Blogging is Dead! Long Live Blogging!

I’ve signed up for “Mentor” status for this year’s Blaugust/NBI event, and as such it’s up to myself and fellow mentors to try and steer new blogging participants in the “write” direction (I see what you did there). Some of us that have signed up to be mentors have been doing this whole blogging thing for a long time, and others for only a couple of years. I can tell you from experience that it doesn’t matter how long you do a thing, you can still learn new tricks and still be hit by writer’s block. As such, I’d like to share some of the things that I have learned and hopefully this will help someone to get started or be inspired to keep going.

First though, I’ve stolen this compiled list of this year’s participants from Wilhelm, and I must say it’s a nice looking list, containing both members of the Old Guard along with a good amount of new blogs:

  1. A Green Mushroom
  2. Aeternus Gaming
  3. Ald Shot First
  4. Ash’s Adventures
  5. Athernes Adventures
  6. Aywren Sojourner
  7. barely readable diary
  8. Beyond Tannhauser Gate
  9. Bio Break
  10. Book of Jen
  11. Calamity Jess
  12. Can I Play Too
  13. Casual Aggro
  14. Contains Moderate Peril
  15. Deez Wurds
  16. Fresh Eyes in Gaming (not yet live)
  17. Gamer Girl Confessions
  18. Gaming Conversations
  19. GamingSF
  20. Geeky Dad Fitness
  21. Going Commando
  22. Gray’s Cozy Nook
  23. Heattanu’s Game
  24. I’m Not Squishy
  25. Inventory Full
  26. JVT Workshop
  27. leaflocker
  28. Mailvaltar – MMOs and other stuff
  29. Me vs. Myself and I
  30. Moonshine Mansion
  31. Municipal City
  32. Murf Versus
  33. Nerdy Bookahs
  34. Neverwinter Thoughts
  35. Nomadic Gamers, Eh!
  36. Pizza Maid
  37. Princess in a Castle
  38. Professorbeej is Awesome
  39. RandomX
  41. Scarybooster
  42. Shadowz Abstract Gaming Blog
  43. Shards of Imagination
  44. Simply Janine
  45. StarShadow
  46. Stropp’s World
  47. Tales of the Aggronaut
  48. The Ancient Gaming Noob
  49. The Path They Walk
  50. ThisThingIsNeat
  51. Through Wolfy’s Eyes
  52. TroytlePower
  53. Why I Game
  54. WoW Alt Addiction

That’s quite the list, and here we thought that blogging was a dying art!

Jokes aside, blogging has been “dying” for years. When I first migrated over to people were talking about blogging being dead, and that was 11 years ago (WordPress just notified me that my anniversary was a few days ago, having migrated back in 2007). Honestly, there is a smaller amount of blogs out there now as opposed to back then, but the Internet has changed. YouTube wasn’t the phenomenon that it has become, streaming wasn’t a thing yet, and though Podcasting was still an option then it wasn’t on my radar nearly as much at that time. As it goes, everyone has their preferred method of content consumption, but just because little Timmy only watches YouTube videos doesn’t mean you should give up on writing because Timmy’s older brother Johnny prefers reading. Also, there aren’t any rules that say you can’t do multiple things if you have the time. I used to maintain this blog and also run a podcast while simultaneously streaming and making some YouTube videos as well. Don’t be afraid to dabble until you find your preferred creative outlet!

I’ll agree with Wilhelm that is probably the best option for a budding blogger. It’s free, you get plenty of customization options and the stat tracking is good. There’s also plenty of storage space for your screenshots and other pictures, which help to make your blog posts more dynamic. I have zero experience with Blogger or Tumblr though, so I could be biased. Still, I would advise against spending money as paying to blog seems silly until you are established and know that you’re in it for the long haul.

