January 23, 2012

blog tips

I have a few blog tips for all you bloggers out there. (If you aren't a blogger, sorry. This won't mean anything to you. You can go do something else now. Like clip your toenails maybe.) Only these aren't my tips. I stole them from Pioneer Woman. I like her. She likes me too, even though she's never heard of me. I just know these kinds of things.

Disclaimer: These are just tips. They aren't blog law or anything. Feel free to disregard anything you don't like. Feel free to blog your own way. These tips just helped me with my own writing. That's all.

I discovered Pioneer Woman for the first time in the winter of 2010.
I had heard of her before, but was completely uninterested in her website and never looked her up.
But then I got bored one day, came across her website somehow, read a couple things, thought she was funny, and then went back into her archives.
I lived her archives for about two weeks before I finally came up for air. It was like reading the best book I've ever read, but online.
I had never laughed so hard in my life. I've wanted to be Pioneer Woman's neighbor ever since. I love her.
If you don't love her too, please don't tell me. Because then I probably won't like you.

She wrote this post that really helped me... Ten Important Things I've Learned About Blogging.

God bless her. It made me reevaluate my blog and everything I write in it.
These four points helped me the most:

1. Be yourself.
Write in your own voice.
Write as if you’re talking to your sister.
Unless you don’t get along with your sister.
Or don’t have a sister.

7. Don’t be afraid to embarrass yourself.
On this website, over the course of the past five years, I have burped, performed Britney Spears songs in Ethel Merman’s voice, misspelled words, posted typos, and talked about ways I humiliated myself as both a youngster and an adult.
At times I’ve wondered if maybe the burps were too much.
But they’re a part of me.
At least they were…until they came out of my esophagus.
But you know what I mean.

9. If you have writer’s block, push through and blog anyway.
I posted the first chapter of Black Heels on a morning when I woke up with the most raging case of writer’s block, I couldn’t even type my name.
I was sure you’d hate it, but I posted it anyway.
I went on to write forty-plus more chapters.
What if I’d given in to my writer’s block and decided not to blog that day?
I would never have written my Green Acres-meets-War and Peace romance novel.
And my bottom would likely be a little less jiggly.
Please see #4 above.

10. Value every person who takes time out of their day to stop by your blog.
Tell ‘em you love ‘em. Regularly.

When I first started this blog, I never thought anyone would read it. It wasn't that I was all shy or humble (Ha. I wish.) or modest about my writing. It just never crossed my mind that anyone would find it. And then read it.
I started it for myself. Because I like to write and writing helps me to iron life out. Whether I'm ironing the good things or the bad things, I need things to be all lined up in a neat row and the wrinkles smoothed out.
Writing helps me find the wrinkles, so to speak. Then I can start ironing.
And I like to write down the stuff I want to remember later on. Stuff God's shown me, stuff the kids do, stuff I like. Just stuff.
Anyway, after I read that post from PW, I went back and took a look at my own blog.
And I didn't like it much. I failed on almost all ten of her points.
I wasn't discouraged though. I figured, Okay, shape things up a bit. Follow advice from the awesomest blogger ever.

Point #1. I seldom wrote in my own voice. I wrote in some weird, stiff writer's voice.
And when I first tried writing something in my own voice, writing it the same way I would say it out loud to Karen, I couldn't believe how much easier the writing flowed out.
It was like freedom.

Point #7. I seldom get embarrassed. Obviously. But I didn't realize I could write about every dumb, retarded thing I do and nobody would care. And I was completely shocked when people started saying things like, You're so funny... Great sense of humor... I laughed until I cried when I read that.
I was like, Really? But... I wasn't trying to be funny.
Not anymore though. Now that I've heard you guys say that so often, I've started to believe it and I crack myself up all the time.

Point #9. I get writer's block sometimes. I didn't think bloggers could get that. I thought only real writers got blocked. But there have been a few times when there wasn't a speck of anything worth writing in my head. But I sat down anyway and wrote stuff. Then I deleted it. Then the creativity started back up and the block was gone. Then I wrote something for real and published it. And you guys liked it. And I loved you for liking it.

Point #10. Since I never thought anyone was reading my blog, I never thought about my readers.
It's different now. You guys leave comments on here or on facebook, you send emails, you follow, you subscribe, you share my posts, you pat me on the back and remind me of the things I wrote months ago that I've forgotten myself.
You have no. idea. how much that amazes me. I love you for it. I try to be considerate of you when I write something new. This blog isn't all about me anymore, it's about you guys too.
You readers make my day.

And finally, here's a tip that's actually from me:
Try not to use your blog as a place to be vague, or to vent, or get your point across to someone in particular, or to complain, or air out your dirty laundry.
I literally had to ask God to help me with that one. (I'm very spiritual and ask God to help me in every little aspect of my life. Dream big minions... maybe someday you'll be like me.)
No, really. I asked Him to help me not to write when I'm feeling:

Angry
Mad
Furious
Ready to shoot someone with my imaginary shotgun
Depressed
Sorry for myself
In desperate need to really tell someone off
In desperate need to prove I'm right and everybody else is wrong
In desperate need of chocolate
Bored
Philosophical (That one actually hasn't happened yet, but you never know. Lots of people get philosophical. It could happen to me too, you know.)

Writing when I'm feeling like that will either produce the vague post where I'm writing all kinds of subliminal messages to whomever I'm mad at and no one knows what the heck I'm talking about, or it'll produce the rambling oh-poor-me post in which I declare every problem I've ever had.
Both of which I try to steer away from.

So here's what I had to start doing.
I got a notebook. I wrote my problems in it.
I have this blog. I write the good things here. Not that I don't ever write about a problem on here, but I try to write about that problem after it's been beaten. Because that's good stuff.
I get to iron out the good and the bad that way... without airing all my dirty laundry.
And you know what? I can't remember the last time I wrote in that notebook! I guess trying to focus on the good made the bad seem unimportant. At least, that's the way it worked for me.
I like to write the victories here, the problems conquered. The happy things that make my world go 'round. The blessings. The way God works and gives to me.
It's more important than making this blog my soapbox.

So there you go, blog tips from PW and yours truly.
I hope they help you become the next Pioneer Woman.

I'll come be your neighbor when that happens.