The First Signs of Spring…

It’s got warmer all of a sudden, don’t you think?

And, in my garden, for the last two days, we’ve heard the first sounds of spring: the POP, POP, ARRRGGH! of this season’s first games of table tennis.

OH has got golfer’s elbow (I’m saying nothing), so has got to play left-handed and I’m thrashing him in every game. Am enjoying it while it lasts!

Flash Fiction Competition

If flash fiction (in this case, up to 300 words) is your thing, then take a look at the Worcestershire Litfest’s Flash Fiction Competition. You’ve got until 27th April to get your entries in and it’s £10 for 3 entries or £4 each if you want to send one or two (maximum of 3 entries per person).

Why Blog?

This blog and little old me got a mention in an article by Simon Whaley in this month’s Writing magazine, as a result of which, I’ve got a new follower, Georgie, who lives on a yacht, sailing around the Greek islands (it’s a tough job, and all that…) and blogs here.

She’s asked me about blogging (‘Is it a legitimate form of writing?’) and admits to spending a lot of time either reading other people’s blogs or writing her own, to the extent that blogging is ‘taking over’ her day (and, I suspect, stopping her writing more travel articles, with which she seems to be having some success!).

I’ve come over all ‘agony aunt’ and here is my advice to Georgie and to anyone else finding themselves in the same boat… (if you’ll excuse the pun)

1. It’s all too easy to spend hours writing blog posts. When I first started my blog, I would sometimes write 3 blog posts a week! Eek! How did I manage that? Now I try to blog once a week (but sometimes even that slips). Most blog followers don’t expect a post every few days but if you leave it much longer than a fortnight between posts, they might start to lose interest.

2. Reading other people’s blogs and commenting also takes time. I’d say, limit yourself to, say 10 blogs that you really want to follow and allow yourself to read them once a week – and write a comment – spending no more than an hour or two and then, that’s it – no more dipping in! Most people don’t blog more than once a week, so you won’t be missing anything.

But it’s good to comment! Not least, because it’s encouraging for the bloggger, to have some response to his/her posts. If no-one interacts, there’s actually not much point in blogging. I know lots of people read blogs and never comment, even if they’ve enjoyed what they’ve read and that’s a bit like having a great meal and not leaving a tip. (Just saying…)

3. At the end of the day, unless you’re one of those lucky/talented people whose blogs get turned into books, like Judith O’Reilly (Wife in the North) or Julie Powell, whose blog about trying to cook every recipe in Julia Child’s cookbook, became the book ‘Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen’ and then a blockbuster film (‘Julie & Julia’), then your blog is mostly for your own edification and pleasure, so you need to monitor how much time you give it.

Some might argue that it’s a ‘showcase’ for your writing and that if you eventually publish a book, then you already have something of a writer’s platform but really..? Really, most blogs are just a bit of fun.

You can write and publish anything on a blog, which is part of the enjoyment, of course but there’s no selection process, no editor to impress, no money (mostly) to be earned. Which is probably why most blogs don’t last very long…!

So, blog away, by all means and enjoy the process. But think carefully about whether you want to spend most of your valuable time on the blog, or whether it should really take second place to other writing projects….

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27 Responses to The First Signs of Spring…

  1. I think that was wise advice to Georgie. I have my own little rule I try to follow: keep the blog posts short so I don’t spend hours and hours on them, and also so the reader will be more likely to read them instead of just scan over them.

    • Helen Yendall says:

      Yes, too long and the reader will probably not bother to read the whole thing (we’re all so busy!) but too short and they might think ‘and the point of that was…?’ You can usually tell if you’ve got it right by the number of comments. At least, that’s how I gauge it.

  2. Wendy Clarke says:

    As you know, Helen (as you were one of my first followers and have always been incredibly loyal to it) I have had my blog for for six years now. When I first started, I felt as if I was writing just for myself, and wondered why I was doing it, but over the years it’s grown to several hundred followers/subscribers and around six thousand page views a month. I, too, used to write several times a week (how did we do it!) but now limit posts to once a week or sometimes once a fortnight. I agree that interaction is important but realise it will depend on the subject of the post – I might have three comments or fifty. What blogging has done is made me lots of writing friends and I’ve gone on to meet many of the authors who have guested on my blog in real life. As for my own reading, only a handful of those blogs I follow are now still in existence. I have a few I always comment on (your lovely one being one of them) but don’t actively seek them out now due to time constraints. Most of my interaction is done on FB or Twitter. I still enjoy blogging but would stop the moment I didn’t. Getting the right balance is the most important thing. Hopefully we’ll both continue for a long time to come 😀. Phew! That was long!

    • Helen Yendall says:

      You’re absolutely right Wendy, about the ‘friends’ aspect of blogging (I almost mentioned that in my original post but thought it was getting a bit long!). I, too, feel as though I’ve made friends through blogging. Even if I haven’t met the individuals, I feel as though I know them through their blogs and/or the comments we exchange (you, for example! And I’m sure we’ll meet at a writing event or something in the end!). I have actually met a couple of people though, as a direct result of the blog and it’s a really nice way of meeting people with similar interests and outlooks! So yes, that’s definitely another benefit of blogging but, as you say, it takes time. I think it takes years to build a blog with a good following – you need to be patient and resilient, as with most aspects of writing!

