The greatest writing advice I ever received was, "If you want writing to be a job, treat it like one."

What does that mean? 

Any job requires time and dedication. Writing is similar. I’ve found over the years that if I wanted to build my craft, I needed to show up regularly in order to work. No other piece of advice in my many years of writing has had the impact that this did. For me, this writing advice wasn’t about money or about building a career for my passion, but about the value in staying consistent.  

And consistency is perhaps one of the greatest tools as a writer. 

Why Consistency?

Writing is a craft. While it's possible for some writers to write beautiful prose on their first try, this is not the norm. Most of us have to not only work at our writing, but work hard. We have to compose draft after draft, and edit our way to brilliantly strung words and beautifully set scenes. With every draft, we’re practicing.

However, practicing is often more fruitful when done regularly rather than sporadically. Writing every day or on a set schedule and with clear goals strengthens our writing abilities and helps us grow as writers. 

This is why consistency is important. We improve our writing skills by just showing up and writing even one page, one paragraph, or one sentence. 

After all, if we want to grow as a writer, we have to write. 

Okay, Consistency. Got it. But what does it mean for an online platform? 

Imagine getting home after a long, hard day at school or work. You change into your comfiest pajamas, grab the popcorn, and turn on the TV just in time to check out your favorite show. You’ve been thinking all day about the last episode and the horrible cliffhanger they left you on. All you want is to know what happens next. Curling your feet under you, you sink in further on the sofa, turn on the TV and then…

Nothing. Not a new episode, not an old episode, but a whole different show during your favorite show’s usual timeslot. What is this? You may ask. 

Heartbreak. Disappointment. Frustration. There are a whole gambit of emotions we feel when our favorite shows, comics, and even podcasts don’t update on a set schedule or any realm of frequency.

When I first started writing online, my updates were sporadic. I updated maybe once every month. When readers stopped by, I was overjoyed.  

But then they would leave. And the silence they left behind was so loud. 

A month was a long time. Readers loved the piece when they read it. But then, when two, three, four weeks went by without an update, they forgot to check in. Or worse, they moved on to other projects. 

From then on, I decided it was time to start showing up for myself and my writing. The best way to do that was to hold myself accountable by sticking to a set schedule and conveying that schedule to readers. It was a win-win situation: I could practice my craft while also keeping my audience engaged as they tuned in each week. 

I quickly discovered that one of the best ways to build and retain an audience is through consistent posting. 

It’s no secret that online writing differs from other mediums. With online writing, you want to draw your readers in as fast as you can, keep the story engaging, and keep everything immediate. Your work is fighting with many other distractions on the world wide web for readers’ attention. Despite how scary that sounds, your consistency can help ensure your work shines brighter than those other distractions. 

Determine your schedule and stick with it

When your readers know exactly when the next update will be, it builds a sense of trust. They can trust that you will publish according to your schedule. They’ll also trust that you’ll finish your book. This will keep them coming back every week—or more depending on the schedule you’ve outlined. And, as your readers come back for the next chapter, you may find more readers tuning in each week.

Be gentle with yourself. Consistent, but gentle 

For some writers, updating each week or writing daily may sound like a lot. And that’s okay. Again, when we’re using the word consistency, we don’t mean the same amount of words or minutes or pages each day. Let’s be honest: sometimes life gets crazy. Some days, you have two minutes in between classes or in a waiting line to craft a sentence. Some days you're just not motivated—you’d much rather clean the baseboards in your house than think about writing. Consistency is about at least putting yourself in front of the keyboard or opening the notebook. 

It’s about showing up for your writing and giving it your time and dedication. 

Louis L’Amour perhaps said it best: "Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on."

Wattpad tools that can help you stay consistent

There’s good news here too. In this world of technology and resources, there are tools right here on Wattpad to help us maintain a consistent practice without too much stress:

Message Board: Every author has a message board which can be used to promote new chapters, updates, and other news to an author’s following. This is a great way to announce a schedule to your readers, and also highlight when a new chapter is posted. 

Profiles: Each user also has a profile page and about me section which can be used to post update schedules, upcoming projects, and any other big news as it comes along. 

Publishing Scheduler: Perhaps the most exciting and helpful piece to building a consistent update schedule for readers is the publishing scheduler tool which helps writers set up a specific date and time to post a new update. Worried about posting consistently? Use the publishing scheduler to keep a specific schedule while you draft your next chapter or piece. 

Whether you’re just starting out, or looking to improve your craft, a good place to start is by simply showing up. Consistency is your ultimate writing tool.

You can do it, writer. 

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