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!

Godkiller in a Bag (Part 3 of 3)

(Part 1) (Part 2)

Whether it was the god’s fault or not, the weather became beastly cold and worked to freeze their hands and feet.  The truck driver had burst open some of her cargo and took out the goods destined for a big-box store, outfitting both of them well.  The god’s winter would have to try harder to freeze them.

Eventually they reached the top of the mountain, huddled against the wind and snow.  Even in the daylight, the thickness of the storm prevented them from seeing very far.

“Where’s the cavern?” the trucker asked.  She held onto the hitchhiker’s arm to make sure they didn’t get separated in the storm.

He held tight to her as well.  “I don’t know.  This could be a trick as far as we know.”

“How?” she asked.  “You saw it just like I did.  The vision.”

“Could be falsified.”  He fell to his knees and huddled.  “There’s got to be a way to call it.”

The trucker crouched beside him and put a hand to the top of the canvas rucksack.  She held his chin with the other hand.  “We have bait.”

“That’s too big a risk.”

“Is there another option?”

The hitchhiker gripped the straps of his sack in his gloved hands.  He looked to the sky and cried out, “I have it!  Show yourself, and I can work out a deal.  I’ll trade you the Apple if you will grant us our freedom!”

He put his hand to the clip and undid it, showing the contents of the bag to the sky.

The snow stopped falling in an instant, the sun shone from the lap of the god, and then –

BOOM

“You… You shot me?”

Thank goodness she’d checked my bag.  Thank goodness she’d stolen my magnum and hidden it in her coat pocket where the god didn’t look.  Thank goodness she’d eaten the Apple and had the free will to pull the trigger.

I shared his heart with the truck driver, and we both relished in his power.  The god no longer determined our fates, no longer directed our paths or altered our present.  The pesky narrator would have no power over me.

I lifted my hand, the power of the all-knowing, narrating god coursing through my veins, and returned my friends and family to their natural state: alive, well, and home.

She grasped my shoulder.  “Can we even go back?” she asked.  “We’re not as we were.”

I hugged her.  “What else can we do?”

“We can’t control people’s fates.  We can’t take away free will just like the god we killed.”  A tear went down her cheeks.   “Is this goodbye, then?” she asked.

I nodded my head.  “I’ll see you around.  Invite you to birthday parties, get trashed sometime when it’s a bit more convenient.”

“I’d like that.”  She patted me on the back, pulled me tight, and used her newly gained power to vanish somewhere else.  “By the way, my name is Evelyn.”

I ran up to where she had stood.  “And my name is-”

But she was gone, and I had a new goddess to chase.

(Part 1) (Part 2)

Godkiller in a Bag (Part 2 of 3)

(Part 1) (Part 3)

The driver coughed a little bit.  “I tried it while you slept.”

The hitchhiker stirred from a quick nap, still tired in the middle of the night.  “Tried what?”

“The thing in your bag.  The thing your pagan god wants.”

“I… I suppose that was the safest thing for you to do, really.”  He clutched his bag tighter.  “You do realize that your fate is tied to mine now, right?”

She drove without speaking, her lip trembling as if she couldn’t say anything worthwhile.  “I realize your pagan god is watching.  I know why it wants that thing in your bag.”  She pressed the pedal harder, accelerating on the empty road.  “We passed through Denver about thirty minutes ago.  Do you know where you’re going?”

The hitchhiker squirmed in his seat.  “You don’t?”  He lifted a brow and clutched the bag closer.  “If you took a bite, you know what I’m doing.  You know where we’re going.”

“I know the road,” she said.  “I know where to park, where we have to get out and continue on foot.  But that’s it – that’s as far as my knowledge goes.”  She gulped.  “It seems I’m still a trucker, just hauling things more important than me.”

Her explanation settled him, allowed him to relax.  “You scared me for a minute.  I was afraid the god was using you.”  He wiped his eyes and laughed.  “Before I found it, I was what you’d call a damn dirty hippie.  Used to be a ski bum at some of the slopes around here, at least until I wore down the funds mom and pop gave me.  I only know where I’m going because I’ve climbed the peak before.”

“Then we’re suited for each other.  I’ll help you – you showed me freedom, after all.”  She cleared her throat.  “Why me, though?  Why share with me?”

He shrugged.  “Honestly, I would have shared with anyone if I’d thought they’d take me where I needed to go.  The god has left me with nothing.  Everyone I’ve ever known has had their history erased, gone as if they’d never existed.  I only have the one, too, so I had to be careful when I used it.  I think you were a good choice.”

