How To Start A Writing Blog and HAVE FUN

There’s plenty of ‘how to blog effectively’ articles out there, and you may be wondering, “Why should I take advice from someone who has ~300 followers?”

The reason I think you should care is that I feel those 300 followers is about average, perhaps a little more or less, to what you should expect after blogging in the writing community for about a year (which is where I am) with absolutely 0 online presence beforehand.

The main way to succeed at blogging is to not give up.  You may never get paid for it, and you may never get famous, but you will still gain from the experience.  Here’s how.

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What Blogging Can (Will) Get You

You can easily get articles about ‘how to direct traffic to your blog’ or stories about how people succeeded.  Some of that crap works, but in real life?  This Bo Burnham quote sums up my thoughts on most of that advice:

I would say don’t take advice from people like me who have gotten very lucky, we’re biased. You know, like Taylor Swift telling you to follow your dreams is like a lottery winner telling you, ‘Liquidize your assets, buy Powerball tickets, it works!’

— Bo Burnham on TBS’s Conan, 2016

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The same can apply to advice from successful bloggers or, gasp, authors.  Sure, they put in the effort, they had skill, and they did what was necessary to start the process, but an element of luck plays into all of it. None of us are failures when luck or zeitgeist didn’t fall our way.

What you can really expect is to contact a few other dedicated bloggers or, in my case, author-bloggers.  You can expect to see more of what other people do, recognize what choices you have and what steps you need to take if you do want to chase a dream like publishing – either traditional or self-published.

What You Must Pay

While I believe having more than the free plan would help me grow my blog, direct monetary loss isn’t what I’m talking about.  I’m talking about payments of effort.  Time is something even free bloggers have to spend.

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When it comes to your own posts, you’ll figure out your balance of quality vs. quantity.  I decided to post every day for 3 months in 2018, and that was definitely when I got through the beginning slump – but posting every day isn’t necessary.  What is necessary, if you want to keep growing, is to just not quit. Keep commenting and reading even if you post once a week or once every 2 weeks.

This leads me into the other ‘payment’ – comments.  Likes are penny candy after a while, and you can’t be sure some of those people even read your stuff.  Try using the wp reader for a while – it’s way easier to like than it is to go to the website, load it, read it, then like it.  So yes, like, but also comment – comment like you think the poster is about to quit and you’re the only one who can prevent it.  Even if they don’t care about you in return, you did a good thing.  Start a conversation, be the reader you want other people to be.  Don’t depend on getting secret readers or stuff like that.

Eventually, commenting won’t feel so nerve-wracking.  You’ll just do it.  Right now I have a hard time commenting on popular blogs because I feel like I can’t add to an already illustrious conversation – but that’s not true, and I can get over that psychological block.

Also, don’t be an asshat in the comments.

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Have a Good Time

Warning: atypical advice ahead!

If you don’t enjoy blogging, don’t do it. It’s that simple. The chances of getting internet fame or causing your book sales to skyrocket are low, especially after a short time online. If you don’t enjoy the platform, try posting less often.  Try finding a type of post you like better.  Maybe try Twitter (which makes me a nervous wreck, but you can find me @hrrgorman) or Tumblr or Instagram.

If you don’t like blogging, you’ll require more comments, likes, and traffic to feel worthwhile. You might get them – it is possible – but that’s still got a lot of luck basis. If you don’t like blogging, really consider what your ‘final straw’ is. Don’t let online bs drag you down in real life. Have reasonable (aka low) expectations if you are a stat dependent creature.

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Do you have any tips for beginning bloggers?  Any questions about startup, fears about where your blog is going?  I’d love to have a chat in the comments, so meet me there!

In 2 weeks, I hope you’ll enjoy my post about writing prompts and how they are super useful to worm yourself into the writing community on WordPress!  Give me a follow if you’re interested!

Tracks for November

These are the stuff I’ve been listening to this month.  At the end of last month, I discovered podcasts – amazing stuff! – so you can start looking forward to weird podcast suggestions.

