Tag Archives: Writing

Some Thoughts on Blogging: Original Content, Linking, Engaging

[fr] Quelques réflexions sur l'enseignement de l'art du blog.

I like teaching people about blogging. Right now I have nearly 100 students who are learning to blog, with varying enthusiasm and success. Teaching blogging makes me realize that this mode of expression which comes naturally to me is not that easy to master. Here are a couple of the main hurdles I’ve noticed for the student-blogger:

  • Original content. It seems obvious that a blog will contain original content, but in the age of Tumblr (I love Tumblr) and Facebook (I love Facebook) and Twitter (I love Twitter) it seems there is a bias towards republishing rather than creating. One of the things that make a blog a blog is the fact that the blogger has taken the trouble to think and try and communicate ideas or experiences or emotions to their reader, in the written form. Some early attempts at blogging resemble Facebook walls.
  • Links. Writing in hypertext is not easy. A blog is not an island. A blog is connected to many other pages on the web, be they blog articles or not. It’s caught in the web. It’s part of the web. A blog which never links elsewhere? Might be a journal or a memoir, but it’s missing out on something. What do I link to? When? Which words do I place my links on? The art of linking is full of subtleties.
  • Engaging. Blogging is about writing, but also about reading and responding. Links ensure that a blog doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The parallel human activity is responding to comments, reading other bloggers, linking to them socially, and actually engaging with content found elsewhere. Some will say “comment on other people’s articles”, but that is not the whole story. Leaving a superficial comment is not it. Trying to understand the other, daring to challenge and disagree (respectfully), push thoughts further and drag others out of their comfort zone: there is something philosophical about the practice of blogging.

Some things are relatively easily taught: how to hit publish; how to write in an informal voice; how to dare being subjective. But how do you teach engagement? How do you teach debate? I know the Anglo-Saxon (at least American) school curriculum includes debating. Switzerland, sadly, doesn’t — and we tend to shy away from it, or end up in “dialogues de sourds” with two polarised camps each trying to convert the other.

2nd Back to Blogging Challenge, day 7. On the team: Nathalie Hamidi(@nathaliehamidi), Evren Kiefer (@evrenk), Claude Vedovini (@cvedovini), Luca Palli (@lpalli), Fleur Marty (@flaoua), Xavier Borderie (@xibe), Rémy Bigot (@remybigot),Jean-François Genoud (@jfgpro), Sally O’Brien (@swissingaround), Marie-Aude Koiransky (@mezgarne), Anne Pastori Zumbach (@anna_zap), Martin Röll (@martinroell), Gabriela Avram (@gabig58), Manuel Schmalstieg (@16kbit), Jan Van Mol (@janvanmol), Gaëtan Fragnière (@gaetanfragniere), Jean-François Jobin (@gieff). Hashtag:#back2blog.

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Posted in Blogging, My work | Tagged blogs, content, content creation, debate, engagement, hypertext, linking, Links, Writing | 4 Comments

Second “Back to Blogging” Challenge

[fr] Un court article par jour pendant 10 jours, histoire de reprendre le rythme et de se souvenir qu'écrire un article sur un blog, ça peut être vite fait.

Do you have a blog?

Have you been really bad about blogging of late, like me?

I bring to you, for the second time, a 10-day “Back to Blogging” challenge.

Starting tomorrow (Monday), I will write a short blog post each day. Quick and dirty. Get something out the door. I expect to spend maximum 30 minutes on it.

Feel inspired to join in? Hashtag: #back2blog.

(Last time around I published links to all the posts of the day at the bottom of each article. It took way more time than the actual blogging! If anybody has ideas about how to automate this, I’m all ears.)

The winning team!

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Posted in Blogging | Tagged back2blog, challenge, Writing | 71 Comments

Urges

[fr] Un vieux texte ressorti des brouillons.

A draft dating back from March 2010. Probably inspired by a dream.

Loud rhythmic music started drifting in the air, and the crowd on the festival river boats slowly went quiet. People stood up and started dancing and cheering.

I looked at Paul. We could feel the urge, but knew that giving in would only make it harder to resist what would come next.

