Ever wonder how magazines and newspapers create quality content on a regular basis? So much content created online draws from other online sources. After a while, that’s led to a lot of content that reads the same. In fact, a lot of it's even directly copied!
So, in the digital age, how do the more traditional publishing avenues continue to create so much quality, unique content? The answer lies in the research. Magazines and newspapers tend to rely on offline sources more heavily for their content. They also tend to have more rigorous cross-checking done with every piece, along with a much more complicated editorial process.
There are three major sources of research that magazines and newspapers rely upon. Let's take a look at each of these sources. We’ll see how using each of them can vastly improve your own content.
While many web writers turn to interviewing experts on a given topic, journalists have been doing this for years already. Online journalists and bloggers often don't think to ask for the more well-known experts in a field. Though. That’s because they feel they may not command the same respect as a big magazine or newspaper would.
While a lot of “big names” may turn down an interview or opportunity to speak with smaller web writers, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. You'd be surprised at the quality of expert and level of celebrity even smaller bloggers can get to interview. All you have to do is ask.
The real advantage that traditional journalism has had that many online journalists don't is a network of people they can always turn to for a quote or advice. But, you can do the same thing online. In some ways, it’s easier because you have global reach. Even if you're a smaller blogger, you have to treat yourself as a professional journalist in building your network. That’s what puts you a cut above the rest as a web writer.
The more experts that you connect with, the better content you can create. It's not a secret that who you know plays a big part in your success. You have to remember that while your platform may be small, you're still an online journalist. So, treat yourself and handle yourself as one. In reality, your platform is huge, even if your reach isn’t quite there yet. Then, the level of expert you can turn to or interview for your content will grow more quickly than you might think.
Books and Other Offline Publications
Another great way to create standout content is to consult books, academic journals, or research studies. These things are easy to find at your local library or with subscriptions that you can purchase online. The advantage of these publications is that they're often far more in depth than many resources you'll find just by searching online.
Another way to find many of these things from the comfort of your own home is using dedicated academic search engines. You can also search through academic papers written by experts in the field you're writing about. Like research papers and studies, these give you valuable information and insights for a given subject.
Some academic search engines require a paid subscription, but they're typically not very expensive. But, they're worth the investment, especially if you use them often. Some are even free, like Google Scholar.
You can use these resources to keep up on the latest research in whatever field you're writing about. Despite the easy accessibility of many of these resources, a lot of web writers don’t think to use them. By keeping your eye on the academic and literary scene, you can gain an edge over many web writers.
The General Public
Sometimes, the word on the street can be quite valuable. While experts are certainly useful in essentially being invaluable research resources, everyday people can be equally valuable for researching the right things. While this doesn't work for subjects like law or medicine, there are plenty of subjects that the public at large can give you valuable input about.
For example, say you're writing about affordable housing. While there's certainly plenty of content online about the subject, you want to share something that isn't just reported from what you found in Google searches.
Talk to a few people who actually live in affordable housing. They can give you far more valuable insights into how it really works than a dozen articles will. Meeting people who live the reality of the subject makes it a lot more interesting to read.
Also, posing questions about article topics on your Facebook or or twitter feed can get you a lot of interesting responses. It’s not a foolproof topic and it can be hit or miss. But when calls for thoughts and opinions work, they can be content goldmines.
Research is the Best Investment to Make in Your Online Content
Clearly, all of these research methods are easily accessible to web writers. But, since many web writers were not trained to be journalists, these may not always be clear options to many who write online. While these methods certainly require far more time and effort than purely online research, your content will be much richer for it.
Invest in building your network of experts, keep up on the latest books and research in your experts topics, and never be afraid to spark conversations about hot topics. All of these things can help you take your web writing and content to a brand new level! Maybe one day you’ll have a website that rivals any newspaper or magazine out there!
~ Phoenix <3 ~
There's a myth out there that when you start web writing, you can just sort of write whatever you want. While there’s some truth to that, there are people out there that seem to perceive that web writing doesn't need to have much thought or effort put into it. You can just type whatever comes to you. Then, you hit 'publish' and that's a blog post.
Technically, yes, you can post whatever you want. But as with any kind of writing, the more thought and effort you put into your web writing, the better results you’ll get out of it. That doesn't mean you have to write the perfect post every time, of course. Some people try. Yes, there are those of us that can whip out a blog post in 15-20 minutes, slap a Creative Commons or public domain photo on it, give it a snazzy title and publish it with an immediate audience.
But, is that true of most web writers? Certainly not.
I'm a pretty fast writer myself. I've easily written 1000 words in 20 minutes many times. That's not to brag. It took a LOT of practice to be able to write that quickly. In my case, it was years of journal writing that started back in junior high. But, I think what helped me the most over the years was retyping my journals into the computer. Not only did it help me practice typing. But as I typed them up, it also made me rethink how I was wording things.
Obviously, when you’re writing in your own journal, you're not going to be as cognizant of how you're wording things. You're just going to write whatever comes to you. It seems that a lot of people think that writing perfect prose just comes naturally to web writers. That’s not true. For every post I whip out in 15-30 minutes, there are five more on my back burner. Of these five, three or four of those will likely end up scrapped.
There are also plenty of blog posts I whip out, then go back and revise. Web writers are always tweaking. After all, what you write is live to the world. If you’re not happy with it, you’re going to change it. You want to always show something that is strong work. Even if it’s not your best, you want it to be something you’re fine with having your name associated with.
To make up for those times where the writing flow isn’t working, many web writers write ahead. This is why you see so many web writers hammer out a lot of posts at one. That way, you can go back and decide if something is ready to publish or not.
Still, everyone's writing process is different. Some of us take a lot of time to craft the best blog post that we can. When I have a post that I really want to come out the right way, it can be a long process over the course of days or even weeks.
But, there is plenty of thought that goes into a blog post. There’s also a lot of research. Not only are you fact-checking or looking for additional info, but you have to know if it’s going to actually get interest. Will this resonate with your intended audience? Is it a topic people will even care about? There's so much going on behind the writing that most people never think about.
Sure, you can just sit there and use a blog as your journal. That's perfectly fine. I used to do web writing in that way. That’s when I just wanted to connect with others through writing without really thinking about it as a career. Web writers should just do whatever works for them. But if you want to take your web writing to another level, that’s when you have to start treating it with far more care.
Yes, it's absolutely a myth that blogging doesn't require a lot of time and effort. It really does, especially when you're trying to grow it. Just starting a blog and writing anything takes time and effort. Even if you’re just writing for fun, it's never as easy as it looks! After all you're putting something out to the general worldwide public. That’s nothing to sneeze at!
So, the old saying “if you blog, they will come” isn't exactly true. You have to put in a lot of time and effort for a blog to live on. For those that can do it consistently, be proud of them for doing something they love! If you have the passion to put extra thought into effort into everything you publish, there will be a pay-off in the end.
~ Phoenix <3
When you are starting in web writing, the conventional wisdom has become that you have to choose a writing niche right away. A writing niche is not only the topic that you want to focus your writing on, but also the specific subjects at which you can write the best. Then, you pick a name for your blog or website that will attract the attention of people in that niche.
While this is generally good advice, there seems to be a misconception that once you choose the name and niche, you can’t change it later. You’d have to start all over again. But, is that really true?
This myth is both true and false. Yes, it’s true. If you want to change direction, you can always start a new blog. Sometimes, that’s the best way to go. You could just leave the old one behind or even sell it to someone else. But, if your new blog goes in a completely different direction, this often involves starting from scratch.
However, you don’t always have to. Yes, it’s good to have a niche to focus on when you’re building up your online presence, But it’s OK to diversify. In fact, it’s necessary. You don’t want to dedicate yourself to only a single thing. Yes, some niches are very profitable. Some always will be. But it’s good to have some fallback topics related to your niche. This is not only for when you’re stuck. You want to have content available in case you find you need to change direction, whether for financial or personal reasons.
Believe it or not, you can completely change direction if you’re not feeling the blog anymore. You don’t even always have to rebrand. Yes, rebranding is OK, especially if the shift is needed to be more in line with your new writing direction. The important thing is to not abandon all your hard work in building up your presence. The myth that you have to start all over again is false, even if you need to build a new site to shift gears.
Yes, you actually can change your niche and even your blog name and still be OK. Yes, sometimes, you do have to start over, but only if you’re drastically changing what you’re doing. Believe it or not, people switch niches and names all the time, and they pick back up fairly quickly. It all depends on the audience you’ve already built.
