Writing: 100 Articles...How Did That Happen So Fast?
I began this journey on January 6, 2012. I publish this hub on April 5, 2012, almost three months to the day from when I took my first tentative steps on this forum. During those three months I have written one-hundred hubs and there is nobody as surprised as I am that it has happened. You see, back in January I was just going to try out this site and see what happened. Bev had been encouraging me to join a writer’s site and put my work out there for review and exposure and I had been dragging my feet, most likely because of a lack of self-confidence about my writing ability.
In her own unique manner Bev did persuade me to join HubPages and give it a try and now, three months later, I am ready to reflect on what has turned out to be a wonderful adventure.
A QUICK SUMMARY OF THE NUMBERS
Three months of writing has netted one-hundred hubs. I published at least one hub per day except for three days when I simply would not allow myself to write and instead went outside to play with Bev. I have written about silly internet searches, alcoholism, adoption, positive lifestyle choices, the human experience, baseball, nature and love. When not writing about those major themes I wrote about whatever else came to mind based on memories from the past like how good I feel when I hear The Beatles sing or what my childhood home was like. I have even tossed in a couple articles about teaching and how it felt growing up a nerd.
Along the way I have had 20,000 views, a number that still fills me with awe. I took my first frightened steps three months ago hoping that someone out there would read my work and not have me arrested for impersonating a real writer. To have been read twenty-thousand times is beyond amazing!
I have gathered over 450 followers during this trip and although I know this sounds contrived I appreciate each and every one of them. I have said many times in the past that if it were not for early encouragement by some very talented writers on this site I would have quit after two weeks. I do not forget loyalty like that and I make every effort to give encouragement in return to veterans and newcomers.
I even managed to win a HubNugget award along the way for one of my articles and I was more than a little surprised at how good that made me feel. I have never been one for awards and testimonials; I will shy away from the spotlight each and every time, but to receive recognition from a group of excellent artists did indeed fill me with happiness.
Finally, for those of you interested in money, I am not at the point yet where I can use HubPages to pay my utility bill yet but patience will be rewarded if I hang in there. Hubbers I respect and trust tell me that six months is when you start seeing enough money that you are encouraged by it so check back with me this summer and I’ll have another report on the monetary rewards of this site.
WHAT IT WAS LIKE IN THE BEGINNING
I write this next section so that newcomers will realize that there is hope if you are willing to stick with it. My first hub, posted on January 6th, was an incredibly boring piece about staging your home for sale. It garnered a grand total of one comment and to date has been read fifty-six times. Who those fifty-six people were I do not know but they had to have extremely strong stomachs to have read that piece of excrement and stayed alive and sane.
I followed up with my second hub, some doo-doo about good study habits for students and I really overwhelmed Hubbers with that one as eighty-two brave souls read it and four actually commented. However, one of them was a relative so that really doesn’t count now does it?
Number three on my hit parade was my first attempt at humor and it was about the five worst national parks in the United States. Three-hundred and forty-three read it and twenty commented, although again one was a relative and one was Bev, so the numbers are a bit skewed.
Hub Number Six was my breakthrough, a letter to my birth mother, the first time I attempted anything of a personal nature, and it was warmly received with 791 views and countless comments. By this time the seed had been planted, I was growing as a writer and finding my voice, and I was gaining in confidence. The rest, as they say, is history and yet only the beginning.
WHAT’S THE POINT? WHAT DO THOSE NUMBERS TELL US?
I can tell you this for a fact: Without the early encouragement of Bev, the love of my life, I would not have continued. I am shy by nature, not prone to placing my work out there for public scrutiny, and the early results were not encouraging. Bev is the sole reason why I continued after the first couple articles had met with less-than-stellar approval by the HubPages community. There is also a part of me, tucked deep inside, that refuses to give up, so the lack of early positive response only fueled my desire to be better in my chosen craft and to keep writing.
Once I had moved past those first couple of articles I began to hear back from the community and in fact heard from some established writers and that encouragement kept me going until I could stand on my own abilities. I can’t say enough about the importance of veterans reaching out to newcomers and giving positive feedback. I doubt that I am the only newcomer who has doubted his ability. We all have the need for acceptance; otherwise we would all just write journals for our eyes only. We are pack animals at our very core and we need the rest of the pack to acknowledge our existence, so I will always be grateful to those who first took the time to reach out and lend a hand of support to this fledgling writer.
That brought me to a new challenge, to become established in the community. If I expected others to read my work then it was only logical that I had to be willing to read theirs and so I set out to do exactly that. I read hundreds of articles, left meaningful feedback and sent fan mail. I did the Hub Hopping thing and answered questions when they were posted. In other words, I actively took control of my own destiny on HubPages. If I wanted to be seen it was necessary for me to be visible.
The final step in the process for me was to find my own writing voice and that finally happened when I decided to open up my life and write about personal experiences. I wrote about my life as an adopted child and I wrote about my life as an alcoholic. I laid my feelings on the chopping block and I opened up my heart and soul for all to see. Was I comfortable in doing that? Not by a long shot! It was the biggest risk I have taken in any of my previous careers and there were quite a few times I considered deleting some of the more personal hubs that I had written. And yet I left them online for all to see and the response was, for me, breathtaking and heartwarming.
What I found was the kindness of others! Hubbers from all over the globe reached out to me and told me how touched they were by my personal recollections. People I have never met and likely never will meet shared with me their pain, their hopes, their dreams and a connection was made that has lasted three months and I have no doubt will continue to last for years. What a glorious thing that is, when strangers can find similarities and form a bond without ever meeting! In a mere three months I went from a complete stranger to having friendships that are deep and true and so very real.
SO WHAT WOULD I SAY TO NEWCOMERS?
I am not much for giving advice so let’s call this section my suggestions for anyone willing to listen to a sixty-three year old writer who is still feeling his way along this path.
I would say that if you have a passion for writing then no power on earth should stop you from writing. If you have a passion for writing it is up to you to push aside the self-doubts and go after that passion with every ounce of your being. There are Hubbers in this community who are willing to give assistance and support but the key is for you to make it all happen. I have seen questions asked by people just starting out wondering why they have no followers and what should they do to get better results. The answer, to me, is simple: Make it happen! Last time I checked there were over 240,000 Hubbers out there and they are busy people; if you want them to read your work then give them a reason to read your work. Pretty simple, huh? If your grammar is poor improve your grammar! If you have poor spelling then improve your spelling! If you have no voice then develop one!
Back when I was a teacher I had students who were astounded that I found things wrong with their essays. I actually had students tell me that it was the best they could do. Fourteen years old and they felt they had reached their potential and were sitting upon the pinnacle of success. How can anyone develop and improve if they think they have just done the best that they ever will do?
I am a big believer in writing the truth and writing from the heart. If you are simply writing “how to” hubs and informational hubs then of course writing from the heart is limited, but your comments should be sincere and supportive when giving feedback to others. If you write like I do, about personal experiences, then let your inner spirit shine through. If you do you will have more followers than you know what to do with.
Finally, a special thank you to 254 of you who have chosen to follow me along my journey. Writing for me is a personal journey. I know of no other way to write but from my heart. Of course I would love to be paid large sums of money for what I do but I can say with all sincerity that the connections I have formed with many of you have meant the world to me. I could list some of you right now but I fear I would leave out some and that would be a disservice, so please, all of you, know that you have made this old man very happy over these past three months. We are, in a way, family now and I cherish the bond that has been formed and look forward to forming new bonds with those of you just starting out.
May you find peace and happiness in your writing and may you always be true to your craft and to yourself.
2012 Bill Holland (aka billybuc)
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