If you're not just passing through to get your one single question answered, but are a regular contributor to the site, what do you get from it?
Answering questions that others post helps me understand my own process and its problems, clear my head of all the outside opinions and advice, and (re)focus on what works for me.
I often have the same questions that I answer here, without being aware that I'm struggling with a certain problem, and unable to understand that I already know the solution.
Answering here is an opportunity to reflect on what I know -- both from reading how other writers have described their process and from the experience of my own writing -- and to transform that dormant knowledge into active understanding.
I'm an amateur writer, and am part way through writing my first novel. It's a massive undertaking, and it's incredibly scary. I've never committed myself to something this big before, and considering that I am not overly confident in my writing ability It's sometimes hard to keep going.
It's the first thing I've actually ever wanted to work hard for, just for me, rather than for anyone else. It was only a couple of years ago that writing as a job actually even occurred to me. It would be great to have a career in writing, but if not that's OK too. I enjoy it just for the fun of it.
As most of you probably know writing is a lonely business. I don't know anyone else who does it, or even anyone else I could talk to about it. When I stumbled across this site I realized that there was an entire community of people devoted to helping each other to improve their craft, and realized that I wasn't as alone as I first thought.
I originally came to this site to ask a question, like probably quite a lot of people do. But once I started looking at other questions that people were asking and realized that I actually had some insight, I thought that I would offer my $0.02.
After answering one or two questions and having my answers up voted, I realized that my advice was actually helping others. If other writers like my ideas, then maybe they aren't so bad.
Sometimes I come here and go to ask a question and it's already been asked, which means that others are clearly struggling with similar things to me.
Every time I answer a question and it gets up voted, it gives me a little bit of a confidence boost that maybe I actually am capable of being a good writer.
And that is why I keep coming back.
I'm an experienced technical writer, and I've been told by many managers and coworkers over the years that I'm good at it. I'd like to share what I've learned to help other technical writers. But it's been long enough that I don't always remember what the earlier-stage problems were any more, so I'm pretty unlikely to just speculatively post blog articles or something. I want to answer the questions that people actually have, not the ones that I surmise they might have. And besides, way more people will see an SE answer than a blog post from an unknown like me.
I also hope to draw more tech writers here so I can get some of my questions answered, too.
I came for the tech writing but I've seen a lot of other interesting questions and answers here too, and I've been able to help with some of those. It's pretty neat when skills transfer like that; I don't write much fiction (none professionally), but I can still help with questions there. That's neat.
I'm an aspiring author. I want my novels to be the best I can make them, so I'm learning all I can about writing before I actually publish anything. It also helps me see and answer the questions of other writers. In addition to giving me a feel for the literary landscape, this lets me help other authors become better at what they want to do.
P.S. I am eternally grateful to whoever made this site, as well as Worldbuilding SE.
I receive hedonistic satisfaction from participation:
- asking a question: the pleasure of getting a good advice about a problem I have and contributing to the community (avoiding the pain of seeming leech-like in not contributing questions may also be a factor [Note: I ask relatively few questions, five questions versus 25 answers.])
- answering a question: the pleasure of helping someone else, receiving affirmation, and doing work that fits my aptitudes, abilities, and inclinations (I enjoy analyzing a problem and even the fine-tuning of an answer involves some analysis)
- commenting or editing: the pleasure of expressing my thoughts whether just a fun comment — officially discouraged by Stack Exchange but broadly tolerated and sometimes encouraged — or a suggestion or question for clarification (editing, like answering a question, expresses skill)
- voting on posts: the pleasure of affirming someone else's efforts and expressing my feelings about the quality of a post
- reading posts: the pleasure of thinking, even if just arguing within myself
I'm a researcher and teacher at a university, and technical writing takes a significant part of my professional life, and I actually enjoy it (this is surely a late discovery). Moreover, I'm an avid reader, both of fiction and technical books.
Writers.SE allows me to improve my writing skills and to throw a glance at the mechanisms underlying the writing of fiction books. I'm surely interested in answering questions about technical writing too.
I've been writing since the age of eight. I've learned quite a lot about writing over that period, and gradually formulated my own writing style, as well as various tips/tricks. I'm always perfectly happy to pass on what I've learned to others. At the same time, I'm aware that my writing is still not perfect, so browsing the questions and answers here (and asking my own questions) is helping me to keep improving.
Also what Unihedron said about spam. Can't stand the stuff.
I started writing short stories based (mostly) on my answers and questions (as well as the answers I received on those) on WorldBuilding.SE. You can read more about what I have "published" in the Universe Factory in my answer to the Meta Post What have our users published?.
My goal with participating on this site was to get some information on what to do and what not to do, as I have always been quite good at writing a lot when it came to assignments in school/university, but creativity and analyzing literary works have never been my fortes. Basically I am a self-taught amateur that wants to improve as part of his relatively new hobby - and I want to share what I have known before, learned so far and am going to learn in the future.
I am reading a lot of fantasy books, but I am also reading a wide range of other kinds of books from time to time. Furthermore I like to discuss how techniques from one genre or medium can be adapted to other areas. For example I like to answer questions with the videogame tag and am interested in Visual Novels and Gamebooks.
I believe that being open to and learning about different kinds of techniques from different fields helps in giving one a broader range of things to choose from and guidelines to know when something probably works and when it probably does not work.
As a programmer I have a bit of knowledge about technical writing, though my experience stems more from smaller documentation projects and is therefore not always applicable to the tech-writing questions here. I hope that I can learn from them in case I need that information at some point in my career and am glad that I know I can ask such questions here if I ever happen to have one.
"What do you get from it?"
I'm actually writing something, hopefully most people who are participating are too.
I enjoy the ideas behind what motivates people to write. I enjoy solving a good social/communication puzzle, and discussing options about how stories can be presented. Up until recently I have gotten only constructive feedback and the general tone has been encouraging and positive.
However, I'm noticing an uptick in trolling and pedantic/useless comments from people with almost zero participation. I got THREE pointless comments on my question today from users with 101, 103, and 111 points – one troll deliberately misgendered a character as an insult, one needed to correct spelling, one needed to tell everyone we are using a common term incorrectly (according to him). Obviously NONE contributed in the least to the question.... (the question appears to be "boosted" because it's getting more views than usual, which might explain the troll attention, but it's still tedious to get notices about nonsense.)
Since SE has no block options for trolls, I doubt I will continue to participate if/when Writing becomes saturated with it like some of the other SE sites.