy, unclear, hidden, and there usually isn’t any sort of plot, theme, or reason behind any of my writings. It seems I channel my useless and directionless feelings into my stories so any idea about me writing about “a time where I stood up for the truth” was a lost cause.

Let’s also gripe about how the contest required a story that’s less than 500 words. This is nothing and with my typical paragraphs of about 100 words meant I’d have to write a story of only five paragraphs. How can you write a story about the truth in five fucking paragraphs?

Anyways, I ignored it for a week and then received another message from Wattpad: the same message about a writing contest. Well, would there be any downside to writing some 500-word drivel just for the fuck of it? There was nothing to lose besides time, and maybe I could churn something out in 30 minutes or so. I thought about it for a few days but didn’t care too much about it.

And then something happened on Thursday while I was sitting at my computer. The thoughts started to flow, the YOLO channeled through me, the idea that there was nothing to lose by bullshitting 500 words about “the truth” taking hold of me or some shit. I set to work carefully crafting a 500 word “story” about losing your mind on drugs, having a crisis, questioning the fabric of everything, and coming to no conclusion whatsoever. If you’d like you can read the final product here: I’d love to have some viewer support in this failed endeavour.

A fun thing happened when I checked the story on Wattpad today. It was ranked #142 in the tagged stories for the contest. Huh? That’s pretty high, isn’t it? Surely thousands and maybe millions of people submitted something so how the fuck was I #142? There was no way that was correct. I clicked the link to view my ranking and the #142 was out of like only 288 stories in total. What?! Shouldn’t there be thousands of thirsty people chasing after the glory of winning a contest? Apparently not.

It reminds me of a few other writing contests I somehow won before really pretending to be a writer, both at my local community college. The first one was about “what college meant to me” or some shit. I bullshitted an essay and won like third place or something. How? Why? I don’t know. I wrote something about college “making me into the person I was meant to be” or something. Once again, I don’t know. And there was another writing contest, one from an organisation called Transform Rockford which was hell-bent on turning our shitty run-down town into something of note here in the midwest. I wrote an essay complaining about the “lack of community” by noting that there’s a lack of grocery stores, doctor’s offices, and anything else to note in my predominantly African-American side of town, while also noting that liquor stores and bars seemed to exist in a greater frequency. Totally shitting all over the positive vibes that Transform Rockford seemed to be going for.

And I won…something. Second place, third place, I don’t recall. I won $50 which was the first cash I ever received for writing something. Even worse, I had to read my essay at the college in front of people. Jesus. That was awful, but luckily I was in speech class and knew that pretending I was a confident badass who had a point to make was just as good as actually being a confident badass who had a point to make. I read my critical essay, got a round of applause, awkwardly shook some hands, and walked back to my seat.

One of the my more awkward photos. Obviously. But I should be proud I guess.

I wondered why I won something in these two contests, once again thinking it surely wasn’t due to talent or skill or anything. And I think I’ve stumbled upon a slight bit of truth to why I won because of this silly Wattpad contest: no one actually submits anything.

The rules of the Wattpad contest are straightforward enough, but also convoluted enough that I assume a bunch of people halfass reading the actual requirements misunderstood it. The message links you to a page that gives the rules of the contest, and this page gives a link to a tag that you must click on to properly tag your story with. Basically, writing a story and manually tagging it doesn’t seem to fulfill the contest requirements. How many people wrote a submission and failed to read the rules and tag it properly? Thousands? I don’t know. Maybe people are just slackers and think they’re failures and don’t even submit anything.

So the chances are improved by people not reading the rules like a lawyer would or being too sheepish to even try. 288 people? That’s all I’m up against? Well, fuck, I might have a shot based on pure chance alone. A 1/288 chance is magnitudes better than the fucking lottery, and any skill you actually have only improves your chances. And simply submitting something and overcoming your natural self-hatred and suspicions that others are miles better than yourself also improves your chances. Maybe everyone thinks they’re shit and how many people are discouraged and never submit anything? I really don’t think I’ll win, but any thought I have about the matter is out of my hands. I got off my ass, wrote something, submitted it (properly too!), and put myself out there. As with the other contests that I somehow placed in, I think the fact that I actually tried was a huge factor in being successful. If you never try, you’ll never win, right?

Drunken Writing Sucks

God, do I hate myself right now. I can’t do a damn thing with writing. My thoughts are a jumbled mess that I just can’t make sense of. I’ve had five beers already and nothing is inspiring to write about, but damn am I determined to get something out. It feels like a strange form of writer’s block which I’m sure I’ve already written about at least a few times in the past year. Like where you have a ton of ideas but no inspiration or motivation to actually put the puzzle pieces together into a coherent blog post. I’m going to write here and see what happens. Maybe it’ll break up the mental jam that I’m suffering through. Say what is in your soul, as I’ve been telling myself.

