I’m home sick today, bundled under a comforter like it’s the middle of January, wondering what they’re doing at work right now, and realizing daytime TV is even worse than prime time TV. It would be a great time to read but my Kindle has now been broken for five days; I’m having major withdrawal because heaven only knows what Cersei has been up to and how many more people George R. R. Martin has killed.
I’ve caught up on all the news, both important and trivial. I’m current on Facebook, Twitter and my WordPress Reader section. I am not going to open Dots on my phone or it’ll be eight PM before I know it. The universe is conspiring to get me to write.
Having no topic in mind, I went off in search for inspiration. I Googled how to write a great blog and boy, am I ever doing it all wrong according to them.
The most important thing, they say, is to have a niche so you can tailor your posts to a specific audience. Stick to a writing schedule. Watch your language. When in doubt, make a list. Use graphics. Don’t write 1000 word posts. Make sure your blog has a great title.
1. I have no niche. It started out being about books, and you can hardly go wrong with that. I instantly got a lot of followers because readers are nothing if not obsessive. We like books, we like to read about books, we like the suggestions we get from other book blogs. We like books about books, so we recommend The Shadow of the Wind, Fahrenheit 451 and The Book Thief. But I like to write about politics, too, and good television shows and bigots and baseball and whatever insanity is going on in the world. I imagine I annoy my book followers no end when I veer off, and my apologies, but my specific audience is myself.
2. I have no writing schedule. I’m in awe of people who pump out five new posts a day or write every weekday. but I’ll never be one of them. I’ll write when I finish a new book or play, but outside of that, I’ll write about what interests me that day, the issue that makes me drive home from work too fast, itching to get to a keyboard.
3. I don’t swear that much, but I do sometimes. I write like I talk. I’m a grownup. My daughters are both grownups, too, and one of my favorite parenting milestones, was, after years and years of watching what I said in front of them, to see them reach an age where we all felt comfortable saying swear words in front of the other. (Not that I don’t still bust out an “Oh my stars!” every now and then.)
4. Lists are fun. I’ll give them that one.
5. Graphics are the bane of my existence. I just want to come up with the content. not have to find pictures.
6. The reason I started this blog in the first place was so I could write 1000 word posts if I wanted to. I realized Facebook was no place for them during the election. One of the best pieces I ever read on WordPress took me a half hour to read. It was chock-full of statistics, personal accounts and details. It didn’t follow the rules because it was so long, but I haven’t forgotten it after all this time.
7. My blog has a terrible title. I just decided to start a blog because I wanted to write about something RIGHT THEN, I needed a title fast so I used a Shakespeare quote, figuring how can you go wrong? The thing is, I have never read Julius Caesar since starting this blog so the title is irrelevant. I’ll fix it someday. Maybe Kate’s Kitchen or Kate’s Kvetching, or I’m Not Dunn Yet or Been There, Dunn That. Nah, alliteration gave those of us who need K nouns the short shrift and I don’t do puns.
Their rules will suit you better if your aim is to get rich and famous writing a blog, but I hold no such illusions. So instead of writing your blog from the ice cream counter at Schwab’s Pharmacy waiting to be discovered, you can try my blogging tips instead:
1. Not everyone has a world famous collection of international salt and pepper shakers to write about daily, so write what you feel. Write what you know. Write what you see. When you’re tossing and turning while trying to get to sleep because you can’t shut your mind off from composing your next post in your head, get up and write that. Don’t worry about going off topic. I started following people because of the topic they wrote about, but I stay with them when they veer because I like the way they write.
2. Schedule away if that works for you, but I have a job. I don’t need another. Writing is fun. I’m not going to schedule my fun.
3. Write for yourself. If you’re not pleased, no one else will be, either.
4. They couldn’t be more correct about writing lists. They are so much fun. And as much as I hate to admit it, they are right about the graphics, too. Fudge. Now I have to go find one.
5. It really never can be too long. Everyone on WordPress fancies themselves a writer, but we’re really readers first. You can’t learn to write without doing a lot of reading. The people who like your writing will stay with the tale to the bitter end, as long as you don’t write about salt and pepper shakers. Not everyone has a short attention span. Especially not readers.
6. Just have fun. It’s a hobby. Hobbies are supposed to be fun. And don’t worry too much about following rules. You’ll get those little lines beside your eyes. If you’ve made it this far, you’ve now read 1000 words. Thank you all for breaking the rules with me.