My name is Sylvie, and I write fanfiction.
Or, at least, I used to write fanfiction. Allow me to explain.

For much of my teens and all of my 20s, I was obsessed with crafting stories for a show that not many people remember: Hey Arnold!

It wasn’t on people’s radar even when it was still a new series, but through the doldrums of its existence, I’ve written and shared fanfiction for this underrated classic cartoon about a kid with a football-shaped head.

I’ve used and Archive and Our Own to post my stories, but my main haunt was the platform Wattpad. I wrote under the name shameonpretzel for several years, until 2017, when I started my writing career in earnest and retired from the fanfiction scene.

Fast-forward to 2020. COVID-19 hit the masses, and I suddenly found myself with a lot more time on my hands.

So I did what any rational, level-headed adult would do: I created a brand-new Wattpad account under a different name and wrote an LGBTQ+ fantasy epic titled Elsa Out of Her Element.

That’s right; I wrote Frozen 2 fanfiction.

Though I’ve been in the fanfiction game for over 20 years, it was still a learning experience to start from scratch and write for a completely unfamiliar property.

Here’s what I learned these last few months after coming out of retirement to write fanfiction under a secret account.


When I wrote Hey Arnold! fanfiction, there was no rhyme or reason to my schedule, because I HAD NO schedule. Sometimes I would write chapters on a weekly or even daily basis; other times, I would go entire months without posting an update.

I wasn’t doing myself any favours with this erratic approach to content creation. When I made my secret account, however, I challenged myself to release a chapter at least once a week. By posting chapters regularly, I saw my reader count gradually rise.

Good or bad, no one is going to read your fanfic if it looks abandoned. Write on a consistent basis to get more eyes on your work.


As a ride-or-die Hey Arnold! fan, I’d be the first to admit that while the fan community is passionate, it is very small compared to other series.

I’ve enjoyed the output from the House of Mouse in recent years, but I’m hardly a fanatic. That said, I chose to write a Frozen 2 fanfic because I knew the fandom was still very active.

I was right; although Elsa Out of Her Element is less than a year old, it already had more views and reads than my Hey Arnold! stories. If you want an audience, you gotta give the people what they want. Right now – at least, on Wattpad — they want Frozen 2 content.


You can promote your writing until the cows come home. If it sucks, no one will stick around to read it.

Conversely, if you’re confident you’ve created a solid piece of writing, it can and will be discovered.

Months after completing Elsa Out of Her Element, I still receive feedback on the story. This can be a blessing or a curse. A blessing because it offers validation that I’m writing something the general public enjoys. But the downside to the attention is that it tempts me to go back to writing fanfiction, when what I really want to do is create original stories for my audience to enjoy. Case in point…


Contrary to popular belief, Wattpad isn’t just a glut of BTS and self insertion fanfiction. There is a sizable library of original stories present on the platform, with many becoming popular enough to be part of Wattpad Books and the Paid Stories program.

Writing Elsa Out of Her Element was fun, but through the process, I wrote with an ulterior motive in mind: to get more eyes on an original story I crafted.

So far the gambit has paid off, but if I want my other, non-fanfic story to gain traction, I think I’d be wise to practice what I preached and adapt what I’ve learned from my secret Wattpad account.