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To Heart Or Not To Heart

Tell Me How You Really Feel

By Kelli Sheckler-AmsdenPublished about a month ago Updated about a month ago 3 min read
Top Story - September 2023
To Heart Or Not To Heart
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Why read it -

When do you like it -

What stirs a comment -

And when do we pass go and collect the $200 dollars?


The many questions I have asked myself, as I am reading your stories.

I'll admit, I am slow to comment sometimes. Mostly because I don’t want to sound trite or repetitive. Maybe I feel too uneducated or just don’t want to look simple

But I will admit that I think, I’ve been doing it wrong.

It’s supposed to stir emotions. We won’t all feel it the same, so your comment, if honest, can’t be wrong. But it should be authentic, because you read it. That is what the author wants. At least, I do.


If you’re like me, so much went into what you just made permanent by writing it down, that the thought of hitting a heart and moving on, seems lazy. Is it wrong to want more from you?

I am speaking from experience, and to those of you I’ve skimmed, I apologize.

I find myself thinking about how my words might affect you. Are you feeling what I am? Am I conveying my feelings adequately to make you feel like I am? And if I have, did I spark a reaction or response?


I was reading another author’s comment on a comment made about their work. At first, I was confused, taken aback by the tone of the response. But, as I realized WHAT was behind it, I agreed with the sentiment.

We all pour our hearts, ourselves into what we write. Either we are carried away on a streak of creativity and genius or dumping an emotion. For whatever reason we are, a little effort from the reader is desired. And, if we delivered the message, it should be an easy response. Is that wrong?

So, let’s look into what we, as readers are looking for, to result in a like, love =❤️ and comment. And just maybe, we can become better at remembering to be kinder to the creator.


All points are directed at me, but if any points stir a feel, well, we will do better.

So first of all, what makes you read a story? Topic, author, picture, shared reads?

Do you automatically ❤️ the story as you open it, or do you wait until after you’ve read it? What constitutes a comment, and or a heart and why not comment, or heart and comment at all?


I typically choose by picture or title, what grabbed me. I of course, read those I interact with and have sadly, missed out on a lot of great stuff.

How can I show appreciation for the hard work that we all are putting into our works? Isn’t that the community we’ve built here?

Or should we feel comfortable to just keep writing and let it be as it will be?

Vocal is doing a great thing now, highlighting and rewarding our voices and interactions. Encouraging us to be better readers and writers. So let’s make what we are saying count. Let’s fill the writers comment sections with our truest words and that is what we will receive.


Here is your assignment.

Give me your feedback. Tell me what you think, share your views.

If I have stirred something in your mind or heart, give me a heart and tell me why or how. Your feedback helps me understand or acknowledges or validates my efforts. If it sparks a discussion or conversation, then we all benefit.

This is all any of us wants.


So tell me, what do you think?


About the Creator

Kelli Sheckler-Amsden

Telling stories my heart needs to tell <3 life is a journey, not a competition

If you like what you read, feel free to leave a tip, I would love some feedback

Find me on twitter @kelli7958958

or facebook

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Expert insights and opinions

    Arguments were carefully researched and presented

  2. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  3. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  1. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  2. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

  3. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

Add your insights

Comments (30)

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  • Mackenzie Davis28 days ago

    I am constantly torn. My approach to reading changes a lot. I used to want to read every top story and comment, but that started to detract from the people I'd subscribed to. I don't have a LOT of time to read on here, though I try my best. I bookmark (copy/paste story links) in Notes and try to read through my list when I have larger chunks of time. This is also where I put longer stories or stories that I know will require a longer comment. I am not inclined to force myself to be a FIRST reader on most things...I just can't. Reciprocation is a goal that I have. I do it off and on, based on comments to my stories. The thing is, I often want to deep dive a certain creator, spend a good amount of time reading their work, then move to the next creator and do the same. Doing it read for read is not easy for me. I read according to my mood, and that changes. Sometimes it's the picture, the title, the author, the community, the length that get me interested. It's much more important to me to write honest comments than to do a lot of reading. I value constructive comments above all, as I view Vocal as a place for writers to share in the craft. So I want to try to break down what's working, metaphors, structure, etc., and not solely praise a piece generically or only bring in my emotional feeling. I want to touch on all that I genuinely like and praise what is working. I feel that unsolicited constructive criticism (feedback) can be counterproductive, but with people I know, it can actually help out. I will "heart" a story if I genuinely like it (after I read it), or heart it to come back to it; I don't normally heart without a comment, though. So, not a full system here, but I try to do as you say--be genuine. This was a great conversation starter, and I'm glad you wrote it! Congratulations on TS! (Sorry for the long comment)

  • Rachel Deeming28 days ago

    I think what you've discussed here is very valid. If something is good, I quote from it or summarise what it made me feel, what I thought the other writer was trying to do. But sometimes, I find it hard to comment. Sometimes, I don't like what I read so I don't put a comment. Sometimes I'll congratulate people, sometimes I don't. No system really but if something has got under my skin, I will rhapsodise a little. I reciprocate people who've read mine and have favourites that I return to. I try to be sincere and constructive where I can.