Everyone sat down as the music went silent.

People looked at each other grimly. They knew that however strong the urge, they should not jump overboard.

In a flash, I noticed the group of children a few seats away.

“You! Come here right away!” I ordered.

A little bewildered, they came withing reach. People around me had understood, caught the children as they arrived, and sat them firmly in the seats next to them.

As for me, I grabbed two under each arm — two girls and two boys.

The girls didn’t budge, but the little boys started struggling and hitting me. I didn’t let go.

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Posted in Creative | Tagged dream, fear, Music, water, Writing | Leave a comment

Help Stop Comma Abuse!

Yes, there are some rules for commas. Some are strict, some aren’t. Some are debated (the Oxford comma), some aren’t. And some commas are just a question of style.

I’d like to draw your attention on a comma issue which is not a question of style.

You cannot use a comma to separate the verb from its subject or object. Look:

John, ate some bread.

John ate, some bread.

Doesn’t work.

But you do see commas floating around verbs. That’s because they come in pairs. Look:

John, without hesitation, ate some bread.

John ate, without hesitation, some bread.

See how those commas come in pairs, because we inserted “without hesitation” into the sentence?

I was prompted to write this article after struggling through this article. I struggled because the article content was interesting — but boy, does the author have comma issues. Hopefully they’ll fix them. In the meantime, I’ve used the text to provide you with real-world examples, corrected. You can try your skills at spotting missing paired commas. (And do read the article, though, it is interesting.)

In 1748, the British politician and aristocrat John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich used a lot of his free time for playing cards.

Can you spot the missing comma? This is a situation where the first paired comma was used, but not the second. The “inserted” text in the sentence is “the 4th Earl of Sandwich”, which should therefore be surrounded by commas. This one is actually tricky, because it looks like we have avoided placing a comma between the subject and the verb. But we have. Better:

In 1748, the British politician and aristocrat John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, used a lot of his free time for playing cards.

Here is another one:

Since recently a good friend of mine, gave me an introduction to the power of storytelling, I wanted to learn more.

This one has a comma which shouldn’t be there. No reason for a pair, as the sentence is not “Since John, a good friend of mine, gave me…”. Corrected:

Since recently a good friend of mine gave me an introduction to the power of storytelling, I wanted to learn more.

I’ll have to admit that I’m not 100% certain about the next one:

When we are being told a story though, things change dramatically found researchers in Spain.

Don’t you also want a comma in front of “found”? It probably has something to do with the fact that instead of the usual SVO order, we’ve switched to something like OVS. Here, try this one instead:

When we are being told a story though, things change dramatically, found researchers in Spain.

Isn’t it better?

Here’s one which might have more than comma issues, but let’s stick to the commas:

The brains of the person telling a story and listening to it, can synchronize, says Uri Hasson from Princeton.

I would suggest one of these two alternatives, though my prefer would probably add in an extra word or two:

The brains of the person telling a story and listening to it can synchronize, says Uri Hasson from Princeton.

The brains of the person telling a story, and listening to it, can synchronize, says Uri Hasson from Princeton.

And a last one which is a classic example of paired commas:

A story, if broken down into the simplest form is a connection of cause and effect.

The “inserted text” here is “if broken down into the simplest form”. Proof? The sentence would be fine without it:

A story is a connection of cause and effect.

Now, let’s add in this if-clause, with commas.

A story, if broken down into the simplest form, is a connection of cause and effect.

There we go. Pay attention to your commas!

Disclaimer: I’ve never really studied English grammar properly, so I’m sure there are fancy terms and maybe rules to come up with here that I don’t know of. And also, following a law which probably needs a nice name, as this is a post about language/grammar, there are bound to be mistakes in it that you can point to and laugh at — and probably, God forbid, a misplaced comma.

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Posted in Language Geekiness | Tagged comma, commas, english, grammar, language, punctuation, Writing | Leave a comment

Bloggers: an Opportunity to Contribute to the paper.li Community Blog

[fr] Paper.li développe son blog communautaire et cherche des contributeurs!