  3. Nothing particular to say, but I’m still here. Perhaps that says something.

  4. GeorgieMoon says:

    Thank you so much for the mention! I can now see how reading others’ blogs gives you inspiration for more writing. I’ve signed up for the April A to Z blogging challenge, so that will keep me busy for a while……

    • Helen Yendall says:

      Good luck with it Georgie! I did something similar on the blog a while back and I know it’s fun!

  5. Sara Kellow says:

    Thanks for the insights into blogging, especially about commenting. I rarely comment either because no one else has and it feels like drawing undue attention to myself, or because by the time I read a blog, there are so many comments already so it seems unnecessary. I wondered, is there an optimum number of comments from your point of view?

    • Helen Yendall says:

      Thanks Sara. I don’t think you can ever have too many comments, to be honest! But as Wendy says in her comment, it very much depends on the subject matter. Sometimes I write things that get no comments at all and I think ‘Oh, well that was obviously a bit dull/off topic’! But don’t worry about not commenting, I don’t have a naughty list or anything like that. It’s up to me to produce posts that interest and engage you enough that you want to make a comment…!

  6. I fail to comment as often as I ought, despite enjoying reading others’ blogs. I shall accept your (ever so gentle) reprimand and try to do so in future.

    • Helen Yendall says:

      Beatrice – don’t worry about not commenting (see my reply to Sara above)! I don’t want you to feel forced to comment but if something occurs to you, or you have a question, or whatever, then please do. It’s always lovely to hear from someone in a comment and I do always try to reply!

  7. Ninette90 says:

    I love blogging and although I don’t have that many followers I think they’re pretty loyal. I think perhaps, my problem is that my blog doesn’t have a theme. It used to have one, because I lived in Italy and blogged all about that. Now my blogs are a bit random. Your blog is good because it’s about writing (ha ha…obvs) and you encourage comments. I’ve tried to encourage comments but a lot of the time people put the comment on Facebook where I’ve promoted it and they don’t comment on the blog. I do think that blogging is definitely ‘writing’ and sometimes if I feel down because I haven’t written a good story, poem or whatever I blog about something and that makes me feel better. I count it as writing anyway. That’s enough for today…I can’t really count this as writing! 🙂

    • GeorgieMoon says:

      Hi Ninette, I have the same problems. My blog doesn’t have a theme either, but I wish it did. I write about Sailing, Greece, the Isle of Wight, baking cakes, country walks, lots of random stuff, and take part in lots of challenges. I post a link on my Facebook page and people comment there, not on the actual blog post! Blogging makes me feel better too! I’m off to check out your blog now……

    • Helen Yendall says:

      It’s definitely writing, Ninette! And it certainly exercises the writing muscle. Like you, if I’m feeling a bit staid and stuck with my writing, a blog post can often reinvigorate me and get me back in the groove!

  8. Alex Gazzola says:

    I would advise all writers to blog, even if it’s infrequently. Some I think fear that they’ll ‘waste’ their best material on their blog (which could have potential to turn into a saleable article, say), but if there’s something bigger in it, it’ll become apparent as you draft it, and even if you publish and you subsequently realise it has greater potential — there’s always the opportunity to turn it into an article at a later date. You’re not ‘using up’ your ideas by blogging. You’re generating more — and comments from followers can help generate further blogs, further ideas …

    • Helen Yendall says:

      Good point, Alex. A couple of times (actually, probably more than that!) I’ve written blog posts and thought ‘Hmm, this could have been an article!’ And I suppose what you’re saying is, they still could! Time to go back through some old posts and start pitching ideas. Thanks for that!

  9. Patsy says:

    I’ve been thinking about the time I spend on blogging and wondering whether it’s worth my while continuing. I quite enjoy it and it’s nice to be in contact with other writers … but as you say it takes up a lot of time. Plus if there are few comments it’s very discouraging. I’d probably be much better off putting the time and energy into writing something I can sell.

    • Helen Yendall says:

      I know what you mean, Patsy but if you read Alex’s comment, above yours, you might change your mind…!

  10. I blog most days and have made several friends through my blog. I blog about a number of related topics and it’s a great way of getting the word out about books I like, environmental campaigns I think are important etc.

  11. Penny A says:

    Hello Helen! (Just to say – have been reading your blog… and that although this is a wonderful time of year, Spring rains have unfortunately sprung a leak in my Futility Room…)

    • I love that, ‘Futility Room’! Yes, it very wet isn’t it? We’ve just been into Stratford on Avon and the river looks like it’s about to burst its banks. Apparently some people have already been evacuated to a nearby hotel!

  12. juliathorley says:

    Mr T hasn’t had golfer’s elbow yet this season, but he did reach for the aloe vera the other night with gardener’s pecs!

  13. Kate Hogan says:

    Well, I’m something of a reclusive writer, but love to check in on other people’s blogs as it makes me feel part of a community. I’m a little in awe of you all with your good ideas, and dedication to engaging with the rest of us writers. Well done! Kate Hogan

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