As many of you may know, we have a mostly-new new mod team on the site, including myself. Justkt has been great about getting Standback and myself up to speed on the site, but it's going to take some time to get to know the community, at least it will for me. I was here in the early days of the private beta, but had to limit my participation for a while.

The site's been in beta for a long time. We've been discussing ways to improve levels of participation and site quality. However, it's all hypothetical without knowing how the community uses the site.

I'd like to hear from you: What have you gained from the site? How has this site improved your writing? What kind of writing do you do? How many professional wordsmiths do we have here?

  • 10
    "This site has helped my writing by making it easier for others to edit it!" :) Commented Feb 24, 2012 at 20:24

6 Answers 6


I hate to undo your grim observation of this question having received no answers, especially with a trivial answer, but I also hate to let it languish. So--

What have you gained from the site? How has this site improved your writing? What kind of writing do you do? How many professional wordsmiths do we have here?

I have definitely gained a few things here. I've been trying to make it a point to ask intelligent and useful questions which many people could make use of, and I've gotten excellent answers. My three favorites involve estimating the length of a screenplay, developing your personal voice, and creating boring characters, and I've only been here a month. I haven't had a chance to do much writing lately, but I think the answers to the personal voice question might give me some added confidence when I do get back to it.

As for what kind of writing, I do almost entirely fiction, usually sci-fi or fantasy or at least magical realism. But I try to incorporate elements of horror, romance, adventure, mystery. It's all part of a good story. The characters matter most. I'm fairly new to narrative writing, only been doing it for two years and only during occasional spare time while getting a comp sci degree. But I plan to take it more seriously in the future-- I'm going to make strong efforts to get a short story professionally published this summer.

Professional wordsmith? Definitely not at the moment. I'm one of the better writers I've met among people my age (20), but I've got a long way to go and I'm looking forward to it.

Guess that's everything. I hope other people answer these questions as well.


I have to say, I LOVE this stack.

I post on other SEs for research but none of them are quite as welcoming, tolerant and helpful as this one.

What have you gained from the site?

Three main things:

  1. The feeling that I'm giving something back to writers who are just starting out.

  2. Help with specific problems I'm facing with a project in progress.

  3. Being forced to really think about writing as a craft when formulating answers or reading other people's.

How has this site improved your writing?

DRAMATICALLY! I posted the question, 'How do you communicate to people that writing is a job and prevent interruptions?' and the advice I got completely changed my approach to the way I work. I'm a lot more productive now as a direct result of that advice.

I was also struggling with an epilogue that both my agents and editor felt wasn't working but I couldn't figure out how to fix it. The posters on here gave me the answer and my agents LOVE that new epilogue. I know I wouldn't have come to that resolution without Writing SE. Another question also helped me restructure the start of my novel.

What kind of writing do you do?

I'm a multi-genre novelist: psychological thriller, YA Sci-Fi, literary fiction, screenplays. I write whatever takes my fancy.

How many professional wordsmiths do we have here?

That's a tricky one to answer, what’s your definition of a professional? Being traditionally published? Self-published? Writing full-time? Earning a living from writing? Having a degree?

Here's where I'm at:

I studied creative writing full-time for 4 years at 3 different universities and voraciously pursue further study independently. I've written full-time for 8 years. I've completed two novels, one novella and a screenplay. I'm plotting my third novel now. I've edited traditionally published novels for other writers and have helped them pitch to and secure agents. I have two top agents myself (long story), and am about to submit to publishers in a month or so (although I'm very aware that securing an agent is much easier than securing a publisher). But I don’t consider myself a professional wordsmith. I find writing so complex and challenging, I’m not sure I’ll ever feel like pro. Perhaps I'll feel less like an amateur if I get a publishing deal... and perhaps not!!

But I do love this stack!