Bloggers and freelance writers, this is for you! I’m working with paper.li (you know them, right?) and we’re plotting an expansion/development of their community blog. In short, this means:

  • more interviews of interesting members of the paper.li community (similar to what Kelly has done until now)
  • thematic articles (either original content, commentary on stuff published elsewhere, bundles of commented links…) around “curation”, personal online publishing and editing — and where it’s going, basically: how we’re dealing with the wealth of information online (I guess you can see why this is a relevant topic for paper.li)
  • …and I’ll be editing/managing publication.

We already have a few people lined up to conduct interviews of paper.li community members (we’re open to more if it’s the kind of thing you’d love doing) and we are looking for bloggers or other online writers who are interested in writing some articles with us.

Maybe you would just like to do a one-off guest post, or you think you’d like to contribute regularly, because you have lots to say or want to help us assemble, organise and comment the related articles and links we’re collecting.

If you want to be part of this, we want to hear from you! Please use the following form to get in touch.

The form is now closed. If you’d like to get in touch, head over to the Contribute page on the community blog.

A few organisational/context notes to help you understand what we’re doing:

  • we’re aiming to publish about 10 articles a month (so, pretty low amount of publications — we want quality first)
  • published posts will receive a (modest) financial compensation, but this isn’t Demand Media where you can churn out 50 posts a week to make a living out of it — so we assume you also have other motivations to participate (passion, another audience, visibility, intellectual curiosity…)
  • we ask for a week of exclusivity for the content you publish with us — after that, you’re free to republish on your blog or anywhere else
  • posts will of course link back to your blog if you want
  • we’re pretty open editorially (and still defining the borders or our topics), so feel free to submit stuff even if it seems slightly off-topic!

We’re waiting to hear from you, and don’t hesitate to get in touch or use the comments if you have questions or want more information.

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Posted in Blogging, My work | Tagged blogging, community, curation, editing, online, paper.li, publishing, Writing | Leave a comment

Blogging Inertia

[fr] Peu d'envie d'écrire (et donc de bloguer). Pas courant pour moi!

This hasn’t happened to me often before, but I’m going through a phase where I don’t feel like blogging at all. Actually, I don’t even feel like writing, which is really quite unusual.

I’m still in a “tired of documenting my life” mood. And, related to that, I think my brain is simply tired, and I think it’s going to take me some time to get over having spent too long in overdrive. Burn-out? Maybe, or not quite, but possibly a family member of the big nasty one. For those of you who worry: I’ve had a medical check-up and I’m fine, I’m pretty happy, chugging along with my work, but I feel a kind of general tiredness.

So, I’m making sure I rest enough, and not pushing myself too much. Which includes not pushing myself to write when I don’t feel like it. Does this have to do with my experiment in keeping certain things to myself?

A lot of questions, you see. Maybe this is it. I’m going through a phase of my life which contains a lot of questions (personal ones only I can answer) and not many answers or insights to share with the world.

To be honest, though, I’m still blogging. It just feels to me like I’m not, but posts actually get posted.

That being said, now I’m going to give my brain a rest!

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Posted in Blogging, Personal | Tagged blogging, tired, Writing | 7 Comments

Sam 1

[fr] Exercice d'écriture: personnage Sam.

The adventure begins.

She doesn’t know Sam yet. She just knows his name. She’s not sure if she’ll like him or not. She’s afraid of making him too likable, too cliché, too unidimensional. She realizes that if she makes him too cliché or perfect, he will not be likeable. You see, she’s stuck already.

Sam is roughly her age, in his mid-thirties. The jeans and t-shirts he wears make him look like he still believes he is seventeen. He has a job, though — not a very exciting one, but a stable one. His life is outside of work, with his friends. They go out for drinks on week-ends, play video games, watch football matches.

He met a girl he liked at The Great Escape the other night. Said like that, it sounds like an exceptional event, but it isn’t. He meets plenty of girls he likes, and has plenty of fun with them, but it’s usually short-lived. He hasn’t had anyone stable in his life since he and Greta broke up. He figures he still needs time.

She thinks Sam sounds pretty normal and boring so far. She remembers that stories are about putting normal people in extraordinary situations, and seeing how they react. Like a scientific experiment. She wonders what she could do with Sam.

