Sunday, October 20, 2013

Blogiversary - Taking The Blog To the Next Level

This is not my first blog.  I think I started blogging in the late 1990s.  Back in those days, of course, there weren't blogging platforms.  You just added text manually to your webpage.  Every so often your page would get too long, and so you'd rename it to put it in an archive, and you'd start a new page.

Since blogging became a formal platform, I've had blogs related to writing and publishing, old books, cats, education, and food. As a matter of fact, one of my hibernating food blogs, Reading Chinese Menus, still gets quite a bit of traffic.

And before I blogged, I kept journals.  And not your "Dear Diary, it rained today and I feel rotten because I got a B on my Paleography paper" type journals.  Well, okay, there was some of that -- but mostly it was the sort of thing you see here.  Except more on current works and no holding back on spoilers.

So as we launch the fifth year of the blog, I think it's time to take blogging seriously.

It is a part of my art, and I mean a part of my fiction writing as well as something I do on its own.  (That's one of the reasons I write about my characters.  There is so much you'll never see on the page of a novel or short story.)  But the other part -- the analysis, the commentary, the literary theory -- is also a part of my art.

Running Myself Ragged

It's probably been a month since I really decided to Chase Enthusiasm for a while.  (Even though I posted about it later.)  I needed to run rampant for a bit with the blog before I got an idea of what I wanted to do, and what my limits are.

I have enough stuff in my head to fill this blog with ten posts a week.  But even the five posts a week I've been doing can be pretty exhausting -- largely because I'm not just putting in my requisit 500-1000 words.  I've been throwing myself into it.  And sometimes running out of steam before I get a  post done.

That's why I keep saying, "I'll get to a particular post next time, oh, wait, no, this is turning out longer than I thought, so next week, no, two weeks from now...."

I've realized that my weakest posts are the ones where I try to get it all in.  My strongest posts (in terms of what people backlink to) are those where I dig in deeper and focus in on what I thought was a small part of a post.  But by the time I'm done with that, I'm too worn out on the subject to talk about what else I had to say.

But I can usually write on something else.  And then I can come back to it fresh and can dive in deep again.

The New Blog Order

The first rule of the New Blog Order is that I will not do more than one post on a topic in a week.  Even if I have the energy to write six blog posts on a topic, those will just go for the next six weeks.

So a blog series like the one I'm doing on Characters - Money and Power will only appear on Tuesdays.  (I only think there are two more in that whole series, but I thought that there would only be three posts total when I started it.)  If a post grows on me, then I'll continue it the next Tuesday.

The second rule is that I am going to start thinking of the blog in terms of cycles: like a TV season or a college semester.  Unfortunately, each subject on the blog will have different lengths and rhythms, so even though I might have times when I completely shut down the blog, most of the time, I'll just have a break on a Tuesday or a Friday, etc.  (However, in some cases, the other posts will be written ahead.)

I'm trying this out for fall, and if it works, I'll keep it up.  I may be taking a big break in January, though.

The subjects I'm writing for this fall are:

Mondays: Artisan Writing - the Road Less Travelled
Thoughts on the business of publishing, and the writing life, from the point of view of artisans, artists, mavericks and others who don't quite fit the mold. (Starting October 28)

Tuesdays: Passion Subjects
Looking at stories and themes and tropes and movies and art. This fall, when I'm done with the "Money and Power" series, I will be waxing nostalgic, and looking at some tropes and story types from my childhood, looking to maybe reinvent a genre (or find where these tropes fit in current genres).

Thursdays: The Serial Story
In November I'll start up the serial again.  (Not sure just now if it will be the 14th or the 21st.)  I will post some talk about it before it starts, though.  I plan to make this ongoing.

Fridays: The Story Game
This is going to continue through December in the same vein as the last post: a lot of story theory and analysis behind this game.  In some ways, you could even call this a 11-week course in story building, although it's specifically built around this one game activity.  I'll be talking about the tropes and character types I listed last week, and then about titles and themes and subjects. And then, on to the Four-Act plot structure.

Sunday: Updates
As usual. Sometimes long and thoughtful, sometimes short.

This week will be a light week.  Tuesday we'll see the next Alpha Dogs post, and Friday the Story Game.

The Rest of My Writing Life

With all this attention on the blog, what does that mean for the rest of my writing life?

That's why I'm building in breaks.  That's also why I'm going to start publishing some nonfiction -- collections of rewritten blog posts and such.

As of right now, though, this rush of blogging has slowed my fiction output.  It hasn't stopped it, though.  Part of this fall's experiment in Enthusiasm Hunting is to build up lots of raw material of all kinds, but I won't be able to see what I'm building up best and worst until I've been at it for a couple of months.

See you in the funny papers.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Sounds like some great stuff to come! But yeah...the writing comes first. Unless this *is* the writing and you do a non-fic book. Because you are very good at this stuff.

I think a cyclical way of looking at the blog is very smart.

The Daring Novelist said...

Yeah, that's what I'm thinking is that the blog is a part of that writing that comes first.

The biggest problem is that writing for a blog, and then making it work for a book is not as simple as I would like. There is some rewriting involved, and I'm not so passionate about that.

All the same, I'm looking forward to see what I can do.