Why do you blog?

Bloggers blog for different reasons.

Some blog because they genuinely enjoy it. They like sharing their thoughts on various subjects online and love interacting with their readers in the comments section of their blog. They are the kind of people who would blog even if they had no readers or were making no income from it whatsoever. These people generally blog every day or at least very frequently.

Others blog as a means to an end. These people write blogs in order to achieve certain goals, such as selling books or spreading awareness of certain political/religious/social issues or supporting a cause or some other goal. These people may like to write, but they may not be particularly fond of blogging in itself and blog only when they need to.

I’m in the second category of people. I started this blog as a way to build my author platform. I hope that the readers of this blog will eventually translate into readers of my fiction (once I publish them, of course). To be sure, I like my blog, but it can be hard for me to come up with ideas for posts, which is one reason I don’t blog every day.

I see myself as a fiction writer first and foremost. It’s what I spend most of my writing time doing. I like to write nonfiction, too, but fiction is my real strength and what I like best and it is ultimately what will be making me money. Blogging will help, which is why I am doing it, but if I had to choose between giving up my blog or giving up my books, I’d choose my blog every time.

I have nothing against people who blog for its own sake, though. It’s just something I don’t understand. To me, blogging is a means to an end. I don’t understand how you can be excited about blogging every day. Honestly, I don’t. As cool as it is to get comments and likes and subscribers, I’m interested in that stuff only insofar as it helps build my author platform, not for its own sake.

I guess it just comes down to preferences, like with any form of art. I prefer fiction writing while blogging on the side, while I am sure there are some bloggers who write fiction on the side. Neither preference is inherently superior to the other. Just comes down to what you like doing best.

-Tim

Changes to the Blog

As of this morning, I made a few minor changes to this blog.

Firstly, I updated my Works page to include links to the Fantastic Depths anthology and a link to the short story I posted on this blog last month, The Most Beautiful Island in the World.

Secondly, I added a new Contact page, complete with a contact form, for anyone who wants to send me a message privately. Been meaning to add one for a while and I finally got around to it earlier this morning.

That’s about all for now, so see ya,

-Tim

Blogging less and Writing more

Hi, guys.

You may have noticed that I have been blogging far less often than usual recently. Days can go between blog posts and I don’t always write substantive articles, either.

That’s because I’ve recently started to teach myself ebook formatting, as well as cover design. Not only that, but I’ve increased my writing time from two hours a day to four in order to produce more work and finish my novel, The Mad Voyage of Prince Malock, quicker.

All of this takes up a lot of my time, rarely leaving me enough time to blog. Because I want to be a career writer, I figure it would do more for my career if I spent less time on this blog and more time writing (or formatting or doing cover design, etc.). Doesn’t mean I have abandoned this blog. It just means I am putting my priorities in order and I realized that blogging was less important and less helpful for me as a writer than, say, writing my novel or making covers for my books, for example.

I’ll still try to update this blog a couple of times a week, but probably no more than that, I’m afraid. Just thought I’d let y’all know.

-Tim

Speaking Better Spanish

In response to this prompt (yes, I know it was posted a while ago, but it inspired me so I thought I’d write a post about it), I would like to be fluent in Spanish. I already know some Spanish from Spanish lessons I took a while ago and I can even read and write in it to an extent, but I’d hardly call myself fluent in the language.

If I was fluent in Spanish, the first thing I’d do is translate some of my stories into Spanish. That way, I wouldn’t have to pay a translator to translate my stories and I could expand my audience beyond the English-speaking world.

Not only that, but it would force me to look at my stories with new eyes. While I’m no translator, I understand translations well enough to realize that it’s not easy to translate a story from one language into another, even when the languages are as similar to each other as English and Spanish are. Doing my own translations would force me to think more carefully about what I meant when I used this word or wrote that sentence, which in turn might help me become a better writer.

At any rate, learning Spanish would also help me communicate with many of my fellow human beings better, which is in itself a good prize, if I do say so myself.

