Like most Gen Zers, I spent part of my middle and high school years in Wattpad. I know – when most people think of Wattpad they cringe at books like After and The kissing booth come to mind. However, write on Wattpad gave me invaluable advice that I don’t think I have found elsewhere, and memories that will remain etched in my memory forever. I look back on it — and the advice I learned — fondly, like a time capsule of some of the most formative years of my life.
I have to figure out what my writing style is.
I started writing on Wattpad in November 2014 when I was in eighth grade. I was on the bus for an excursion, one of the few times we were allowed to have our phones. As I sat next to two of my closest friends, I asked them what they were up to and they said they were reading stories on Wattpad. I had never heard of it before, so I was very confused. They told me it was an app where you could write your own stories and as someone who had a notebook full of story ideas (and still has some) it would let me show off my ability writing to people other than the two of them. Intrigued and a bit scared by the idea, I downloaded the app. I spent the entire bus ride reading their stories, as well as the stories they recommended to me.
The following weekend, I started writing and posting my story on Wattpad. Given that Mockingjay: Part 1 had just come out, I thought people would be interested in reading fanfiction for The hunger Games, so I wrote a fanfiction about Joanna Mason and Gale Hawthorn. Turns out not many people besides my two friends read it, but it helped me understand how Wattpad works and my writing style.
Seeing other people like my stories gave me a boost of confidence.
In January 2015, I got really into writing for Wattpad. I decided to write a fanfiction for Spencer and Toby from Pretty little Liars, my favorite couple of the series. I updated it several times a week, and while I enjoyed writing it, I didn’t expect it to become hugely popular. Around April, I realized people were begging me to update — when the story got 1,000 views, I couldn’t believe it. It gave me a newfound confidence as a writer that I had never felt before. Looking back, I think it’s really embarrassing and obvious that it was written by a young teenager, but it’s still my most read story on the site with 38,000 views and 1,000 votes.
In June 2016, I decided to write a fanfiction for Riley and Maya from A girl meets the world for pride month. By then I was much more comfortable with my writing and I knew it was something I wanted to do in life, so I edited each chapter before publishing it. I vividly remember being locked in a hotel room working tirelessly on vacation while the rest of my family was at the pool. By the time I finished writing it, I had submitted it to the “Wattpad Pride Month Fanfiction” awards contest and it won the “best girlxgirl fic” category. It’s the only award I’ve won on Wattpad, and it always makes me happy.
I found a community of friends and established an identity as a writer.
In the summer of 2015, I wrote a fanfiction “duology” for The Fosters. Although the stories didn’t become very popular, they made me realize how wonderful fandom communities can be. I made my first fandom friend, Liv, who also wrote fanfiction for The Fosters, and we would share our thoughts on the series whenever a new episode airs. Although we no longer speak, I have fond memories of the time we spent talking.
When I was a freshman in high school, I took a creative writing class that strengthened my writing and amplified my passion for it, which I was able to use when writing fanfiction for Stefan and Elena from The Vampire Diaries. It was the first writing that I took seriously and cared about what people thought, because I had a better understanding of my own writing and how to create a story. I had a list of ideas in the Notes app on my phone – some successful and some not.
Along with my more structured writing, I also met one of my best friends because of it. I had admired her stories and her writing for a while, so I asked her if she could read it. She did and we’ve been close ever since. To this day, we still email each other what we’ve written and offer feedback.
I learned how to deal with hate online.
Write it vampire diary the story also taught me a lesson in criticism and ensured I fully understood the details of the canon. Years after writing the story, someone left a comment that read, “His eyes are green! GREEN! Why can’t you get simple details, can you? When my friends and I replied that they could have been a little nicer, I replied, “Like I care what a shitty ass author Stelena has to say.” Despite the negative comments, I got a glimpse of what the authors go through on a regular basis and realized it was best to ignore it. Even if unwarranted criticism hurts, you will still be confronted if you let other people participate in your craft.
I acquired tips for becoming a stronger writer that I still use today.
After writing the Riley and Maya fanfiction, I wrote one for Riley and Lucas. While I had been plotting my stories for a while at this point, I also started doing edits and moodboards for the stories. It made me feel like I could get a better understanding of the characters and the story, as it served as a “physical” representation of what I wanted for the characters and plots. It’s now something I do for everything I write and it makes the writing process much smoother.
The last story I finished on Wattpad was another fanfiction I wrote for Stefan and Elena. It’s probably one of my favorite stories I’ve written in general. The idea came to me in a dream and was inspired by a A girl meets the world quote, so I felt like it was very appropriate for whatever makes me happy. It’s also the first story I created a playlist for, which I do now for every story I write. Using a playlist is also helpful for coming up with plot ideas, as I can use the songs as inspiration. Most of the time now, because of this story, the plots and title ideas are because of songs or quotes I hear that stick with me.
It was also one of the first stories where I used the “pants” process: I had a general breakdown of what I wanted certain chapters to cover, but between them I just wrote what I seemed right and what came to me. It was all I needed at the time and gave me peace and comfort.
Writing the story was very cathartic for me and reminded me that writing is really what excites me the most. I was dealing with a lot of internalized homophobia and lashing out at my proud and proud friends which made me lose them and made how I felt emotionally and mentally worse. I felt extremely isolated, but writing the story and the people who read it and commented on it made me feel safe and loved.
Even though I stopped writing on Wattpad in 2020, I will never forget or regret the six years I spent writing and sharing my stories. It shaped not only who I am as a writer, but also who I am as a person. The website allowed me to get feedback on everything I wrote and immortalize everything I had written since my teenage years. What I’m probably most grateful for is meeting some of the best people of my life there. Wattpad may have a bad reputation with the general public, but that’s where I found myself and what I wanted to do for a living.