Stats Don’t Lie

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Personal Update
In case you haven’t noticed, I haven’t made a blog post in a while. And that’s gonna continue for a while. Reason is simple. Shit happens IRL and I’m gonna be stuck in California for at least 3 more weeks.I have written a ton in the past few weeks, but I’m contemplating what to do with them now.

Blog Rant
Attached above are the stats for my blog. As expected, my latest non-story update, the Game Of Thrones poster is charging up to become one of my most read posts, despite it being just a prequel to the actual post I wanted to write. It’s nice since I put in a bit of effort into that Jpeg, but it’s also sad because I knew it would succeed to a certain degree, given my own search patterns on Google.

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What Stops You From Creating Content

Content Is King

Someone actually asked this question on Quora, and I gave my reply. I thought it might be interesting to see how the blogging community differs from the Quora one, since they tend to be more to the point and focused on facts, while the WordPress crowd seems to be more whimsical and emotive. Lemme know what you think of my answer to the question.

Why is the percentage of population that writes online content so much smaller than those who read it?

Filed Under: Writing

Why 95% of people will not write

This can only be explained as a journey. I’ve only started blogging about 2 months back. When I first started, I was scared stiff. My mind is total blank, and everything i thought I might post, sounded like a very bad idea. What if people don’t like me… what if… what if. 

The feelings I had in this single moment, could have stopped me from writing anything, and has likely stopped 95% of the world from writing anything. With that in mind, we move on to the remaining 5%

Of the remaining 5% – 90% of them repurpose content, and do not actually create content

These are the people who actually attempt to write. Like most people, I resorted to the Tumblr-style of blogging, taking other people’s content and posting in on my blog. Wheee I have a blog! 

Cute memes, gifs with inspiring quotes, lolscats, that was how I started my blog. And I believe this accounts for a good 90% of the remaining 5% of content out there. Reposts, repurposed, and represented content. I.e. Using content off the internet to create content.

This essentially means all social media content, 99% of all self-published blogs and online aggregators… that’s like 99% of web traffic right there.

For me, one month on, still slightly self-conscious. I started writing opinion pieces on what I felt about certain things, but never truly writing a full post with all original content. To this point, I have probably explained why a good 99% of the world does not create content. Which answers your question.

The last 0.5% – The journey to content creation

But the journey to creating actual original content goes even further than that. It’s even a longer journey than the one before this. Most people get stuck in the repurposing content department and stay there for good.

I have written my journey about trying to create original content in my blog, so click on it if you want to know the rest of the journey. But if you’re not comfortable, just know that it requires three things:

(1) An actual opinion This is the step that gives you the urge to create. Not just facts. This is actually more difficult than you might think. A lot of people are more comfortable just throwing facts around instead of having an opinion. You need to learn how to give the nay-sayers the finger and just write what you feel. Unless you’re a researcher, original content is usually just giving your own spin on things, not recreating the wheel – Your own recipe on fried chicken, your review on the movie, your commentary on the Obama Administration etc.

(2) An interest This step is the one that is the killer as mentioned above. What the hell am I suppose to write about? The ability to find a niche of content you actually care about will get you started once you develop an opinion. But usually people start off very broadly, before finding a niche. This takes time and people wander off course and never come back

Back to my personal experience, when I first started, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to write about, even when the interest is there. But I pushed through and made a few ambiguous postings. You really need (1) + (2) to get the first post cracking. But these two points are still not enough. Even if someone has the skill, he often goes, “oh someone is already doing it, someone is better at it…” It’s easier to just refer to someone than write the content yourself, because it is already there!

Thus point 3 is the most important one of all, but it only happens when you have (1) + (2)

(3) The URGE to write From experience, this only comes to you over time, and it is a surprisingly addictive process. The more you write… the more YOU WANT to write. For me now, what was once arduous 200-word posts, now become easy-peasy thousand word opinion pieces, which I have to slap my hands to stop writing. (Much like this post).

Anyhow, here are my blog posts in order from March to April so you know of my thought process. From scared blogger to person who can’t shut up.

Ramblings Of A Noob Blogger
Ramblings Of A Noob Blogger Part Deux
Midweek Ravings: Happy One Month Old Blog!
Happy Two Month Old Blog!

P.S: I’m not saying my content-creation is the top 0.5% or anything. It’s just my journey towards creating content for a subject I’m interested in. And I am actually trying to create content, just need to create higher quality stuff.