I drank yesterday. Only eight beers over the course of about six hours which isn’t really bad although I did break my “drink on Sunday” rule again. There is an exception to the rule: long car drives or big adventures. I drove to Davenport, Iowa yesterday to help my sister move out of her wife’s-but-soon-to-be-ex-wife’s home — only a two-hour drive — but once again I realized I hate car drives. Long ones at least. There is something uniquely exhausting about sitting in a chair for hours while driving that doesn’t compare to anything else I’ve experienced. Hell, I’ve been on this couch for the past five hours and don’t feel exhausted at all. Something about the drone of the road, the hum of the engine, and dealing with people that can’t seem to use cruise control on a highway wear you out; I don’t know what it is exactly but something about driving is exhausting. So I treated myself with some beers when I got back home.

I drank and then my mind went into hyperdrive. I came up with about five or six blog post ideas, all in the stream of consciousness where I found myself laying in bed and thinking out the posts with my inner monologue. Boy did they flow wonderfully and I felt there was some magic in the thought process. Something that made me think, “This is it, this is how you write!” but I couldn’t put it down on paper or on a computer. Something held me back from actually sitting down and writing the posts and I was happy to just “mentally write them” or some shit.

Which made me hate myself more than usual. I cannot get my mind in line. I cannot capitalize on the gifts that have been bestowed upon me. It almost feels like an uncontrollable power — all these thoughts tossed at me randomly that I cannot process or contain long enough to do anything with — that I should do something with and use but just can’t get around to it. I went and took a shower and continued to mentally write posts, trying to conjure up some way to contain the lightning of my brain into some sort of bottle. I didn’t find any, obviously. I tried to write something at 4 a.m. but it never pulled itself together into anything coherent. It’s a mess, my brain is a mess, and I can’t seem to do anything with 90% of the shit that randomly enters my head that I feel is a good idea.

I shouldn’t forget that I still need to write my Morrowind story for this week either. The past four weeks has only had two chapters published meaning I’m totally dropping the ball on my goal which leads to more self-hatred. Once you fail it’s so hard to pick yourself back up and get on your goals. I’m determined to write something today, even if it does end up being a mess, and I think it being a mess might make the story better in a way. I think that’s why I’m struggling my way through this post; I want something to show myself to say, “See?! You can do something if you only try hard enough!” I’m constantly telling myself, “You’re a good writer! Have confidence! Just write! Go for it! Say what is in your soul!” but it doesn’t work very well. I’m not depressed, just unmotivated. Wondering what it’s all for. Thinking of my past blog posts about motivation and realizing your goals and being yourself and wondering where the person who wrote that shit actually disappeared to. I know I wrote them, but at the same time it doesn’t feel like myself. It feels like the successful me that actually has things figured out wrote them and I’m not that person anymore. I know I’m still the same and I’m just in a funk, but it’s hard to convince yourself of that fact.

So the struggle to write continues. I suppose there is no need to bitch or whine about it (even though I just did) and the only solution is to get the fuck down to work. When you’re left with nothing else to distract yourself with the only way is forward. Progress because there is nothing else to really do. Another day is over, another blog post finished, and I’m progressing towards some unsatisfying conclusion or goal somewhere in the unclear and foggy future. Here’s to progress friends. Cheers.

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing.

Or my Facebook page where I don’t do much of anything at all.

Writing Kinda Sucks

“…I’ve always considered writing the most hateful kind of work.”

Hunter S. Thompson

I think when we pick up any new hobby or interest we only see the positives. We see the glory of it — the big picture of it all. As a painter you imagine relaxing at home and just creating beautiful artwork. Or the pianist sitting at their instrument creating interesting and wonderful music. Or the author, bringing magical worlds to life that only exist on paper and in the imagination of your readers. You dream of actually making it by publishing your books, selling your artwork, or ending up in a successful band, etc. When we undertake a new goal or hobby we rightfully only see the good because it’s where we want to be in our lives. But to get to the good you have to toil away with the total bullshit that no one talks about.

Prospective writers and authors also have their own fantasy: sitting at a desk with a cup of coffee and a dog in the corner/cat in your lap while you let your imagination run wild with ideas that you effortlessly slap down on paper/PC/typewriter/whatever the fuck you’re using. Anyone who has even attempted writing will instantly know this is bullshit. No one idolizes the times where you’re staring at your computer at 11 p.m. and while wanting to write something realizing that you have no idea for what to actually write. Or maybe you have an idea but it doesn’t come out right and you can’t get into a flow. There’s also the opposite problem like with me right now: awake at 2 a.m. suddenly finding yourself inspired to write a blog post about writing. The idea just appears out of the ether and you gotta grab the inspiration before it disappears.

I always thought writing was easy. It’s not that it’s hard like math is hard; it’s a different sort of difficult. I was always the type of person to procrastinate school papers until the night before they were due and knocked them out in a few hours of furious typing; I’d always get good grades by doing this too. Maybe this is where I got the “writing is easy” idea from, and I know for a fact it’s where I got my dreadful procrastination from. (Why plan anything out when you can knock it out in a few frightful hours?!) But writing isn’t easy. Let me walk you through a typical writing process for me. I’m assuming everyone else has similar issues and the more we write the more we learn to manage and minimize these pain-in-the-ass traits that writing entails.

