Wednesday, October 30, 2013

NBI: Random Blogging Thoughts

This post is part of the Newbie Blogger Initiative.

Blogging is an interesting hobby.  Like most hobbies, it can consume a lot of your time, but unlike most, there's nothing physical to give to someone to say "I made this" or "I read this" or "I won this" or "I played this".  If you're like me, when people ask what I do for fun, I'll either fail to mention PC entirely or downplay it into "and I write some stuff online for a gaming website".  If I say "I'm a blogger", there's a tendency among people I meet to say "Oh, like Matt Drudge".  And if I say "I'm a gaming blogger," more often than not I'll get a reply akin to "Oh, like how to win at poker or blackjack?"

The concept of a gaming blogger that has nothing to do with casinos is a big mental block for a lot of non-gamers.  And if you talk to someone who can get past that, they'll respond with "So, what do you think of that new Call of Duty game coming out?"

"No, like WoW."

"WoW?  What's WoW?"

"World of Warcraft."

"That thing?  That's for weirdos."*

Such is the life of an MMO blogger.

But you know what?  That's okay.  You're not writing for them.  Even if you secretly harbor ambitions to be the Ashton Kutcher of the MMO blogging community, don't let the ignorance of the masses get you down.

Write for yourself first, then write for others.

Don't bother chasing readership if you don't like what you're doing.  Blogging isn't a job.  Okay, it can be if you want it to be, but most bloggers start out just doing it for other reasons.  Stray from that, and readers will notice.

Now, that's not to say that you can't appropriate work habits to use when blogging.  A regular publishing schedule is good to stick with, and having a set writing time helps you stay on task, especially on those days when you've got problems coming up with something to write.  There have been days when I sit at the laptop and say "I don't know what the hell to write this week," and days when I have three or four ideas simply drop into my lap.  To limit the former, I've taken to jotting down inspiration when it strikes,** so that I've got a list of ideas to choose from when I write.

I'll freely admit that one of the items on my to-do list is one that I've started several times and never completed:  the dreaded fanfic.  I figure if I'm going to actually write some fanfic, I'd want it to stand on its own, and not sound like amateur hour.  The spectre of old D&D fiction I'd written back as a kid, the sort that has "Sir Doofus drew is +5 Holy Avenger and charged at the ancient red dragon" in it, is what's holding me back.  But that's just me; other bloggers can whip out fanfic without breaking a sweat, and for them this is no big deal.

In the end, you get to define your blog, not the other way around.  Do what you want, on a schedule you want.  Be active in the blogging community.  There are always new blogs with interesting voices; go and find them.  Participate in discussions.  The more you give to the community, the more you'll get back.

And whatever you do, as Wil Wheaton once said, "Don't be a dick."

*When people tell you that IT and tech fields are full of geeks, don't believe them.  I know this from experience.  Some companies may have high numbers of geeks, but they're balanced out by IT companies populated with MBAs and smarmy salespeople.  Cubicles filled with college/pro sports paraphernalia (including, but not necessarily limited to NASCAR) are also a big clue that maybe your work environment doesn't have a high geek population.

**Just don't do it in a meeting at work.  It's like having your ringtone going off, with the professional sound of "Sunny Day" from Sesame Street announcing a call from your kids.


  1. Wise words from a blogging veteran :)
    and why do I have the feeling that last comment about "Sunny Day" may have actually happened to a certain somebody? haha!

    I am still SO looking for a workplace with chances are pretty lousy though. oh well - one more reason for blogging, right?

    p.s. now that you admitted to fanfiction, there's no going back. do eeeeet! :D

    1. Considering I received my first smartphone from work last week, no it wasn't me. I was in the meeting, however. ;-)

      I don't like smartphones --or any cell phones-- very much. That's because to me the concept of a cell phone = work. You're never off the clock, and can be called back into work at a moment's notice.

      There are geeks in every workplace, but a geek-heavy workplace is more a matter of an individual company versus an entire field. A software company I worked for had a higher concentration of geeks than my current employer, but at neither place were geeks in the majority.

      The fanfic argument --to do it or not?-- is a long standing one. I've read some terrible fanfic over the years, and I've read some great fanfic. I've pretty much resolved that if I can make the story stand alone, it might be worth posting. The problem is I haven't had it even get to that level of quality yet, because I'm constantly changing things as I write. Non-fiction flows much easier for me.

  2. Oh, Syl is right. The cat is out of the bag, you've got to share that story!

    Yes, I should take a notebook on walks. For whatever reason it's when ideas come to me but most of the time they're forgotten by the time I get home.