Tag Archives: blogging

What is the “point” of blogging?

Fangs

Why did you start a blog? Are you getting what you wanted from it, or has your experience gone in an unexpected direction?

Here are the reasons I can think of for blogging, starting with the most basic:

  1. You like to keep an online diary, which, as we know, was the original purpose of a blog. A web log.
  2. You have opinions and you want to share them.
  3. You want to socialize but are shy or busy, and blogging allows you more control over how and when you socialize.
  4. You want to interact with like-minded people.
  5. Writing practice, argument practice, formatting practice, etc.
  6. You are building a social media presence.
  7. You are promoting your writing, art, photography, business, etc.
  8. You are trying to acquire customers for your freelance editing, graphic design, writing, or other skill-based service.
  9. You intend to create a blog that gets so much traffic you can sell ad space and make money.
  10. You are hoping to leverage your blogging popularity into a full-time career.

I am a writer and began blogging a few years ago to “get my name out there” and to generate interest in my writing. So you can say I got into it for reasons 6 and 7. I have accomplished neither.

The lack of achievement on latter objective–promoting my writing–has to do with the fact that I have little to promote. My stubborn resistance to self-publishing practically renders my blog useless, since writing novels is my game and I haven’t sold one to a publisher yet. Also, let’s face facts. The only people we are blogging to are other writers. Potential readers don’t troll WordPress looking for new novelists. This is an echo chamber.

As far as a social media presence goes… I have done zero research and am speaking anecdotally, but I don’t see much overlap between blogging and other forms of social media. This blog has almost 3000 followers. I’ve been on Twitter for a two years and have 160 followers.

Do you want to hear about a social media experiment I’m conducting? Four days ago, I created a second Twitter account with a different name and much more Twitter-friendly identity and have collected close to 200 followers already. I also started a WordPress blog associated with that account and have made two posts. Not test posts, either. True content-heavy, image-saturated, well-researched posts that should appeal greatly to my new followers. I have gotten all of 7 hits.

fangs2My preliminary hypothesis (and common-sense observation) is that blogging does not draw the same audience as do Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and the like. Ergo, blogging does little to build your social media presence, and your social media presence does little to promote your blog content.

I’ve left out one major social medium that is unlike all the others, and it seems to be the only one that offers a path to the top of whatever mountain you are climbing: YouTube. More than a couple of YouTubers I’ve followed when they had fewer than 100 subscribers are now regularly appearing on MTV and other youth-oriented television channels and making a living at it. I’ve even made a few dumb little videos of old Motown songs–built from scrolling B&W photographs and nothing more–that sans any promotion have collected 10,000-20,000 views and counting, which is more than I can say for any WordPress post I’ve written. Maybe I should invest in video equipment.

How about you? Have you ever thought of packing it in as a blogger or does blogging offer its own intrinsic value? All opinions and perspectives welcome!

 


Self-pity never fueled a single accomplishment

I made the above statement a few days ago and impressed myself enough to use it as a blog post title. If someone else already said it, please don’t tell me. Let me keep the fantasy alive of one day appearing in the “Quotable Quotes” section of Reader’s Digest.

pity

Pity

With so many of you on summer hiatus, I’ve been forced to troll WordPress in search of blogs to read. Here’s something you missed (besides endless talk of Jennifer Lawrence’s nude photo leak): People complaining that they can’t get their novel or story published, can’t get an agent, can’t win a writing contest, can’t get blog traffic, can’t get motivated to write, and so on. Common theme: It’s a conspiracy.

I feel like I’ve been a supportive member of the blogging community. Some writers I encounter on WP are experienced professionals while others are still trying to develop mechanics and find a voice. Wherever people fall on that scale, I am always willing to offer encouragement.  Because really, the difference between good and not-good is often practice. Innate talent helps, but talent is nothing next to determination.

We should all agree that, to be successful at something (define success your own way), you must engage in activities that get you closer to your goal. For writers, that includes writing, reading, learning and researching, observing, and seeking feedback from writing groups, beta readers, or editors. Getting to know people in the industry can’t hurt, either.

Lamenting one’s struggles publicly will not bring writing goals closer to realization. Time spent bemoaning could be time spent on one of the constructive activities mentioned in the previous paragraph.

Frustration

Frustration

I read a dead-serious blog post last week from a writer complaining that, no matter how much she writes, she is still nowhere near as good as John Steinbeck. Poor thing. The Fates have conspired to stop her from being a generational genius who writes some of the most legendary works in the entire history of fiction.