Update: I think I might have been ‘down-voted’ on Quora for this post. Just another of case of TL;DR. Such is the attention span of the world today.  

Backtracking

Well that just happened. I went off track with my story on the last 5000 words and it reads more like a fantasy / sci-fi novel with a horror theme than a horror story. Backtracking a little to see what I can salvage, but it’s a big slap in the face for me. Spent the whole of today creating Story / Character / Idea chit sheets with a whole bunch of checklists this time to make sure it won’t happen again.

Feeling the burn. Fortunately most of the parts can be dissected and reused… oh well. Started another story as well, will upload it tomorrow. Next time, I’ll write off the seat of my pants only for the first 10K words before I sit down and plan things out… or you know, just plan things out from the start.

P.S: Apparently Big Bang Theory just used the immortal Jellyfish as a conversation opener for their last episode, so I just received quite a bump on my Immortal Jellyfish post. The power of the media. This post and another Ang Lee one I wrote are my most popular posts right now. Kinda sad about it, but oh well, a view’s a view.

The Cure For Writer’s Block: Writing Through The Pain

I was originally going to title this post “There’s something about Mondays.” since it has occurred to me that my most productive content-creation days have always been Mondays, but I don’t want to curse myself.

Not only am I up to 15,000 words now, or halfway through my story. I’ve written close to 3,000 words today with another 2 hours of scheduled writing time to go, I’ve also managed to rewrite my first 5,000 words 1.5 times in editing. I think a schedule where I just go about my editing when my energy is low, is really helping a lot. Not in the sense that the edits are good, but that it drives me forward to write later on. My day started horribly, and now its just going so smoothly.

Another day, another new idea that randomly comes up while writing and I’m rushing through the dialogue and action now, intending to go back and squeeze in the narrative in the places where I want it to slow down. Looking back, I think I might just let my imagination run wild beyond my 30,000 word limit now and cut out the boring bits later on – which tend to be narratives… honestly what gives, feels like I’m writing a script.

Oh well, after 3 days of burn, at least I’m back to having fun again. Hope this boom-bust in my writing doesn’t turn out to be a cyclical thing.

Also, as a side note, I guess it’s important to plan out the boring / transitioning bits of the story as well…. those are the parts I have the MOST trouble on. The rest of the story which are really the important parts, is where I have no trouble with once I get into the flow.

So cheers! Suck it Monday blues!

P.S: Game Of Thrones Season 3 is off to a very good start! Still has a meaningless nude scene, but I absolutely love how deep the scarred the Lannisters are beneath all that pomp. It’s hard to believe there can be a antagonist as well-liked as Cersei and Tyrion.

 

Quasi-Writer’s Block?

What exactly do you call a condition where you have some idea where you want the story to go, but just can’t get it to sound right? I’ve been banging my head against the computer for the past two hours and barely wrote two paragraphs… should I just skip the section and come back later or should I ensure the flow by keeping at it until I’m done.

Back to more head-banging.

Binge Writing: When To Stop

Writers Block

This is a personal experience piece, not a writing guide. Just want to make the distinction clear here.

My Own Binge Writing Experience (Plus Updates)

Okay, things have been a bit weird lately. I’ll go on a writing binge on Monday and in a half-trance, cough up over 3,000 words (plus another thousand over words on other stuff), then the very next day, wake up feeling very lethargic and braindead to a very ineffective writing session. I’m just writing Mark of Child for now, which started as a rewrite of another story, though I intend to re-look Alone In The Crowd in future.

Mark of Child isn’t proving itself to be popular, but whatever, I’m enjoying myself. Up to 7,000 words now with large chunks of rewriting. I already know the major plot points, it’s the minor ones in between that I need to work out. You won’t be able to see much from what I’ve posted, but these two stories are some of my most complete start-to-end stories in that I already know what I want for both of them. If nothing else, I enjoyed myself writing them. Alone gave me a lot of trouble as I tried to play with the tenses, but it got me going and I’m getting the hang of present tense now, even preferring it. But we’ll see, I’m still learning the ropes. There’s more to the writing then I initially though.