So, if what you’re doing isn’t working or you just want to change direction, don’t feel pressured to start completely over. You can shift things around, just like you can with so many other things in life.
Feeling stuck with your current blog? Let me know in the comments. I may be able to help!
~ Phoenix <3
One persistent piece of web writing advice is to post daily. There are a number of reasons for this that make a lot of sense. Then again, a related persistent piece of advice is that if you post daily, you’ll eventually run out of writing ideas. Many people think that posting daily to your blog will lead to burnout. Fortunately, that doesn’t have to be true. It’s possible to post everyday without actually writing everyday.
Write Ahead, Schedule Ahead
There is this beautiful thing called “scheduled posts” available in most, if not all, content management platforms. So, if you’re having a heck of a writing day, you may as well just write a whole bunch of posts at once. Then, post one a day for as far out as you can. There are writers who finish all of their month’s posts in the first few days of the month, then schedule them out.
While I’m not that prolific myself on most occasions, this is really the best way of being able to post daily while not actually having to worry about what you’re posting on any given day.
But, What If You Do Run Out of Ideas?
As a writer, I find I never actually run out of ideas themselves. It’s more that I don’t always have my ideas pan out into actual pieces worth of being posts. There are plenty of writing prompts out there, of course. At times, those can be really helpful. Also, the great thing about web writing is that you don’t have to put out a 1,500-word piece of skyscraping content every day, either.
Yes, it’s OK to have some shorter “musing” type posts in between your more “substantial” content. Also, the whole concept of content curation is a good one. Just don’t overdo it. By that, I mean, find something that really catches your attention. Then, share an excerpt, link to it, and have some commentary about it.
Technically, you can have a blog with all curated content and do OK. But the more original content you create the better. The good news is, you probably won’t ever run out of ideas. That’s especially true if you just write down every possible blog topic and idea that you have as soon as you get it. I try to do this as often as I can.
Over time, I’ve gotten better about taking down notes. I spend a little time each morning, afternoon, or evening (or all three) getting my ideas down. Because of that, I find that posts come to me more quickly. So, even when I can’t post daily, I find that I usually have something to work on to post.
So, Why Post Daily, Anyway?
Yes, plenty of web writers don’t blog everyday. Some post only once a week and they do fine. The beauty of web writing is that you really don’t have to post every day. Really, you do whatever works for you. There have been plenty of experiments that have found that views and interactions - on average - actually decrease the more that you post.
However, the one major advantage of posting everyday is that it builds up consistency. In the online writing world, consistency is a big part of staying relevant. That’s not only to search engines, but more importantly to the people who follow you. As long as you’re not overloading your audience, you’re probably fine.
The other reason that posting daily is good is that it keeps you involved in your blog every day. Some writers find not having a new post each day increases the pressure to have an awesome post the next time. By posting daily, if you get a dud, the argument is that you can come right back with something back. But are you actually ahead of where you would have been without the dud?
Really, as long as you can keep up the quality and relevance, posting daily can work. Sure, not every post is going to be a winner. But, if you’re forcing it, then it shows, and you shouldn’t do that. So, keep that in mind.
One Post a Day Keeps the Blogging Blues Away?
I see a lot of web writers who like to post 5 to 10 pieces a day. But, then, they don’t have anything to post the entire rest of the week! Honestly, this is where you can get into trouble. It’s actually possible to have too MUCH for readers to digest at once.
I know some bloggers can get away with multiple posts in a day and do well. But for most of us, that’s simply too much to properly promote and too much for our audiences to be able to keep up with.
This is why, even if I have two or three things I can post, as long as I only post just one, I feel good. This is because I can focus on getting that post the full attention it deserves. If it ends up being a dud, I can be OK with it. Some posts are just going to be duds. There’s always tomorrow!
But, if I post multiple pieces in a day, how do I know if a post is actually “good” or not? It probably just got missed or people simply didn’t have time to get to it after other posts that they saw. That’s my experience.
However, there may come a time where I can write multiple posts in a day and I just NEED to get it out there. Yes, if you write time-sensitive content, then go ahead and get it out there. But if it’s evergreen, the type of content I personally lean towards, waiting a day to post it is OK.
But, Do Whatever Works For You
If you are a content machine and can write a whole bunch of posts a day, and you feel you need to post a ton each day, go for it! Just don’t burn yourself out! That’s where this writing myth falls apart: you can never actually run out of content ideas. What actually happens is you just run out of how to turn ideas into content.
Never feel forced to post everyday if you really can’t. You don’t want to hate writing. If it feels forced, just don’t do it, unless it’s a sponsored post that will pay your light bill this month. You just have to find your happy place with your writing and stick to it. For me, that’s one post a day, unless I find something great to curate or something breaking happens that I just have to post about.
Posting daily definitely has its benefits. While I prefer to have three really strong posts a week and focus on those, I do try to get other posts out there to keep my readers coming back for more. Honestly, I never really run out of ideas. It’s best to bust ‘em out when they come to me, schedule them out, sit back, and have fun!
These are my thoughts when it comes to this particular blogging myth of running out of ideas when posting daily. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter, too!
Also, I’ll leave you with this one final question:
What type of blogging schedule works for you?
~ Phoenix <3
I feel as if it should be unnecessary to say, but writers are people, too!
A lot of people seem to feel that writers lead double lives. One life is “real” and the other is some online life where we can seem infinitely more interesting. Sure, some writers use pen names and sometimes even create alter-egos online. That’s fine. Artists have been doing this for centuries. And yes, writing’s most certainly an art.
Whether writers use their real names or not, writers are real people. It’s easy sometimes to forget many writers are starving artists who are just looking for new ways to connect with people through the things they love. While a writer may have a pen name or even an alter ego, online life and real life are unavoidably linked.
Oftentimes, web writing, and especially blogging, is often seen as a “get rich quick” appeal. But for most of us, that’s not it at all. For most writers, web writing is a creative outlet. It’s often a necessary stress reliever. It’s also a way to say things we may not find ourselves able to say in everyday conversation.
For those of us who aren’t social in so-called “real life,” some of us really need web writing to network. But networking in web writing is no less real or fake that in “real life.” Sure, some people are genuine, and others are just looking out for themselves. That’s no different than any “real life” social gathering, though. It’s just easier to be anonymous online, and while that’s certainly a thing in itself, it doesn’t make it not “real life.”
While there are certainly major differences between interacting face-to-face and through a computer or mobile device, they are no more or less real. Even in “real life,” we have facades. Sure, online, it’s often more for safety purposes. But so is the case in real life. There are other reasons, too, that I won’t get into here because they deserve their own treatments. But really, online people are often allowed to express themselves more freely. The online writing world is so vast now that you can always find someone new to connect with.
Really, web writing and blogging allow you to socially network in ways that Facebook, Twitter, and so on can only begin to allow you to do. Blogging gives you a home base, so to speak, to build your own personal social network. You can do this in real life, too, with clubs and other social groups. The only difference online is that the people you’re connecting with can be a world away.
Writers are people, too, and web writing is “real life,” too!
~ Phoenix <3
Today's web writing myth does have a bit of truth to it. But, don't most myths emerge from specks of truth? Certainly, I’ve done a great deal of my writing while wearing a ratchet old t-shirt and sweatpants or shorts. Those are essentially my PJ’s. But is that all web writers do? Do we just sit around all day in our pajamas and just type away at the computer?
Not even close.
It's true that one major perk of being a web writer is that there are many writing tasks that can be done in the comfort of our nightshirts and bathrobes. But this is far from how many writers operate. That's right. Many writers have morning routines just like those with a “regular” 9 to 5.
Plus, gasp, many web writers even have jobs in addition to their writing! Actually, most do!
So, while we web writers do enjoy our PJ time, it isn't nearly that cut and dry. We don't just sit behind a computer all day. That’s simply not true.
Many posts come out of quick notes on our smartphones while walking or on the bus. Some posts come from scribbles and doodles on scrap paper while at our various day (and night) jobs that pay the bills. Many web writers are still gearing up towards living the dream of writing (on the web and otherwise) being our full-time gigs.
For many writers, web writing is a “side hustle.” Yes, many writers have their blogs as their primary job. But there are many people that think we just sit online all day and type. Just like anybody, we get out and live life like anybody else.
Or, at least we should be...
