“It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years of writing. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus


Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Insecure Writers Support Group Post -- Blogging more and enjoying it less? Here's a little helper for the blogging blues.

Hi there!


Thanks to Alex J Cavanaugh for the IWSG every first Wednesday of every month. Also, thanks to his team of helpers who assist him in running this outrageously-popular meme.

As a blogger, you probably discover that as time passes, your blog changes. When you first started blogging, you blogged about whatever took your fancy. Then you started reading blog posts which can offer both positive or negative points of view regarding what to blog about. Makes you question yourself and your objectives.

Click to read more posts...
I don't adhere to any particular point of view regarding blogging -- I think our blog is our voice, and whatever we want to use it for, no one should criticise us. 

If there's a drop off in comments, perhaps we need to look at what the reason might be. But lately, with google's dreadful Captcha Codes, Google+ Profiles and now Google+ comments, along with difficult-to-negotiate WordPress comment systems, Blogger not allowing some WordPress bloggers to comment, trying to comment on smart phones...blah, blah blah -- it may not be anything to do with what you post about -- maybe your prospective commenters cannot comment or give up the third time the Captcha Codes don't work. Have you noticed a spike in page views, and a drop in comments? Well, that's another post...

Recently I came across some ideas on what to blog about/what not to blog about on Anne R Allen's blog.  I usually share her posts on Google +, twitter and wherever.

Before I get into the dot point list, I'll say:

to IWSG -- 2 years and still going strong!

I've used Anne's format, but have written my own take on the dot points :

Do Blog About...

  • Interviews and Profiles: Authors, prospective authors, debut authors, cover artists, editors, experts who work in the field you write about (a cop if you're a crime writer, for example.)   
  • Informative pieces: Maybe an interesting info dump from all that research for your new novel that doesn't belong in your novel.
  • Reviews and spotlights of books in your genre: If you are an aspiring author, don't turn your site into a full-on book review site. In the future you may have to say something negative about a book and that's hard! It may be reciprocated! But book reviews are interesting and may even influence someone to buy the book you recommend.
  • Info about other media in your genre. Alex J. Cavanaugh's blog is a great example of how to do this. Alex has grown a hugely-successful blogging community, party due to his love of film and music and his ninja superpower of being able to visit everyone in the blogosphere regularly!  
  • Comic or inspirational vignettes about your life. This can be almost anything, as long as it's entertaining, has a point, and doesn't turn into a pity party. Anne recommends rom-com author Tawna Fenske. I think of Talli Roland. She doesn't say much at times, but she is always entertaining in the way she says it. 
  • Stuff about your pets. I was surprised at this one, but Anne says not to underestimate the power of a cute puppy or grumpy cat to draw hits. Catherine Ryan Hyde posted photos and videos showing the progress of her new cat and old dog learning to get along: a lesson in diplomacy. It got so popular, the dog and cat—now best of friends—have their own Facebook page. (Well, my dog has her own fb page, but that's another story!)
  • Opinions (but don't polarize people) Any opinion piece about publishing news will probably get a lot of readers in the bookish community. How do you feel about such things as fan fiction? What about the latest doings of Amazon? Does Goodreads get your goat? Maybe others feel like you do about your topic or at the very least, you give them a chance to air an opinion.
  • History and nostalgia pieces:  Anything about an historical era will be of interest to many readers. Writing a book of military history? Share your own experiences. If you lived through an interesting period of history, readers want to know about it. A blog is the perfect place to share. Look at Hilary Melton-Butcher at Positive Letters...Inspirational Stories. A massive following for her impeccably-researched articles with a British flavour. (Long articles full of links for further research.)
  • Travel pieces about the settings of your books. Post about the places you've set your novel. I love doing this. Hopefully you have your own photographs. If not, be careful of copyrighted images. I wrote at length on Image Copyright with the names of sites where you can find images to use without the risk of copyright infringement. 
  • How-to's and recipes. Crafty things like knitting patterns if your character is a knitter, for example. I adore those books by Kate Jacobs, set in NYC which revolve around a yarn store. How cleverly she characterises and weaves her tale around a      knitting club. She made the protagonist's apartment in NYC so realistic I want to visit if I ever get to New York and I want a sandwich from Marty's deli downstairs!
  • Almost anything of general interest. Anything that might make a good magazine article will make a good blogpost—especially a magazine your ideal reader is likely to buy. I've blogged travel articles I've submitted to magazines.
  • A series of articles or vignettes you hope to make into a book. For nonfiction, blogging your book is usually OK. (Check with your publisher). For fiction, if you decide to write a series of posts and turn them into a saleable story later (it has been done!) make sure you check before submitting your novella/novel. You'll usually find if you've made many changes to your story since blogging it, there will be no problem. At times this "previously published" card is overplayed to scare bloggers into not publishing online. Many publishers have come round -- if 30 people read it on your blog there's not a lot of competition going on!

