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What I Wish I Had Known When I Started Writing on Vocal

Advice from #Vocal-Mom

By Judey Kalchik Published 5 months ago Updated 5 months ago 5 min read
Top Story - February 2024

The Vocal of today is very different from the 2021 Vocal.media platform. Sure: it is still an easy-to-use platform that provides a place for writer/creators to share their work, participate in Challenges, and stretch their writing skills.

But, to be honest, even that, which was where we were in 2021, was a lot for me to navigate, and I struggled with formatting, sharing, photos, embedding a link, and more. Now- there is SO MUCH MORE to being a Vocal writer/creator that I KNOW I would have struggled- and perhaps I would have given up.

This is for the Vocal-newbies, the Casual-Vocalites, and those that (like my dear spouse) do not read all of the How-To-Stuff and thus may miss some of the nuances that make things that much easier and enjoyable. Here are My Top Four Vocal Newbie Wishes.

I Wished There Was One Place to Learn How to Start

Great News! There is! Better News! It's been updated since 2021

Best News? I was part of the updating and rewrote the original 8 Steps into the current 10 Steps of Creator 101. This link (which looks like a mistake, but isn't, because the platform is coy like that...) takes you to the Creator 101 tab on the platform. TBH: so does clicking on Resources at the top of the page, then Creator 101.

screen shot by author

Here's the links to each of the steps in Creator 101:

  • Step 10: FAQs

The good thing about having a writer/creator update and create these: I see every comment, can update when things change, and wrote it from the viewpoint of someone that uses the platform every day and interacts -constantly- with other writers. Let me know what you'd like to be added to the FAQs... I have a few changes in mind already.

I Wished I Knew What to Write About

When I started I read the Top Stories, as one does, trying to determine WHY they were Top Stories. (Pro Tip: Here's how.) My goal, obviously, was to someday see one of my stories on that page, too.

That is, unfortunately, exactly the WRONG way to approach writing on Vocal.

The correct way to write is... to...write. Write about the things you would like to read. Write about the thoughts that just don't go away. Write about your adorable goldenpoodledoodle, write about the weird weed that keeps coming back in the middle of your sidewalk, write about not knowing what to write about.

Above all: write.

And if you are stumped for writing topics, check out the gazillion* topics Vocal has gathered together. They are part of the the posts you will find on the Tips and Guides tab of the platform. The link below looks -blah- and wrong, but it takes you to that very tab!

*there are not actually a gazillion topics. I do not enjoy math or counting anything except hearts, claps, and money, so I used an estimate, employing literary license. As one does.

I Wished I Knew Some Vocal Writer/Creators

Writing is, for me, best done solo. But as soon as I finish I want to share it, discuss it, and obsessively visit it and read it over and over. (Note: This does not, strangely, assist me in finding errors and typos. Strange.)

I didn't know anyone else on the platform when I started in 2021. (History: in 2021 there were no Comments on posts. There were no Notifications. There was no Discord channel. You gave a heart {maybe} and moved on. It was dumbfoundingly silent.)

So I looked online for 'Vocal groups', found a few on Facebook and then started my own. That's when the Vocal Community became alive for me. And that is, I am sure, why I am still here.

You can connect with the Vocal community of writer/creators now in many ways. Here are some of the ways a writer/creator can now interact with the rest of the Vocal Community:

  1. Read, 'Heart' and Comment on posted content. This is the simplest and most satisfying way to get to know people and create a connection. You might even find yourself on the weekly Leaderboard!
  2. Engage with the Bi-weekly Creator Chats and Raise Your Voice discussion here on the Vocal platform. Not ready to post there? Click on the highlighted words in the previous sentence and read all of the past sessions. It's a good way to find the most active and reciprocal writers.
  3. Join or drop in to a public Facebook group for Vocal writers and readers. A quick search will turn up a LOT of them. Here is the group I created, and you are welcome to join or just read great stuff.
  4. Jump into the Vocal Discord channel. It can feel intimidating, and 'just one more thing', but it's not too hard, and besides interacting, you have one place to find Challenges, report site-wonkiness, ask questions, and share your work.

I Wished I Knew What Challenges to Enter

When I started on Vocal I hadn't written a fiction story since 5th grade (and that one was rather terrible). I hadn't written much poetry, and my prose was limited to work emails and a half-hearted blog that I couldn't make up my mind about one way of the other.

Unlike many of the folks that state it was an advertisement for a Challenge that hooked them- I was just looking for a home for the words that swirled through my mind. (Spoiler alert: I found that and so much more.)

My advice? Enter them all. Read the Rules carefully, follow the directions, and enter every one of them. Every time you write, every time you stretch yourself: you change. The current effort is the culmination of all your past efforts. Think of future You, and how happy they will be that present You started trying.


If you enjoyed this (heck- if it bored you!), please leave me a comment. What did YOU wish you knew when you started on Vocal?

What should be added to the Step 10 FAQ? If you wrote something that you believe is a resource for Vocal creator/writers, share the link and comment to let me know why. It could be linked in the Creator 101 FAQ.


About the Creator

Judey Kalchik

It's my time to find and use my voice.

Poetry, short stories, memories, and a lot of things I think and wish I'd known a long time ago.

You can also find me on Medium

And please follow me on Threads, too!

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Comments (28)

  • Matthew Mccahey5 months ago

    Great story! Thanks for all the useful information. I can't believe how much has changed since I started vocal as well.

  • Alan Russell5 months ago

    Very useful guide. Thank you.

  • Jeremy White5 months ago

    I love this. Wish I would have known this stuff when I started. Still haven't figured out how to get a top story or how to make money on vocal.