Note: None of us is owed a place in the pantheon of great writers.

I think I’m a pretty good writer. I believe my novel-in-progress is, if nothing else, clean of prose, and it has potential to be a fast-paced page-turner. Those are my opinions. I know, as a statistical fact, that my chances of getting an agent to rep it and a publisher to buy it are almost nonexistent.

Almost nonexistent.

If I were to say, “It’s just too hard. Look how great I am, but they still don’t want me. I quit,” I’d be doing a disservice to you and me. To you, because I would be dismissing your talent and effort and desire as inferior to mine; and to me, because I’d be taking an almost nonexistent chance and turning it to an impossibility. I can’t publish a thing I never write.

Moments of frustration are inevitable when one pursues a lofty goal. If the likely thing happens and I don’t find an agent or a publisher, I’ll probably want to chuck my laptop off a cliff and stop writing. But you won’t see me hosting a pity party about it on my blog, because I am not going to chuck my laptop off a cliff and stop writing. I’ll get a new idea—a better one—and I’ll spend that pity-party time working on my next story.


Summertime Blogging Blues – 2014 Edition

What is it about summer and blogging?

It’s not as if my days are appreciably different this time of year. I’m doing mostly the same stuff, only in short sleeves. Who the heck is staying up all night at beach parties listening to Beethoven and dancing with space robots? Not me. I work every day.

Still, I’m not alone. I’ve read your “I’m burnt out on blogging and taking a break” posts. They always seem to crop up in June and July.

Being that this is a writing/editing blog, I’m ever mulling over ideas for future posts on the subject. Fact is, though, composing such pieces is time consuming. If you’ve got the summertime blogging blues, you don’t always feel like hammering away at one for three hours (especially when you’ve got a second draft deadline for your future best seller coming up in 7 weeks).

Since I have abandonment issues, I shan’t be “taking a break,” lest you forget me. What I shall be doing is indulging whimsy. If you were here last summer, you know what that means: countdowns, limericks, random observations, and other fluff is coming your way. Fluff is easy! I bet I can still make you laugh.

I recognize that this post did not offer worthwhile content. Nothing brilliant, insightful, or even interesting if you think about it. I’d go as far as to say it was 255 words of drivel. To make up for that, I share with you the unique genius of Mr. Trololo. 19 million YouTube viewers can’t be wrong.


My trip to New York Botanical Garden

In my time on WordPress, I’ve notice that people love a post with garden pictures. That stuff draws clicks like nobody’s business.

I admit to having thought, in the past, that it must be frustrating for a blogger to get ten times the traffic for posting a snapshot of a backyard daffodil than she does for her painstaking and insightful pieces on the art of writing. Since I don’t have daffodils or a backyard to plant them in, I’ve been more of a neutral observer of this phenomenon than anything else.

That changes right now. Yesterday I visited the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx and snapped a bunch of photos. As you can see, I’ve posted a few of the less-bad ones (trust me). It turns out that I don’t mind at all if this post gets ten times the traffic I usually get. Go figure.

New York Botanical Garden

NYBG

NYBG1

NYBG2

NYBG3

NYBG 025

NYBG4

NYBG 063

NYBG 032

NYBG6

NYBG 055

NYBG 042

NYBG7

NYBG 022

NYBG 071


A boring post… sweetened with unrelated media

MechaG

I’m using my blog as an actual blog today, which is to say I am reporting on my life as if it’s interesting to anyone other than me. Hey; at least I have the self-awareness to keep it short.

See, after letting it rust for about a year, I’ve sort of been working on my novel here and there recently, and I want to accelerate the momentum. Thus, I make this public pledge/shaming statement:

I will finish the first full draft of my novel by August 31, 2014, and I will finish the second full draft by December 31, 2014.

Yeah, I know. Who cares? If WordPress is an ocean, bloggers writing novels are plankton. But you know what the experts say about writing down your goals: You use up paper and ink.

______________________________

As promised, here’s some Unrelated Media, a concept I’m stealing from Michelle Proulx (she of the weird Canadian last-name spelling), inspired by a concept I’m stealing from Kevin Brennan, not Canadian to my knowledge, but that’s no reason for you Canadian readers to judge him. Get off your high horses already!

