Why I write on Vocal

Five reasons for writing on Vocal

Why I write on Vocal
Photo by Stanley Dai on Unsplash

I will be honest and say that when I first came across Vocal, I had hopes of fat paychecks and visions of quitting the day job. It hasn’t worked out like that. Not even close. In reality, I have now earned almost enough for a couple of bags of crisps and a can of coke. But I have not given up writing on Vocal, even if I’m yet to earn enough to buy myself a pint. 

You might wonder why. Why am I still bothering to write on Vocal if it pays pennies? The answer is simple. Because it is making me a better writer. Here is how.

Discipline

Since becoming a Vocal writer, I have become more disciplined with my writing. I used to be an erratic writer. One day I might sit down at the laptop and write for hours, then I would abandon the project for days, sometimes weeks. Now, I am writing every day. Yes, every day.

Even though no-one is setting me deadlines, I have become to see writing on Vocal almost as a job, albeit with a poor salary. A job where I need to produce pieces regularly. This has fed into my writing discipline outside Vocal, too. Having build a writing discipline turning out pieces for Vocal, it was easy to apply this newfound discipline to other areas of my writing, too. As a result, after years (yes, years!) I have finished rewriting the first draft of my debut novel and am now halfway through the second round of edits. All of this since my first story on Vocal six months ago.

Focus

I think I can thank the word limit for my improved focus. It is easier to see the end goal with a limit on how much you can write. Sometimes it can be easy to lose the plot when trying to write an 80,000-word novel with various plot twists and turns. Bun intended.

Creating shorter pieces, both fiction and non-fiction, and being able to enter the final full stop within a few writing sessions, leads to a sense of achievement which in turn leads to increased motivation and focus. Without even realising it, I have transferred the same focus to my novel and voila; I have made progress. I now view each chapter as an entity of its own, like each story is on Vocal.

Precision

I wrote the first draft (which was rubbish) of my debut novel years ago. Eight years to be precise. I did it one summer during the holidays - I’m a teacher so I get six weeks off. When I wrote the last words, I printed it off ready to edit. But reading it was painful, mainly because it was rubbish. So I left it to collect dust. Until I discovered Vocal.

You need to consider your words more when you have a limited number of them to express your thoughts. Which ones are necessary and which pure waffle. I am sure I still include waffle, but I’m getting better. I noticed my use of filler words and cut them out. I stopped using as many adverbs. I discovered how using active voice is more effective than passive voice. Although, of course, both have their time and place when used sparingly. See what I did there.

Writing on Vocal gave me the confidence to apply the same precision to my novel and I dug it out again and read through it. You would not believe the number of times I used words such as ‘actually’ and ‘really’. But I still liked the story. I realised editing would not be enough. It needed rewriting with precision. This is what I did, and now I can read it without cringing. In fact, I’m very happy with it now. 

Challenges

I know I did mention earlier that there are no deadlines, you just write what you want to write when you want to write it. Unless you take part in the challenges. I love the challenges. I have realised that I can adhere to deadlines. I see the deadlines for the challenges as training for the future when one day I have to deliver to deadlines set by my publisher. No, I don’t have one yet, but I like to aim high. You can click the link below to view the current and past challenges, but I hope you will read all the way to the end first.

Audience

I write on Vocal because it gives me an audience. And an audience gives my writing a purpose. And each time I see someone has read one of my stories, I feel great. I feel even better when someone has liked it. I have yet to experience the thrill of someone leaving me a tip, but I might cry with joy when that happens. 

Vocal has provided me with a platform to experiment with styles and topics. I am not saying I am using my Vocal audience as guinea pigs but seeing the number of reads each story receives, helps me to hone my style and ‘writer’s voice’. When I see which stories have drawn in the readers and likes, I can then analyse what sets them apart from those that fell flat and apply what I’ve learnt in my next pieces. 

So that is how Vocal has made me a better writer. I am still developing with every story I write and refining my craft. I feel that with each piece, I learn something new and become a stronger writer.

And maybe, one day, I will have earned enough to treat myself to a nice, ice-cold pint. In the meantime, I reap the rewards of improving my craft.

If you liked what you read and would like to help me get that pint…

  • give it a like;
  • share it on your social media;
  • show your love with a tip.

You can also follow me on Instagram for updates on new articles, short stories and the progress of my debut novel.

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Reija Sillanpaa
Reija Sillanpaa
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Reija Sillanpaa

Cancer diagnosis in March 2019 made me re-evaluate my life and helped me to rediscover my love for writing. I donate 10% of everything I earn on Vocal for the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.

IG: @r_s_sillanpaa

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