What to Blog about when You’re out of Ideas

I’m sure this happens to every blogger sooner or later: your idea well dries up. It might be a long creativity dry spell, or maybe it’s just a temporary slump and you’re like “drat, I’m supposed to post tomorrow and I have nothing ready.”

Well, here are some handy tips to keep you going – or at least to help you fill in the gaps until your creativity springs gets going again. If you’re stuck for blog post ideas, you can:

Search the internet for “blog post ideas.” You’ll come across dozens of far more creative and influential bloggers than yours truly who have long lists of ideas, or fabulous tips for getting out of a slump. Continue reading

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The Best Social Media Sites for Writers

 

“Writers need to be on social media!” everyone says. I agree. You don’t have to be a social media expert, or spend 24/7 connected to your Facebook and Twitter apps, but you should have an online presence. A website is a good start, but if you want

to develop a fan base, the best way to do that is to be accessible. And social media provides the perfect venue for you to connect directly with your fans.

Here are some of my favorite social media sites that I believe are the best-suited to authors:

Facebook

Yep, Facebook is the big dog of social media. And despite its constantly-changing algorithms, and young millennials flocking away from it because their parents just signed up, Continue reading

Why do I Blog?

Last week I didn’t publish a blog post. I know I have a lot of subscribers, but I really have no idea if anyone pays attention to my publishing schedule or waits in breathless anticipation for a new post every Wednesday. (If you do, then I thank you for your attentiveness and interest, and I apologize for leaving you hanging for a week).

I’m sure I was far more upset than anyone else at missing a week for the first time in nearly three years of blogging. The sad part is, I have no good excuse – I simply forgot. So that got me thinking: why did I start this blog? And why have I been so committed to keeping it up for so long?

After a bit of self-analysis, here are some things I came up with. In no particular order, the reasons I blog are:

I like writing. Blogging gives me a chance to write a little bit every week. It took some nerve, at first, to put my words out there for the whole world to read, but the positive feedback and comments I get are definitely encouraging.

Blogging has helped me with discipline. Writing of any kind takes discipline. Even if you’re writing just for yourself and just for fun, it takes a degree of disciplined action to write regularly and to finish anything. The discipline of committing to a weekly post – even if I’m the only one who notices or cares about the regular schedule – has helped me to start learning the art of writing even if I don’t feel like it or feel inspired. (Except for last week, obviously, but let’s not talk about that anymore).

Blogging helps with SEO. Now we get to the technical side of things. I’ve known for years that an author needs a strong social media presence if they expect to ever be noticed or read by anyone. And there are so many tips out there about getting a web presence launched before your first book is published, so that you already have a following when you’re ready to start promoting a book. Since I love social media and I love writing, starting a blog seemed like an easy and logical thing to do.

My blog is my home base on the internet. Blogging regularly helps keep the following that I have, and increases my chances of gaining new followers. My blog also serves as my main author website. Since I have no books for sale yet, I don’t need a fancy website with multiple pages or a calendar with my book signing schedule. (Yet. Here’s hoping I’ll need all of that soon). Anyway, my blog is where you can find me online. I have it linked to all of my social media profiles, so if you want to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest (or all three), my blog is the easy one-stop-shop to find everything.

So there are my main reasons for continuing this blog for so long. I hope that you are enjoying it, even if you don’t read every post or care what day of the week I publish. I love blogging, and I intend to keep it up for many more years to come!

2014 – A Blog in Review

Now that we’re almost half way into January, I finally got around to reviewing my blog stats for last year. I had over 5,000 visitors from literally all over the world. So, thank you to all my readers! Whether you subscribe to my blog (and if you don’t, just sign up in the little box on the right side bar) or you just stumbled across a post by accident, I appreciate you! Sometimes I wonder if I’m writing to the great emptiness of cyberspace, but my stats show me otherwise.

In fact, one of my posts got shared on a Tumblr post featuring links to various blogs and websites for creating fantasy creatures. I’m not actually sure where my post was originally shared, because from there, it’s been shared and re-shared and linked to again and again. I’m so pleased that one of my posts has such wide appeal!

And so for you, dear readers of my blog, I thought I’d share my top three most popular posts from 2014 (according to the WordPress stat monkeys).

Creating Fantasy Creatures and Alien Species

This was my most-read post, one of the ones that’s gotten re-blogged all around Tumblr and other interwebs. Here I analyze what I believe to be some of the core elements in creating believable non-human races for fantasy and sci-fi stories.

Creating Fantasy Creatures and Alien Species – Real Animals as Magical Races

This is a companion post that was almost as popular as the original one, in which I discuss the concept of using real animals as sentient beings in fantasy.

Music Review: Dobbelis, Máddji

This post came in at the number three most popular post of 2014 – and it had the spot of the number one most-read post in 2013. Apparently there are a lot of people out there who like Sami music – or at least who like the Norwegian Sami singer Máddji.

So there’s my year in review. Again, thank you to everyone who’s read my blog – whether it’s been one post or many! If you’re a regular reader, do you have a favorite post from 2014?

Why I’m not Doing NaNoWriMo

If you hang around the creative writing world at all, then you know that October is NaNoWriMo prep month – that is, the time to prepare for November, which is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

I’ve done NaNo before (let’s not talk about my pathetic word count). Earlier this year I was looking forward to doing NaNo again and at least bettering my word count for the month, if not actually “winning” (that is, writing 50,000 words in a month). But as the fall approached, I realized that perhaps I’d be better off not doing it.

My writing load has greatly increased over the last few months. Here’s a brief rundown of what I’m currently working on:

     Editing/rewriting novel #1 of a trilogy

     Writing first draft of novel #2 of same trilogy

     Writing weekly posts for my blog

     Writing 10-15 posts a month for my job

     Working on three short stories that I hope to have published by the end of the year

I’m not saying all this to brag about my writing endeavors (though I am excited about and thankful for the paid writing opportunities that have come my way recently).

I’m also aware that this laundry list of activities could sound like nothing more than excuses. Hey, we’re all busy: jobs, families, holidays, general life. Nobody has extra time lying around in November to devote to NaNoWriMo. If you want to do it, you have to make the time to do it.

I could make the time to do NaNo. I even have a story idea that just needs a little thought and outlining, and it would be ready to go for November. Even though I have a busy schedule, (and two other jobs besides the job I write for), I know I could make the time. I’m just not sure my brain could handle it.

My focus is spread thinner than I’d like right now. I’ve developed a weekly writing schedule for myself, so that I don’t try to write for everything every day. Switching between so many different subjects and styles of writing on a regular basis can easily sap my creativity and mental energy. I’m sure there are plenty of writers out there who manage the constant switching just fine, but since this is all rather new to me, I don’t want to put any unnecessary stress on my poor amateur brain.

I look forward to participating next year. I don’t know what my personal and professional writing life will be like in a year, but I want to be able to fit NaNoWriMo into my schedule and my mind by then. In the meantime, I will enjoy the writing that I’m currently doing, and will use this experience to become more disciplined with my mind and my schedule.

I love NaNoWriMo and everything it represents: getting people excited about writing, creating a sense of community for an otherwise solitary activity, a great platform for setting and tracking goals. Whether you’re a published author or you’ve never written a thing since your last essay in high school, I think participating in NaNoWriMo is a fun and inspiring thing to do.

So to all you WriMos for 2014 – go write!