Inspiration

This sounds stupid, but you need to have something to write about before you write. You need a story idea or a blog post idea or something. Once again this was never a problem in high school or college when people told you what to write. Now that you’re doing this on your own you need to figure out your own ideas. These ideas almost have to accidentally come to you and this is frustrating, especially in regards to blogging. We all know that frequently posting is a good idea, but you also need ideas for your posts. You end up torn between spam-posting low quality stuff day-after-day or postponing things for so long that you appear to be unreliable. It’s a pain in the ass.

It’s even worse for fiction writing as you need to conjure up characters, a plot, themes, and whatever else, and as I mentioned earlier you can’t seem to force this part. You can’t sit down and force yourself to write a good story with no plot in mind. You have to sit around and brainstorm and hope something good comes along. Even so, this isn’t an invitation to procrastinate in terms of perfection: you still need to get off your ass and write! It sounds contradictory huh?

The Writing

After you have an idea you can get to work on it. This is the actual fun part of writing where you can let your ideas run wild. Writing is the transformation of ideas into concrete words and sentences that other people can enjoy. It’s timeless and romantic and amazing to do when you get in the zone. You’re literally creating new worlds that have never been created! Bringing into existence people, creatures, and things that have never existed outside of your mind! It’s amazing! Sometimes you start typing and are surprised with what you’ve written, as if the ideas materialized out of thin air. What you write might be fantastically good, or shine light on some subconscious workings of your mind that you’re not even aware of. It’s this part of writing that is the most addictive. This is what I love about writing.

The Editing

For fucks sake this part is awful. I worked for hours day-after-day to finally edit my two ebooks and it wasn’t enjoyable at all. This is the part of the writing process where you take your random, rough, and rambling writings and clean the things up. You’re hunting around for grammatical errors, factual errors, spelling errors, and any other errors imaginable. For fictional stories you’re also making sure the characters’ names and jobs are consistent and that everything makes sense. I realized in one one of my stories that a character was terribly inconsistent in two of the chapters he’s in and it’s something that needs to be fixed. Sometimes you need to move paragraphs and chapters around or even delete the damn things. Sometimes you find irrelevant trash that you have no idea how it ended up in the work in the first place. Chapters about nothing in particular. This step is tedious, boring, time consuming and all around awful.

The End

Somehow if you pull all of this shit together you will have a finished product, be it a story, a novel, a blog post, or even a fancy self-help instructional guide. Whatever. And this is what makes it all worth it I suppose. When you can feel good for sitting through some not-very-fun bullshit to actually create something. When you’ve suffered through all of the difficult and tedious shit long enough to have something to show to others and something that you can be proud of. It doesn’t even matter if what you’ve created is trash because at least you’ve created something. How many countless others have wanted to create something but never got around to doing so? How many people fail before they even start?

But Not the End

Oh yeah, even once you have a finished product on your hands you’re still not finished with the process yet. The more I’ve been writing the more I’ve realized about the other shitty demon involved with trying to be an author: self-promotion. I’m also terrible at it. The fact is even if you wrote a masterpiece no one will buy it or even know about it if you don’t promote yourself. This involves goofy terms like “networking” and “advertising” and “getting yourself out there” and a few other nebulous terms that I despise while not being able to think of them right this moment. Let’s not forget the bloggers’ “SEO” stuff too!

As a side rant I’ve seen this problem mostly with MLM-Facebookers trying to pedal their wraps, diet pills, CBD oils, etc. These people try to sell products to their friends and family first without realizing that they can’t limp by selling products only to them. It’s the same with being an author: even if you have five or ten friends/family that love your writings they cannot support you completely. You can’t be a successful artist if only those people are purchasing your products. You need to branch out and find other customers!

I also think this is antithetical the the stereotypical writer as well, at least for me it is: I’m a person that likes to stay inside my head and someone who has confidence issues. A classic introvert I am. I really do think my writing isn’t good enough for people to actually want to read and am constantly surprised when I hear positive feedback on it. Obviously I’m terrible at self-promotion. It always comes across as begging or cringy when I try to get new people to read my writings. It’s hard to do. I wish I could ignore the self-promotion aspect of writing but it seems to go hand in hand with it. You simply can’t git gud at writing where everyone magically loves you. You need to put yourself out there for people to find you in the first place.

As a general closing note here: writing generally takes a long time! It takes much longer than you’d expect it to take. Consider this blog post: it’s only about twelve paragraphs long so take a guess how long I worked on it? I wrote it in 20 or 30 minutes, and have been editing/proofreading it for about an hour and a half (!!!). I also need to add tags to it, make a banner for it, proofread it again and then post it. In total I’d say this post — which is a total low-effort “quick” post — took a total of two to three hours from start to finish. Writing kinda sucks.