Shove him through one of Dan Simmons’ Brane holes, straight into another universe? She thinks that’s a little radical. Baby steps, baby steps.

Maybe to start off, she could have him arrive at The Great Escape, hoping to see that girl again, but the bar has disappeared. Disappeared, as in “never existed” for anybody but him. That’s not a new idea, she knows, but it would allow her to see how Sam reacts.

Let’s do it.

So, Sam heads out into town like every week-end, and parks his car somewhere behind the cathedral. He’s got a car, and he’s a confident driver. She gives him a car because she thinks it makes him a little more grown-up. And also, chances are a 30-something living in Lausanne with a stable job and no family to feed will have one. The car also tells us he’s probably not a green activist. The truth is he’s pragmatic, like most people: he’s got a nagging concern about the environment, but he also wants his freedom and his quality of life. He’d go for a solar car if they existed (provided it didn’t cost twice the price of a normal one).

She’s starting to feel curious about Sam now. She realizes that she’s actually looking forward to learning more about him. She’s aware it might not make for fascinating reading, but she can see herself typing through the night to satisfy her curiosity. She might even start liking him.

As she gets ready for much more typing, she notices that she actually knows more about Sam than what she initially thought. For example, he’s not that good with domestic stuff. She doesn’t know why yet, but his flat is a bit in a mess at all times (though still functional) and he’s pretty crap and shopping for groceries, so he eats out quite a lot. Another thing she knows now is that although most of his friends assume that Sam’s proper name is Samuel, it’s in fact Samson. He finds his name a bit ridiculous (the biblical references and all that) so he keeps the information under wraps as much as he can.

She’s aware that if she was really trying to write a story, she wouldn’t be dumping those random facts about Sam like that for her readers, but she would be a little more subtle, letting them emerge from Sam’s interaction with the world and people around him. For now, though, she’s satisfied with the rather dry police-description of her nascent character.

So, back to the story. Sam finds a parking spot behind the cathedral — it’s a little walk away from his favorite hang-out, but he actually enjoys the fresh air on the way. He makes his way briskly down the steps to the little square next to Palais de Rumine, and heads for the bar. He absent-mindedly registers that the usual signs indicating tonight’s match and menu are not out as usual, but most of all, he’s disturbed by the absence of people clustering around the door.

At this point, she thinks she should probably go and check out The Great Escape on a Friday or Saturday evening, to make sure she’s not saying stupid things about the place, as it actually exists. She might do that sometime next week — one of her friends goes there quite regularly, it could be an opportunity.

Well, assuming she hasn’t got it all wrong, Sam arrives in front of what looks like a closed bar, when it should be open. (As she doesn’t have the bar handy, she checks online: it’s open every evening.) Sam has never seen it closed except a few times in the morning — like many similar places, it’s open all week, every day. (She’s looking up reviews on TripAdvisor, now. This almost feels like proper research. She decides to set aside the bar for the moment and concentrate on Sam again.)

So, Sam arrives in front of a closed door when he was expecting to find his usual favorite bar a-buzz with his friends and other strangers. He walks to the door, his legs chugging numbly beneath him, his mind floating uncomfortably somewhere between “bad joke” and “am I losing it”.

He tries the door. He can see it’s closed, but he tries it all the same. He looks around the little square: he doesn’t see anybody looking lost or confused because their usual bar isn’t open. He doesn’t see anybody, actually: the square is empty.

She’s starting to feel taken in by the story she’s writing. She feels a bit bad for Sam. She put him there, after all. But it was the only way she could think of to get to know him better. But she wants to know what’s going to happen next, and the only way to know is to let it write itself.

Sam is definitely confused. He checks the time, checks the date, tries the door again. As he’s trying the handle, a sinking feeling  as he glances at the building tells him more is wrong then he initially thought: the name of the bar has disappeared from the building — and from the door, too, now that he actually looks.

Something very wrong must have happened for it to close overnight (or rather, overday). And why wouldn’t anybody have told him?

He calls up Roger.

