Tag Archives: Blogging

Un-Follow Your Heart: When Our Blogs Lose Readers

Got my ducks in a row?

Got my ducks in a row?

I know I shouldn’t focus so much on the numbers, but The Intrinsic Writer’s “following” has been rather stagnant for the past two or three weeks. Right now, I’m stuck on number 264, which is both low and high depending on who you are, and where you’re at on the blogger’s assembly line.

Last week my number was 266. Over the weekend it dropped to 263. Then yesterday, it jumped up a notch to 265. When I checked this morning, I saw that it had sadly fell to 264.

Sigh.

Let me tell you this. The more followers I lose, the stupider my latest post seems. On Facebook, the “un-friending” tactic is the ultimate social media bitch slap. On Twitter, it’s a little less severe, since avid Tweeters tend to have followings in the ten-thousands.  But on our personal blogs, the occasional “un-follow” feels a little more, well, personal.

I’m always two steps ahead with my blogging, often pondering ideas days before they are written. This alone takes vast amounts of mental energy. Then, when I compose a post, I don’t just write off the whim. Any of my loyal supporters (you know who you are and you’re wonderful) knows I’m no willy-nilly blogger. I take time to craft my pieces. I put thought into them. I aspire to spread knowledge and raise awareness.

So when someone dumps me, kicks me to the curb, gives me the shaft…it hurts.

And as a result, the slippery slope of toxic mental activity begins to roll: No one likes me, I’m not appealing enough, My writing is no good, I’ll never be published, He or she is interesting, but I’m not.

And so on…

Do I need to take the proverbial “chill pill”? Most likely, yes. After all, blogging is not about racking up the numbers; it’s about making connections with others. I have a group of blogging friends who have helped me in valuable ways, and in the long run that’s all that should matter. And it does. And I know that.

But I’m human and I forget sometimes. And no matter how you slice it, rejection simply sucks. Furthermore, I’m curious. What makes someone “un-follow” another writer’s blog?

Ducks walking Joses Tirtabudi → in Birds

Some reasons to possibly consider:

1. Posts too much

2. Posts too little or sporadically

3. No particular reason, just cutting from the list to make this experience less overwhelming.

4. Just not interesting enough

 Sound familiar?

In response to # 1: I don’t post too much. I’m not blowing up anyone’s inbox…I don’t think. At the very most I’ll post three times a week.

In response to # 2: I don’t post too little either. Again…three times a week. I’m consistent, yet not obsessive.

In response #3: Not much I can do about that.

In response # 4: My worst nightmare realized.

But hey that’s life, right? No matter what I do there will always be some “non-fans.” I’m a teacher, I know. You can be as fair and engaging and helpful as you can, but some students just will not take to your style.

Focus on the ones that do…in teaching, writing, and in any endeavor.

While I’m at it I’ll tell you what makes me ‘un-follow’ someone’s blog. I’ve only done it maybe three times at most. We are all striving to get our voices heard and we are all struggling with the truth that getting people to give a !@#$ about what you have to say is a very difficult enterprise. This is why I typically don’t kick people off my list. I know how it feels.

However, I draw the line at these two notions:

1. Not following the standard blogging “etiquette.” If I reach out to you, leave comments, make it known that I now subscribe to your site, and I hear zilch from you, yet meanwhile you’re posting away and responding to other bloggers, then likely, yes, I will set you free. No hard feelings. There’s just obviously no “blogger chemistry” there.

2. You leave a nasty, unprecedented, comment to one of my posts. I’m not talking about simple disagreement; that’s good, in fact, that needs to happen sometimes to keep the conversation going. But a rude, uncalled for comment or unrelated rant will give me plenty of incentive to give you the boot.

I’ll reiterate…it really isn’t about numbers. Unfortunately though, the brain recognizes numbers. We’ve been trained since a very early age to assign meaning to said numbers. Therefore it’s only natural that we bloggers become “follower counters.”

Still, it’s nice to recognize the true, underlying purpose in this enterprise and that is to make friends, to show support, and spread ideas.

I am still curious though…what makes you “un-follow” a fellow blogger?

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Filed under Why We Write, Writing Process

How often should we be writing?

I believe that this is something writers often ponder. I’ve read interviews of prominent authors, attended panel discussions, participated in writing groups, taken writing courses, etc. and usually at some point in the discussion, this question will pop up like a shiny, red pimple on the morning of the prom. The truth is, various writers will give various answers. Some well-established storytellers will tell you to write everyday for hours at a time. Clearly we don’t all have this luxury–I sure don’t, but I’m working on it! Here’s my personal opinion on this widely debated writer’s conundrum.

On average, I write five to eight hours a week. When I say “write,” generally what I am referring to is my novel-in-progress or one of my many, many underdeveloped short stories. For the most part, I don’t include writing this blog or engaging in other forms of social networking as part of my writing time. I am solely commenting on my ‘work,’ or in other words, the pieces I hope-upon-hope, wish-upon-wish will one day be in print.

I teach both day and evening courses, and as a result, certain days of the week are unavailable for writing. The benefit of this is that on other days, I have a light course load, which leaves plenty of (non-excusable) hours to enter the thriving world of my own creation. In other words, it is necessary that I both find and make time to be the scribe I so desire to be. On Tuesdays, I’ll grab an hour after work. Thursdays I finish teaching at 3 pm, hence I can fit in two hours or more. This quarter, I am off on Fridays, so I take at least a three hour chunk to devote to the art. Then there are the weekends, which depending on my level of ‘open availability,’ I either have two extra Fridays, or, sadly, a Monday or Wednesday (days in which writing is not possible).

Of course when the quarter changes I’ll have to formulate a new plan, but until then this is what I work with. Are there some weeks when I write only three hours? Of course; life’s ebb is ever changing, but the key truly is persistence. If I miss a day, I’ll find another where I can make up for it. But regardless of the unpredictability of time, I’ve been working with this (albeit inconsistent) schedule since August 2010. The truth is, though I am still in the midst of perfecting it all, I really have made considerable progress.

I think the key is this: Look for time, make time, and utilize time. You know your schedule better than anyone else. But if you decide to write, you need to sit down and do it. Trust me, in this enterprise, it truly is the only way.

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Filed under The Writing Life, Why We Write, Writing Fears, Writing Process, Writing Tips