Stuff that I have learned:
1. The way people comment is different. I don't think I've been told that I'm an awesome writer this often since, ever. I usually get comments that are like, 'this fic you did is awesome!' but this time around it was a lot of 'you are awesome at writing fic!' I suspect it's because the way people engage with WiPs are so much more personal. When you invest in a WiP, you are investing in something that may or may not ever reach completion. Also, the expected update-begging shows up the way you'd expect.
2. People comment a lot more. At first. Related to the above, I think more people comment then because there's a worry there, that you won't post everything or that you'll give up on it. At the end, they don't have to worry about that anymore. If you're lucky, you'll have some commenters willing to stick with you and give you lovely feedback on every chapter, but that's a little rarer. There's also this thing. It happens to me when I read WiPs. At the beginning, a story is wide open, and as fans, we naturally tend to start filling in the rest of the story in our heads. As the WiP progresses, the many and varied stories we write in our heads start shrinking and shrinking, to be replaced by the one version that the author writes. Sometimes, that version that the author writes is disappointing. It happens. You can't always match people's expectations. I'm sure I did it with this fic. Plenty of great writers have done it to me.
3. You stay visible longer. I've talked about how quickly fandom moves, and writing a WiP means that you stay on people's radar for longer. Or you might end up in a position where you end on people's radars at all. You get to stay at the top of AO3's most recent works for your pairing/fandom. Your fic goes by on people's tracked tags. In Glee fandom, it's customary for writers to reblog their own fic so it won't get buried so easily on people's dashes. Writing a WiP is like that. You give people a lot more chances to find your fic and decide if they like it.
4. The high lasts longer. This is probably also kind of obvious. You're posting a whole bunch more times. You get feedback for each one and not just the whole thing. It keeps your energy up when things are annoying or difficult or just don't seem worth it.
I know there are readers who get frustrated by the way WiPs work. You're not guaranteed to have them finished by the end, and it can be so long between updates that you forget what happened in the last chapter. But like, unless the incentive structures change, I don't think it's likely that writers will stop posting things that way.
Oh, and I'm super super glad that I finished posting that fic before the finale. Phew. What a bomb to drop on people.
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