Open Book Blog Hop: How and Why I Started Blogging

This post is in response to the prompt provided by the Open Book Blog Hop. Today’s topic is: How’d You Start Your Business, Blog, Or Freelance Career?

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How’d I start my blog?

With fear and trembling. Seriously, it was a challenge to get started but super rewarding once I did. But, in case you want details, I invite you to read on. Then, please me leave a message with your thoughts, or about your own blogging experience.

The Beginning:

I’ve been blogging for a few years, I’d say roughly four, not including last year’s sabbatical. The journey began back when I decided to get serious about writing. I wanted to share my stories with people but didn’t have the means to do it. A blog seemed like a good idea but I was just starting out. I had no major contacts, no experience, had never managed anything like a blog before. And, who cared enough about me and my writing to read my posts, anyway? The whole thing seemed scary and unattainable. That said, the need to try, as well as to take charge of the problem, won out.

So, I had my mission. But how and where to begin?

At the time, I was active on Google+ where I had met many supportive people at various stages in their own writing pursuits. One thing I noticed about most of the successful ones was that they had writing blogs. This made sense, since the marketing wisdom at the time urged writers to develop strong writing platforms. This usually included an active blog. As for me, I was writing stories at an incredible pace, and had become a moderator of two writing communities. Also, I had published my first book, The Purple Morrow. After about a year, I finally felt I had enough experience to take the plunge.

Still, the idea scared me. I mean, nothing is worse than being excited about a piece when no one else is. Worse, what if no one notices my articles or comments on them? In the end, though, I put all that negative thinking aside and got to work.

The first attempt was on Blogspot. The benefit was that it was connected to G+ so, right away, it gained attention and feedback. I named it Purple Pebbles…not sure why anymore, except that purple is my favorite color. I posted stories, poems, and short essays about my writing experience, and was genuinely surprised at the positive response. The blog enabled me to meet and engage many new G+ people, and easily follow and interact with current contacts. Lastly, it boosted my confidence.

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The Middle:

Then came the move to WordPress. People had told me that WordPress was the way to go if I wanted to reach even more people. They also argued that the platform itself was better. So, after worrying about using a new tool and whether or not people would follow me, I made the switch. I named it Dropped Pebbles in reference to the idea that every author has a unique voice, and our words resonate beyond the written page. Then things really took off. Being able to share posts via multiple social media platforms at once, including the vast WordPress community, opened new doors. Then followed blogging awards, requests to guest blog or to contribute to e-magazines, blogging about my writing ups and downs, book reviews, and invited guests. I particularly enjoyed hosting author features and author interviews. I knew how hard it was to get books in front of potential readers, so it was important to me to help in any way I could.

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Looking back, the whole thing feels like a blur. After being away for over a year, I am still surprised at the whole experience. Surprised and grateful. People are busier these days more than ever, so the fact that they took time to read, comment on, and share my blog still means a lot.

Not Quite the End:

Dropped Pebbles was closed for a while, but I decided to test the waters again. When I started blogging, my original goal was to establish myself as a serious writer, as well as to use my experiences to help other hopefuls navigate the pitfalls that plague our Great Writing Adventure. This time around, my goals are a little more humble. I’m coming back to the game somewhat out of practice but with more realistic expectations about said adventure.

Still, I’m here now, seeing things with fresh eyes and a different point of view.

*grins* But more on that another time.



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The Real, REAL Writer’s Life

Picture provided by livinggreenmag.com

Picture provided by livinggreenmag.com

The writer’s life is a topic I’ve been mulling for the last little while. There were actually times I was afraid to ‘go there’ for fear of writing something that would turn out to be a ‘downer’. Most people like to read uplifting, encouraging posts, right? But for those of you who know me, my blog, or my writing, I like to be as real as I can and that includes the reality of the ups and down of walking the writer’s road. So, throwing caution to the wind, let’s get started with a something I’m calling the Get Your Damn Head on Straight and See Things the Way They Really Are Phases—ok, not really but the title made me laugh. 🙂

The High:

You’re writing like mad. Joining every social media group known to man, reading ‘how-to’ article after article, joining writing support groups, submitting to contests, submitting to magazines—you’re pumped, excited and doing everything just right. Yes! Maybe you find success in a contest or a magazine likes a story and publishes it, your social media network is splitting at the seams. Finally! After all the daydreaming about ‘making it’ you’re on your way!