Franz Ferdinand – Dark of the Matinee – 2009

Image result for dark of the matineeI of course enjoy the mega hit Take Me Out, but Dark of the Matinee has a crazy catchy tune.  It’s also insanely British, and I enjoy it a lot.  I also like the band name because it reminds me of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

Fleet Foxes – Blue Ridge Mountains – 2008

Fleet foxes.jpgThis is a deep cut from an album that came out while I was in college.  I think it’s gives me a breath of nostalgia, reminds me of when I got the album.  One of my friends had discovered the band and suggested it to me.

I’m not actually a huge fan of any of the other Fleet Foxes albums either before or after this record.

Biddu Orchestra – Summer of ’42 – 1975

Image result for biddu orchestra eastern starI like a lot of Biddu songs, and this one fits my usual desires quite nicely.  This instrumental feels egregiously 70’s, and I still don’t know how this song is supposed to make me think of the Summer of ’42.  I think it may have appeared in a movie about a guy who was going to college during the war, but I’ve never seen it and don’t really care to look for it.

Slate – Slow Burn – Podcast

Image result for slow burnYou might already have some feelings about slate.  It is a left-of center news and information group, and I can confirm that the bias is real.  I was skeptical of this show at first because of Slate’s obvious reporting bias.  But Slow Burn?  Goddamn.  Holy crap.  It’s absolutely fantastic.

Slow Burn is a podcast about political scandals, and only the biggest ones.  I don’t know if there will be a season 3 or not, but seasons 1 and 2 focused on prior incidents of presidential impeachment.

I used to think I knew a lot about Watergate, but season 1 of Slow Burn showed me I don’t know jack.  I didn’t know who Martha Mitchell was, nor was I aware just how bipartisan the process went.  If you listen to Slow Burn season 1 as a millennial, you’re probably going to be surprised at how so many politicians seemed earnest and good.  Nixon is a fantastic villain, and the story is fulfilling to listen to.

In contrast, there’s Slow Burn season 2 about the Lewinsky affair. It’s sordid and awful, far worse than I had realized (I was too young when the Lewinsky stuff happened for me to remember much on my own).  I wanted to just scream after listening to season 2 because nothing good happened.  Don’t listen to season 2 expecting the uplifting release at the end that you got out of season 1.

If political scandal be something you wish, listen to Slow Burn.  Here’s the link again.

October Music

If you want to listen to some weird and/or classic tunes, I’ve got some good ones for you to sample this month.  I’m going to listen to chill things this month while I consider what I want out of my future blogging and writing.  Right now I’m on the fence as to what I want to do with this hobby – I don’t want writing to feel like a job, especially if I’m not going to make money from it.

Christie – Yellow River – 1970

Image result for christie yellow riverI first heard this song when my father in law decided he needed to impart a large hoard of songs he’d ripped from various sources (apparently he found someone who could rip vinyl – imagine that setup!).  I rather like my father in law, and our music tastes overlap very well in the early 70’s range (he enjoys more late 60’s and I enjoy more late 70’s).

Anyway, this song is pretty chill.

Still Corners – The Trip – 2013

Image result for still corners the tripI think this is a deep cut from a strange album and not a single at all.  It’s kind of dreamy, synthpop type stuff.  The band is a little bit obscure.

It reminds me of a previous song I posted on the August soundtrack – Beach House’s “Space Song.”

The Grass Roots – Temptation Eyes – 1971

Image result for temptation eyes the grass rootsA few years back I decided to listen to the top 100 songs from each year of the 70’s.  This showed up in ’71, and my eyes widened.  It could just as well have been Matchbox 20, or perhaps something from the 90’s.  I’ve actually tricked people that this song is newer than it really is.

I don’t think this band is very well known anymore, though every Boomer I’ve talked with seems to remember it in a manner more fondly than Disco Duck.

Greta Van Fleet – Black Smoke Rising – 2017

Image result for greta van fleet black smoke risingRecently, I’d found an amazing band called the Amorettes.  They had a great Classic Rock feel despite being brilliantly new.  I liked the band because they had a sound somewhere between Heart and Molly Hatchet.

Greta Van Fleet is like a freaking clone of Led Zeppelin, but they have a nice, updated set of instrumentation and sound engineering options.  If you like classic rock and want to check out something new, give this song and album a whirl.

They make me feel old, though.

