Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Writer's Curse

I was in a conversation with someone recently who had seen my blog, and they asked for advice. They were thinking about starting a blog, and didn't want to become one of the countless blogs out there with 1 to 5 posts, but then forgotten.

I told them, as someone who has blogged on some topic or another since 2002, I feel the key is never to blog about something just because everyone else is. Write about things which interest you. Of course, I have the Curse of the Writer. You couldn't pay me not to write. Or if you 'found my price' I think I would go stir crazy.
  • Twitter/Facebook posts
  • blog posts
  • other content for websites
  • letters, emails
  • Genealogy notes
  • the grant proposals I write for a living
  • the computer programs I used to write for a living
  • the poetry and fiction I would like to write for a living
Take all that away from me, I'm sure I could find something to do. I'd certainly read more books. But what do you mean I can't write marginalia? Arggggh!

So, no, I'm not going to stop writing. Ever. The only questions are where the words will be written down, who will see them, and whether or not I make any money.

The Geneabloggers site has a good post on The Importance of Daily Blogging Themes.

Followers of this blog have likely noticed that the space has been consumed lately mostly by daily themes. Amanuensis Monday, Tombstone Tuesday, Wordless Wednesday, Poetry Friday. And on either Saturday or Sunday I post my Weekly Picks. However, I chose (or created) the themes I liked. If the themes start to lose interest for me, or I run out of ideas, I'll stop that theme, and find something else to write about.

There are a limited number of tombstone photographs in my current collection, and I will run out of direct ancestors in January, I think. I may post a few collateral photographs, but I'll probably be looking for something else to do on Tuesdays. I can probably extend Wordless Wednesday pretty far, even if I resort to posting from my family's collection of unlabeled unknowns. Amanuensis Monday will last awhile. I probably have a year's worth of weekly posts I could devote entirely to transcribing family history tapes, if I get permission from the required people to post them. I'm already struggling to come up with appropriate poems that are in the public domain, so I suspect Poetry Friday will be the first casualty of my current collection of themes.

Geneabloggers is promoting Follow Friday, but I consider that the same thing as my Weekly Picks. I could move that up a day, but I have more time on the weekend to put the post together. I'm sure I will find something to write about. That has never been a problem for me.


Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...

"I feel the key is never to blog about something just because everyone else is."

This is great advice for new bloggers. If they only blog on the same daily themes as everyone else they will surely be lost in the crowd. Using a few of them for inspiration is great but you really need to find your own voice as you have done very well John!

Thomas MacEntee said...

Great post John - I agree with you and Apple that the ultimate goal is for new bloggers to develop their own writing style and their own voice. I like how you've taken the blogging themes that work for you and use those but don't feel pressed to use all of them.

Another good way to write consistently is to create a blog editorial calendar - I use it to sketch out ideas and capture thoughts for future posts.

Greta Koehl said...

Good advice and very relevant. I also do a lot of daily themes. By next year I may start running out of things to write on Memory Mondays, so I may pick up your Amanuensis Monday (have plenty of things I need to transcribe). Don't have many pictures of my ancestors' tombstones, so I usually leave Tuesday as "Off Topic" - not exactly related to genealogy or only tangentially related.