Katy Keyboard is our resident "guru" on writing. If you have a question, light bulb moment, or conundrum she is on hand to provide you with the help you need to resolve the situation, or simply be a sounding board and support.
In my last column I promised Factual Fanny I would address blogging which is another outlet for a nonfiction writer in this era of electronic communication. A blog is an online forum usually dedicated to a specific area of interest. There are thousands of them out there covering everything from aardvarks to xylophones. Writers can set up their own or post their thoughts and ideas on a guest blog of another likeminded blogger Many of these posts are similar to journals, but some are informational, some investigative, some opinion pieces and some pure fiction.
On the positive side, it is a free market and more voices can be heard than ever before. A writer can choose any topic possible. There are no editors to reject work, no careful study of magazines and newsletters to tailor words to match a publication, no delay in getting work out there for the world to see.
On the negative side, as I said, it is a free market, a writer can choose any topic possible and there are thousands of blogs out there. Since there are no gate keepers, some blogs are very good and some are truly awful. A blogger, even a very good one, will find it difficult to attract readers in the crowded market place. A blog needs persistent care and input and often even dedicated bloggers find the effort does not match the reward.
Having pointed out the pros and potholes of blogging, here are some suggestions for a first-time blogger that might help. First, sit down and jot down a specific reason or reasons to open a blog. If it is only to express your day-to-day impressions or experiences, you might do better with a private journal unless you are a poet of some stature and your blogs are works of poetic art or you are posting field notes in cellular research, close to a breakthrough finding a cure for cancer. Second, settle on your passion and expertise that will have a readership. One blogging duo attracted hundreds of followers writing letters to each other on knitting. Evidently, there is a lot to say about needle size and types of yarn.
Once you have chosen your central topic, decide how often you will post your work and stick to a predictable schedule. From the advice I have heard from experienced bloggers, do not try to post every day. You will burn out. Try once or twice a week. Compose a whole string of blogs before you ever get online, so you will not be caught in the pressure-cooker moment of coming up with tomorrow's blog the night before. This will also give you time to shape and edit your words, so they will not fall into the ˜truly awful" category. In this phase, you may be tempted to fill pages with your passion, but blogs are usually bite size for the modern consumer. Keep each around a page or a page and a half.
When you are ready to launch you blog, find the technical help you need so your work is not floating in cyberspace. If you have other projects, such as books or videos to promote, your blog might be part of a Website you also set up. Connect with social media such as Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. Blogging demands electronic connections and finding the right sources to help you takes time and often frustration to maneuver.
Finally, do not expect quick result. Alert family and friends to visit and encourage them to spread the word. Stay persistent. Sometimes the tortoise wins the race.