Monday, April 16, 2012

The Writer and The Blog

Why blog?
Honestly, who cares?  I doubt this entry will have a bunch of comments following.  It's questionable if anyone's really going to read it.  So, why blog?
Well, I was told that writing about writing is a good thing to do.
And, I was told that a working writer should have a web presence.
And, I was told that a working writer needs to build a platform.  A platform is more than your CV, resume or current job title.  A platform is everything you have done, are doing, and what you will do.
And, I was told that a blog is a cheap, easy (two of every writer's favorite things) way to do all of the above.

Well, I don't know about you, but I've now done this for two years.

So, why blog?
Well, I have discovered that I blog for my own benefit, and I hope that others may find what I say as useful, funny, enlightening, or entertaining.  Yet, when I say I do it for myself, I think that about sums it up.  Over the last 24 months, I have honed my ideas, explored books, and fleshed out curriculum for my former, present and future classes.  I feel like the blog has kept me on task on occasion, and it has entitled me to switch tasks on others.  And above all, it really has been a great deal of fun.  If the blog has not made me a better writer, it has at least aided in my development.
I recommend the blog for all writers.  If you have a blog, continue with it.  If you don't, think about starting.

How to develop your blog in 12 steps:
1) Ask yourself what you want to achieve. 
2) Find the proper blog platform: blogspot, tumblr, wordpress, google sites, or something homegrown. 
3) Examine other blogs.  The more of them you look at the more you'll focus on your voice.  I find it amazing how many blogs are out there and have only one post, the "is this working" test post. 
4) Name your blog.  Fun names are cool.  I've used "Catfish Burps," "In Search of Basho," "The Befuddled Seahorse," "Uncle Frank's Workshop" and "Anthony ILacqua."  Only the latter survived.  Having fun names can help you with traffic if the name is easy to remember.  Since this is a writer's blog site, perhaps the writer's name is a sufficient title.  If anyone (or you) think this is narcissistic, or self-important, just remember that this is an activity for you to develop as a writer, and to have something to show others of your writing prowess and history. 
5) Write a description.  Your blog description does not need to be everything you do or intended to do.  Make it brief.  The description will change as you do.  For instance I have changed my description three times: "Collected Works from Wide Ruled Composition Notebooks" in 2010, "Reading, Writing and the Teaching of Writing" in 2011 and "Writing and the Pursuit of Publication" for 2012.  Think of the description as your goal. 
6) Decided on a frequency.  I chose Mondays, and I have faithfully kept to Mondays (additions included, no skipped weeks) since I began.  Weekly.  I treated the blog like an assignment.  If nothing else, it proves that I can make deadlines and keep a schedule. 
7) Post your first entry.  To avoid the one and done as mentioned in #3, look at your blog often.  When you open your Internet browser, open your blog.  During that first week, it will be on your mind because it will be on your screen. 
8) At this stage, you should revisit other people's blogs to get ideas on your design.  Tinker with it.  Even if you have a very rudimentary knowledge of website programming and design, you'll be amazed at how quickly you'll learn.  Within a short period of time you'll start to tinker with javascript or html.  
9) Post, post and post some more.  Develop pages, add your CV complete with links.  Add some of your sample writing.  Add photos.  Add anything and everything you think is pertinent. All you should do is think about growing your content.  Let it grow organically. 
10) Add your blog to Facebook, Google +, Twitter, LinkedIn, and tell everyone you know.  Get feedback and include others.  At the bottom of your email in the signature area add a link to your blog.   
11) Maintain your blog.  Look at it often and update it constantly.  I do this maintenance every Monday.  Your CV will change.  You'll be adding things, subtracting things.  Routine maintenance of content is as good a habit to get into as scheduled posts.  I do think that weekly is perfect for this, it's an easy commitment and you shouldn't get burnt out. 
12) Have fun with it.  Learn something about yourself, your process and your profession. 

A few examples of the "one and done" blogs: ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR what a BORE.

Here are two blogs I really admire.  They both have wonderful content (incidentally nothing to do with writing) and it looks like they both work very hard at what they do, and their blogs show it:

You Got Served  AND
Gillian Wilson

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