Every web writer is different. That's OK. Sure, we can have lazy days lounging on the computer and get away with it sometimes. But as web writers, we really never get a break or a vacation. Most of us spend 80 hours a week (or more!) working on our writing or promoting it ON TOP of other jobs.
Yeah, web writers aren’t just lounging around most of the time. Consider that myth BUSTED!
~ Phoenix <3
In the "olden days" of blogging, it seemed you could start a blog about anything and everyone would love it. But nowadays, it seems everyone and his or her dog and cat are blogging. So, is the old saying "If you blog, they will come" just a bit of blogging mythology nowadays? Well, as with any myth, it is founded in some sort of truth. Let's take a look at where this idea came from and just how accurate it is today.
Blogging is still a great medium. Some will argue that vlogging and livestreaming is going to replace blogging in the long run. These mediums well may surpass blogging in the long run. In fact, people now seem to think if you vlog, they will come. And there's some truth to that, just as blogging was 10 or so years ago. But there's a good reason why.
The reason blogs could take off so easily years ago? Less competition. I mean, A LOT less competition. You could become an authority very easily. Not so much now. So why can you vlog so easily now, whereas blogging was king of content in the past? Videos are, for a great many people, easier to consume. Marketing experts keep saying it, and for a good many people, that’s probably true.
Myself, I'm not really one for making videos. Mine would probably be kinda boring. Really, though vlogging and blogging are the same things – just on different mediums. Vlogging takes even more thought and effort in some ways, in fact. In effect, you're producing a little TV show or mini-movie with each video you make.
That isn't to say blogging is easier, either. But with blogging, it's a lot easier to remain anonymous, which is probably why it's still so popular. You can do it with vlogging with the right tools, too. But still, while vlogging is growing extremely quickly, the competition is getting extremely fierce! In fact, it may even be harder than blogging! With venues like YouTube, though, your potential audience is a bit easier to reach, which is why some people prefer it.
As with anything online, though, you can get found. If you are really set on starting a blog, a vlog, podcast, or some combination of those, don't be discouraged! It just takes a lot more work now, and it’s only because more people are doing it. Sometimes, you just have to find a very specific niche that no one's covered well enough. That's often where the money is now.
With the right networking, a ton of hard work, and a little luck, you can realize something of your content creation dreams. Will it happen overnight like it may once have done? Probably not. But you won't know what might happen until you do it!
“If you blog, they will come” is still partly true. Yeah, there's a lot more to it than that. But you have to start somewhere! After all, getting started is the hardest part!
~ Phoenix <3
A writer must always be in motion. By motion, I don’t simply mean scribbling in a notebook or on diner napkins. I mean that a writer must always be constantly moving, reinventing on the fly, and never staying still.
It’s too easy to become too academic & too professional and lose that sense of motion in your writing. As a craft, writing is certainly one of the most difficult to master. How your words actually move people, creating that motion, is the most difficult aspect of writing to grasp.
Writing in motion makes people get up and do something. Too often writing is thought of as a sedentary activity, but in reality, it’s not. Like any human endeavor, it requires building momentum in order to succeed. Great writing engages the mind and then inspires action.
To say I’m an expert in writing in motion would be quite incorrect. I’m merely beginning to understand that it’s important that I better understand the skill of writing in motion. We all do. We writers get stuck far too often spinning our wheels in the mud. Other parts of our lives must involve motion. Otherwise, as writers, we find ourselves staying in neutral all too much.
Too often I find my writing bogged down with overwritten phrases. There’s excess fluff created almost for the sole purpose of looking smarter than I am. As a writer, and as a person, I often have felt inadequate. I made up for this by trying to be something I wasn’t. I’m not a classical writer, nor should I try to mimic classic writers to mold myself into something I’m not.
I’ve spent years becoming the writer I was meant to be. This is who I am. I should embrace it. We should all embrace who we are and use writing as a tool to reflect and teach others what we’ve learned. We shouldn’t be comparing ourselves to one another. Writing is often treated like a contest, and it really shouldn’t be.
If you put pen to paper or you spill any kind of digital ink, you’ve already thrown yourself into the wild and wacky arena of prose. Just because one writer is more skilled than another doesn’t mean that you are any less a writer than another. Some of us have to work harder than others, but it all pays off in the end. Every writer, every person, has his or her weaknesses and strengths. Building those strengths while minimizing weaknesses is as true in writing as it is in anything else.
By constantly working on this or that, you remain in motion. Writing just to write is simply not enough for me. I have to be moving forward in one way or another. That’s really what we all as writers should be doing!
Is your writing moving you forward? Or is it stuck in neutral, or even in reverse? Don’t fret. If you just stay in motion, and never stop trying things, you’ll find something worth writing. Not only will you write something that moves you forward, but you can move others as well with your words. That’s the best result a writer can get. Let’s all work for that!
~ Phoenix <3
by Phoenix A. Desertsong, The Perpetual Prose Machine
"The Prose Machine Interviews" is a series where we interview AWESOME writers and share their insights about the online writing craft! Today, we’re SO EXCITED to interview Tara of Life is an Adventure, a mental health, fitness, and lifestyle blog out of Ireland! Tara has written many articles for various newspapers and spunout.ie.
Thanks, Tara, for taking time to interview with us :) Just three quick and simple questions for you.
Q1) In your time blogging so far, what have you found that you enjoy most about it?
Tara: I have always enjoyed writing but as a mental advocate I really wanted to help people,specifically people with mental health issues. If I could help even one person through a tough time by writing about my own experiences, I'd be happy. What I enjoy most about blogging is communicating with fellow bloggers either on Twitter which has a fantastic community of bloggers or on other social media sites. I also enjoy the editing and proofreading of the articles I write on my blog. I'm a perfectionist so it has to be done right.
The Prose Machine: I’m a bit of a perfectionist, too! I’m constantly tweaking, trying to find ways to make things work just a little bit better.
Q2) Where do you see your blog going in the future?
Tara: I would hope that my blog would get a big amount of followers so that I have more people to engage with. While I do write about fitness and lifestyle, there is still such a stigma against mental health and I would love if my articles could reach as big of an audience as possible so that it can hopefully help many people and let them know that they are not alone.Until then I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing and engage with the amazing followers I have at present.
The Prose Machine: Having awesome followers is always good!
Q3) What's the best advice you can give new bloggers?
Tara: Take your time. You are not going to gain 100 followers overnight. Twitter is brilliant for getting your blog noticed but it's nice to check out other great blogs too. You have to remain dedicated to your blog, post as often as you can and only write about topics you are passionate about. Don't write about a topic just because it's trending online. Most importantly, always be yourself when blogging.
The Prose Machine: All great advice! :D
Thanks bunches, Tara, for taking your time for us!
You can follow Tara at the following social media venues:
Instagram - taraosullivan122
Snapchat - Tarastar209
Twitter - taraosullivan15
by Phoenix A. Desertsong, The Perpetual Prose Machine
"The Prose Machine Interviews” is a series where we interview AWESOME content creators and share their insights about the content creation craft! Today, we’re SO EXCITED to have the lovely and talented Miss Amy Rach, YouTube and blogger extraordinaire from the Isle of Wight in the UK! She covers a variety of topics including beauty, decluttering, food, and her beautiful home of the Isle of Wight! We discuss balancing Youtube and blogging, among other things :)
Amy Rach: First, I just wanted to say thank you for having me on board. I have loved reading your interview series so far and am very excited to be part of it!
Q1) Since beginning your blog back in 2017, and already having been on YouTube on and off for a time, how have you found a balance between the two?
Amy Rach: I started my YouTube channel as a way to focus on something that wasn’t my job. Through experience, I found that I enjoyed it. However, as work got busier, I found I had less time to dedicate to my channel, hence dipping in and out of it over a number of years. I always wanted to do it full time but wasn’t in a position to take that leap.
Things changed in early 2017 and I hatched a plan to be able to work on it full-time. For 8 months I juggled a busy full-time job with YouTubing more consistently and being a noob in the world of blogging. Then in September 2017, I went full-time. I used to upload everything to both YouTube and my blog, but recently I have changed my approach. Giving myself a structure and deadlines have been key to balancing the workload. At the moment I publish 4 times per week, Monday is a blog post under one my category headings and then Wednesday, Friday and Sunday form my YouTube uploads. Usually, my blog posts align with my YouTube content to provide additional detail and perspective.
