I feel a bit indebted to Writing.com (or “WDC”). After all, it’s where I began…sort of (I did have a short stint in college–early 2000s–at another writing site that hasn’t been active for years). The site has its shortcomings, but it’s also unique in many, many ways, and may just be the perfect fit for you.
So, without further ado…
…ahem, if you get lost with the categories, be sure to check out the explanations…
Audience & Features
I’ve lumped these two categories together, because they kind of effect one another in a push and pull kind of way. On the one hand, WDC has more interactive features than any other online writing community I’ve seen to date. Contests, campfire stories, forums and clubs, merit badges, awards, community-use currency (that you earn and don’t necessarily have to pay money for–but can)…the features on this site are impressive and make it an addictive place to linger. Adding to that is the fact that you can showcase more than just one kind of work. That’s right, WDC isn’t just for aspiring novelists: poets, essay writers, etc. are all welcome. On the surface, this is fantastic! The only problem for me was that it sort of diluted the skillset and focus of those you interacted with. In other words, if I’m looking for quality feedback and guidance on my work from others who are serious about the kind of writing I’m trying to get better at–visa vie, writing a novel–more often than not I may not get it. Additionally, the environment feels a bit like high school, what with all the clubs and glitz. Nothing wrong with having younger writers around but, let’s be honest, older, more experienced writers usually have more wisdom and insight to offer. So there’s that element.
Ratings: Audience = 2; Features = 5
Community & Review Traffic
The community interaction is excellent–a direct result of how many features are available. Really, if you can’t find a click here, you either don’t want to (which is a valid approach) or you’re just not making any kind of effort. WDC uses a community driven approach to helping writer’s improve.
Likewise, the amount of reviews one can expect from this site is awesome. Even though I’m not so active anymore, I still get the occasional review. When I was active, I could expect them all the time–whether they were directly asked for or not.
Ratings: Community = 5; Review Traffic = 5
Technical Aspects (Site Navigation, Control, User-Friendliness, Portfolio Organization/Management)
The site navigation was always a bit of a mess, and it doesn’t seem much better these days. There’s so many things to be involved in at WDC, yet finding these tools and making sense of what you’re looking at isn’t clean and easy at all. It takes some time being there.
In addition, the site isn’t always so user-friendly in that it requires that the user know a bit of code that’s unique to the site. There are plenty of tutorials on this and the community is always eager to help, but it may be an element some aren’t as comfortable with.
On the other hand, because of the requirement to know some coding, you have a lot of control over editing. Also, since the coding makes things less graphic intensive, opening items to read works very well.
Ratings: Site Navigation = 1; Control = 4; User-Friendliness = 2; Portfolio Organization = 5
Basic membership is free, but it’s very limited. You’re only able to showcase like five items, which is not good considering that an item can’t be a novel and that participating in contests and other interactive features on the site requires you to have your writing as an item in your portfolio.
The next level of an upgraded membership isn’t so bad, only $20 per year, but it’s still pretty basic. Most of the really active folks I encountered had upgraded memberships, which is $50 per year ($4/month). I had an upgraded membership for a few years and didn’t regret it in the least. As I said, it was a great place to be for where I was in my writing at the time.
Rating: Cost = 2
WDC lists a lot of recommendations for classes to take and books to buy on many different topics, but not a lot of free guidance from what I could/can see.
Rating: Writing Help = 2
My calculator is cranking and from the sub-scores above I’ve set, placing emphasis on the categories I find most important, I give Writing.com a score of 3.33 out of 5. Remember, I don’t expect any site to get close to a perfect 5 for various reasons. 3.33 is a pretty darn good score, I think, though it’s my first review, which means there isn’t any basis for comparison yet.
WDC is a great, GREAT site if you’re looking for a strong community and a lot of variety in your writing interactions. It’s also great if you’re just starting out as a writer, or are looking for a place to help get you out of a writing funk. Prompts are aplenty here with so many ways to showcase your writing.
The downside, at least from my vantage point, is that it feels best suited for a younger audience. The feedback I’d typically receive was hit or miss, with more misses than hits. That’s not to say there aren’t a lot of talented writers on the site–I’ve met some FANTASTIC writers there–but for every one great bit of feedback I’d get (by great I mean insightful and constructive), I’d say I got four or five useless reviews (where everything is gum drops and rainbows, if you catch my drift). Again, that’s not really a problem if it’s not what your emphasis on…and of course this may not be everyone’s experience, but it’s something I thought was worth noting.
- Score: 3.33 out of 5
- Strengths: Community, Review Traffic, Variety of Features
- Weaknesses: Audience comprised of more casual writers, Messy Site Navigation, Fee for Upgrades