Monday, October 13, 2014

Blogging Advice

My dear friend Mary Almy is starting her own blog.  She sent me a facialbook message asking for advice.  So I thought about it.  And I thought some more.  And all that thinking tired me out, so I took a nap.

I decided that I'd write my thoughts here.  Mary said she was ok with that.

I've been doing this blog (counting the Myspace days) since December 2008.  I started it right after my first night out as Sophie (not counting Halloween, when I was Lois Lane.)  So that's *counts on fingers* six years.  I've built up a modest following, including 109 Amazing masochists who subscribe (and I thank you all!)

Where did I learn to blog?  Well, I didn't.  I've been winging it for six years.  Seriously.  So how do I approach writing this blog?  Do I follow any rules?  Who put the bomp in the bomp-sh-bomp-sh-bomp?
Rules?  What rules?

There are many books out there on Blogging.  Maybe someday I should read one.  But I took my inspiration from two bloggers:  Donna Rose and Kimberly Huddle.  From them I learned that blog entries tend to focus on a given topic, so that's what I try to do as well- one topic per entry.

I also have a few rules I follow, most of which came from my writing mentor back in my Penn State days: the late Professor Phillip Klass (aka William Tenn.)

1)  "Write with Fire; edit with Ice."  Write with passion and without caring about things like grammar on the first draft.  That's what subsequent drafts are about- edit mercilessly, and Never Settle.  I usually break this rule with my blog, as I rarely go back to edit it- preferring the Fire for this format.  My TG Forum column is edited with ice, then checked again by the editor, Angela Gardner.

2) "If possible, write your first draft Longhand, then type it for your second draft, editing and expanding as you go."  Professor Klass insisted upon this.  I still think my writing is better that way.  I wrote my entire book (you know the unpublished one?) longhand, then typed it.  It was a lot of work but I feel it was worth the effort.  I write out many of my blog entries long hand, and I think it's easy to see the difference between those and the ones that I type in "cold."

3) "Develop a style."  This took me a long time, but I think I'm sort of there.  I use odd capitalization to emphasize Important Words, a technique I stole shamelessly from the late Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.  I also use frequent fragments, which would drive an English teacher crazy.  I do it to emphasize rhythm and pacing, and because I tend to write as I speak.

Last but not least:

4)  "Sophie's Law: Be completely honest with yourself and especially with your readers."  This one is my guiding light.  I don't write much fiction because of this, but the fiction I write, I try to be as honest as I can.  I write this blog for many reasons, but one of them is to explore what's inside the tangled mess in my head.  I can't do that if I'm not honest with myself.  Also I truly believe that a reader can tell when a writer is full of sh*t.  I think my best stuff comes when I dig out something I didn't expect, or when I'm writing full of raw emotion.  My "most read entries" seem to bear this out. Occasionally while I'm writing, I begin to cry, especially if I'm typing about certain topics.  But I keep typing.  It helps me through the pain.  And with GID and transition, there is a LOT of Pain.  And Darkness.

So, Mary, there's some of the basics.  I'll leave you with the most important thing Prof. Klass ever taught me:  WRITE.  Write every day.  A lot of it will suck, but that's ok, as no one needs to see it.  I have notebooks full of longhand crap that won't see the light of day.  But the Writing muscle MUST be exercised like any other muscle.  You can't improve if you don't write and practice.  The corollary to this rule is to READ.  Read what others have written.  Enjoy it.  Learn from it.  What worked and what didn't?  How would YOU have done it? I try to read every day as well.  But writing?  I don't feel complete if I haven't written at least a page longhand each day.

If you wish to see how my own style has developed over time, you need only examine my Myspace blogs, or my work on Fictionmania, or, as mentioned earlier, my TG Forum column.  I just re-read my Myspace stuff because I think it's fascinating to see my journey from the beginning.

In fact, that may even be my next book...

1 comment:

  1. Sophie -

    I blog a little differently than you do. Some posts are written a bit in advance and have to be edited before publishing. And others are written online, then posted quickly. Each of us knows what works for us as individuals, and it's nice to know how you work....


    ps: have you looked at my blog lately?