Finding your audience is another matter, as most people go into this idea of blogging thinking that they’ll write about this one thing and paint themselves into a corner. My school of thought comes from the late 90’s when I got my start, when I was part of the E/N crowd. E/N = Everything/Nothing and means that you can literally write about anything that you want. I’ve had comments over the years about guides or adventures I’ve written about being appealing, but some people like when I give a more personal touch and write about my life. Your audience will grow primarily by having a good output moreso than the content you’re writing about. If people know that you’re going to have out a post every day, or a couple of posts a week, they’ll come back to consume that content regularly. If you only post once every 6 months you probably won’t have much of an audience, so keep with it!

That’s not to say you need a schedule. I’ve maintained an output of about 15 posts per month for about a year, so about one every other day. Wilhelm and others post every weekday and some post every single day. Find what works for you and try to stick with it. By the end of Blaugust you will have found a way to make 31 posts, one a day, so you should be able to tell if you like that sort of schedule or if you’d prefer to dial it back a bit. My real life schedule is hectic so I don’t have the time to write every day (Blaugust is a challenge every time) but you might. To each their own.

That’s the advice I have for you today. Now I’m going to try and figure out what I’m going to write about next month. Happy writing!

Finding Inspiration Where There Is None

It’s prep week for Blaugust Reborn, which is also sort of the NBI event for this year as well. Mentors were asked to get something written up to inspire the newbies, and it’s funny because I have had a case of writer’s block for the past couple of weeks. I dug around through old posts and found one that I originally used as a guest post on my Sister’s blog (though she doesn’t seem to be writing much anymore either). The post in question was about finding inspiration to write, and it’s very fitting at this moment due to my own difficulties as of late. It was never published here, so I suppose getting it migrated over for posterity is also a good thing. I haven’t changed any of the content of the post otherwise, so I’m thinking I might be able to write another updated version of this later in the week and see how much different my thought processes are now as opposed to then. With all that said, let’s get to it!

Originally Posted January 15th, 2015

We’ve all been there.

You’re staring at a document — you opened it with the intention of writing something, anything really — and now is the time you realize that you have no idea what to write about. Those fleeting thoughts you had before you went to sleep the night before should have been scribbled on the bedside table, but you were too lazy to commit them to paper. Your late-night muse long gone, you have to find some other form of inspiration.

It doesn’t matter if you’re writing a novel, a short story, poetry, or a blog post. Writing is tough.

Let’s share some of my background, perhaps to give my words more weight. I have been blogging for ten years. The Couch Podtatoes Podcast is my brain-child. I’ve also been in more than one band (though only one where we played live shows), and lent my lyrical skills to the task. I don’t have lists of books I’ve written or anything else to share on that front, but suffice to say I’ve spent much of my adult life writing.

It may be different to compose blog posts on a regular basis as opposed to writing a literary masterpiece, but I do believe that the techniques I have learned and used translate quite nicely. Coming up with new show ideas for the podcast or lyrics for a song can be just as challenging, just as rewarding, and each requires a certain amount of polish, creativity and must be done within a certain time frame. All of these facets add up to the penultimate accomplishment, even if that goal is just for today, and you have to start anew tomorrow.

Now that I have matter-of-fact-ly lumped all creative endeavors into one category, let’s get down to some tips for finding your muse, when none seems to exist:

1. Inspiration is hard to pin down, because it usually strikes when you least expect it. In years past I might have written an idea down on a notepad; these days I just make sure to make myself regular notes on my smartphone when the ideas come.

2. If the ideas aren’t coming naturally, try researching the topic further on the Internet, or simply browse randomly. I have written hundreds of posts that were inspired by others’ writing.

3. Stay focused on the task until it is done if you can, but don’t be afraid to take a break or let your mind wander for a while. It’s likely you will come up with something when you don’t stress yourself out about it.

4. Listen to music, watch TV or movies, and view artwork. Others who have found their muse can brush off on you. I tend to write more fluidly when I have music playing in the background.