“What on earth happened to The Great?” “Hey, Sam! The great what?” “The Great. It’s closed. The signs are even gone from the building.” “What are you talking about? You’re not making any sense. Oh, and when are you getting here? Sophie asked if you’d be there tonight.” Sam can hear the “nudge nudge, wink wink” in Roger’s voice when he mentions the girl from the other night. “Oh, er…” Sam’s confusion has just gone up a notch. “I’m coming. Where are you?” “Captain Cook! Where else? Are you OK? Come on over!”

Roger hangs up. Sam looks around again, and heads up the stairs to the Captain Cook, wondering if he is losing his grip on reality.

She stops here, and wonders if this kind of little adventure really tells her something about Sam. Wouldn’t pretty much anybody react like that? She’ll have to put other characters through this kind of exercise: make them face the disappearance of their favorite hang-out. Maybe they won’t all react the same.

But first she has to take Sam a little further. She has second thoughts about the brief phone call with Roger. Shouldn’t Sam have insisted a bit more? That dialogue makes it look like Sam readily accepts that Roger has no idea what he’s talking about. Hell, if she called up one of her friends with such an odd disappearance and the friend reacted like Roger, she would be calling the friend back instead of stumbling towards the next bar.

Maybe Roger has a history of being slightly inebriated, busy with girls, and generally not very coherent on the phone when he’s out drinking bear in a full noisy pub. That must be what Sam thought. He’s still confused, but he hasn’t yet figured out that he’s the only one to have noticed The Great’s disappearance (or escape, haha). So, he’s on his way to the Cook, confident that he’ll get some explanation from Roger once he gets there. He’s in for a nasty surprise.

Roger thinks Sam is playing some kind of joke on him. He reacts as if he’d never even heard of The Great Escape, or any kind of bar on the little square halfway down the stairs. Roger’s on his third or fourth pint, which doesn’t help Sam try and get his point across. He asks a couple of other people about The Great and gets confused looks and lots of question marks.

In an attempt to refrain from questioning his sanity, he decides to wash away his growing discomfort with something slightly stronger than usual and chats up Sophie (who confirms they met in the very same bar earlier that week, and gives him a puzzled look when he tries to talk about The Great’s disappearance).

She’s really getting into the story now. She’s going to have to make up for her tea-totalling habits with some “academic” research on alcoholic beverage consumption on normal Lausanne Saturday nights.

Sam drinks a little more than usual and follows Sophie to her place not far from the bar — not that he needs more drinking than usual to go and have some Saturday night fun with a cute girl picked up in a bar. Before picking up his car to go home in the pre-dawn haze of too much smoke, alcohol, and meaningless sex, he drops by The Great again to make sure it really is closed (“escaped”, he says to himself).

His mind is working, at least that much. There is no open bar where he remembers The Great Escape.

He drives home, collapses into his half-made bed — he must remember to change the sheets one of these days — and dozes straight off, hoping that The Great’s escape will have straightened itself out by morning, one way or another.

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Posted in Creative | Tagged exercise, fiction, sam, Writing | 5 Comments

Twitter Killed My Blog and Comments Killed Our Links

[fr] Un titre un peu provocateur pour une réflexion que je pourrais résumer ainsi: l'apparition des commentaires sur les blogs a réduit le nombre de liens que les blogueurs faisaient entre eux (et leurs articles), et a distendu la blogosphère. Celle-ci s'est distendue encore plus avec l'arriveé de Twitter et Facebook et notre obsession pour le temps réel et l'immédiat de la discussion.

La partie plus "sociale" des intéractions dans la blogosphère s'étant déplacée sur Twitter/Facebook, il est temps de nous rappeler, blogueurs, que nous sommes des gens qui écrivons. Le flux de nos discussions dans l'instant disparaît dans le passé du temps qui avance, mais nos articles d'il y a cinq ans sont toujours aussi lisibles qu'au premiers jours.

Nous sommes en train de laisser la blogosophère glisser de nos mains dans celles des marketeux, experts SEO et autres professionnels de l'image. N'attendons pas qu'il soit trop tard.

I hope the provocative title grabbed your attention.