  • Very interesting! Personally, I only comment on posts when I actually have something to say (like now lol). If I just want to convey that I really liked the piece, then I'll just leave a heart bc that pretty much fully conveys my opinion. Also, I leave hearts if I want to go back to a piece for reference later, since it essentially bookmarks the piece. I wouldn't heart everything i read because that would make it unreasonably hard to find my actual favorites again, imo.

  • Brenton F29 days ago

    I rarely stray out of Poets nowadays but I'm glad I did for this piece. We wouldn't be here if we didn't like it! Congrats on the TS!

  • Lamar Wiggins29 days ago

    Your article is a great conversation starter. After reading some of the comments below, it seems that the general consensus of what draws some readers to a story is the title and photo, followed by the first few lines and community in which it’s posted. All very good things to know about the reader. If I heart, I 99% of the time comment. They go hand and hand for me. So much to choose from, no one can read everything (except Dharrsheena, lol. God bless her) but we try to engage as much as possible. Great article, Kelli and congrats!

  • Dana Esposito29 days ago

    I love your title! 😊 A great read, too. 💯 Thank you. 🪴

  • Cathy holmes29 days ago

    Congrats on the TS, my friend. I heart everything, but more so as a reminder to myself that I've read it. I usually comment on everything as well to let the author know that I appreciate their work. Sometimes I have a lot to say, and sometimes I genuinely don't know what to say, so the comment is more simple. As for reading, I have my favourite authors. I also like to check out the top stories and reciprocate those who read my stuff regularly. I'm a little behind this week (just had knee surgery last Friday) but I'll catch up eventually.

  • Matthew Fromm29 days ago

    If I read, I like. If I really like, I comment. If it's AI, I hit the flag. I'm a simple man. Why do I do it this way? Mostly because it's how I'd want people to interact with my work. I want to know my audience. I want to put a (digital) face to the reader--it helps my creative process and helps motivate me to continue writing things.

  • Kendall Defoe 29 days ago

    I think that writing is hard and that we should just be focused on that... And I want to buy Boardwalk first.

  • Babs Iverson29 days ago

    Kelli, the notifications of published stories is redundant. The reply & comment on story gets buried. My system - . I go to subscribes and select a story based on picture and read length. If it is to long, I will skip it. I heart after reading. I leave a positive comment

  • Chloe Fitzwater29 days ago

    Personally... I really hate it when someone only "hearts" my stories. Recently, I poured my heart into a 3000-word first chapter for the GAN Challenge, and I received a little "heart" from someone who had read it. But why? Why just a heart? Why can't they tell me, genuinely, what they thought of the story? What was so absolutely fantastic about it that you just had to leave a heart? Can't you tell me? I'm honestly a little annoyed with only "heart"-ing. I'd much rather prefer someone give me actual feedback on my piece of writing that I slaved over instead of just leaving the fact that they liked it behind. On my own, I always try to comment. For a while I was hesitant to do so, afraid that I was not yet a prominent member of the community, but now I comment on most everything I read. Unless it is something that I would deem offensive and my only thoughts on it are ones that would be angry. I also constantly forget to like stories, but I try my best to do it often. These are just my thoughts. I love feedback, and I hate that silent "so-and-so liked your story" without the added comment about what they specifically enjoyed about my hard work. Congratulations for getting Top Story, and this really deserved it.

  • I enjoyed the read. I always enjoy comments on my story! 😀 hope you’ll heart and comment on my stories!