The Prose Machine: That’s great that you were finally able to find balance! Seems like you found a structure that works for you!
Q2) What have you found are the similarities and differences between YouTube and blogging?
Amy Rach: I think this can depend on individuals as well as the platforms but in the early days of both YouTube and blogging, it can feel that you nobody is seeing or cares about your content. You have to love what you are doing. Both my blog and channel have taken a long time to grow and become more interactive.
For me, YouTube has been more rewarding but this may be because my channel is older and feels more established than my blog. My YouTube subscribers are amazing and their comments often have me sporting a big cheesy grin. Although I often smile at the lovely blog comments I receive, in the early days of blogging, interaction predominantly comes via comment swaps with other bloggers. I am definitely still at that stage.
Another aspect is the time in terms of content production. In no way am I saying that blogging is easier, it is just different. Many of us spend many hours crafting and honing our blog posts, but YouTube videos are a whole different ball game. There is so much more to it than many people think. From the filming to editing, rendering, upload times, thumbnails and subsequent SEO and promotion, there is a huge amount to do.
The Prose Machine: Yup, the two are simply different. They really take the same level of effort, it’s just different. Some people prefer one kind to the other. It’s cool that you’ve been able to do both!
Q3) What is the best advice for someone who wants to vlog on YouTube and blog at the same time?
Amy Rach: Four things spring to mind:
1. Give yourself a schedule and stick to it. This assists when planning content and provides structure and deadlines to help stay on track. During busy times, it can be easy to let things slip.
2. Create content you enjoy making and I know everyone says it, but be yourself. Find your own style. Videos, especially, enable your own style and personality to shine through.
3. Integrate yourself into online communities in order to get yourself out there, make friends and learn from each other. Lots of bloggers attribute this to the success and positivity of their blogging experience.
4. Most importantly, remain patient. There are a lucky few who enjoy a meteoric rise in exposure but for most of us, it takes a very long time. Stay consistent, don’t give up and give time to those who follow you in the early days.
The Prose Machine: Patience is definitely key. That plus consistency is a great recipe for success. :)
Thanks bunches for your lovely answers!
Amy Rach: Thanks again, Phoenix. I have thoroughly enjoyed answering these questions and very much hope it makes an interesting read for others.
You can follow Amy Rach at the following social media venues:
As someone who writes on so many different topics, it can sometimes be difficult to zero in on what I should actually be writing about the most. Writing about writing is only one of dozens of what I suppose you could call my “expert topics.” Over the years, I’ve written about gaming, home improvement, literature, social media, sports, and much more! I also write poetry.
In a world where the pressure is to fit yourself into a single niche, it’s very hard for writers like myself to do that. Whenever I try to focus on just a single thing, it’s never really worked. I find it better for me to express all of my sides rather than force myself into dedicating myself to a single theme.
Niches Are Good, But They Aren’t For Everyone
That’s not to say that finding a niche and sticking to it is a bad thing. In fact, it can be extremely good to do just that! Targeting a certain niche certainly helps in finding a target audience for your content. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
But, then you find you want to write about something that ISN’T in your niche and you wonder what to do. Should I start a new blog? Or should I just file it away? This is a dilemma I see so many writers struggling with.
My advice is to just put it all out there. If you want to write about it, go ahead! Once in a while, it’s OK to be a bit out of your niche. Or, if you’re like me, you already have somewhere to put it, another blog around certain topics. It’s long been my thinking that you should have one site with various sections. That way, those people who are interested in certain topics only have to look at the sections they want to!
Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin!
I see people creating several blogs, sometimes even DOZENS, just to be able to write about all the different things they want to cover. Not only is that time-consuming and exhausting, but it spreads you too thin. I say you focus on your personal brand, find the niche that performs the best for you and what YOU are most passionate about. Build your website primarily around that. But once you have your own site, you can build pages that showcase your other topics you like to write about.
For example, if you’re a beauty blogger who also loves to travel, find which topic that drives YOU the most. Say that your beauty content performs better but you really like to write the travel stuff more. Do both! Your brand can be primarily aimed at beauty, but you can still have travel content on a separate blog on the same site. People do this all the time, and it does just fine! In fact, having several different topics on your site actually helps because it draws in other audiences. Over time, you’ll find people that like both, and those are the keepers!
Focus On What YOU Love! BUT, Brand Around What Works!
Obviously, whatever you love the most will bring out your best effort. But over time, you may find that one of your other pet topics does better in bringing in traffic and/or converting into revenue. Let’s go back to the beauty & travel example. You may have your heart set on travel, which is a pretty popular niche, but your beauty content tends to perform better. Fortunately, I’ve seen several bloggers successfully blend those two topics. For example, beauty topics that have to do with going on holiday actually do quite well.
Here’s another example. Say you’re a hardcore gamer but you make your living selling real estate. These are two things that don’t seem to go together at all. So, you start two separate blogs, one for real estate and one for gaming. You put more time into the gaming blog, as that’s sort of your way to unwind after grinding out commissions week after week. But despite posting on the real estate blog far less often, you’re getting tons of traffic and even have had some potential advertising opportunities!
This situation would lead you to feel torn. Should you abandon one and focus on the other? My advice is to definitely keep both. It may be even better to combine them into one self-hosted site. You brand around the more successful of the two, the real estate blog, but have the gaming blog easily accessible from there. Having a separate site and domain for the gaming blog may be OK. But in my experience, you’re better off having a site that can accommodate both. If the gaming content gets to the point where it can become a money-maker THEN it’s OK to give it its own site.
Basically, brand around what nets you the most revenue and traffic, but always allow yourself to write about what you really love, because you never know if may just surpass what worked for you before!
Put It All Out There!
Sometimes you just have to put it all out there. If you really can just go all out on a single topic, go for it! Just remember these few things:
This isn’t just the case with writing, either. It’s the same with artwork, vlogging, photography, or anything else that you put your heart into. Don’t hold anything back that others may enjoy! Sure, you may not get a whole tons of views. But if only a handful of people see it and love it, then it was worth putting out there.
You never know what may work in the long run, unless you try!
~ Phoenix <3
by Phoenix A. Desertsong, The Perpetual Prose Machine
"The Prose Machine Interviews” is a series where we interview AWESOME writers and share their insights about the online writing craft! Today, we’re SO EXCITED to have with us Nicole Carman of the mental health blog & product review website Navigating Darkness! Nicole has been blogging since January 2011 and her blog has transformed into the mental health focused venue that it is today!
Blogging can be an immensely difficult task, especially with those that struggle with anxiety, depression, etc. And it’s so awesome that the blogging community has really stepped up and welcomed us so warmly even when we’re dreadfully inconsistent! Mental health is definitely a huge topic that many bloggers have begun to focus on, yet it seems awareness still isn’t what it should be. So, it’s really great to have people like Nicole in the blogging community helping shed light on just what it’s like to struggle with these ailments!
Onto the interview!
The Prose Machine: Thanks bunches, Nicole, for reaching out to us and taking your time to answer our silly questions! Typically, I’d start by asking about how you started blogging and whatnot, but since your about section covers that pretty well, I’ll be asking questions more specific to your blogging journey when it comes to mental health.
Q1: Since dedicating yourself purely to mental health awareness - and the occassional product review - how have you found that you’ve grown both as a writer and a person?
Nicole: Writing about mental health awareness and the occasional product review has definitely allowed me to grow in more ways than one.
Writing about mental health has allowed me to be open and honest with myself and others about what I'm going through. I suffered in silence for over ten years and, while I was able to cope with it for a while, it caught up with me. Holding it all in will eventually catch up with everyone suffering in silence. I finally reached my breaking point. I realized that speaking up was the first and one of the most important steps to my journey in recovery and, in that way, I think it made me a stronger person.
It has also opened up the world of empathy to me. I grew up in an environment that didn't really have a trace of empathy anywhere so I never knew how to be empathetic because I didn't know what it meant or felt like. It wasn't until after I started writing about mental health and seeing what others were going through that I really learned how to genuinely empathize with others. I found that I have so much in common with many other wonderful people and I'm able to lend my ear to listen or shoulder to cry on if anyone needs it. While we sometimes feel so alone, that is far from the truth.
Prose Machine: There’s definitely growing support online for dealing with mental health, which is really needed. As you said, sometimes you’re only going to find empathy by going online, and it’s great that it’s been getting easier to find that. I’ve found some myself. And yes, you definitely are never alone, which is always good to be reminded of :)
Q2: In your time writing Navigating Darkness, how do you feel that mental health awareness has grown?
