#ROW80 and Thoughts on Blogging

So life here is slowly returning to what passes for normal. Last week wasn’t terribly productive as I had a lot of catching up to do in a lot of areas and needed a lot of staring dumbly at the wall time. If you have little kids and a low tolerance for chaos, you know what I’m talking about. But things are better now and this week I found myself faced with the fact that I REALLY have to actually work.

This resulted in a lot of procrastination. But since I had decided to give myself a freakin’ break all around, I was able to allow it to be productive procrastination. I think that when I decide I have to work on JUST THIS AND NOTHING ELSE BEFORE THIS, I end up with more stress and less productivity overall.

I’ve recently been spending more time on my blog. I’m always going around in circles about what I want to do with it and getting it “right,” and like you really care. But I finally came around to some ideas of things I want to cover. I do want to talk about writing and self-publishing because most of you who visit on a regular basis are interested in those things, and often seem to appreciate those posts. Even though they aren’t things that readers are into, and even though they’re not the kind of thing that would draw a reader in or get her to subscribe to the blog, I have no doubt that sharing my experiences and opinions about what works has earned me a lot more support than I can measure. So I’m going to keep up with the posts about writing and self-publishing.

I’ve been trying to blog too frequently, I think, and I just write up a post when I think about it and hit Publish. Now I’m hoping to jump in and write up that post and hit Schedule. And keep those writerly posts for Mondays. Maybe that will keep it from being so feast or faminey around here.

I do absolutely agree with Kristen Lamb–and how can you not?–that readers don’t want to read about writer stuff, and the way to attract readers is to talk more about the kinds of things that readers like in your fiction. Well, it’s easy to get caught up in that expert knowledge trap we talked about the other day. I’ve probably mentioned before that I was caught in that for a long time with regard to the Talents. There’s that bit of wisdom, and it is wise, that says you need to read a lot in the genre you want to write in so that you understand the rules and reader expectation. So I thought that to write about superheroes, I needed to become an expert on comics. Even when I put that aside, I still felt under-qualified to blogย  about superheroes on a regular basis.

Just like it was hard to blog about writing before had a book out there to point at and say hey, here’s how I put this into practice. Lately I’ve come to realize that my best posts aren’t the ones where I try to be an expert, they’re the ones where I really personalize what information I have to offer, wrapping it in my own perspective, and feeling less like it’s my turn to stand in front of the class for the oral report and more like we’re all sitting around getting caffeinated and I’m the one sharing for a few minutes before the really hot guy painting the storefront across the way takes off his shirt and I lose your attention.

So in the one day a week reader-oriented (hopefully) posts, I’m talking about what I love in fiction: superheroes, heroism, and/or romance. Those are the things I tend to pay attention to when I read or watch. This may lead to me feeling like I’m reviewing some stuff, which I don’t like to get into, but I’m more trying to think of it as discussing my perspective on a particular facet of the fiction in question, and if I have to include a paragraph or two to gush or whine about the overall fic in general, well, you guys are used to OT babble, so…

We’re in ROW80, and rounds of that are planned throughout the year. So I’m also looking at two more days on the blog for updates. On Sundays, I’ll be combining my update with list of recommended online reading for the week. I don’t have time to read a whole lot of blogs, but sometimes something really stands out and you just think others should read it or might enjoy it. I keep a file on my desktop to make note of those when I read them.

Wednesdays, in case you haven’t figured this out, are for me to be even more self-indulgent than usual. A free day to include in the ROW80 update whatever happens to be on my mind, or not include anything else at all. Today the bloggy stuff is on my mind, along with the fact that our bus driver just told us she’d be coming over 45 minutes earlier starting tomorrow which is going to add more time to my work day (good) and cause less sleep, more morning stress, and take some getting used to (bad). Anyway, a me me me babble day. Witness the babble.

So back to the update: This week’s productive procrastination has allowed me to try out the schedule I had tentatively set for myself, and I now have posts for my topic days scheduled through Feb 4. I’m still spending a lot of time on writing blog posts. I posted the schedule, tinkered in my sidebar a little, gave some thought to what people are looking for when they come to the site, if they can find it, what I’m trying to present and what they see, etc, and I’m pretty satisfied with what I have right now.

Goal #1 has been to spend specific amounts of time on the work. Recently I’ve been suck and fail at that, but I didn’t change my goals because it wasn’t about scoring, it was about continuing to strive for that. This week I’ve been excessive as far as time spent working on problems in the Talent Chronicles world and in Heroes ‘Til Curfew specifically.