  • I always tried to comment if I have read something. When I started, less than a month OK I was quite intimidated and felt quite self-conscious commenting. But then I realised that when people take the time to comment on something they have read of mine, it makes me feel less unheard-unseen. A heart doesn't really mean all that much. Although that being said I think if you are going to comment then it should be sincere, I don't know how I choose what to read really, things from the vocal social page on Facebook, Paul Stewart's, 'Deep Cuts'. Congrats on Top Story-A really interesting read 🤍

  • Alexander McEvoy29 days ago

    I frequently choose to read stories based on the title. That's not a grantee that I'll read it all the way through, anything from prose to description to realizing how long it is and not having enough time to give it due attention can cause me to bounce off something. None of that means that I don't think the story is good, just that it's not for me. Like Gardens of the Moon (Malazan Book of the Fallen book one) it can be very high quality but not appeal to me. When I read through a story all the way to the end, I do my best to like and comment something I enjoyed from the text itself. I find something to praise because I know how difficult it is to write and then release something. I do this especially if the story has low traction, it's a wonderful feeling to get that first like or comment and I want to make sure that other creators get to experience that whenever I can. On the rare occasions that I have nothing to say, and did not enjoy the story very much, I leave without commenting. But those are very rare as I always try to find at least something and rarely finish articles I didn't like very much. Whether or not there's any reciprocity from the creator isn't all that important to me, I just want to make sure that they know their hard work has been seen and enjoyed.

  • Rene Peters30 days ago

    I often pick stories based on if the title is enticing. I always heart after reading and I try to comment on any that I know what I want to say to the author/about the story. On my pieces, I like comments for feedback. I'm content with both positive and constructive criticism on my pieces. I always want to improve but I don't feel like I am.

  • The Dani Writerabout a month ago

    What great content for a story! Definitely relevant and relatable. Authenticity drives my reading selections but I am acutely aware that we are all at different places in our writing journeys and in our lives. The comment that would roll off yesterday may stick in a graw today. We are complex creations. Titles, lead photos and first lines are my reading breadcrumb trail to check out a writer's work. If they aren't enticing (a totally subjective aspect we're all entitled to) often I'll pass. I do believe in finding ways to support developing writers though, and constructive feedback or posing questions is a great way to do that. I won't heart a piece if I don't see something about it I like and I've never been a 'follow-for-follow' or 'quid pro quo' kinda person when it comes to certain aspects of literature. I was force-fed unpalatable books at a young age without a choice, so I won't read something I don't like. A person's work should speak to me on its own merit and if not me then maybe somebody else. It's a big world and there's room for everybody.

  • I think I am the last person to leave insights. The title, picture, and author can drag me into a story that I read, and if I have taken something from it I leave a comment, heart, and insight. If a story leaves me cold then that is how I leave it, the author may have gotten a read from me, but no interaction, but that seldom happens because my choices are usually good for myself. This is an excellent and useful piece.

  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarranabout a month ago

    I do not see the title or the picture. I read everything that comes up in my Vocal notifications by everyone that I'm subscribed to. I hit the heart before I start reading and I always leave a comment 💖

  • Tiffany Gordon about a month ago

    I heart afterwards. I am drawn to writing style, then topic! Sometimes the right words for a response don't come right after reading a piece. I'd rather just heart a piece instead of writing something underwhelming or incoherent! I enjoyed this topic!

  • Jazzy Gonçalves about a month ago

    I typically hear something as I read it, and if I feel stirred by some emotion, I will leave a comment. However, my words are primarily simple bc sometimes I don't have more to say other than, I liked it. Sometimes, I don't know why I wanted something; I know I did, and sometimes I have much to say. This was very interesting to bring to our attention. Thank you!

  • KJ Aartilaabout a month ago

    My comment is left on your post. 😍

  • Sonia Heidi Unruhabout a month ago

    I hearted this piece specifically, even before reading the whole piece, because I appreciate somebody taking on this topic. This touches a nerve for me right now because I often am dropping in on vocal on the fly. For example, at this moment I am running the blender for my daughter. So I can only respond in the time it takes to make a smoothie! I'm often torn on whether to leave a heart when I know I don't have time to write a proper comment. I know that authors can see in the notification who left a heart on their piece and I don't want someone to feel slighted by the "cheap like." On the other hand, it feels sneaky to read and enjoy a piece without any payment in feedback at all. As for you, dear Kelli, I don't always resonate personally with the emotions you share but what your work often gives me is a clearer window into those emotions. I appreciate your passion, your vulnerability, and the way you draw on nature to tell your heart's stories. Well, I'm done making lunch now...

  • Ruth Elizabeth Stiffabout a month ago

    I love this, I do hit the heart but after I've read, like this article, but I think you hit the spot for many of us, thankyou xx

  • J. S. Wadeabout a month ago

    I read and then heart. I agree, comments can become mechanical to demonstrate you actually read it, but when the piece strikes a chord it deserves a proper response. 🥰

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