Nicole: I've been writing about mental health since March of 2018 after I received my first official diagnosis from a psychiatrist. Since I started writing about it, I've been doing my best to write about the things I've gone through and experienced so that other people can learn more about it. Many other mental health bloggers do the same and, even in the short time I've been writing about it, I can tell that it is making an impact because it's getting conversations started.
The best way to bring about awareness is to talk about it. The more I talk about it, the more comfortable I get with talking about it. This is especially important when it comes to blogging, because my true and raw feelings go into my blog posts. While it might make me feel vulnerable to say certain things, I know that there's a good chance that it is going to help at least one person. One in four people have a mental illness. Just imagine how many people we can help if we keep talking to each other. The fact that I can tell a difference on my own Twitter feed within only six months makes me so hopeful for future mental illness treatment methods.
Prose Machine: As someone who’s struggled with various mental health ailments, I’ve found it immensely difficult to bring them out into the open. But as a writer who believes that self-reflection through writing leads to eye-opening moments of self-discovery, I think it’s important that those of us that struggle with mental health chronicle our struggles. Even if we don’t always publish them, it should be just for our own well-being as a person.
Q3: For those that are looking to blog about mental health awareness, are there some important things that people should know before venturing into focusing on what can be a very complicated niche?
Nicole: If someone is interested in writing about mental health, there aren't really any guidelines or rules.
My main piece of advice is to always be honest. There is no point in spreading awareness about something that isn't true because it would be incredibly counterproductive. You can share as little or as much as you want, but honesty is the best policy.
For certain topics, a Trigger Warning (or TW's, as some abbreviate) may be advisable depending on the content of your post. While being raw and honest in your writing is fantastic, it's a great practice to give people a heads up if they're going to be reading about something that could potentially trigger someone, otherwise it could be dangerous. A Trigger Warning is especially advisable in posts that touch on subjects like self-harm and suicide.
I also recommend doing your research if you aren't certain about something. For example, if you're writing about a specific mental illness, be sure to do some research on it to be sure that any information that isn't your own personal experience(s) is accurate. It doesn't take long to do this, and it might even give you an idea of something to add to your post(s). Be sure to cite your references. :)
The Prose Machine: Research is so important! Because it turns out that if you don’t know all the facts about something, most other people won’t either. I agree about the Trigger Warnings, and although I don’t really have any, it’s important that we keep them in mind especially when writing about highly sensitive topics, as you said.
My issue with writing about mental health is that I’ve really never felt qualified. But, personal experience is really all you need because someone out there is going through some of the same things as you. Shared experiences are extremely powerful!
This is awesome stuff! Thanks so much Nicole for sharing your insights with us! :)
You can follow Nicole & Navigating Darkness at any of these Social Media venues:
In the 9-to-5 work world, Wednesday is often known as Hump Day. It’s the middle of the work week and sometimes you just find yourself having a really hard time after working your ass off Monday and Tuesday. Even though I haven’t been in that world in quite some time, I still have at least one Hump Day every week. It’s not always the same day, though. When you work at home, though, they still exist. Actually, in some ways it’s worse because you don’t always see them coming!
As I write this, I’m actually having a difficult Wednesday morning. While there have definitely been positives the past few days, it’s been a lot of effort put forth for quite less than the desired returns. Even when you’re working for a steady paycheck, though, you sort of run into the same deal; you work super hard and yet you still aren’t getting to everything you need to get done.
When it’s inconsistent, though, it’s even worse because when you have the “hump” days, you have no idea what’s coming. I used to be paid weekly on Thursdays, so that was always a bit of motivation to get me over the hump. But when you work at home without that guaranteed payment, you could get over the hump and fall into a black hole. At least, it feels that way sometimes.
The good news is that whether you work for the steady paycheck or you’re trying to make your own thing work 24-7, hump days are essentially the same. You just build as much positive momentum up as you can. Build others up, because likely they’re having their own hump days. And as a writer, I know that those Hump Days aren’t always Wednesday. When you’re a creative, you can have more than one in a week. We’ll all get them, and we can all get over them.
If you need to take some time for yourself, make sure that you do. But don’t stay idle too long. Don’t force anything. Whether you’re grinding out the pennies (or dollars/pounds sterling/euros/etc., hopefully) on your own blog or working a 9-to-5 (or whatever shift you happen to work), just show up and do what you can. Most of the time, even when we’re not at our best, we’re still going to get through.
Really, as long as you come out on the other side alive, you’ve already won. Even if your hump day is a miserable one, as long as you can wake up the next day, you’ve already won. Keep winning a little bit at a time, and eventually you’ll make the playoffs, and win the championship.
There may even be cake!
~ Phoenix <3
by Phoenix A. Desertsong, The Perpetual Prose Machine
"The Prose Machine Interviews” is a series where we interview AWESOME writers and share their insights about the online writing craft! Today, we’re SO EXCITED to interview Malou from Malou’s Figments! Malou calls her blog “an open book” and she covers all sorts of topics. She’s an observer, a creative writer, an aspiring novelist, an undergraduate student in Wales, an AMV-editor, a football, tennis and basketball player and a realist who sometimes likes to pretend to fly away from this world. It turns out that we’re at least alike in the first three things!
Onto Malou’s awesome answers!
Q1: When and how did you start blogging?
I started blogging back in… (let me check my blog to find my first blog post, haha) April 2015. I quit my supermarket job and I felt like society would look down upon me, because I became unemployed and still had half a year to pass before I would be able to start my studies. Therefore, I wanted to write about my reasons to quit my job, and once I had I shared it on my Facebook my surrounding actually got to read it. I then realised that I actually had a lot more to say and simply kept it up ever since.
The Prose Machine: Once you get started writing, it can be pretty hard to stop, huh? So glad to see how well you’ve kept with it. That in itself is an accomplishment!
Q2: Through your blogging, is there one thing that you've found you connect most with to write about?
The things I write about seem to be rather random. The thing they have in common might be that they all have to do with my own experiences. Often, I’ll write about something when it’s something I’ve recently learned. For example, when I graduated I realised how beneficial it is to actually put on a gown and graduate, because it helps you recognise and acknowledge your own success. For me, this felt like an important lesson to learn, and so I wrote a post about it to both self reflect, and also share it with other people who might not be certain yet if they want to attend their graduation next year.
The Prose Machine: Self-reflection is one of the best parts about being a writer! Better yet, by sharing it with others, people can learn from your experiences. It turns out we’re very similar in what we’re trying to do with our writing!
Q3: What do new bloggers absolutely need to know to enjoy blogging success?
I think the most important thing is to have fun. I did not join the blogging community until two months ago (partly because I didn’t know it existed). Therefore, I never had a big audience or that many views. Yet, I still blogged because I enjoy writing these posts. Even now that I’m a part of the blogging community, it’s not like my views are skyrocketing or anything. I don’t think the numbers should be why you are blogging, because if it is you are likely to be disappointed very quickly. So just enjoy what you do and you’ll naturally enjoy all the rest too, because even one view is one person who will have read what you wrote and that’s pretty awesome on its own!
The Prose Machine: We definitely see eye-to-eye on this point! It should be all about having fun. While views are great, and interactions are even better, at the end of the day it’s all about expressing yourself. If just one other person reads what you wrote, that’s awesome! I definitely get too caught up in the numbers sometimes, even as much as I write about how NOT to do that. We definitely have to remember to have fun with our craft :)
Thanks bunches for your insights, Malou! Best wishes to you and your blog!
You can follow Malou’s Figments at any of these Social Media venues:
~ Phoenix <3
From time to time, I get this little thought going through my head that really puts a damper on me writing anything new. That thought is: haven’t I written enough? Don’t I already have enough content out there that I can just share and reshare forever?
Have you ever felt like this? Sometimes, you just don’t have the drive to post anything new. That’s OK. There’s no point in forcing something. But, feeling like you have nothing new to give… that’s sort of a problem.
When I get like this, I instead mostly spend my time resharing others and encouraging them. This is a better use of time than just sitting here tweaking and resharing all of the hundreds of posts that I’ve written over the years. It may actually be thousands… I tend towards always feeling like there’s something left to improve in my old posts. Sometimes that leads to me writing something new that I didn’t cover before. But often times, I find I’m about to rehash an old topic.
