Writers tend to get into ruts, even when they don't have writer's block. I'm talking about writing the same kinds of stories over and over again. Not pushing the limits of genre, falling into common story tropes, and not challenging themselves to do something different.
If you're selling work on Amazon, it's quite a challenge to get out of your comfort zone. If you build any kind of following there, you're probably not willing to offend or lose it by switching genres or styles. For me, I've missed opportunities to grow as a writer trying to cultivate a fan base on Amazon.
This is where a place such as Wattpad can provide you with a perfect opportunity to all of the things you wouldn't do on Amazon. Try out some new genres. Write flash fiction or short stories, or experiment with writing a serialized novel.
On Amazon, I primarily have literary fiction and historical fiction for sale. I believe they are well-written and great stories, but I found myself falling into a rut with writing in those genres. I have always found lots of freedom when writing science fiction, but those kinds of stories would not fit in with my current offerings on Amazon.
So a few months ago, I opened a Wattpad account and tried out a few things on the platform. I intentionally made a few mistakes to get fodder for a blog, one of which was to post some writing very similar to my Amazon offerings. Those works pretty much bombed on Wattpad, for a variety of reasons.
But I also took the opportunity to delve into writing science fiction, particular using the flash fiction format. While I tend to write a ton of short stories, flash fiction has been a challenge to me.
I belong to a group which writes 500-word stories based off a prompt. It provides a perfect challenge for me, to craft a new idea based off a one-word prompt, then flesh out a quick story on it. To add to the challenge, I allot myself one hour from concept to completion.
Needless to say, I am happy with the results thus far. I can feel my writing improving each time I offer a new work to the group. I enjoy writing again, and I'm out of the rut I was in.
Wattpad can (and should) be a low-pressure environment for trying to branch out as a writer. You're not selling anything, it's for pure enjoyment. As such, you don't feel duty-bound to offer similar writing to your other works. It can truly help you rediscover your voice.
I've always felt it was important for writers to attempt to write all different kinds of forms and in different genres. You can get practical experience writing things you may need for something more important, say, writing an action scene.
And the best part about Wattpad, from my point of view, is getting feedback from fellow writers about what works and what doesn't. When I finally do decide to head back to Amazon with new offerings, they will be of much higher quality.
So grab a pen name and drop in on Wattpad. Use it to push your boundaries. It's worth the time and effort.