September Roundup

I like to do monthly round-ups where I pick some of my favorite posts from around WordPress for the past month.  It doesn’t say anything about style, content, or really anything – just that I liked some of these posts and would love to share them with you.

This month, there was a TON of excellent stuff.  It was hard to even narrow it down this much, and you’ll see there’s quite a few articles and stories to choose from!

6 Reasons You Should Love Your First Draft

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This was one of the first posts K.M. Allan put up after I started following her.  If you have a book you’ve recently finished and are starting to question the value of, give this post a read – it’ll help you put your book’s quality into perspective.

Tips for Choosing Character Names

I admit – I’m a bit of a nerd-o linguist, and I love coming up with character names.  I thought Diane Tibert’s suggestions, especially the one to keep it simple, is an excellent tip that weirdos like me need to keep in mind.

But oh, isn’t it so refreshing and fun to invent garbage names?  Isn’t it great that you can create a first draft with the name you want then use ctrl-f or ctrl-r to easily replace a garbage name with something pronounceable?

10 Ways to Know if Your Poem is Ready

I am trying to get better at poetry.  I’ve only really written prose since I’ve begun, and I am even pretty inexperienced at appreciating poetry.  Marnie Heenan writes a lot of poetry, and she’s started putting out published work, so I really enjoyed seeing some advice from her on some poetry tips.

What I’ve Learned from my First Hurricane

FlorenceKris Lynn apparently is a fellow Carolinian and went through Florence!  I was kind of excited to see that I had a partner in crime (though I didn’t get to loot nearly as much as planned…).  I’m glad they’re ok, and I’m glad I’m ok!  Whew, close call there.

Also, looting is bad.  Let’s get it straight that I was being sarcastic above.  You can laugh without going to hell now.

Quien es? An Alternate History

Tom Darby produces a lot of fun stuff, but I have to say this post was the one that got me this month (mostly because I think ‘The Fourth Woman’ was done last month).  I also like how his regional history feels so distinctly western, so incredibly arid and yet beautiful.  He produces an incredible slice of Americana in this piece.

Not to Everyone’s Taste

I just thought this one was funny.  Perhaps it’s because I’ve recently joined the homeowners of the world and can appreciate how terrible a horrifying color palette can be when looking at a house.  It makes you wonder ‘whyyyy?’

The Sky-Pirates of Durn – Part 18

2095So, here’s a pro tip: start reading this at part 1.

If you don’t, I’ll warn you that Part 18 had a beautiful twist that I didn’t see coming and that I 100% approve of.  I always love installments in this series, and I want to encourage you to check it out if you have the time to catch up.  It’s really a fun read, especially for free and in your WP reader.

The September Free Writes on the Carrot Ranch

The Carrot Ranch is hosting the Flash Fiction Rodeo next month, and they’ve been posting qualifying contests all month.  TOMORROW IS THE LAST ONE!  I think the Carrot Ranch is one of the most vibrant, interactive prompt-based writing communities, and participating in the rodeo would be an incredible way to start.  If you plan on entering, do it!  If you hadn’t, I’d encourage you to try tomorrow anyway!  Everyone gets only 24 hours to write their hearts out, so you have nothing to lose.

Thanks for checking out this month’s roundup, and I hope you enjoy some of the things I’ve picked!

September Soundtrack

Sure, this may be pointless because I won’t have electricity in the coming days, but I might as well plan, gosh darn it.  I thought I might as well try prepping a bunch of posts in the case that I’ll be unavailable. 

This month, I’m starting a new novel.  Is it good?  Doesn’t matter – I’m listening to some cool and some REALLY UNCOOL stuff while I write it.

Taco – Puttin’ on The Ritz – 1983

https://img.discogs.com/C4l97_iV032d0d47JPmTenBYfvU=/fit-in/600x591/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(90)/discogs-images/R-1163400-1394180473-3330.jpeg.jpgI listen to a classic pop (is that a thing?) station where I live.  On Saturdays when the station owners can’t be bothered to pay for a DJ, they instead do classic presentations of Kasey Kasem’s top 40 shows.  On the first weekend in September, they chose one from 1983, and this song was high on that list.