As writers, we sometimes get stuck in these cycles. I see some bloggers take breaks, for months or even years at a time. Some never find the creative energy to make a come back. And this is sad to me. I’ve taken months at a time before and each time it’s really hard. I almost gave up blogging completely in 2018, and that wasn’t the first time. But I keep going.
Why do I keep going? Because as much as I have written, there is always something else that needs to be said. Whatever that is doesn’t always come every day, though. That’s why I’ve gone down to only publishing one new post a week. I may do two (or more) if I feel I need to for the sake of timeliness or relevance.
But, I also have found that interviews and collaborations with other writers feel like they’re more worth my time, so I began to focus on those. After all, lifting other writers up is what I set out to do in the first place, so I should be focusing on presenting others more often. I’ll do as many of those as I can handle.
I’m sure I’ll reshare this very post every time I’m feeling stuck. Because as I write this, there are at least a dozen of my fellow scribblers feeling stuck just like I am, maybe worse. If you’re ever feeling stuck, just remember, there’s always something else to write. You just haven’t discovered it yet.
But as long as you don’t give up and remind yourself that it will come to you if it’s important enough, it WILL come to you… just as this piece did for me :)
With love for my fellow scribblers,
~ Phoenix <3
by Phoenix A. Desertsong, The Perpetual Prose Machine
"The Prose Machine Interviews” is a series where we interview AWESOME writers and share their insights about the online writing craft! Today, we’re SO EXCITED to interview Trace of THE FASHN COLLECTR! A fashion industry veteran and glamour guru, Trace teaches and inspires savvy women how to live a stylish and dynamic life.
The Prose Machine: Hi, Trace! Glad to have you on the Prose Machine!
Q1) How and when did you decide to start blogging?
Trace: For the past year and a half, I have been struggling to do something online either with a shop or doing something creative in general. As fashion was my background and I travel quite a bit, I decided to start a blog to pass on my knowledge, document my travels and showcase the accessories I design. I've only been blogging for a short period of time, but the response I've had has been a pleasant surprise!
The Prose Machine: Congrats on your quick positive response! The great thing about blogging these days is you can enjoy fairly quick success if you’re offering useful stuff and stay consistent with it. You certainly have done both.
Q2) In your blogging adventures so far, what has surprised you the most about blogging?
Trace: I'm thrilled by how supportive and encouraging the blogging community have been--especially on Twitter! I also love how much information is available if you ever get stuck or need encouragement. It is wonderful.
My blog is through wordpress.org, and I was worried at first that this might entail lots of coding knowledge, but it has been much easier than I anticipated!
The Prose Machine: The blogging community on Twitter is amazing! It’s really where The Prose Machine focuses our promotion, that’s for sure! And yeah, many bloggers have a “we’re all in this together” attitude and that’s really awesome. There’s a lot of support on Facebook, too, but those groups you really have to be super committed. For those thinking about joining FB groups, be forewarned!
We use Weebly, which is pretty user-friendly, too, but Wordpress is pretty easy for new bloggers to get into and it seems to be the one that 9 out of 10 people use these days.
Q3) From what you've learned, what do you think are the things new bloggers need to know?
1. To be patient, and not to expect your blog to look completely perfect and function properly. It's going to take some time to work out the quirks and blogging is always an on-going learning process. Most people start their blogs with a handful of posts--so don't panic if you only have 5--I know I did! It doesn't have to be a well-oiled machine--just get it out there!
2. Don't worry if you don't have many followers. This is an organic process and if you post it--they will come! :o) Get online and network. Join the many blogging groups on Twitter and Facebook; they're a great resource for meeting other bloggers and discovering new sites. Also, take a look at the structure of other blogs; you can get some good ideas and inspiration from them.
3. Try to establish clear and realistic goals. What is the purpose of your blog, how long do you intend to do this for and how much time are you willing to put into it?
4. Blog about what you feel comfortable with, are passionate about and have a good knowledge of.
5. Have fun! This should be your happy place!
The Prose Machine: We started with one! But starting with five posts or so is a great way to launch a site. And, oh man, early on I was so impatient. We didn’t have a lot of followers to start with, but there was one post that went viral early on, and that helped!
You can definitely learn so much from what other bloggers do and what works. But like you said, you have to set clear and realistic goals for yourself, too. Your purpose for your blog and what you’re trying to get out of it is different for every person. And you definitely have to weigh how much time you really have to put into it!
As for what to blog about, that’s definitely how to go. Comfort level, knowledge, and passion are key ingredients to a great blogging recipe!
And, as I always say, what’s the point of doing something if you’re not having fun? ;)
Thanks bunches for being so kind to interview for us! Best wishes!
~ Phoenix <3
You can follow The Fashion Collector at any of these Social Media venues:
by Phoenix A. Desertsong, The Perpetual Prose Machine
"The Prose Machine Interviews” is a series where we interview AWESOME writers and share their insights about the online writing craft! Today, we’re SO EXCITED to interview Toi from Toi Time, a place for women to glean information! We’re really honored to be able to share a few of her insights here!
The Prose Machine: Hi Toi! Thanks so much for taking the time to interview with us! I really like your blog and hope that we can spread the positive vibes through your writing across the web!
Q1: Since taking up blogging as a hobby, how have you found it has affected you and others around you?
Toi: Since I've started blogging, I have found that I have been more consistent in myself as a person as a whole. Blogging holds me accountable not just in posts or how often I post but what I post about as well. I know those around me have been super supportive, even when I discuss topics that are personal and hard to talk about. I believe we all have something to share and we are connected in one or more ways!
The Prose Machine: That’s great! It’s awesome how writing really helps us grow as human beings, and we hope more people come to realize that!
Q2: In your blogging adventures, what have you found that you like to write about the most? Or, do you just enjoy writing about a variety of things?
Toi: I enjoy writing about a lot of topics, but mostly on self-care or ways in which we all can work on our inner self! I think we worry so much about our outside self and not enough on our mental and inner workings. I want to change that so we can deal with mental health in a positive light.
The Prose Machine: That’s a great focus!
Q3: If you were to pick only one thing that newer bloggers absolutely need to know to enjoy blogging success, what do you think that is?
Toi: I think that new bloggers have to know one key thing, never force a blog. The blogs you write from the heart is super important. Forced blogs don’t always come off well written. The more it flows the more it will flow to your readers!
The Prose Machine: Yes, forced writing never reads quite right. The best writing truly does come from the heart, and while that sounds a bit cliche, it’s true!
Check out Toi’s website, Toi Time!
You can also find Toi on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Google+
Don’t have time to write? Please, don’t feel bad. Sometimes, we just don’t. Other times, we have the time, but not the inspiration or the drive to actually set to work on writing something. Sometimes, we writers feel like we have to force something to regain lost momentum. Whether it’s major life events, family commitments, long work hours, or just general writing disinterest keeping us from writing, there’s some easy ways to pick up the slack from a lack of consistent writing.
Go Back to What’s Consistently Worked for You
As with anything you want to succeed at in life, consistency is very important with writing. Not only is consistency important in keeping your existing audience aware that you’re still alive, but it’s important for yourself, too. It’s important to find some balance in life, and more often that not, there are going to be things that disrupt that balance, especially when it comes to work, writing, and life in general.
But even more important than consistency is momentum. Whenever you find that something you’re doing is gaining traction, keep at it. Sometimes, though, life takes you away from being able to work at something consistently. But before you try and reinvent the wheel, go back to what worked for you before. You may have been onto something. Sometimes, you really can pick up where you left off.
Part of this is resharing old pieces that always did well for you in the past. Even if you can’t sit down and write something brand spankin’ new right now, there’s likely something you can dust off and get back into the public eye again. There’s a reason that what’s done well for you before has done well, unless it’s something super trendy that is well done and over with. But we writers always have our standbys, even if we have to sort of dig a bit to remember what they are. While you’re getting your writing mojo back, though, it’s good to remind people that we still exist and aren’t actually gone.
Tinker and Tweak Some Old Stuff
If you’re finding the old stuff just isn’t working for you, or you’re simply not happy with it anymore, you don’t have to necessarily start from scratch. Sometimes, all it takes is some tinkering of old writing pieces, whether they be blog posts or what not, and figure out what YOU don’t like about them. Don’t try and figure out why other people may or may not like something; go with your own gut. A lot of times, if you feel something is holding back a piece, and you feel that you can make it better, go ahead and tinker.