The Plateau:

Things are still going well. Your energy is holding, you’re coasting along, still doing all the right things. But…the doors are not opening as fast as you’d like for all the effort you’ve put in, and you begin to notice that other aspects of your life are suffering because of it. A little voice starts to whisper in your ear: ‘Is this really going to work? Is it worth the sacrifice? What more do I have to give up in order to gain success?’

The Bummer:

You are tired. No, darn it, you’re worn out. You’ve exhausted your bag of magic tricks and nothing seems to be gaining the success you hoped for. Or, you realize that it will take a lot more time, energy and money than you had planned to gain it. Through the cracks in your Picture of Ultimate Writing Success, your Life continues to force its way in, muddying it up…and you finally accept that you don’t have the time, energy or money you need, anyway.

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 What happens to the Dream then?

This hellish place of self-evaluation and doubt is one of the most important places a writer can come to, IMO. It’s where we find out what drives us and what we are made of. We’re finally seeing things clearly: the shiny veneer is shredded away and we are staring at the horrible picture of our Dreams at the mercy of the Black Hole ready to consume it. What do you do?

Darned if I know! But I’m in the Bummer Phase. Those who have read my past posts have followed me through the highs, the challenges, the successes as well as the dips in motivation and drive. The writer’s life is a sick a roller-coaster! But I’ve gained so many important lessons throughout it all and that’s really the point of sharing these posts; I hope to encourage others out there who are also wading through the valley of despair, of frustration, or whatever you want to call it.

There are few direct roads to success when it comes to writing. There are some fabulous stories out there, for sure, but for the most part, many great writers never make it past their blogs, reading groups or family and friends circles. That’s not to depress you, but to show how committed and focused and driven you have to be to persevere through the hard times.

Being a writer can also mess with our real lives. Not only can doubt, insecurity, and fear of failure affect our success but even good things, like our families or jobs can potentially interfere. Last week, for example, I stopped to look at my family, and I realized that more than being a great and famous writer, I wanted to be a great mother. I realized I liked my job and that the thought of scavenging for freelance writing jobs or wallowing my days on LinkedIn and Twitter made me want to bash my head against the wall. I also realized that no matter how much I put in, it might not always produce equal or better results—worse, that there was always someone else out there more driven and focused than I am, so where would that leave me?

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Well, I asked the question so here are a couple of tips to help deal with this Bummer Phase:

Redefining success: By setting smaller, achievable goals and building your confidence and success over time, this could help bolster you in the moments when that ultimate goal seems so out of reach.

Find pleasure and meaning in the things that are already going right: I posted an author interview today and the response was great. Hearing the positive feedback from the interviewee and knowing that she was happy with it, seeing the enthusiasm it generated in other readers was a massive encouragement. It also reminded me that being a writer isn’t only about me—helping others is as important and as it is rewarding. Sometimes we have to know how to move back and forth between goals while enjoying just being ‘in the moment.’

I spent these last few weeks asking myself hard questions. What do I really want out of this? Why do I write? How do I measure success? How much can I give to maintain balance in my life and still feel I’m working towards my goal? In order to answer them I might have to rearrange my priorities or even let some things go. But I think these are all important questions we all have to consider—and answer–if we want to maintain a healthy attitude as we strive for success .

How about you? Any have experiences to share? Have you been in the Bummer Phase before and how did you climb out? I’d love to hear from you!

Upcoming…

One of the reasons I wanted to move to WordPress was to be able to feature other authors and even their works on my blog. I have three great author interviews lined up so stay tuned! Details will follow shortly.

If you are interested in participating, drop me a line!