Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie

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9 Traits of a ‘Real’ Blogger Part 2 of 2

“If you’re a writer, you’re never retired by someone else.  You not only keep going, but the very art of writing helps keep you alive.”

– Sol Stein

Picking up from our last discussion (click here for a quick review), we’re talking about what it takes to be a “real” blogger or writer. (I’m using “writer” and blogger” interchangeably.)

9 select traits of a real writer/blogger include:

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5 Signs That You’re a ‘Real’ Blogger – Part 1 of 2

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“Writing is like hunting. There are brutally cold afternoons with nothing in sight, only the wind and your breaking heart. Then the moment you bag something big… you think, This one is a keeper. This is a trophy brought back from the future realm, the kingdom of perpetual glistening night where we know ourselves absolutely. This one goes on the wall.”

– Kate Braverman, American novelist, short story writer

Solitude and Single-Mindedness

Blogging and writing are hard work. Think hauling a 40,000-lb. logging truck with your teeth. Scaling Mount Everest. Or childbirth. Laboring to bring forth a full-formed, intelligible post with value-added for your readers is a creative endeavor unlike any other.

Because of the amount of blood, sweat, tears and patience required to write and blog well, few undertake it for the long run.

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3 Blogging Truths Nobody Tells You

Red And Blue Parrot · Free Stock Photo

Ever wish someone had told you how to get from Point A to Point B as a blogger? What to do and what to avoid? What works and what’s a waste of time?

I wish someone had told me some things when I first started blogging – shortly after the discovery of fire. After many, many fits and starts and enough mistakes and mis-steps to choke a camel, I’ve learned some essential blogging truths. Here are three:

Truth #1

Sometimes you don’t feel like writing. I can spend a whole afternoon puttering around doing absolutely nothing. Just to avoid writing. (This never lasts. I just threw it in to see if you’re paying attention.)

But sometimes the mere notion of sitting down and banging out something brilliant is as appealing as a slug. Like: I haven’t even started writing yet, and I’m already exhausted. 

Sometimes writing is as attractive as a root canal sans Novocain. Or my mother in law. (Wait. Did I say that out loud?)

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The #1 Reason No One is Reading Your Blog & What To Do About It

Are you cranking out luminescent strokes of blogging brilliance only to have no one notice? Tired of blogging your fingers off only to have your posts disappear into a black hole?

Do you feel like:

  • Why bother?
  • Is this blogging thing really worth it?
  • What’s the point in trying so hard if no one ever reads or reacts to my content?
  • Maybe it’s time to throw in the towel.

Here’s Help

Don’t toss that towel. Cuz help is on the way.

In this brief video, Cristian Mihai of The Art of the Blogging explains why no one is reading your blog and what you can do about it. Hint: It comes down to two words. Do you know what they are?

Cristian explains here. Give it six-ish minutes. You’ll learn a lot. I did.



Related: How to Stop Being “The Invisible Blogger”

What did you learn? How will you apply Christian’s insights today?


How Spinach Can Make You A Better Blogger

Ever come back from lunch with a piece of spinach stuck between your teeth? You didn’t know anything about it. For hours. Just greeted everyone with your dental greenery. Because : 1) You didn’t check, or 2) No one said anything.

That can happen in the blogging world, too. Example? This recent conversation between Mom and Kimber the Wonder Dog:

Kimber: Mom! Mom! You gotta optimize us!

Mom: Don’t bother me now, Kimmi. I’m writing.

Kimber: Mom! Mom! You gottta find a responsive theme and layout for our blog so we’re mobile friendly!

Mom: Kimmi. Can you give it a rest already?

Kimber: Mom! Mom…!

Kimber Continues:

It’s tough being brilliant all the time. But somebody’s gotta do it.

Well, I try to go easy on Mom. After all, she still remembers typewriters and carbon paper. White-out and 8-track cassettes. (I’m pretty sure she was on a first name basis with that Abe Lincoln guy. Don’t tell anyone, okay?)

As I was saying, I try to go easy on Mom. About the time she got the hang of desk top computers, they came out with those mobile device doo-hickeys. Then she had to figure those out, too.

So I wasn’t going to push her too hard on optimizing her site for mobile. Or switching to a responsive theme for the blog. Every time I brought it up, Mom said:


Go lie down, Kimber. There’s a good girl.”