Whatever you do, though, don’t get stuck on a piece. Tweak something and move on to another thing. It’s way too easy to get caught up on one or two pieces that you FEEL should blow up and make you gazillions of bucks, but just won’t. It’s usually the pieces that you don’t expect to do well that end up being your best ones, after all. So, consistently go back and tinker and tweak with your old posts that just need some polishing up. In the long run, you’re helping yourself grow as a writer and keeping yourself from getting too out of sorts with your writing.
It’s also possible that in going over your older work, you realize something that you should’ve written about before, but never did. This happens to me all the time after a break. Like, duh, I should’ve written about this before. Or, I go somewhere without going ALL the way there. That’s why it’s important to constantly revisit old work. Just don’t get stuck on it, because I certainly have!
Just Write and Write and See What Happens
Sometimes, after the resharing and retooling of your existing work, you just aren’t getting back in a writing mode. That’s when you have to bite the bullet and just sit down and write. You may have to take a break from everything else for a half an hour or so and just spill out everything on your mind. It seems cliche to say that your seemingly random thoughts are a gold mine, but it’s actually true.
Even if you write down a bunch of what seems like nonsense, chances are there are one or two bits that may turn into something workable. As with anything, you just have to work at it to really get at something that will work. When you’re a bit rusty with writing, chances are your thoughts aren’t going to flow as well and things will come out awkwardly. That’s fine. Nobody’s perfect. The trick is to get back some momentum and turning the idea faucet on is often the best way to do that.
What if the Writing Just Won’t Come?
Forcing good writing simply doesn’t happen. If you force writing, it will read as forced. Just relax and let your thoughts flow. Sure, it may not be your best work, but if it’s readable and has some good ideas, then you’re onto something. If you really find the words just aren’t coming or the piece just isn’t going anywhere, set it aside. I’ve talked about taking a break from writing before and sometimes, you can’t just jump back in right away. But if you regain some of that lost momentum by reconnecting with your audience and making the best of what you’ve already done, the chances that you’ll return with success as a writer go up quite a bit!
Any other tips on regaining lost momentum with your writing? I’d love to hear them in the comments!
~ Phoenix <3
by Phoenix A. Desertsong, The Perpetual Prose Machine
"The Prose Machine Interviews” is a series where we interview AWESOME writers and share their insights about the online writing craft! Today, we’re SO EXCITED to interview Hello Bexa for the Prose Machine! She’s always so helpful and inspiring to bloggers old and new. As someone who really wants to bring more exposure to bloggers large and small, we’re really honored to be able to have some of her insights here!
Bexa: Thank you so much for sending me the questions and inviting me appear onto your blog. I really appreciate it!
The Prose Machine: Q1: How did you start blogging?
Bexa: I started my blog in October 2017 with a post sharing my study tips as an Open University student. I’d also recently got back into photography again and was looking for a place to share my photos. My second post was a collection of my holiday snaps from Zante, Greece and it just carried on from there. I’ve been loving it ever since!
The Prose Machine: You just never know what happens when you start a blog! You decide to post about one thing, then another, and then it just takes off! :D
Q2: What's the most important thing you've learned about yourself since you began blogging?
Bexa: I’ve learned that I am very determined when it comes to blogging. It takes so much time and energy and it can be hard work at times, but overall the joy of blogging outweighs the challenges. I’ve also learned that I get easily influenced when I read other blogs, I now have a never ending pile of books which I’ve purchased on impulse after reading a great review that I haven’t even looked at yet, he he. Oh, and I can never say no to pretty stationery, enamel pins and washi tape either!
The Prose Machine: Blogs are so powerful when it comes to being influencers! And to get there, it does take a great deal of determination. As you’ve shown, determination with blogging really does pay off, and you learn so many things! And yeah, you acquire a lot of things you never would’ve expected to before… Yay, pretty things! :-P
Q3: If there's one thing that new or up-and-coming bloggers absolutely need to know to enjoy blogging success, what do you think that is?
Bexa: My best advice is to get involved in the blogging community on Twitter, it’s so friendly and supportive. I joined twitter pretty soon after I set up my blog and it’s definitely made my blogging journey so far a positive experience. Also, reading and commenting on others blogs is a great way to connect with others and grow your following. Every Sunday I share an all day blog comment swap thread on my twitter (hellobexa) and it gives everyone the opportunity to meet new bloggers and support each other. Hope to see you there!
The Prose Machine: The best thing about twitter is that it gets conversations going.The blog comment swaps are great because they bring the conversations to the posts themselves! Blogging can get lonely sometimes, so it’s awesome to have a great, thoughtful community backing you up! It can get so grindy at times, so seeing real interest in your work is always a really helpful boost. We all have to build each other up!
Thanks so much for sharing with us, Bexa!
Bexa: Thank you again lovely! I really enjoyed answering your questions <3
Check out Bexa’s website here: www.hellobexa.com
And on Twitter: @hellobexa
You can also find Bexa on Pinterest and Instagram!
It has long been my particular fear of not being received well as a writer. No doubt, it’s the worst kind of fear that a prolific writer can have. As I found my own writing growing dense, I worried that I would get to a point where no one would understand what I had to say but me. Try as I might to be as blunt and concise as possible, that wasn’t always possible!
This fear found its seed when my English class in my senior year of high school was assigned Joseph Conrad’s classic, “Heart of Darkness” As I watched reactions to Joseph Conrad's work that we read and discussed in English class, I noticed that his very dense and wordy style turned off at least ninety percent of the class. At first, I wasn’t impressed with the writing myself. A particularly brilliant classmate of mine made the remark that he seems to write as if he believes he is more clever than he actually was.
Conrad is obviously very proud of his command over the English language. Indeed, it’s a fine gift, and one I would like to say I share. His stories may seem a little dull with far too much detail to bog the narrative down. Conrad also has a certain propensity to write so densely as to imply multiple meanings through his words can leave readers incredibly lost. But there’s absolutely brilliance to his work, as well. He brings up some profound ideas – things that make you think. They may be pretty obvious concepts for a smart mind, but a lot of people don’t think of such things.
Oh, how writing style can befuddle or please! It would all seem to be the audience. Willingness can be a factor too, however. There are some great concepts to be thought about presented in what seem to be dry, dull books (perhaps on the surface only!) The writer writes to tell the world something and unfortunately can be received the wrong way and sometimes sadly enough, not at all!
And, that became my fear. What if I write something I think is brilliant and everyone else thinks it’s crap? Apparently, I’m far from alone in that fear.
Like Joseph Conrad, I believe even I myself can get to the point of overstating things. I’m definitely one to overanalyze, trying to provide a reason for everything that happens, each particular thing that exists with a broad definition. More specifically, it would seem I purposely flaunt my grasp on the English language. But, I can assure you it is the only way I know how to fully relate to you what goes through my head!
While Conrad’s style can be bewildering and long-winded to me, it may have been the only way in which he was able to fully explain himself. I’ll say much of it is seemingly entirely extraneous, though. But ,one’s creative work is so often full of such extraneous detail. It’s just a fact. A creative mind will sometimes try to explore several avenues of thought at once, hoping they will intersect later on. Sometimes, becoming lost is just a sad eventuality in many cases.
What I’ve learned over the years, though, is for me, at least, writing is an exercise in self-discovery. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t write with others in mind, but the initial act of writing should be considered an act of Self-Discovery.
But when it comes to writing about my own life, though, I’d find it difficult to get much out of my own personal experience. Recording my daily happenings into written form is something that often leaves me bored. What significance can such trite occurrences hold for the future? Why waste time focusing on such trivia? Shouldn’t I continue to explore what my mind continues to analyze? It would seem a waste only to record events in their simplest forms. There are so many more interesting avenues of thought to explore...
Though I have had my stories, the “good ones” are so few and far between. There seems so little to gain from many of them. It seems writing about them would be unproductive. But as I’ve learned in recent years, self-reflection is actually a key part of becoming a better writer. You have to know yourself pretty damn well in order to write well. You have to draw on your own personal experiences, even when you’re writing fiction, in order to give the writing permanence. Otherwise, nothing seems to stick.
Self-Discovery is a long, arduous process. Little bits of insight come to us piecemeal after a long time. You may encounter an experience that affects you in a significant way, yet it is so difficult to explain. Sometimes you find yourself having to relate every detail of that journey you took. Not just within yourself, but over the water and land, and otherwise. Sometimes it takes a detailed reflection of your past to relate what’s that affected you in significant - or even profound - ways that makes you one step closer to fully understanding the workings of your soul. For me, that’s something Conrad did very well in “Heart of Darkness” and I think it’s a work that should continue to be appreciated forever.