Goal #2 has been 3 scenes in Heroes per week. I wrote the first of those three yesterday. I also finished listing everything that was supposed to happen from here forward so that I could identify all my holes and logic problems. A loose outline that allows room to move around is important. But it is amazing to me how it can seem like a solid story and then you get to that part and it’s like–well, that doesn’t really make sense. Why would he do that? Why wouldn’t she just…

Meta-humans are fascinating, but their abilities cause all sort of dilemmas.

So I’ve made copious notes and written all my WTF? questions in pink, and hopefully I’ll be able to draft some of my buds to help me kick ideas around this week because talking things through with someone else really helps me focus, and I often lack focus even though there are no shirtless painters in my neighborhood.

Today’s ROW80 Linky.

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32 Comments

Filed under me me me, ROW80

32 responses to “#ROW80 and Thoughts on Blogging

  1. I like reading your blog because I like you and your voice. I think you’re definitely onto something when you say it’s less an oral report and more like coffee chat. Looking forward to more. All the best.

  2. Given that hubs will be home the next several days, I’ll absolutely be game for brainstorming since his presence usually precludes much actual writing on my part.

  3. Katie Smith

    From those of your fans who are supposed to be in school right now but thoroughly enjoy reading your blog more and have turned their math teacher into a talent chronicles convert , salutations and sup? wow. That looks even lamer on paper than it sounded. I would just like to say that whether or not you are an expert on any given topic we appreciate your perspective and that you write it down so generously for us to peruse.

    • It doesn’t look lame to me. What looks lame to me is how I was so excited by the idea of you making your teacher read it that I had to tweet about this comment. Thanks for making my day.

  4. I am one of those readers (currently reading Hush Money actually) who actually truly enjoys reading the “writer stuff”!

  5. christel42

    Of course now I’m thinking about shirtless painters, so I’ve completely forgotten what I was going to say. Damn.

    Oh right! Readers that are all rah-rah-indie: I am one. I think, though, that my true love of indie stems from the editing side of my persona, as well as the writer side/hopefully one day I’ll get my poop together and (gasp) publish something other than poetry. Ah…a girl can dream, right? Baby steps: that’s what I’m telling myself anyway. My personal goal is to do something writerly every day. Even if it is reading, editing, or actual writing. And I’ll always read your posts about writing and publishing and OCD sales-checking. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Angel or Spike is still one of my favorite post because it’s you being you. Definitely the way to go and with a schedule! You’re all organized and . . . stuff.

    Oh and I’m ready to brainstorm whenever you want.

  7. I’m with Andrew, I loved that post too. You don’t have to be an expert to blog about anything. Witness the beauty of fiction, it’s your world so you are the expert. I like the idea of a blogging schedule – I’m always thinking of doing that but I’m less disciplined than you. Hope the rest of the week goes well.

    And the best comment ever by Katie Smith up there. I would print that one out and frame it. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Isn’t that the best? If I were a real girl I’d feel like I got jewelry.
      Yeah, I don’t know what I meant by that either. Something Joss-like, prolly.

      I thought about the blog schedule for a long time, wrote up for myself and even tried and failed many different ones. So we’ll see how this goes, but there’s my discipline for you. But I feel like I’m starting to get it now in a way that I didn’t before.

  8. Another spot on post, Susan. You’ve made me think twice about my posts – I’m sure I could stand to include more writerly thoughts in there.

  9. Ugh. BLOGGING.

    I love it, but I always get paralyzed about what I’m supposed to be writing, if I’m writing the right stuff, how I can up my blog stats, if I should even worry about upping my blog stats, why people should care enough to come to my blog and actually up my blog stats, what a “platform” really means, how I can even justify saying anything on my blog since I’m not published and therefore have pretty close to zero credibility…

    …and on and on and on. It becomes such a time suck because I spend so much time worrying about if what I’m spending time on is even worth the time I’m spending on it.

    I like hearing you pick your own brain about this stuff. Maybe between you and Kristen Lamb, I’ll figure all this out at some point.

    • I started to write another post in the comments, and I need to figure out how to condense.

      Blogging IS writing. You’re a writer, right? Somehow we tend to think of blogging as non-fic and we make this dividing line between fic and non-fic. So we manage to take all the courage and confidence we can scrape together to make ourselves believe that we’re good enough at the fic that other people might want to read that.