So annoying.


Then Mom had a Eureka! Moment. (About time.) “Kim,” says Mom. “I’ve been doing this blog thing all wrong!”


That was the day Mom finally figured out that her blog had to be “mobile friendly.” It wasn’t. So she made some changes.

Can you see? Can you see? Can you tell the difference? Huh? Huh? Huh?

If she’d only listened to me sooner. But you know how moms are.

Anyway, this is what one of us learned:

  1. Writing for the internet is different than writing for print
  2. A good print writer does not necessarily a good blogger make
  3. Desktop computers aren’t the primary way most people access the internet anymore. They’re using mobile devices more and more. So make sure your blog is optimized for mobile. If you don’t, you’re likely to get left in the dust.

Remember the spinach-in-the-teeth thing? Mom also learned that some of the Biggest Blogging Mistakes Ever include:

  • Thinking you know it all
  • Being unwilling to change or adapt for new platforms and audiences
  • Assuming that providing brilliant content alone will catapult you into the blogger “A List”

The truth is, reading on-line and reading print are two different critters. They require two different approaches. Mom used to think that because she’s a multi-published author, she could easily turn and pivot into blogging.


A Whole New Approach

She had to learn a whole new approach for a whole new platform, including:

  • Brief, pithy sentences
  • Eye-catching graphics
  • Bullet points
  • Short paragraphs
  • Make sure your blog is Mobile Friendly. (Find out how to do that here.)

Mom didn’t know about that last one until someone finally told her. Like getting rid of that pesky bit of spinach stuck between your teeth, sometimes you don’t know what’s wrong until someone points it out. So hurray for spinach!

Go lie down, Mom. There’s a good girl.

One last thing. What’s a “typewriter”? (Askin’ for a friend.)





Is This Blogging Thing Going to Work?

Image result for blogging


Are you a newbie blogger struggling to find your voice? Have you been blogging for awhile and are discouraged? Wondering if it’s worth the effort?


Have you asked yourself:

  • Am I wasting my time?
  • Does anybody care?
  • Is anyone listening?
  • How come I don’t have more readers?
  • Do I have what it takes to be a “successful blogger”? (Whatever that means.)
  • Is this going to work?


These questions aren’t about education level or computer skills. Prior knowledge or experience or anything like that.


Nope. If someone’s asking if they have what it takes to be a “successful blogger,” what they’re really asking is:

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How to Find Your Writing Voice

Have you run out of blogging steam? Feel like you’re talking to nobody? Struggling to find your writing voice?


Back when I was young and foolish – about 20 minutes ago – I thought the best way to vaunt into the exclusive echelons of “serious writer/blogger” status was to mimic The Best. So I tried sounding like John Steinbeck, Anton Chekov, Charles M. Schulz and company. (Well, okay. Maybe not Chekov.)


But every time I sat down to write I’d think, “How would Hemingway or Jane Austen or Charlie Brown approach this?”


It was one of the dumbest things I ever tried. (Not counting the time we poured gorilla glue into ‘Steel Neil’s’ football cleats just before the big homecoming game or the time I left Reese’s peanut butter cups inside the tent in the middle of bear country. It was unintentional, honest!)


Not the Case

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But that’s not quite the case in the writing/blogging biz.


We all have authors we return to again and again, like favorite relatives or another slice of raspberry white chocolate cheesecake with extra hot fudge. Nothing wrong with that. Ditto studying great literature and technique.

But trying to mimic another writer, imitate their rhythm, pacing, or style is like trying to nail jell-o to a tree. It can’t be done and wearing raspberry goo all over your face is just plain silly.


Say It Your Way

Let’s face it. You’re one of a kind (you can take that any way you want). No one sees, hears, experience, processes or records life like you do. What you may think is insanely funny, for example, others may see as …. not. (Trust me on this one.)


Another writer may describe the proverbial “dark and stormy night” as “dark and stormy.” You may call it “a hundred-year monsoon blowing from the bowels of oblivion in a coal miner’s shaft at midnight during a lunar eclipse.” (But I sincerely hope not.)


The bottom line here: Your writing voice in unique. No one else can express what you can. So say it your way.