~ Phoenix <3
In school, I was taught about the thesis statement. This is supposed to be what clearly and succinctly states the purpose of your writing piece. However, sometimes, a particular topic will come along which will make you find yourself without any sort of clear thesis statement. There are so many angles that you could choose to come at this particular topic with. So, trying to tie it all together with a single thesis statement seems criminal.
Many things in life simply are not so clear-cut and able to be well-presented. There are things that I think that simply are not easily labeled or given to being broken down into conveniently delineated outlines. But I know that this is a dilemma for many people.
Therefore, my thesis statement for this particular piece is this: I have no thesis statement. Sometimes, it’s OK not to have one. I’m simply writing what is coming to me. If it makes some sense to whomever reads it, wonderful. If not, at least it has been a somewhat useful exercise in writing. Sometimes, the thesis will emerge, but it won’t always. If you have an idea, just write and see where it goes. You can always work it into something clear and succinct later.
~ Phoenix <3
Every once in awhile, I find I need to make a rededication to writing. I'm sure many writers do this, but I find about every year, I'm making another one. I ask myself, why do I really write?
When I blog, I seek to provide life experience with actionable advice. But, what does that mean? Sometimes, I aim to be motivational, even when I’m not feeling that inspirational. Essentially, I want whoever reads what I write to relate to it somehow. It’s even better to take away something useful from it.
As I write this, the poet in me has been reawakening. This happens every so often. But this time, it’s with such force that I can’t ignore how it’s taking over me. I feel a very real need to merge my prose writing with my poetry. Lately, my poetry has been overtaking my prose writing. Is this a good thing?
While I don’t want to sound all sing-songy, I want my writing to read better. I get so caught up in long sentences at times. While I do better with this now, I can still greatly improve. I want my writing now to feel more like a free verse poem. Who wants to just read yet another article?
When you feel that your writing isn’t doing what it should, it’s time for a rededication. Ask yourself, what is it that brings you alive through the written word? If writing doesn’t bring you alive, then you’re doing it wrong.
So, what brings me alive through writing? It’s finding connections between things that didn’t seem to go together before. I find in my poetry that ideas that don’t seem to develop well in prose gain new life in verse.
I wrote many free verse poems before. I’ll still write them here and there as the words demand it. But as I’ve been minding meter and rhyme scheme more, the poetry has become more rich. And when you go to force rhymes, verses can go in directions you never expected. Sometimes, things go off the rails. But other times you make something cool. That’s what I live for in writing: to put words together in new ways that create new and cool ideas.
There’s a reason that reading and writing are the two major skills that everyone must learn and develop. You never stop getting better at reading or writing. That’s why it’s imperative to do both early and often, even if you don’t consider yourself a full time writer. It’s good for your mind.
Your mind is your greatest resource. Feed it. Nurture it.
I want to go back and revise some of my older work. No, I need to go back and reimagine a lot of my old work. The ideas within seem trapped in between the words. Will I actually do this, or will I just press forward? I’ll surely do a little of both.
Have you ever felt that way? You write and write, but what you want to really say never really comes? I feel that way a lot. I used to seem to care more about the words themselves than what they actually say together in concert.
I know I’ve written plenty that resonates with others. But many times, I feel I come up short. That’s a writer’s life: always trying to find a better way to say something. At times, you’re saying pretty much the same thing, but in a thousand different ways. This just happens.
None of us are ever going to be perfect. But in the end, it’s all about your effort. The more you put into something, both when you’re at your best and at your worst, the more you’ll get out of it.
Writing is a strange animal. Some of us can only do it a few minutes at a time. Others pour our entire lives into it. But it’s just getting to do it that matters. The more time you can put into it the better, but just getting started and sticking with it actually matters more.
And I’ve found that reading more than writing is actually fine. It’s perfectly OK to take in more ideas than you put out. That’s actually been better for me. Otherwise, I find the writing well begins to go dry.
But even as I focus more on my poetry now, some things still read better in prose. So, the prose machine will never die. I'll keep trying to give actionable advice from my life experience. I feel like that's something a great writer must do.
So, my advice for you today: when you’re feeling stuck or down, it’s good to rededicate yourself to writing, or whatever else it is you love to do. Find what about it that brings you alive. And if you can't, you should be doing something new.
And just because someone’s done something before, doesn’t mean you can’t do it better.
~ Phoenix <3
I may never earn a penny, but what do I care? These words are what they are. I have plenty to spare. Who may mock my rhymes? It doesn’t matter to me. These are most uncertain times, but the words must still fly free!
These are the ramblings of a perpetual prose machine, which sometimes turn to rhyme. It's mostly free verse, but it becomes lyrical from time to time. I'm born to create. Really, we all are. So let's just do that, and make it sound pretty.
Where do I go from here? Nowhere perhaps, but why does that matter? The journey on which the words will take us; it's magical and strange. It could make us happier or make us sadder. But, whatever we may feel, we can’t turn back.
These words are what they are. And, yes, I have too many to spare!
~ Phoenix <3
Have you ever found yourself thinking: wow, I really should go back and edit some of my old stuff! I do this a lot. There's nothing wrong with that. In fact, sometimes revisiting old posts and rewriting them can be good for a great many reasons. If the post wasn't doing anything for you, it's possible to revive it to be a post that you're actually happy with.
I could say that I rewrite posts in order to get the search engines to look at my older work again. There's always some new way I can reword something or restructure the post for Search Engine Optimization purposes. But actually, the reason that I revisit and edit old posts is a much simpler reason: I'm just not happy with how it is.
Writing should be a living, breathing thing. It's perfectly OK to want to breathe new life into an old blog post, or page, or even your author bio. The last thing you want is to read something and feel like it simply isn't doing what it should. Chances are, if you feel that way, then others who read it may feel the same.
Actually, the posts that I always want to look over the most are those that actually do well. Those are the ones that I tend to read over and over the most. There is always this nagging feeling at the back of my mind that I could improve it somehow, whether it's a simple word choice here and there, or if the overall mood of the piece just doesn't feel right, or some other feeling I get that I can't readily explain.
I tend to just leave the popular posts alone, though. They are usually "good enough" for me, but lately, I just want to go back and bring a lot of posts closer to "perfection." Since I write primarily evergreen content, I want to keep every post that I have fresh and relevant. And I have more than a few that no longer are quite relevant, which to me, is a problem.
How do you feel about editing old stuff? Do you just like to leave it alone and revisit any past ideas or topics in a brand new post? Or are you one, like me, who's always tweaking?
I'd love to hear some thoughts on this. Until next time, lovelies!
~ Phoenix <3
You know what has always been tough for me as a writer? Letting words go.
Seriously, I'm a packrat of words. And I don't mean in books. I have volumes and volumes of digital journals, half-baked ideas, story drafts, unpublished articles... lots of writing stuff that may never see the light of day. And that's fine.
Recently, I decided to go back and clear out a huge portion of those words. Why? Because it just had to go.
As I try and minimalize the clutter in other aspects of my life, it disturbed me that I had so many words that really served no purpose anymore. They are simply taking up space. That's not to say I delete everything. There are some things that are harmless and sentimental. But if I don't have a use for it, why do I have it?
I've deleted hundreds of documents in my archive purge, plus even more in duplicate files that happen from switching computers over the years. Is this a necessary exercise? It is for me. It's a rediscovery of my past as a writer. And there are some good things, many of which will be published somewhere at a later date. But the clutter had to go in order to discover the "good stuff."
Also, the other major thing I've done is to trim excess out of the good stuff, rambles and extra words and run-on sentences that plagued my earlier writing. Still today, I aim to be more concise. Big ideas, small words – I suppose that's what I'm aiming for.
But I hate editing. It's a necessary evil, though, and I have a constant urge to express the thoughts going through my head. Why? I guess that's a curse for whoever takes up writing as her first love (or was it Star Trek?)
Do you ever find yourself having trouble trimming back the words to get at the pith of what you are really trying to say? Believe me, it gets easier with practice. But not that much easier.
~ Phoenix <3
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Often known by her nickname "Ami," Ms. Phoenix Amelia Desertsong has written for many online publications, often under pen names.