-Tim

Two Interesting Websites

In recent days, I’ve discovered a couple of interesting websites that I’ve added to my “Interesting and Useful Links” page.

The first is the website and blog of author Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Yesterday I spent a couple of hours reading the Business Rusch Publishing Articles which are an absolute goldmine for any writer looking to become a full-time career writer (it’s also the page I link to on my links page). In particular, I’ve found her articles on writing a will and planning an estate to be highly informative on a subject you don’t hear much about in books or websites on writing (although I haven’t read all of them yet).

The second is a web tool called Readability-Score.com. Simply put, you copy and paste text into the website and it will tell you (using the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease score) how readable your writing is, among other things. I scored between 76 and 84 with my short stories from the upcoming Ambage anthology, which I guess is pretty good. If you want to know how easy your writing is to read (though not, of course, how good it actually is), then this website is for you.

-Tim

A new approach

My dream is to become a professional, full-time writer who makes a living off his work. That dream is not yet a reality for me and may not be for a while; nonetheless, it is a realistic dream, one that, with a lot of hard work, patience, and maybe a little bit of luck, I will be able to achieve.

In order to achieve this dream, I realize I need to expand my scope beyond this blog and my Twitter and Facebook accounts. I’ll still use this blog, to be sure, but I understand better now that this blog should not be my main platform. If I want to sell books someday and make some actual money, I will need to build an audience using more than just my blog.

I say all of this to announce, in a somewhat meandering manner, that I am going to be blogging a little less often from now on. I am currently researching different ways of building a platform, which means I am devoting less time to blogging. I’ll still be blogging here, don’t worry, but don’t expect as much new content. I’ll probably blog a few times a week from now on, instead of aiming for every day as I have been trying (and failing) to do for a while now.

-Tim

The most important piece of writing advice that I know

There are thousands of books on writing out there, perhaps millions of articles and blog posts, and countless forums and writing groups where you can discuss the art and craft of writing with your fellow writers. There are workshops and conferences, apprenticeships and mentorships for writers who want to improve or those who want to help others improve, and creative writing classes in schools all over the world.

Sometimes, it’s all too much. It seems like every writer has a completely different approach to writing from the next. “Outline.” “Don’t outline.” “Follow your characters.” “Make them do what is necessary to advance the plot.” “Do a ton of research, even if you don’t use half of it.” “Do only the bare minimum of research necessary to make your story believable.” “Anyone who writes quickly is a hack.” “Anyone who takes their time never gets anything done.” “Share you book with 50 other people before you send it to the editor.” “Share it with maybe one other person and then send it to your editor.”

How is a writer — especially a new writer who doesn’t know much about the craft or business of writing — supposed to know what works and what doesn’t? Every writer who has ever felt the need to grace the unwashed masses with their opinions (like me, for example) sounds so certain that it can be hard to disagree, especially when they demonize or vilify anyone who disagrees.

In my experience, I’ve found that the most important piece of writing advice I have ever come across is this: “Do whatever works for you.”

Each writer is different. What works for me might not work for you, and vica versa. This doesn’t necessarily mean that there is no such thing as good or bad writing. It just means you need to realize that the path to writing something good is different for every writer. Certain paths are more widely traveled and perhaps more reliable than others, but ultimately there is no such thing as the definitive path that every writer MUST follow if they want to write anything worth reading.

Does outlining work for you?

Then do it.

Does organic writing work for you?

Then do that.

Does some sort of combination of outlining and organic writing work for you?

Then do it, even if no one else is doing it.

All writing advice you receive — whether it comes from a friend, a book, a member of your writing group, a magazine article or blog post, or from something else — must be judged by that criteria. If it does not work for you — even if it works for everyone else you know — then you don’t need to do it, no matter what anyone else says.

What is the most important piece of writing advice that you know?