For Mark of Child, as long as it goes swimmingly and I don’t suddenly hit a dead end, I should be good to go the distance for a mini-novella at 20,000 – 25,000 words with a hard limit of 30,000 I’ve set myself. I don’t like horror fiction that goes on forever, since well, horror plots tends to be pretty thin. Should be done in 3 weeks so please forgive me if I ignore my blog for a while. That is usually a good sign however as it means I’m doing something more productive.

Is Binge Writing Acceptable?

Then again, I ask myself if this famine or feast approach to my work is acceptable. Going back to the topic my previous article on Write Habits, I asked the question of how do most writers write. That is a question I’ve been asking myself, since lately, I’ve been questioning my own dedication to just sit down and write. For example, a very popular writing boot camp, NaNoWriMo advocates a sort of disciplined approach to getting out that first novel. 1,667 words per day for a month and you get a 50,000 word novel. That methods works for a lot of people since the time factor forces them to ‘just do it’ and realise the writer in them.

Lindaghill seems to be a prime example of someone who found her mojo after taking part in one of these boot camps and has completed the first draft of a 200,000+ epic. She has done something probably less than 0.001% of this world has done. I’ve been giving her a lot of shout outs lately since I am learning a lot from her.

But, like a round hole and a square peg, I just can’t do it. The more I try to adhere to a “write this amount of words,” “sit down from this time to this” approach, my mind just goes blank. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the process, but I seem to be someone who goes with the flow more than the method. So rather than force myself to write, I decided to stick to my approach and try to refine it.

Binge Writing Help

Turn’s out I’m not alone, and what I’m doing isn’t that wrong from a creative perspective. An article from Scriptmag that seems to understand what I am going through, and has some sound advice from seat-of-the-pants writers like me, to balance our style with the discipline of method writers. The motive of trying to achieve this balance is most aptly put by Ernest Hemingway.

“I learned never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

The article in Scriptmag actually speaks out against writers like me, but in a good way. It tries to teach us to control the force within instead of curbing it altogether. This control is to combat one of the biggest problems people like me face – We write without a plan, we write with the flow, we write to our hearts content, then suddenly brick wall. You look back and you see what you have written and how you can angle it to go forward, but no deal. Eventually you give up, move on and start the whole process over again.

Some useful tips from the article include gems like this:

2. “Leave yourself a rough edge.”

Cory Doctorow says, “When you hit your daily word-goal, stop. Stop even if you’re in the middle of a sentence. Especially if you’re in the middle of a sentence. That way, when you sit down at the keyboard the next day, your first five or ten words are already ordained, so that you get a little push before you begin your work. Knitters leave a bit of yarn sticking out of the day’s knitting so they know where to pick up the next day — they call it the ‘hint.’ Potters leave a rough edge on the wet clay before they wrap it in plastic for the night — it’s hard to build on a smooth edge.”

Reading the article, I’ve come to several conclusions

Do not binge write to the point you are writing for the sake of writing Ideas are flowing, but haven’t had time to cook in your imagination. You’re just filling the page with empty words as you try to lead yourself somewhere, meandering through pointless dialogue. Just writing when you run out of ideas is GOOD, but not when you’ve ready gone a couple of thousand words in and refuse to stop.

Do not binge write trying to squeeze every last possible idea This is the reason why I binge write. One idea comes, leading to another, then another. OMG! I need to put all this down, then you start writing and writing until you’re drained. Turns out the next morning, you don’t know where to begin. Refer to the Ernest Hemingway quote above.

Do not binge write and expect the same results every single day This is one of the biggest killers for me. I’ve wrote 3000 words on Monday, why can’t I do it again? A good day tends to set us up for failure especially if you try to hold yourself to the lofty standard of one day. It’s better to look at the average over say a week, since binge writing takes the energy away from the very next day.

Declare yourself satisfied with your work I like this idea from the article and used it for a while. You have a goal in mind for today’s writing. You hit it, STOP! You have some other ideas in your head, make some notes, put down the key points, move on. This links to the second point about letting ideas stew for a while. You realise you end your writing on a high and eager to go the next day, instead of drained and fatigued.

To conclude, since I’ve done it again, and written another thousand word post. Let me just say find a method that works for you, learn it, explore it, question it. But more importantly enjoy it. This applies to the bigger world as well, not just writing. There is no just thing as black and white, right or wrong. Be it 250,000 essays on bondage or 20 word haikus. But not trying to learn more about your craft is a deadly sin. I will always keep questioning and learning, until the day I die.

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