  • Any update on your publishing journey? Commented Aug 7, 2019 at 18:45
  • @ChrisSunami Bit of a long story. At the time I wrote the above, a friend of my Dad's introduced me to Rachel Abbott, and through her I met Mark Dawson and Adam Croft. They're incredible people and opened my eyes to what I would be signing up for. After a lot of ruminating and research, I changed my mind about a traditional deal and pulled out before submission. My agents are still onboard for any rights I do decide to sell, but for English rights, I've decided to go indie.
    – GGx
    Commented Aug 9, 2019 at 14:18
  • I have a major editor onboard who's worked on some great trad thrillers and she's doing the copy edit now, and Stephen King's designer has done my cover! It looks amazing! I'm very excited and nervous at the same time, not knowing whether it was the right decision. But a trad published friend sent me her royalty statement (she'd won a major literary award) and it was in negative figures. I didn't even know that was possible. But it made me look into contracts in detail and I decided I didn't want one.
    – GGx
    Commented Aug 9, 2019 at 14:20
  • How are you getting on?
    – GGx
    Commented Aug 9, 2019 at 14:20
  • I'm working on a big editing deal --don't want to say more as it's still in the early phases. I'm also working on a new novel, and I'm going in with the expectation that it will probably take years to finish it. I think my problem in the past has often been being too goal focused and impatient, versus taking the time to really perfect the writing. Commented Aug 9, 2019 at 14:24
  • As far as traditional deals --yes, your royalties do come through as negative until you get your advance paid off. On the other hand, if you're going indie, the biggest downside is that you have to sell pretty much 100% of your books yourself. That's a big job, and not one every writer is up for. writing.stackexchange.com/questions/32041/… Personally, having done it once, I'd rather not do it again... Commented Aug 9, 2019 at 14:28
  • I mean, after earning out her advance, her royalty statement was in negative figures. She'd made a good number of digital sales, but the royalties on them were so low, they were wiped out by hardback returns through over-ordering. And I've done a lot of research on the decision, which took six months to make. I refuse to sacrifice quality which is why I've hired an editor who works for the big 5. And as far as marketing, I have a huge support network behind me and I'm learning AMS and FB advertising from Mark and Adam.
    – GGx
    Commented Aug 9, 2019 at 15:02
  • Trad publishers these days still expect you to market your book, any any marketing they do stops after three months because they've moved onto the next author. As an indie you can continue to market till the end of time.
    – GGx
    Commented Aug 9, 2019 at 15:02
  • At the end of the day, whether you're trad or indie, your book thrives or dies on its quality. If it's pants, no amount of paid advertising will make it a success, regardless of whether you do that yourself or a publisher does it for you. It's a risk in terms of investment, but one I'm willing to take after the response the book got from the top 10 UK agents. Their response has given me the confidence to invest in it. I'll let you know if it's a complete flop - should be out later this year!
    – GGx
    Commented Aug 9, 2019 at 15:06
  • A big editing deal sounds intriguing. Fiction editing? And good luck with the novel. I've been using The Story Grid to plot my next book, which I'm halfway through drafting. It's a great podcast and book, have you listened to it?
    – GGx
    Commented Aug 9, 2019 at 15:08

What have you gained from the site? The opportunity to rub shoulders with seasoned professionals and enthusiastic newbies alike. But not just that - the ability to ask these people the kinds of questions that have been bugging me for ages (sometimes for years). And even more - to get valuable and actionable advice in return.

How has this site improved your writing? I've only been here for a couple of weeks and so it's too soon to tell generally, but specifically - it's sure helped me to learn how to phrase questions that are acceptable to (and sometimes even popular in) this community.

What kind of writing do you do? Novels, poetry, flash fiction, blog posts, technical (user manuals), software (yep, writing code is writing in my book), reviews (books mainly), creative non-fiction, writing tips, health tips, journal type items and general observations on life.

How many professional wordsmiths do we have here? Actually, I'd love to know that myself. Some of the information on user profiles is exceedingly sparse. I'd like to see what works the people frequenting this site have published so that I can check them out for myself. Perhaps an extra field on the user profile would be in order.


This site has been a big boost to me in my writing. First, there are things I've directly learned here --@MarkBaker's series of answer about promises in your writing was particularly influential for me, but many other people's answers have been useful as well. There have also been things I've "learned" just from trying to answer other people's questions.

However, one of the biggest things has just been re-engaging me in writing. When I started on this SE, I had put writing on the back burner for a long time. Engaging with this community has made me excited about writing again, and I've subsequently made pursuing a full-time writing career an aspiration again.


In reverse order:

How many professional wordsmiths do we have here? Not me, because...

What kind of writing do you do? ...the writing that I do is purely recreational.

How has this site improved your writing? Most of my time here is spent reading through answers to questions that pique my interest, or relate to challenges I've faced while writing. Finding questions that I've asked of myself being discussed and addressed by those much more experienced and knowledgeable than myself has cracked open doors to rooms in my factory that I would not have thought existed. None of this may have improved my writing, but it has most definitely expanded and enriched my abilities to produce writing.

What have you gained from the site? Since I write for my own amusement, essentially in solitude, I am not plugged into a local culture of writers in my city. (My full-time job is not writing.) WritersSX gives me a sense of not being alone in trying to do what, on bad days, seems impossible: crafting written words. And for that I am boundlessly grateful.

Thanks, everyone!


The simple answer it that it hasn't improved my writing. I doubt that the site could improve the writing of anybody beyond a novice. The rules (or the senior members' interpretation of the rules) do more harm than good. In fiction writing the concepts of good, bad, right and wrong are purely subjective. If quality is equated to sales then the correct method is that used by the writer of the latest best-seller. Smarter writers know: there are very few definitive answers to the questions posed.

I suggest that novelists with greatest potential understand that almost 'everything' has something to do with writing. There's really not too much that is off-topic.

e.g. Things that have improved my writing:

(i) The Spice Girls. A talentless bunch (none of which could actually sing) proved successful due to diversity in empathy. The diverse attributes of the group members ensured that there was a least one member teen-girls could identify with - writers should consider this when creating characters.

(ii) (Do, while). A programming instruction. I adopt this technique to ensure a character is visually active before embarking upon extended internal narrative.

(iii) The creative aspect of creative writing is largely ignored. Often the best answer is get the poser to consider their own question. Provoke thoughts.

If a creative writer can quote his source - he's plagiarised 'somebody'.

  • I know that in meta votes are for agreement rather than quality, but I am surprised this has gone into the negatives.
    – Weckar E.
    Commented Oct 31, 2019 at 10:38

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