Let me say it straight out: my blog is not dead, neither are our links.

But I still have a point.

Twitter is IRC on steroids, for those of you who have already experienced the irresistable draw of a chatroom full of smart witty people, 24/7. Twitter is my very own IRC channel, where I do not have to hear those I do not care about. It’s less geeky than IRC, which means that many of my “online spaces” collide there.

It’s intoxicating. I love it. I can spend all day there.

But that’s not why I would provocatively say that it has killed my blog. Twitter is a content-sharing space, not just a super IRC channel. Found an interesting link? Five years ago, it would have morphed into a blog post, because that was pretty much the only way to share it. Nowadays, dump it in Twitter. Arrived safely at destination? Again, 5 years ago, blog post. Now, tweet.

New tools have an impact on how we use old tools. Sometimes we abandon them altogether, but most of the time, we just redefine the way we use them. This is what I was trying to explore in the first panel I ever moderated, at BlogTalk 2008 (crappy video).

So, no, Twitter did not kill my blog, but take a group of bloggers and give them Twitter accounts, and the temperature of the blogosphere changes. All the high-speed stuff moves to Twitter.

If you just look at the present, it’s no big deal. People are still connecting. That’s what all this social media/software is about, right? Connecting people. Online. But the problem with us spending all our time swimming in the real-time stream is that it’s just that, a real-time stream. Not much is left of it once it has passed.

Take this short piece about translation I wrote nearly 10 years ago. It’s not a masterpiece, but it’s still there, as readable as it was when I wrote it. Had this taken place on Twitter, nothing much would be left of it. Gone with the wind, if I dare say.

Many many years ago when I first started blogging (can you tell I’m on a nostalgic streak?), blogs did not have comments. Hell, I barely even had permalinks when I started. Permalinks were the key, though: they allowed bloggers to link to each other’s writings.

And we did. Conversations would bounce from blog to blog. They weren’t chatty like on IM, IRC, or Twitter. They were blog-post-speed conversations. We would have to think (a little) before we wrote.

Even though comments are a wonderful invention and I would never want to take them back, they did ruin this, in a way. People started leaving comments all over the place and didn’t come back to their blogs to write about the conversations they were participating in. It’s one of the reasons I was so excited about coComment when it came out, or services like BackType (which also seems to have backed out of tracking comments one makes) or Disqus. (Aside: see, I’d love somebody to hire me to do some research and write a memo on the current state of the comment-tracking-sphere and all the players involved. I could totally see myself doing that.)

With comments came less of an incentive to link to each other on our blogs. With Twitter (and Facebook), less of an incentive to share certain things on our blogs, and also, less of an incentive to comment, as it became much easier to just “tweet a quickie” to the post author (therefore making our activity visible to all our followers). And with the death of Technorati tags (I’ll call it that), we bloggers are now connecting to each other on other social networks than the blogosphere.

I think it’s time to actively reclaim the blogosphere as our own, after leaving it for too long at the hands of marketing and PR.

Bloggers, it’s time to wake up! Write blog posts. Link to your fellow bloggers. Leave comments on their posts, or better, respond to them on your blogs.

We don’t have to abandon Twitter and Facebook — just remember that first and foremost, we are writers, and that “conversation” (though ’tis a wonderful thing) is not writing.

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Posted in Blogging | Tagged backtype, blogging, blogosphère, blogs, coComment, comments, disqus, evolution, facebook, permalinks, twitter, Writing | 8 Comments

Writing: Source of Income or Marketing Budget?

[fr] Ecrire pour gagner de l'argent (en tous cas en tant qu'indépendant) ça ne rapporte pas des masses. Par contre, écrire est un formidable moyen de promouvoir ce qu'on fait (indirectement). Je propose donc de considérer l'écriture comme "budget marketing" plutôt que "source de revenu" (si on arrive à gagner de l'argent, tant mieux... mais ce n'est pas le but premier!)

A couple of days ago I was talking to a friend, who amongst various activities she juggles as a freelancer, is a journalist. Lately, she’s been less satisfied by her journalistic work, which ends up not paying much, and was wondering whether it really made sense to keep on writing. But actually, her work as a journalist is what gives her contacts and leads for her other activities: so it makes sense for her to keep on being a journalist — but not for the money, as a marketing investment.