      Whatever leap you made to convince yourself that your fiction is good enough for consumption is the same leap you need to make for blogging. When you write fiction, you’re investing yourself into the work, and that’s what makes it compelling. Look at some blog posts you love. Aren’t you seeing the same thing?

      So as far as getting numbers up, writing compelling posts has a lot to do with infusing them with Clarieness. With regard to credibility, we’re not necessarily lecturing at the head of the class. I’ll use the example from the other day: you’re not going to write a Grisham novel. You don’t have the experience and that’s not your job. But you can write about lawyers from your research and infuse that with your own experience, and come out with a different kind of story in the same books about lawyers category. And people who connect with your experience/voice/style will love it.

      If you followed me when I said that the other day, can you make the leap from fiction to non-fiction? People aren’t necessarily coming to your blog because you’re the expert on your topic (unless you happen to be one and write from THAT perspective), they’re coming to get your take on it.

      So what are the special things about Claire Legrand? Amongst the many, she’s a very real person. She’s honest. She’s scared sometimes, but she can also be fierce. She loves books and she’s passionate about fiction. Her brain is always working, she maintains a sense of wonder, and she expresses her thoughts in delightfully creative ways that surprise us.

      Kait popped up, so I decided to get her perspective on Claireness, just to see how things match up. She said, “Happy, perky, puts on a brave face even when things are going to shit. Surprisingly strong. With a charming note of childishness that makes me want to hang out with her every day.” (and she said I could quote her)

      Okay, there’s actually a lot more I could say, but this “The Claire Show” comment is ridiculously long.

      • Ok I’m totally chiming in. Susan didn’t get this reference but you might. Have you ever seen Under the Tuscan Sun? (If you haven’t, do; it’s well worth watching with a ginormous bowl of pasta and a bottle of chianti) Katherine says, at one point in the movie, “Fefe said (by whom she means Federico Felini), never lose your childish enthusiasm.” THAT’S what you feel like to me. So the two scenes with Katherine with the ice cream and the baby duckies…those are totally Claire-like activities. Ok, now I must carve out some hubby free time to go watch this movie again…

        • Y’all are so wonderful. :’) *huggles*

          Thank you for the encouragement. I try to infuse myself into my blog posts, but it’s really easy to fall into that mental trap of, “Why should anyone care about this?” when I hear about crazy blog stats from other people and stuff. Silly, because I know that’s NOT the thing to care about, but there it is.

          Anyway, you ladies are fantastic. That’s the truly important thing here. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Ah, look at you, being all planny and everything! LOL

    It sounds like you are slowing getting all your stuff together. It’s hard for me to stay disciplined (about anything), so I know what it’s like to feel so overwhelmed sometimes. If only we were organized like Kait…. But it sounds like you’re working toward getting things going.

  11. I’m still stuck on the school bus coming 45 minutes earlier! I’ve always blogged for me mainly. When I start thinking about pleasing everyone else or writing what would get me the most interest or followers, that’s where things start falling apart. I didn’t start this for followers. My blog has basically evolved with me through the years, changing as my interests change. I started it to improve my writing skills and look where it’s lead. To writing fiction versus nonfiction. It’s interesting you mention nonfiction, because I steered away from a writing course because I didn’t want to write nonfiction. But what am I doing almost every day on my blog. Writing nonfiction. So may rethink taking that course. I just recently discovered your blog through row80 and have enjoyed reading your thoughts. Wherever you plan to go with it, I’ll be following along, gleaning as much as I can.

  12. Great post, Susan.
    I have the blog post guilt, but I never feel comfortable enough, or feel that I know enough to offer sage advice. I end up blogging about weird stuff, or my updates for ROW80 and snippets from wips.
    My blog voice is very different from my book voice too, which came as a bit of surprise.

    And good luck on your goals. I agree with you about the loose outline. It’s helping me a lot right now.

    • That sounds great to me, Kim. I think a lot of writers blog writerly advice because it’s what they do all the time, study all the time, and it’s what they feel they know. But everyone does it and it gets pretty freaking boring.

      Blogging, personal blogging which I’ve done for years at another site, was one of the biggest things that shaped my voice as a writer. I am capable of proper speech, good grammar, and possibly the random 50cent word on a good day, but when I read my older work it sounds like a book talking. Someone else’s book. I’m happy with the laid-back style I’ve come to, but it’s certainly not for everyone. Totally doesn’t have to be.

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