-Tim

Top Five Most Popular Posts on this Blog

I can hardly believe that 2013 is almost over. It feels like it was yesterday when I was wondering what 2013 was going to bring. Now I am looking forward to 2014, which I have a really good feeling about for some reason.

Of course, I am also thinking about all the things that happened this year. This is a good opportunity for me to list the top five most popular posts on this blog, based on page views.

Now let’s get started:

1# Are you writing a story or building a world?

#2 New Year’s Resolutions

#3 National Day on Writing

#4 My UPS Job Misadventure

#5 Limyaael’s Rants and I Love Used Books (tie for fifth)

Because this is the last time I’ll be online for the year, I’d like to wish all of my blog readers a Happy New Year, good luck in whatever resolutions y’all are making, and thank y’all for reading this blog. I hope this blog will get even more popular as the New Year rolls in.

-Tim

Are most writers sensitive?

One of my most popular blog posts is called “Handling Criticism” (it has a whopping ten likes, which I’m pretty certain makes me a bigshot blogger now). In it, I wrote about the importance of learning how to handle criticism — both the constructive and destructive kind — in a professional, respectful way.

In that post, I noted:

Most writers will tell you they are okay with criticism, yet I’ve seen how defensive writers can get over their work when anyone dares to criticize it.

I’ve been thinking about that bit for a while now. Why do we writers get so defensive over our works? Sure, it’s no fun when someone tells us that something we made isn’t perfect, but it is astonishing how defensive writers can get over our creations. Amateur writers tend to be the most defensive due to their lack of experience in responding to critics and editors, but I have seen some professional writers who should know better act this way, too, seemingly for no reason other than that their feelings were hurt.

It is illogical when you think about it. Our works are not us. Yes, they were made by us and yes we put a lot of work and effort into them (usually), but again, they are not us. My stories are not me. They are a part of me, yes, but just because someone criticizes one of my stories does not mean they are criticizing me as a person. I think most writers would agree with that.

Then why do so many writers get their pants in a twist when someone criticizes their work? Even if the criticism is fair and true?

In my opinion, most writers are actually very sensitive people.

That may seem an odd conclusion to come to. In a profession where rejection is commonplace and most consumers are more than happy to write and post online a scathing review of a story they didn’t like, you’d think the most sensitive writers would have been weeded out a long time ago. Surely only the toughest of the tough would still be in the biz, right?

Maybe that’s true for some, but I think most writers who are still in the business have designed ways of coping with their sensitivity that make them look tough. They put on a mask of cold indifference or perhaps respectful politeness, even though deep down they would rather lash out in anger or cry. They know — sometimes from trial and error, sometimes from observing how other writers are treated for acting defensively — the price of oversensitivity in the writing business and so have come up with ways to cope with their sensitivity so it doesn’t destroy their careers.

I myself am a sensitive person. I was a lot worse when I was a kid, but I am still quite sensitive. Whenever I get harsh criticism for my writing, I usually want to break down and cry or sometimes lash out in anger. As my “Handling Criticism” post shows, however, I’ve came up with constructive ways to handle my feelings, although as far as I can tell, my sensitivity is probably going to be with me for the rest of my life, whether I like it or not.

Sensitivity isn’t a bad thing. Like everything in life, it has a good side and a bad side. I believe my sensitivity has made me more aware of life’s subtleties than most people are, which is a valuable gift for any writer to have. It usually keeps me from shipping out any work that is not yet ready to be read by anyone other than myself. As long as you have a constructive way to cope with your sensitivity, I think you’ll do just fine in the writing business.

Admittedly, I could be wrong. I don’t have any scientific information to back up this idea. Maybe most writers aren’t sensitive. Still, in my experience, this has proven true often enough that I think there is at least some truth to it, even if it isn’t the whole truth. (Although now that I think about it, creative people in general, not just writers in particular, can be fairly sensitive about their works,)

Do you think most writers are sensitive? Why or why not? If you are a sensitive creative person, how have you learned to handle your sensitivity when it comes to receiving criticism from other people?

-Tim