Come to think of it, I’ve only very rarely earned money by doing actual writing. I did an article for a local paper once, but honestly, the amount I was paid for the work I put in just made no sense. So, yes, as a marketing strategy, it’s interesting, but not for actually putting food on the table.

Even the work I did for Fleur de Pains, though decently paid, was way more work than expected and ended up being not that much money for the energy it took. Consulting, speaking and training are clearly better sources of income, or managing “my type” of projects (blog editing, coworking space, or conference blogger accreditations for example).

Most of what I’ve read over the last six months about writing fiction also points in that direction: writing for a living is insanely hard work and will not make you rich. We’re blinded by the black swans out there named J. K. Rowling and other successful writers. Most people who write for a living don’t become insanely rich, and most of those who try to make a living out of writing fail.

So, where does that leave us/me? I love writing, and I’m not too bad at it. Honestly, writing is its own reward, as far as I’m concerned. That’s why I’ve kept this blog going for the last 10 years (by the way: take a moment now to let me know what your favourite articles from CTTS are — the blogversary is less than 48 hours away!). And honestly, I think I’ll never stop writing. But I don’t think it makes sense for me to try to actually earn a living doing it. Which doesn’t mean I’m closing the door to earning some money writing — but if I do, it’ll be a happy extra.

So, in times like now where I’m giving quite a bit of thought to all I do for free and which ends up bringing me business, and also (given right now business is going pretty well) cutting back a little (not too much though!) on what does not earn me money directly, I am realising that I need to make it my priority to have enough time to write.

You know these blogging crises I go through regularly? “OMG I’m not blogging much I need to write more?” Well, here we are. If paid work keeps me from blogging, so be it — it means I’m earning lots of money right then, and I can live with that for a while. But if unpaid “marketing budget” stuff keeps me from blogging, something is wrong.

So this is what my hierarchy of priorities could look like:

paid work > blogging > other writing (“for others”, or requested by others) > other marketing/networking/promotional activities

What about you? Where does writing fit in the “stuff you do”?

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Posted in Being the boss, Blogging, My work, On Writing | Tagged blogging, earning, marketing, money, Writing | 3 Comments

About my Writing

[fr] Mon écriture souffre généralement de trop de parenthèses, de tirets, de phrases trop longues et... de mots, simplement. Ça m'ennuie mais j'avoue que je suis paresseuse lorsque j'écris: pas de relecture, pas de réécriture, j'écris et je publie, voilà c'est fait.

After reading Bird by Bird, I am now reading On Writing by Stephen King. And it’s making me think about my writing.

I’m a lazy writer. I don’t proofread, I don’t edit, I don’t even plan much outside my head. I just write. It’s never been a problem for me.

Reading King (and in parallel, Anne Lamott’s Rosie, which is so beautifully written it makes me want to drop everything and write my life away) is making me think about my style. There are a certain number of things I do that bother me, and that I don’t seem to manage to do differently. (Though, as I said, I’m a lazy writer — if I actually put a little effort into changing things, maybe I would.)

As you’ve certainly noticed if you read this blog, I overuse dashes and parentheses. I always have. I think it’s because my way of thinking is digressive. I start on something, and have to add some little explanative digression before going on. I do that when I talk, too. I start a sentence or an explanation, stop mid-way through, and add some extra background information that’s needed to understand what’s left of the sentence or explanation.

Anyway, I’m not trying to find excuses. It annoys me that I do that, and I think it probably makes what I write more cumbersome to read than it could be.

Another thing I’m guilty of is long sentences. Sometimes I feel they just want to go on and on and on and on and then I catch myself and chop them in half. I also think I use too many words. I’m not a very concise writer. I ramble. Like I’m doing now.

So I’ll let you go and read something else while I go and write a shitty first draft of something that I’ll never show anybody.

Are there any of my bad writing habits which bug you when you read me?

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Posted in On Writing | Tagged dashes, digression, parentheses, sentences, Writing | 3 Comments