I was like, “God, that’s a terrible singer, and this song is such garbage.”  Of course, I was instantly hooked, and now I’m completely obsessed.  This song is so weirdly anachronistic, being both a remake of a classic 1930’s single and just so painfully 80’s.  The music video is awful.

Freda Payne – Band of Gold – 1971

Image result for band of gold freda payneThis song is totally underrated.  Sure, it sold well and is famous and everything, but I still really like it.  It has such a strong melody.

As well, it’s one of those deceptively sad songs with a catchy tune.  If there’s any song on this list I’d suggest trying, this one is it.

Eddy Christiani and Frans Poptie – Rythm For You – I don’t care about the year, it’s on the Fallout 3 Soundtrack

Image result for Eddy Christiani and Frans Poptie - Rhythm For YouI started playing Fallout 4 in my spare time.  While doing so, I realized that the collection of instrumentals on the soundtrack is sadly lacking.  This little doozy from the Fallout 3 score is one of my favorites.  I love the slightly different instrumentation it uses from a lot of the other songs on the soundtrack.  The Gerhard Trede songs are also fun.

Various Artists – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band Soundtrack

Sgt Pepper Film.jpgI personally believe the Beatles are super overrated.  They’re not bad, and I can listen to some Beatles pretty easily, but so many people rave about what I find to be otherwise unoriginal, extremely ‘ok’ songs.  The Beach Boys are far better, in my opinion.  So are the Grass Roots.

So when I heard there was a disco/glam rock cover of the Beatles’ seminal record, I knew this was going to hit a new low for me.  I wasn’t disappointed.

This really is one of the worst albums I’ve ever had the fortune to expose my ears to.  I love collecting information about some of the worst popular music, and I can confirm this one is bad.  Not only does it take mediocre, overrated music and make it somehow so, so much worse, it does so with a high production value. That makes it all the sadder that this thing exists.

John McCain

I usually write a response to a prompt on Sundays, but something happened that I feel more deeply about.

800px-john_mccain_official_portrait_2009If you’ve followed my blog for long, you’ll know that one of my political heroes is John McCain.  On Friday, news came out that he was no longer accepting medical treatment, and about an hour before I set to writing this news had announced his death.

On both occasions that I read the news, my heart sank.  I’ve never felt so deeply about a political or celebrity death.  I didn’t agree with McCain on every point – something that I think he’d be ok with – but I found his character and willingness to stand for what he thought was right to be impressive.  He was a hero to me, just as I believe he was a hero to all of America.  I had hoped McCain would live longer, and I sent a prayer or two up for him.

Now that he’s no longer blazing his trail here on Earth, a little piece of me has to change and move on.  His influence molded our history, and the legacy he left will continue to have bearing on our future.

In October of last year, McCain gave a speech when he accepted the liberty medal.  This speech, in my little opinion, was one of my favorites.  I’ll leave you with words I think define how McCain looked at America, the quote that helps me put on rose colored glasses and secure myself in hope that everything will turn out fine if we seek to do what is right.

“We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil. We are the custodians of those ideals at home, and their champion abroad. We have done great good in the world. That leadership has had its costs, but we have become incomparably powerful and wealthy as we did. We have a moral obligation to continue in our just cause, and we would bring more than shame on ourselves if we don’t. We will not thrive in a world where our leadership and ideals are absent. We wouldn’t deserve to.”

My Soundtrack For August

This month is weird for me, and I don’t need editing songs.  I need something else… something much more deeply creative.

I have edit suggestions from my last two beta readers trickling in, but I think developmental editing has basically come to a close.  I’m considering whether or not I want to do the Twitter contest #Pitchwars, and I’ve booked a professional editor for early September (so I have plenty of time to make sure I’m sending something that just needs copy editing).  I’m instead going to branch out, try to learn how to write poetry, and return to a bit of my Southern Gothic horror writing.

Here’s how I’m going to gear up for that.

Molly Hatchet – Long Time – 1980

Flirtin' With DisasterI love some Molly Hatchet.  It’s southern rock at its finest, complete with complex riffs and a bit of a swampy feel.  The band is named after a roadside legend about a Southern prostitute who murdered men with a hatchet, and I think that matches perfectly with some of my goals this month.

