The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 258
Building a Fence
I just finished building a fence in the backyard. It only took me ten years to figure out how to do it. Hey, I never claimed to be brilliant!
Seriously, ten years. The problem was a lack of money. Having someone else build it for us was too expensive. Doing it myself was daunting. Buying all of the posts, digging the post holes, making sure everything was plumb and square . . . I got a headache every single time I started thinking about it . . . and so yes, ten years of procrastination followed as I told myself other projects were more important.
And then it dawned on me, like one of those light bulbs turning on over the head of a cartoon character. There was already a chain link fence in place. It was already plumb and square. What if I just attached wood slats to that chain link fence?
And it worked! From our side of the yard it looks like a regular wood fence. You really can’t see the chain link fence it is attached to.
Writing is a bit like building that fence. I’ll let you ponder that as we tackle this week’s Mailbag.
And thanks to all of you who shared your mother’s favorite sayings. Some of them were classics!
From Rodric: “I finally started blogging. So, thanks for that encouragement a while back that I did not take because I was not interested in doing that at the time, the blogging. Now that I am blogging, how often should I do it? I know once a week is standard, but if I want to get readers to read my stuff, should I do it every other day in the beginning for a while to get the crowd going?”
Great question, my friend, and it’s one which should prove interesting for a number of people reading this.
When determining how often to post a blog, remember this: consistency is rewarded by Google; inconsistency is punished. Whether you post once a month, once a week, or once a day, be consistent about it. The added bonus is this: consistency establishes an audience and keeps them coming back.
But you asked how often, so let’s look at that. From a Google standpoint, shorter and more often is better in the SEO world than longer and not so often. Put it another way: a blog of 150 characters, three times a week, will be given more attention by Google than a blog of 700 characters posted once every two weeks.
My suggestion, for what it’s worth: since you are just starting out, I suggest you post at least three times a week, and post reasonably short blogs. Once you have established a following, and once Google recognizes your blog, you can cut back to once a week if you want to.
Hope that helps!
Another on Blogging
From Katrina: “Why should I blog? I write articles for HP, and I make a little bit of money, but I don’t understand the advantage of blogging. Can you enlighten, please?”
Shoot, Katrina, don’t blog if you don’t want to. I can’t tell from your question, but is there someone suggesting that you should blog? My question would be this: for what purpose?
If you want your own public forum where you can expound on a topic you are passionate about, I think blogging is a great place to do that. If you want to establish yourself as a professional writer, I think blogging helps to build that platform. If you want another source of income, you can certainly find that by monetizing a blog. But blogging just for the sake of blogging? I think a walk in the park might be a better use of your time.
Establish why you should blog before you do blog! That’s my advice and I’m sticking to it.
I have two blogs I’m fairly consistent with. I have them for a variety of reasons. The reasons are valid plus I just enjoy the interchange with my followers about those topics, so for me, blogging is a good thing. It might not be for you.
How to Post a Question
From Brenda: “How do I post a question for the Mailbag?”
First, Brenda, welcome to the Mail Room. It’s always nice having a new member of the writing community join us.
You can post a question in the comment section below, or you can email me at email@example.com. Either approach works. I would also give you the option of calling me on the phone, but I never answer the phone, so that option probably wouldn’t work too well. Lol
Bring it on, my new friend!
From Robert: “You mentioned you are now writing your memoirs. How does a person do that? Is there a particular format for memoir writing? I’m a fiction writer, and writing a memoir just seems so monumental to me. I’m fifty-eight years old. How would I ever shrink my life down into book form? And what is important to tell in those fifty-eight years?”
Join the crowd, Robert, because it seems monumental to me as well. As for how to do it, I really have no clue. I’m winging it as I go. LOL Welcome to my life!
Okay, seriously for a moment, remember this important point: in a memoir, you are the tour guide. You get to decide which “attractions” you are going to lead people to, and which do not warrant mentioning. I would suggest that in a fifty-eight year life, a lot of what you did is not worth writing about, and yet a lot is. You need to decide what is important to the central theme of your memoir and what is not.
If it all seems a bit monumental, I would suggest you do this: start small. Sit down, once a day, or once a week, and just write about one thing that happened to you during your life, or one event which you consider to be important. Do that for a few months and then look at the individual pieces and see if a common theme has begun to rise from the rubble. I’m guessing it will.
My memoir is titled “And the Blind Shall See.” The title is a reference to the fact that I was still blind at the age of nine month after being shuffled around nine different foster homes . . .and I weave that blindness theme throughout the book, which is actually about me, an adopted kid, trying to figure out just who the hell I am as a human being. It is a grand quest in search of self.
Anyway, those are my thoughts on that matter. Thanks for the question.
Now That the Fence Is Completed
It’s on to the next project on my to-do list. It’s a pretty long list, so I’m confident I won’t run out of things to do in this lifetime. At least I finally figured out who I am, so that project has been crossed off the list as well.
I wish, for all of you, answers to your most important questions. Sometimes the answers will never be found, in which case I wish you all, at the very least, a grand quest!
Have a great week! Do all things in love!
2019 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”