“We’re going to kill your god.  I assume it knows?”

“It knows.  I can’t imagine it doesn’t.”  He grunted.  “The walk will take most of the day.  How long’s the drive?”

“An hour, hour and a half if we get unlucky.”

“The god will make sure of that.”

(Part 1) (Part 3)

Godkiller in a Bag (Part 1 of 3)

(Part 2) (Part 3)

He awoke because his body grew chilled.  An eyelid fluttered open, and his breath condensed in the winter air.  The Greyhound bus was sitting at a stop, engine off, but there were no other passengers.  There was no driver.

He grunted and pulled his pack closer to him, feeling his heart slow and his nerves calm when he checked inside.  Whatever was after him didn’t know what the bag contained, and it desperately wanted to find out.  He zipped the bag closed, ensuring that anyone or anything watching wouldn’t find out.

He put the tips of his mitten gloves over the chilled ends of his fingers and walked up the aisle of the bus.  He bent down to look out the front window, finding that the bus was parked at a rest stop along the route.  It was possible everyone had just stepped out for a stretch break, but that wasn’t likely.  Not with whatever was after him.

The rest stop was mostly empty this time of night, only a few trucks with napping drivers and minivans with tired moms and dads switching who slept and who drove.  In the distance he spotted looming mountains rising out of nowhere just past Denver.

After refilling a few water bottles, he clenched a fist and approached a trucker climbing into her cab.  “Excuse me,” he hailed, waving his hands.  “Excuse me, but are you headed into Denver?  Maybe further?”

“I don’t take hitchhikers.”

He gulped, let his bag slide down his shoulder just a little, and nodded.  “Well, that’ll probably work out better for you anyway.”

She grumped and shut the driver’s side door but rolled down the window.  “Why’s that?  You an axe murderer?”

He shook his head.  “No.  I just think I’m cursed.”

“Why?”

He looked to either side, then up to the sky.  “Some god, or goddess, has it in for me.  It started when they burned down my house and killed my dog, but then they took all my friends and acquaintances a couple weeks ago.  Shoot, they made everyone on my bus disappear entirely, and I’d only known their faces for all of four hours.”  He pulled tight on the rucksack.  “If I got to know you, I’m sure you’d disappear too.”

She shook her head and cranked up her truck.  “You sound like a nutter.  ‘Sides, why’d you want to get me stolen by this pagan god of yours, assuming it’s real?”

“I didn’t want to hurt anyone,” he said.  He took off his rucksack and fiddled with the plastic clip.  “The god can’t see inside my backpack, but I think it knows and wants what’s inside.  I think what’s inside can kill it, and that’s why it’s so scared.  If I show you, you become more valuable to the god alive than dead.”

She rolled the window up a couple inches.

“I’m pretty desperate,” the man said.  “I haven’t shown anyone else what’s in my bag, and you’d be the first.”

She wrinkled her nose, but took her hand off the window crank.  “Fine.  If I like what I see, you can hitch a ride.”

He unhitched the bag and stepped on her truck’s runners, giving her just a peek at the contents.

Her eyes widened and he clicked the bag shut before the curious god could sneak its view into the burlap.

“Get in,” she said.  The truck’s doors unlocked at the push of a button.

He jumped off her runner and hurried around the front of her truck, then clambered into the passenger’s seat.

(Part 2) (Part 3)

The Nostalgia Corner

Slowly but surely, my mom is making me clean out all the crap I left at her house.  I’ve not lived in her house for several years, but now my younger brother has finally moved out and she’s done with it all.

On one of my recent trips to Mom’s house, I cleared out some of my childhood books (there are plenty more still waiting, too).  Included in this plethora of paper packages were several notebooks that I had used in school or to just write bullshit garbage in.  I found a Space-Jam spiral notebook from 1996 that contained this gem:

“BOOOOOOOM! So that takes care of the narrator.”

I was REALLY little when I wrote that.  Even though the story was filled with toilet humor and useless asides about things I thought were cool at the time, I must admit that I am extremely proud of my young self for being so strangely meta.  The main character spent most of the story confusing the narrator so that they could kill the god-like voice, take the power for their own, and rescue their friends from the torture of a bad field trip.

This month is Time Travel month here on Let Me Tell You the Story of, so later this week I’ll be posting an updated version of this sordid tale.  It’s not really time travel for anyone else, but in many ways, nostalgia and memory is an ordinary way for ordinary people to travel through time.

This experience will start on Wednesday the 25th.