Besides, relying on someone else’s style or approach is a crutch. It reveals a lack of confidence and imagination. Or skill. Maybe all of the above. It’ll also suck the life out of your own writing style and keep you from finding your own voice.


No Short-Cuts

Developing your own unique writing style and voice may seem daunting. That’s because it is. But there are no short-cuts. Part of what makes a great writer great is that they’re willing to stumble and fall and get up again and keep marching. Consider:


  • William Golding’s Lord of the Flies was rejected by twenty publishers.
  • Commenting on The Diary of Anne Frank, one “genius” sniffed, “The girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the ‘curiosity’ level.”
  • Book one of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series was rejected by a dozen publishers.
  • Ms. L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time was rejected by 26 publishers before finally breaking into print. It went on to win the 1963 Newbery Medal.


And so on.

Hard Work

Writing is hard work. It requires insight, sensitivity, growth, maturity and discipline. As you grow as a writer, you may collect stacks of rejection letters and unsolicited “critiques” from barely literate peasants who wouldn’t recognize quality writing if it walked up to them on a street and shook hands (trust me on this one, too).


Don’t despair.


With practice, you’ll learn to sort through the “advice” that’s worth heeding and to smile politely when someone introduces himself as a “writer” because s/he’s invested nearly 19 whole minutes in the craft.


It Takes Time

Learning to express yourself on paper and engage an audience takes time. Do you think I became this brilliant overnight?! Not!

So be patient. Keep plugging. Practice. Expand and experiment.


If non-fiction has you worn to a crackly crisp, try poetry or an adventure novel or short stories. If you get really, really good at fiction, run for Congress.


Whatever you do, be willing to learn and accept constructive advice. As you study, struggle and practice, you’ll build writing muscle. Stamina. Depth. Perspective. Clarity and originality.


Learn from your mistakes. Take a class at the local college. Enter some writing contests. Ask a trusted friend or family member to read your work and provide honest feedback


There are no short cuts, no “silver bullets” to finding your voice as a writer. The instances in which a body falls out of bed and wakes up in “serious writer” territory occur about as often as the last Ice Age.

Practice, Practice, Practice!

Becoming a “serious writer” takes time, experience, training, teachability and a willingness to learn, grow and mature. And practice, practice, and more practice.


Power tip: A generous dose of humility doesn’t hurt, either.


So, dust off that keyboard, warm up those fingers and get going. You may have to “color outside the box” and exercise some mental muscles you didn’t know you had. But growing your own writing voice is worth it. The best way is the Nike way: Just do it! Like:


We write to expose the unexposed. Most human beings are dedicated to keeping that one door shut. But the writer’s job is to see what’s behind it, to see the bleak unspeakable stuff, and to turn the unspeakable into words – not just into any words but if we can, into rhythm and blues. You can’t do this without discovering your own true voice, and you can’t find your true voice and peer behind the door and report honestly and clearly to us if your parents are reading over your shoulder.  — Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

What’s your biggest challenge in finding your writing voice?

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My Biggest Blogging Mistake – And How You Can Avoid It (Part 2 of 2)

Whoa! Hold on there, pardner! Before sashaying into today’s post, check out part 1 by clicking here.

That’s okay. I’ll wait.

So. When it comes to blogging mistakes and what not to do, I learned that “A list” bloggers – those with tens of thousands of readers – have one thing in common:

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Chair-Falling 101: Nine Tips for Building Your Blog

Fall trees and sky

I about fell out of my chair.  Good thing my tumble was cushioned by a wide swath of bare linoleum, or I might have hurt myself.

Really.  Last time I checked my follower stats – which I do about every time Hailey’s Comet appears – I had a couple hundred followers.  As in, bigger than a bread box but not by much.

Well, another comet just passed, so I checked the stats and found I’m well into 4 digits. And counting.  Hence the chair-falling thing.

What did I do to increase my followers?   Did I buy or import any lists?  Offer new subscribers some smoke and mirrors, a fancy floor show or round-trip tickets to Hawaii?  Did I bribe friends, relatives, Romans or fellow country men to sign up?


Truthfully, I didn’t “do” anything.  I just tried to post content that might be interesting, useful, helpful, entertaining, or otherwise brilliant. So no one’s more surprised at the follower “bump” than I am.

My point: If I can do it, so can you.  Here a few suggestions for building your blog:

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