Don't Blog About...

·                     Daily word count. Nobody cares. (Unless it's during NaNoWriMo or some such.) Today's blogs are "other" oriented rather than "self" oriented. Do write interesting stuff for people. 
·                     Rejection sorrows, personal woes and writer's block. These belong in your private journal. The one with the lock on it. Although at times I understand an author's rant and feel his/her pain! "Occasionally" is the word.
·                     Teachy-Preachy stuff. Especially if you're not an expert. Don’t lecture people on how to get published if you’re not. (But a writer's journey TO publication is always interesting, especially if told with humour.)
Books being unloaded for the
Brisbane Writers' Festival
at the State Library of Queensland
 - starts today!
·                     Apologies for not blogging. People will thank you  as it means one less favourite blog to visit temporarily. (This is not to say you couldn't put a sign on your blog.) I'm not someone who takes any notice of: "I blog Monday's and Friday's and occasionally Saturday, but if the spirit moves me, maybe I'll blog Sunday." I have a blogroll for new posts!
·                     Your Fiction WIP. Don't expect editors to be trawling the internet to discover you. I follow literary agent Scott Eagan and he always have interesting stuff like this about agents/editors and writer's misconceptions of their world.

Some writers ARE able to attract a blog following by posting some short fiction or poetry, but I don't recommend you do it exclusively. You might be giving away first rights if it is a publishable work, so consider what you post. There is always Wattpad which is password-protected and therefore not "publishing" if you're concerned about first rights. 
  • My 'down-home' blogging advice. Write considered posts in which you've invested time and energy. If you're genuine, it'll show and hopefully, readers will read and comment.
  • The new linky for Write...Edit...Publish's September bloghop is now up. Please consider joining us this month for MOVING ON. You can post: flash fiction, non-fiction, playscript excerpts, (all up to 1,000 words), photography, artwork.


  1. I so agree about the 'don't - especially those who whinge over and over about why they haven't blogged recently! Or give writing advice when they've never published a word.

    Am now off to read Scott Eagen

  2. Great list, although I do spend a lot of time being angsty on my blog... But the people who read regularly understand that, and I do try to do it with humour. I've never used cute pets, but I sometimes stick on a photo of my local area. That usually draws comments.

  3. I love the list here. It made me think about the topics of my post and reconsider some of them.

  4. I really enjoyed Anne's posts too. Thanks for all the suggestions. I think it's important to be consistent in the blogging and not just disappear for long periods of time, though taking breaks or cutting back in the summer is okay. And following others is the key to keeping your own followers coming back and growing your blog. No matter what we do, I think it's a bit of a struggle since last Fall as many people seem to be tiring of blogging. Though I've made lots of new friends through Alex's group of friends.

  5. I like the dos and donts here. Gives me lots to think about :)

  6. I know my blog has definitely evolved over the years. And I agree it's a good idea to blog about topics related to the research you do on the novel, or whatever. It keeps people interested in what you're working on without always talking about what you're working on.

  7. Denise, that is an excellent list of dos and don'ts. Most of my posts are informative, because that's the direction I took my blog. Once in a while I will post something personal, like today. But that is what the IWSG is all about.

  8. Apologies for not blogging is a big one, who cares geez. Animals work too. But really I don't care, I'll say what I want about whatever I want and away they come. Got it built so I can get away with just about anything.

  9. Great thoughts and suggestions. It's taken me a long time to figure out what I wanted my blog to be like, and it's taken a little bit of courage to leap and then continue forward with my plan. Because each of us is different, I suppose that's a journey we have to make, eh?

  10. Interesting list, Denise, and I love the mention of puppy appeal. Find I've added to the 'not to' list from time to time... note to self! :0)

  11. Hey, thanks Denise!!
    It took a while for my blog to evolve and for me to find my groove, but I have my place now.
    Excellent tips. Hope everyone sees them today.

  12. Replies
    1. Oh, there's a pity party going on at my blog right now.. all welcome! BYOB! :)

  13. You always hit the nail on the head, Denise. Thanks for this great advice. Our trip generated ideas for posts. All of these options, like Google+ and so on, make my computer dinosaur eyes cross. Eeeeeek!

