To Blog or Not to Blog…Does it matter as long as a writer writes?

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image: Graphics1796

So you’ve taken the first steps toward writing a novel. Congratulations! Holy carpel tunnel, what an undertaking!

Aside from a novella pubbed with a small house, and a self pubbed short story, I’m new to the journey of writing longer bodies of work. With a couple of novels closing in on completion, I thought it’d be a good idea to revisit the notion of blogging before your novel is finished.

So why blog at all? Why have a website before the writing is ready?

To answer, let’s measure some good points and limitations of blogging as a fiction writer, because if you’re like me-already writing every night-you need good reason to write some more!

Do you really need a blog or website?  I’m tempted to answer, “Hell Yes,” but that’s a short answer for a long journey. Asking two questions can help determine if having a blog or website is right for you:

  • Am I writing for myself or an audience?
  • What do I want the blog to do for me or my intended audience?

Well, consider what you are writing for.

If time spent at your keyboard produces content intended for just you or your friends and family: It is a closed circle of reader ship. In this case you’re probably fine without a blog unless you want to use it as a meeting place to share writing efforts. However, a blog is a great way to venture into new territory as a writer as well as learning time management.

A FEW TIPS

  • Get a timer. Dedicate a specific amount of time to your goal of writing daily, and don’t move from the keyboard until your designated time is up!
  • Explore other blogs for inspiration to hit the keys more often.
  • Link and share your thoughts and experiences with others beyond your current circle. Lots of friendly bloggers would enjoy reading your stuff…just enjoy theirs, comment and invite them to visit yours!

If you are a fiction writer, with an eye on publication: Whether you want to submit a 7,000 word short story for a magazine or anthology, or a George Martin-esque length novel, you want to begin building a name, a platform to launch your work and your presence. One of the simplest ways  is creating a public blog. As with a personal blog, a public blog can help you get into the habit of writing every day, as well as discovering an enormous community of online interaction and support for mutual interests and efforts.

When marketing my book *Stealing Time  I blogged and interacted with a lot of people. It didn’t feel like marketing, but a direct result of blogging vs not blogging was more book sales. *published under a nom-de-plume 2012 by Musa Publishing

A fiction author who blogs on a website and participates in bloghops and giveaways builds both brand and sales. Bonus: It’s fun!

  • A blog or website offers exposure. Your blog combined with email subscriptions is the marketing tool for your name.
  • Write a blogpost-geared idea every few days even if you’re not ready to post yet.
  • Once a week choose one of those ideas and expand it to around 50o words and you’ll have built a blogpost.
  • Balance Writing Goals: Hit your daily fiction writing goal first, then work in thirty minutes for your blogging goals. A timer helps.
  • Share what other writers and bloggers are doing that intrigues you. Post a link to their content from your site.
  • Build your blog audience through an email list; an email subscription button can make it easy for them to take action.
  • Consider creating a free newsletter to offer visitors who subscribe to your blog. ‘Cause giving back is beautiful. And you’ve learned so much from their blogs and input, too!
  • PS If you’re looking for my subscribe button, I’m in process of figuring how to add it and learn how it works using Mail Chimp. There is a Mail Chimp plug in, I believe, for WordPress that allows people to subscribe, and if I understand it right, maybe triggers a news letter message? I’ll tell you how this works in a post next week!

So. Now you are a blogger who aspires to submit fiction work for publication. Here’s the catch: You haven’t typed a short story in weeks. You have penned no poetry, and the deadline to submit it cannot be seen from your rear view mirror. Oh, and what about your manuscript? What manuscript? You’ve been so busy interacting and tapping away at the keys for your various social media sites that you forgot your original purpose.

WRITING

Blogging is a fantastic social/marketing tool. But best of all? It sucks your time away and you won’t even see it happening. Don’t let it be your master. Let it serve you while you write and serve others.

Unplug and WRITE.

Manage your social media time and don’t let it become a timesuck. Narrow your focus to one or two blogposts per week until your writing goals are completed. Your time will free up for finishing that 300 page doozy stewing in your brain. Hit the keyboard with an eye to target that submission deadline, or create an imaginary deadline because the person who submits is ahead of the pack.

Then consider blogging again.

If your brain needs a change of pace from the current WIP (Work in Progress) but you still want to write every day, that’s a perfect excuse to blog.

My own MS in progress is just past 150K words, earning me a late salmon supper and a bit of time to update this blogpost. Oh…and coffee. The writing is delicious when spiked with liquid roast-heaven in a cup.

Cheers!

Kate Dancey

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On Writer’s Blog

I'll be around...

Dear Blog,

I’m afraid I owe you an apology.  I have been neglecting you lately, I know.  Like a houseplant or a pet you desire interaction, and must have your nutrients and my time to be happy and thrive, and I have been spending my time with a different love.

This may be hard for you to hear, but I feel I must say it, just get these guilty feelings out so I can clear the air!  So, yes, I have been neglecting you in order to spend quality time with my manuscript.  She’s so creative and beautiful, and I find that the more time I spend with her the better she gets, and the more rounded a writer I become.

So, I just want to say that our relationship has to be whittled down to, I hope, a mutual friendship.  I just need a little space to work on my relationship with my manuscript and see where that will take me…Us.

Just remember, you can rely on me still, as a friend, a shoulder to cry on, whatever you need.  I promise to visit periodically, but I don’t feel it is fair to you to stay in a close relationship…for now.

It’s not you, it’s me.

I’ll be seeing you around.

