Writing requires a lot of discipline and self belief. No arguments there. But there are some things that can make the process easier, particularly when you’re writing stories on the thrilling platform that is Wattpad!
Whether you want to know where to get high quality images or how to make eye-catching covers, through to where you can go to get inspiration, this post has something for you!
Sure, you could go and just nab an image via Google–but fair is fair and we all like to make sure we’re not stealing other people’s work. As such, I have come to rely on my number one photo sharing site: Unsplash.com
This is where I get the bulk of my photos. The great thing about this site is images are uploaded by the creators and photographers themselves and are offered to everyone for free and specifically to be used for things like our own artwork and stories.
I always like to put a picture credit at the bottom of my stories where possible to give credit to the original artist.
This is considered polite and is a great habit to get into as you progress your online writing.
Great, you might say, but header images on Wattpad need a host, and I don’t want to hotlink and hurt someone else’s websites. So what do I do?
You can upload them, for free, at Img Safe
It’s really simple. Just download your image from the original site, head on over to the website and drag and drop your image–it will do the rest, including giving you a small sharable link.
Trust me, I know what it’s like. Some days you are just so full you could burst with stories and poems and plots. Then there are other days. Bleak days. Hang your head out the window and catch a cold days–anything but writing days.
Listen, I write for a living and I still have those. They don’t mean you’ve failed. They don’t mean you suck at writing. It just means your ink’s run dry.
See, our brains are a bit like computers. We don’t technically come up with things that are wholly original. What we do is take in lots and lots of information and, using that info, our brains can crunch, concoct and churn out new and interesting composites of old stuff. But if you’ve not been putting the fuel in, you’re not going to get many new things out.
One place I go when I need to top up my inspiration is Pinterest.
Hit the pins, and then type in “old photos” for some great character references and scenarios. Wanting a fantasy creature or something? Type in any kind of animal you like (I searched “moth” today for a project I’m working on) and browse. Pinterest has tons of intriguing bits of information you might never have known, either. I regularly type in “history” or “science” facts and see what there is to read. Any of these little diversions can spark an idea, and then I’m off and writing.
Try it for yourself!
4. Grammar Girl
Story writing is great, but plot alone won’t cut it. We need to make sure that we’ve got a readable and logical level of grammar in our work to ensure our fabulous fantasies are easily readable and understood. That’s where grammar comes in.
What was that? I heard your head hit the desk in sheer boredom, didn’t I? *Snap* Hey. Wake up! Listen, it’s not a fun topic, but I’m going to let you in on a secret or two.
First, your grammar doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, perfect grammar can read really oddly if it’s not being used in the right context. You just need your grammar to be good enough that your meaning can be understood easily. So, no to perfection and yes to good enough.
Secondly, there are ways you can improve your grammar quickly and…dirtily?
Her name is Grammar Girl and she lives at QuickandDirtyTips.com. She offers, and I quote “quick and dirty tips” for improving your grammar. And they’re ace. I mean, if there was an award ceremony for helping writers, Grammar Girl should get the gold. She gives you handy to use hints that will help you know when to use effect over affect, separate you’re from yours, and much more.
The other tool is Google itself in conjunction with Google Docs or any other word processing program. This is a more hands-on method, and I love it.
Spend a bit of time writing in your program of choice, but do it with the grammar checker on. Ignore the squiggly lines while you’re getting your prose down but, when you’re done, go back and check out what the program’s saying. For example, say your checker has flagged “bare” and is asking you, “do you mean bear?”. Type “bare vs bear” into Google and it will bring up some great links that can show the difference. This way, you’re learning while doing and, after a while, you’ll recognise when to use one over the other.
Oh and remember, we all get things like that wrong from time to time, so don’t sweat the odd typo.
A recent addition to my favourite tools list, and one I simply can’t be without, is Canva.com.
This online drag-and-drop image creation tool has pre-made templates readily sized for things like Wattpad covers and social media posts, as well as a massive library of images and illustrations you can use–some of them free.
To really unlock the power of Canva, try uploading your own images–they let you do it for free. By using Unsplash and Canva combined I’ve been able to create some great covers for my Wattpad stories, and you can too.
So there you have it: a quick roundup of some of my favourite tools for crafting, polishing and promoting my Wattpad stories.
Have I missed any? Let me know in the comments!