  • Fabulous choice for Leaderboard’s Honourable Mention!✅

  • J. Delaney-Howe5 months ago

    Stopping back to say congrats on the Top Story!

  • Alivia Varvel5 months ago

    "The correct way to write is to write." Yes! I wish I could go back to when I first joined and give myself this advice as well. Thanks for writing this!

  • Back to say congratulations on your Top Story! 🎉💖🎊🎉💖🎊

  • Mackenzie Davis5 months ago

    I love everything about this! Great advice, all around, and I like that you included how the site has changed since its beginning. I didn't realize how integral the FB groups are, but it makes a lot of sense given that there was no community side of Vocal in the beginning. I second what Stephen said about the word counter. Including a question about Top Stories and linking to the article that explains how they're chosen might be good in the FAQs. The FAQ about the vocal moderators seems wrong to me... Anyone else? I don't think the Team does any of that stuff, or at least, not consistently. I always read stories with copyediting errors, even Top Stories. Also, with the speed of publication in most cases, I can't believe that every story gets human eyes on it. And if Vocal thinks they've prevented, say, stories that harass other creators, from being published, I might have to laugh. A false answer in the FAQs isn't ideal, lol.

  • Joe O’Connor5 months ago

    This was actually really helpful Judey- so thank you! Lots of helpful hints🤗

  • Congrats Judey...This is very helpful information, keeping our connections on Vocal, vital.

  • JBaz5 months ago

    I could have sworn I read this, apparently I forgot to heart Congratulations, this is well deserved

  • 5: That the way Word counts words and the way Vocal counts words doesn't always align. So always crosscheck the word count in the bottom left of the editor when posting stories for challenges with length requirements. ESPECIALLY when Vocal calls for an exact word count. Like, say, a 250-word story that involves snow.

  • Rachel Robbins5 months ago

    Great advice. I am trying to enter more challenges this year. And so important to enter in the spirit that it will improve my writing rather than trying to win a prize.

  • Babs Iverson5 months ago

    Marvelous!!! Great info too!!!

  • Thank you for this update Judey. I appreciate the work you put into this it will be very helpful in getting to know Vocal Media a little bit better than I already do. ❤️

  • J. Delaney-Howe5 months ago

    Great job on this piece. Full of resources for new Vocal members, and ones who don't know how to fully engage. You are awesome!!!

  • Phil Flannery5 months ago

    Great piece, Judey. I started in 2021 also, and was so nervous about submitting stories, i held them too long. Eventually i submitted. I entered challenges and got into a groove. Unfortunately I didn't share or read enough of others' work, until i found a Facebook group. Then I got very nervous, because people actually read and commented on my stuff. It freaked me out somewhat. Anyway, like any new thing, I got used to it and it is just a part of me now. I look forward to all the interaction. Thanks for your words.

  • The Dani Writer5 months ago

    A great piece to focus on Judey! I will have some concentrated reflection time soon and will holla if anything comes up.

  • Another helpfully sage article, Judey. Editorial Note (you asked for it): On the first line of your third wish you have "wasnt" instead of "wanted".

  • "Read, 'Heart' and Comment on posted content. This is the simplest and most satisfying way to get to know people and create a connection. You might even find yourself on the weekly Leaderboard!" And there's just so many people misusing the privilege to comment just to get on the Leaderboard. The ones at large now are Naveed and Ha Le Sa. But there are many others as well. What I wish I knew when I joined Vocal is that I wish I knew that there'd be so many frauds misusing this platform 🥺🥺🥺

  • Thanks Judey for your great article and all the excellent work you do on Vocal. This will be useful to me, but also if any of my friends join me on Vocal... I keep suggesting it! I have written my first stories here since high school over 4 decades ago & I had only dabbled in poetry writing a few times, despite loving it. I will keep this as a reference. Thanks again!

  • sleepy drafts5 months ago

    This is such an informative, cohesive, and well-organized article. I wish I'd had something like this when I started! It's wild to think about back when there weren't comments, notifications, or even the ability to subscribe to a writer. Basically * everything * had to be done through Facebook! Sorry, lol - it's just so crazy to me to think of how much the website has grown. 🥰 One thing I wish I realized when I first started is to not take everything so seriously. I used to obsess over every piece to the point where I stopped myself from posting, took pieces down, etc. I would get so scared about interacting that I would clam up every few weeks. I wish I could go back and somehow make myself understand to just hit 'publish' and have fun. It's like that quote, "Being bad at something is the first step in being kind of good at something." Thank you so much for writing this piece, Judey! I always look forward to reading your work. You're one of those authors I know I will have a satisfying experience from every single time, no matter the genre. Thank you, Judey for all that you do! 💗

  • Cathy holmes5 months ago

    Great article and surely will be helpful to newbies. I found the FB groups extremely helpful in not only getting reads, building reciprocal relationships and even friendships with fellow creators. I probably would not have stuck around without them.

  • Jay Kantor5 months ago

    Hi 'j' ~ As an Ai-Less simple StoryTeller - I just think that our offerings are all subject to reader interpretations; nothing more.  Competitions are often forced-on-creativity that weren't prevalent when I began. Youngins should write as 'them' not what others wish 'them' to be. - Always with my Respect - 'j' Jay Kantor, Chatsworth, California 'Senior' Vocal Author - Vocal Village Community -

  • Great job Judey! This piece finally convinced me to give Discord a try. I wish I had a story like this when I got started, but am glad it is here for future new members of Vocal.

Judey Kalchik Written by Judey Kalchik

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