C.K. Garner

Get into Character!

What a Character!

Do you start your story with all of your characters already written out?  Do you know how they will act, what they might say?

I am a person who sucks at dialogue; but now, because I’m dabbling in character creation, I feel like I’m learning, or they are teaching me… it is as if the characters, once created are speaking for themselves, each with a distinct voice to suit his actions.

The fun part of writing is pushing the situations just little bit, or a whole shove from the norm, at the same time as  trying to keep it real.  The characters can help you along, or you can create a character grid, and make sure to follow closely.  What might a character do?  How far should you push them?

For Example, if I think a character is vain, I really get silly with that vanity, i.e., I try to take it way beyond what a normal person might do.   I’ll have them missing conversation, irritating people, and losing weight because they are so engaged in their reflection in the dinner plates they forget to eat!  If a person is clumsy, I have them tripping all over the place.

Are they an evildoer?  They are going to take a shot at your baby sister’s baby bunnies, drag the key down the side of someone’s car, blow up pigeons for fun and chuckles, and generally wreak havoc.

Same goes for nice.  Made of sugar, but sometimes spice is the answer there.  As for the middling ones, it helps to shove them over either edge to see how they will handle the drop.  Sometimes a character will grow if you push them, this is especially true if you shove each into the other!  The characters will tell you what they will and won’t do along the way once you start getting them down on the page.

I like to take them to extremes because it makes the story better, even if I tone them down later.  It’s just fun to have a character go beyond the bounds of what is the accepted “norm”.  The lengths to which you can manipulate your characters into a twisted tale are endless, and even impossibilities are, well, possible if you decide they are real enough to write them down!

For the rest of the month I’ll be catching up on all of the possible goofs I have missed in adding the new characters.  I want a seamless blending where I have added them in, which means line by line editing.  I take the time when doing this to catch dropped punctuation, spelling errors, grammatical no-no’s, etc..

It is also a good time to check and see that your characters are showing, speaking, and acting it out rather than you telling the story.

Believe me, no matter how many times I go over it, I catch a couple more errors, and kill them off, hiding the evidence, so that by the time I get to the end, I will be ready for the next batch of revisions from Friends, Beta Readers, Agents and Editors.

I recommend you  try adding a couple of characters and see what happens with your story.  I’ll bet it grows in ways you didn’t expect.  Have fun playing in your world, the company is great!

C.K. Garner

Batton Lash in Good Company at ArtLabs Studio

Durante el panel de Troma, comentando sobre el...

Batton Lash: at Troma Panel

Batton Lash, The Author of Supernatural Law and one of the writers of Radioactive Man comic strip among many other hats (mentor and friend to C.K.Garner among them) launched his new studio this evening!  See his comic book series here: Batton Lash/Supernatural Law

Located within ArtLabs Studio on San Diego’s famous Adams Avenue, a street long known for its antique galleries and Street Fair, Lash’s new studio found perfect company with four other artists who share the ArtLabs Studio space, and whose works were featured on every wall.

The opening of the new studio coincided nicely with the annual Art Around Adams event, here’s the link:
Art Around Adams

A constant crowd of folks flowed into the Art Lab building from the two mile long Art Around Adams Walk, which features art and music incorporated into local businesses, a truly unique format in San Diego, checking out the art on every wall, chatting with the artists, and sharing champagne toasts all around, accompanied to live music.

I had the opportunity to meet and chat with James Hudnell author of “Aftermath: Humanoids” who gave me a great mini lesson about “theme” and “character arc” in writing, which I will be thinking about as I continue scribbling my own manuscript, you can see his work here: James Hudnell Aftermath: Humanoids.  I enjoyed the fine company of one of Batton’s long-time artist assistants, the charming Madame Melissa, as well as meeting Batton’s famous wife, at least famous for all Geekdom and comic book fans, Jackie Estrada.

Though though you may not have met her, if you are a Comic-Con International fan, you’ve likely seen Estrada’s name and work.  Jackie is the administrator of CCI’s Eisner Awards, which represent an Oscar equivalent for best of the best in the Pop Art and Comic industry, and has for years been the editor of several Comic Con related titles as well as holding the position as co publisher of Exhibit A Press.  So, this was a night of high falutin’ company indeed for this very new Writer!

Hats off to Batton Lash and Jackie Estrada; pioneers of the small press industry!  Congratulations on the new studio!

C.K. Garner

Back to writing

Well, no one is going to see this but the bots as they have taken over my referral box and comment box!  Alas, Askimet does not catch them and they have overridden the Kingdom at wordpress. So I’m going to leave off Blogging for awhile until they fix the referral spam problem.  I’m not writing the Blog here for the bots, I’m writing it for the exercise it gives the mind, and for contact with other Writers and Authors, to see what they are doing, and to share what I have found in researching the road from Writer to Author.  I’m writing less, and I find myself spending more time trying to find a way around the bots and worrying about my stats than writing, and since that is what the whole blog is for, but it has been corrupted, *sigh* I just don’t see any other option.

On a happier note, I’m going back to writing offline, of course, where I always compose.  I’m about half way through the manuscript, and the decision to put my energies to that instead of fighting the bots makes me feel better already.  Makes me wonder if the Blogging is really worth it?  Perhaps the best author sites are true feedback sites, where they critique each others work.  I think that after working on my manuscript for about a week, I’ll do some research in that arena.  I’ll see you later folks!  I hope the writing links provided in my blogs will help you on your way!

Cheers!

C.K. Garner