5. If, for whatever reason, the above doesn’t work for you, you might consider putting that project on hold. Sometimes your mind has new ideas it wants to get out first, and it’s okay to come back to an old project later. Some writers don’t release their best work until the middle of their careers. There’s nothing wrong with scrapping that which won’t work.

That’s about all I have for today. Happy Creating!

Blaugust Reborn

It’s been quiet on the blogging front for the past couple of years. The old vanguard of bloggers are still here and typing away, but many of the people I met over the course of the years via events like the Newbie Blogger Initiative and Blaugust have fallen by the wayside. Some have let their blogs die off, some have moved on to other creative endeavors like podcasting, streaming or vlogging, and others simply prefer to interact via social media or discord servers. The ebb and flow of content creation has hit us all at times; I’m no stranger to taking a break from things only to come back later and pick it back up.

This blog has been in existence since 2005, but my blogging “career” started back in the late 1990’s while I was still in high school and the Internet wasn’t nearly the phenomenon that it has become. I first heard about the NBI prior to my involvement, as it was started in 2012 by Syp of Bio Break/Massively Overpowered fame. Syp only planned on running the event the one time, so the 2013 edition ended up being late and after it had ended, there was a call put out for people to help organize the 2014 event. I took up the mantle, and along with people like Doone (who no longer blogs), Roger (from Contains Moderate Peril) and Eri (from Healing the Masses) we ran a very successful event helping new blogging hopefuls get started. Around this time I also started up the Couch Podtatoes podcast with Eri that would run for a couple of years.

In 2015, we participated in the event again, but this time the turnout wasn’t the same and things were less organized. I didn’t have much part in running the event either, but it still happened. 2016 was light again and we started a Discord server but by 2017 the event was pretty much dead. Blaugust sprung up as something a little bit different but still encouraging community interaction back in those early days, but wasn’t run last year either. With a full year devoid of any community events, it’s nice to see that Belghast has taken up the mantle and revived both Blaugust and the NBI for 2018. You can read about his ideas here.

There is a sign up to participate as a new blogger or a mentor (those who have been blogging for at least a couple of years). I’m not sure to what extent I will participate, but those of you who have seen me around for the last decade plus can always ask for advice, I’m happy to help. I will attempt to come up with some writing prompts and perhaps I’ll be able to squeeze out 31 posts for August. We still have this month to prepare so I’m sure that something will come of it.

If nothing else it will be nice to see an increased sense of awareness of the blogosphere and new content being pushed out from more people. If you haven’t done so already, send Bel a kind word or two for pushing the community to interact once more!

You can sign up for Blaugust/NBI stuff here.

Discord Server is here.

Looking forward to new stuff to read!

Lucky Number 13

Where does the time go?

It was back in 2005 that I started this blog and I honestly don’t know how I’m still doing it. It may not be as steady as some but it has stood the test of time moreso than others. It’s interesting to occasionally look back on old posts and find how much my thought patterns have changed in the last decade-plus; my life has assuredly changed as well. What was once something of a true “web log” has taken shape into a gaming blog that covers more than just those of the video kind. It’s been a long journey of self-discovery and perseverance, but I feel like I’d do it all over again given the chance. Barring some sort of post-apocalyptic or dystopian scenario, I hope to make this a hobby for life. It might not be regular, it might evolve, but it might also be something interesting for someone who knew me to read and take a journey through personal history and a life that might not be the most exciting but wasn’t exactly boring.

To those of you who have been around since the beginning, thank you. I’m proud to have entertained you throughout the years. For those of you who only know me in more recent years, I thank you as well. To anyone whose life I may have touched, thanks for being around.

As much as I write for myself, I write for you.

So Long, 2017

It has been a wonderful vacation and I am feeling rejuvenated! Unfortunately, just like this year, it is coming to an end. I hope that you all enjoyed your 2017 and I hope that 2018 will be even better. I’m going to get back to relaxing, but I’ll just leave these here before I go:

Happy New Year!