Altai Band – Edjin Duun – 2016 (?)

Image result for altai band albumsI think Mongolian throat singing is entirely underrated, and this band is absolutely amazing.  If you’ve never tried Mongolian music before, give the YouTube link a click and listen to this thing.  The Altai Band is extremely skilled at their craft, and I haven’t yet found a better Mongolian throat singing example that would appeal to a western Ear.

Anyway, this and other traditional Mongolian songs really get me in the mood to create.  It felt very foreign to me at first, but now I just sink right in to the song.  I hope you enjoy this too.

(Also, I don’t know if this is the album the song is from – the band is somewhat hard to research due to my language limitations).

Flock of Seagulls – Space Age Love Song – 1982

A Flock of Seagulls - Space Age Love Song.jpgI’m just stuck on this song.  No other reason to put this here.  It doesn’t inspire me or even jive with my usual tastes.

Though, if you watch the video linked in the title, you’ll get a blast from the past.  Literally none of the crap they do in that video either still exists or could be done.

Amorettes – Everything I Learned (I Learned from Rock and Roll) – 2018

TheAmorettes_BornToBreakCDThis song first came up on my YouTube mymix for whatever the hell reason Youtube thought I’d like it.

The damn databases were right.

This is more reminiscent of Molly Hatchet and Heart.  I really love this song, and the entire album is of similar high quality.  If you like classic rock and lament the fact that none of it is made anymore, give Amorettes a try.

KC and the Sunshine Man – I’m Your Boogie Man – 1976 IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWED BY White Zombie – I’m Your Boogie Man – 1996

The reasoning for this should be obvious.

My Top 5 Editing Songs

Music inspires a whole bunch of people, especially writers.  Me?  I don’t really feel inspired, per se, but I do like to imagine soundtracks for my writing after I’ve written it.  These are thus not songs to write to, but songs to edit by.

Walter Murphy – A Fifth of Beethoven – 1976

a fifth of beethovenInstrumental disco is my go-to when I need background music, and A Fifth of Beethoven has a special nook.  That special ‘boop’ sound when the electric organ is starting the main riff is excruciatingly annoying and much louder than the rest of the song.  It grates against the soul in such a way that it clears a room for those who cannot acclimatize to its ilk.

I like to listen to this song while I’m editing scenes focused on characters in their 50’s and 60’s.  There’s something in A Fifth of Beethoven that makes me believe the baby boomers must have been something special, and it reminds me that there can be pain hidden in the corners of such a beautiful song.  I love it.

Iron Butterfly – In-A-Gadda da Vida – 1968

Image result for iron butterfly in a gadda da vidaOne of the first albums to go quadruple platinum, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida is a 17-minute showdown of people who were certainly high as kites when they made it.  It has this slight horror element to the sound, something visceral and ancient (and I’m not just saying this because it’s old music).

I like to listen to this song when I’m writing dirty scenes, like where a character is crawling through mud or forced to sift through corpses.

Beach House – Space Song – 2015

Image result for beach house space songThis one is really weird and has a bit of a sad undertone.  I like to edit stories set in space, like the Mercury Dimension, while I listen to this song.

MFSB with vocals from The Three Degrees – TSOP – 1974

Image result for mfsb tsopI first heard this song when I was in middle school, but it has very little singing and no recognizable words.  As a result, I didn’t find this song again until much later when it randomly came up on my Youtube mix.  I instantly stood up and proclaimed to my coworkers that I had found it, that this was the song I’d been searching for since I was 12.

Thus, I like to listen to this song when my characters are triumphant, perhaps in the last few chapters where the problems are working themselves out.

Anthrax – Belly of the Beast – 1990

Image result for belly of the beast anthraxMy villains are often my favorite characters.  I imagined “Belly of the Beast” as the theme song for my favorite villain, Patricia Schroeder, in a series of books that will likely never see the light of day.  She was just freaking evil, and her motivations were still somehow strangely pure.  The song has such a good horror backdrop, and it’s still good metal.  It’s one of those few pieces of music that I used to get into a character’s head.

 

This is to go along with todays POE Prompts Tweet – Writing Music.  Check me out on twitter @hrrgorman and let me follow some people I already know!