The other day, Kevin posted a photo of a fiction passage he admired and asked readers to guess who wrote it (we all failed. It was from Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates). I’m not going to make anyone guess mine. I’m simply showing you the opening paragraph from The Butcher Boy by Patrick McCabe because it is pure freakin’ genius writing. You learn everything about the narrator and know what the entire book is about in five short sentences and 70 words.

p mccabe


Content

This blog post is not content

This blog post is not content

I’m curious as to whether you read my post title as content or content. What does your choice say about you?

Eh. I don’t actually care what it says about you. Do I look like some kind of psychiatrist or something? I’m not your therapist! Stop being so needy, you big baby!

Er, sorry; I got a bit carried away. I was talking about content as in “the stuff you write on your blog.” As someone whose greatest fantasy is to be a levitating super-villain with lighting shooting from his fingertips, blowing up traffic and malfunctioning ink-jet printers while he laughs maniacally, I am probably not your ideal guru if you are seeking contentment. However, I’m sure we can all relate to this content-based question:

What shall I write today?

I read and enjoy a lot of writing-themed blogs on WordPress. Consider me impressed by those of you who blog exclusively about writing and continually come up with worthwhile content post after post. I can’t do that. When I write about writing, I do it with passion, but many days I have nothing to say on the subject.

Chicks dig Mole Men

Chicks dig Mole Men

On the other hand, I love to talk TV shows, music, and other forms of popular entertainment as well as spread the good word about Mole People, and I even whip up silly poems once in a while (yeah, I know my poetry isn’t nearly as bad as I suggest… that’s just part of my shtick). I write those things for fun and because I try to produce content you find enjoyable and entertaining.

Sometimes, when I’m going “off topic,” I wonder if my readers are thinking, Dude, I followed this writing blog for the writing discussion, not to hear about some obscure Motown singer or to compare hockey player beards. Those posts are still about writing, in a sense, because I’m a writer with range and am demonstrating it. But I do fear turning people away.

That is, until I read this post by my friend Janna, currently rebranding her own blog, which up-to-now has focused almost exclusively on writing. It turns out at least some people think my anything-goes-as-long-as-it-entertains approach is good marketing. Son of a gun!

So what about you? Do you prefer to stay on topic with your blog (whatever that topic may be), or do you like to branch out? Either way, what inspires your content?

Look, I’m asking for real. Are you still upset because I called you a big baby up top? Sorry, but I have to toughen you up. One of these days a levitating super-villain might try to blow up your car with finger lightning and you have to be ready!

*****


This is the only time you will see the word “NaNoWriMo” on this blog. Ever.

Oscar the GrouchYou know I love you, right? I want you to write something brilliant, and I want you to love it. I hope it gets published and you become the next superstar author, to the degree that you can cut back to 30 hours a week at the office and still make payments on your Corolla.

It’s just that I’ve come to dread November every year. Throughout the 11 other months, I get to read great essays, poetry, and flash fiction as well as moving personal stories. I see inspiring photos and art. And, of course, I get amazing insights that, bit by bit, help me become a better writer. All generated by my fellow WordPress bloggers!

Then, in November, all that stops and my blog reader suddenly fills with post after post after post after post citing… word counts. 1200 words! 4000 words! 12,000 words! 23,000 words! 35,000 words! That happens for three weeks, followed by a fourth week of anxiety posts about falling behind schedule with word counts. Then three or four days of triumphant victory posts reporting that the 50,000-word target was met, or, far more likely, laments about the abject misery of failure.

Surely that’s the purpose of this event: to make you feel bad about yourself.

Yes, I understand people welcome the challenge, and they value the sense of accomplishment if they meet it. I get that it pushes people to stop procrastinating and start writing. But this event does not make for remotely interesting or enlightening blog posts, except, perhaps, to the compulsively supportive.

The event is a cool idea, but I’m not sure it leads to great writing as much as a frustrating sense of obligation amongst participants. And, frankly, shouldn’t a bunch of writers be able to come up with a less clunky and, at this point, less grating name for the thing?

oscar the grouch 2How about Novelember? 30 Days of Write? Word Turkey? Clock Back Word Stack? Hey, at least I’m trying!

Please, if these are fun times for you and you are bursting with enthusiasm to write and discuss, post away about your 50,000 word, 30-day adventure. Just don’t be upset with me if I hide under a rock and avoid everyone until it’s all over.

How about you? Are you eager to start word blasting? Are you secretly sick of the whole thing? Or are you thinking I’m just a grumpy old killjoy who hates to see others have a good time?