    1. I think Google wants Google+ to take over the world.

  14. It's a useful collection of ideas. Thanks.

  15. Very well summarised Denise. Yes, there are a few cringe-worthy topics on the don't list!

  16. Lot's of helpful tips here. Thoughtful, well considered posts are key.

  17. Great post as usual Denise. Some very good tips and pointers. Thanks.


  18. Great list of what to/what not to blog about ideas! I haven't noticed a change in views from tech limits, but then again, I tend to post once a month. ;) Great IWSG post!

    Kim Lajevardi
    (This Writer's Growing)

  19. Excellent blogging advice. It's def a form of media that's changed. Still needed, obviously, but the paradigm is shifting. Without Google reader, it's harder to sift thru post titles. I've found the more honest and creative I get with my posts, the better they're received. Otherwise, they all tend to blur together. I will admit, I rarely read excerpts on blogs. I just don't have time. Can you believe that?? A writer out of time?? ;)

    1. Pk, I know some bloggers who have stopped blogging practically altogether, preferring facebook, twitter orGoogle+ etc. for its speed abd lesser commitment. For me, blogging rules!

  20. Hi Denise .. great thoughts here and ideas for us all to open out into other arenas ...

    Thanks for the mention .. I love reading interesting posts, yet it's always good to know if others are having trouble, so one can be supportive ... but I agree too much of the daily grit of life is rather boring.

    It's settling in to a rhythm of the sorts of posts and then just getting them up - I'm erratic ..just the way it is and thankfully I don't lose out ... less often is more readers ..

    I'd love to be more professionally organised, but then we have the likes of you and others to keep us on our toes!

    Thanks for some great IWSG thoughts .. cheers from a very hot day!!! Hilary

    1. Your blog is a delight Hilary. Everyone who visits learns so much.

  21. Such an excellent post! Thank-you for the wise words and sharing of great information ;o)

  22. I want everyone in the world to read the don't's. There are some great tips for the do's. I think I'm getting tired because I read "A series of articles or vignettes" as "A series of artichokes or vinaigrettes."

  23. My blogging has changed over the years but I can't say it's gotten any easier, lol! Anyway, excellent post, I was nodding my head in agreement on all these points, especially the don'ts. One of the things I'm having a harder time with is reading lengthy posts. I wish I could but I just don't have the time like I used to. I try to keep that in mind when I write my own posts. Oh and I adore Hilary Melton-Butcher and her blog! She does such a wonderful job writing about history, people and places, etc. (:

    1. Whoops, mine is a lengthy post, but I don't expect people to read every word. Blogging is very time consuming, but I think rewarding.

    2. Thanks Elise .. appreciate your comment very much .. Hilary

  24. Great information, You always provide wonderful posts. Must be the teacher tendency - I love it. Wish I had that ability. Sometimes I just want to copy and paste to a notebook for future reference. Blogging is hard and yet very rewarding. The relationships formed are invaluable!

    1. Thanks Yolanda. Yeah, teachy-preachy me. I try not to, but I know it might come across a bit like that. I like the cut/paste idea.

  25. Hi Denise
    Good advice as always. I'm sure I've broken rules on this formula. My only excuse is when I'm sick I don't think clearly.

    I've decided to blog twice a month. Once for IWSG and once for Write...Edit...Publish, so I will check out the new challenge. I'm also going to compile and add to all my faerie flash fiction stories once I have my phoenix short up and it's sequel which I've decided to set in Charlemagne's time period. Right now she's with a druid priest.

    I am trying to pace myself so I don't over do. With the power issues here I haven't had time to email you but I haven't forgotten.

  26. Some great advice there. And, yeah, isn't it a pain how they're making it difficult to comment? Grrr

  27. Awesome advice. I know that I sometimes worry about my blog being only bloghops and nothing else. I agree with the "magazine article" idea as some of my most popular posts are like that, crafts in particular. Also, I do find that book reviews also end up on my popular posts list, but I agree that you don't want to become a review blog exclusively if you are trying to get published. Great food for thought.

  28. Those are some awesome tips, Denise! I'm going to keep this list handy for weeks when I feel drained and out of blog-y ideas. But, you know, I've been blogging for five years and I still really enjoy it. I think having a community of lovely blogging friends makes a huge difference!

  29. Great post. I used to do a lot of things from the DO NOT list when I started out blogging but I think I'm evolving away from them now. At least I hope I am anyway!

  30. Hi, Denise,

    What great tips... I really enjoy Anne's blog too! I try to do all the things you've suggested and I especially try to stay positive no matter what my circumstances are. Negativity breeds more negativity...


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