Tag Archives: Bloggiesta

Treasure Trove of Ideas #Bloggiesta Winners!

I posted back in my Tuesday Snapshot post that I really really hoped I wouldn’t get the stomach bug that hit the book-reading demon and my son Dylan this past weekend. Maybe that was like an invite for the bug to strike?

Because yes, I did end up with it, but in a weird sort of form. Maybe those probiotics do work, after all! What I ended up with was more “flu” and less “stomach”, which basically meant I spent the last twenty-four hours in bed, drifting in and out of sleep, my body aching, while listening to different Agatha Christie titles from my stack of comfort listens.

A bit of tummy pain that came and went, but despite some queasiness, there was NO throwing up! Yay for that. This morning my stomach feels a bit tender, but the fatigue is gone, as is the queasiness. I’m on the mend!

So this #Bloggiesta winners post is late by one day (plus I missed a day of posting). Thank you to everyone who participated in the How to create a treasure trove of blog post ideas Bloggiesta challenge!

And now for the winners!

TheRoadisLifeJudyClementWall.jpg

The prize of the 5X7 Art Card of their choice from Judy Clement Wall’s Etsy shop goes to:

Care

Care posted about generating blog post ideas here.

The two prize packages of five books/reading related postcards from my postcard collection go to:

Kendra

Kendra posted about generating blog post ideas here.

Ang

Ang posted about generating blog post ideas.

I’ll be contacting the winners via email. Thanks again to everyone who participated!

On why this is not my Bloggiesta wrap-up post

What’s that quote again? “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” That was me yesterday.

Being the master procrastinator that I am, I’d set aside Saturday night as Bloggiesta time. My plan was to roll up my sleeves at around 7 pm and start working through my Bloggiesta to-do list. I’d be finished by around 11:00 pm, I figured.

Unfortunately, MsBookish had other plans. It started in the morning when I couldn’t log in to my dashboard. My webhost fixed it, but then when it came time for me to roll up my Bloggiesta sleeves, everything was down.

It took a while for them to fix things the second time around, but they did (I like them a lot, by the way, because so far they have always been very responsive when sucky website things happen).

Now, the reason I’d set aside Saturday night to work on Bloggiesta stuff was because starting today, I have to buckle down and work on work stuff. I have four deadlines this coming week, and I knew I wouldn’t have have the nice big chunk of time necessary for my Bloggiesta to-do after Saturday night.

So what did I do when I found out I couldn’t work on Bloggiesta stuff? Did I instead pull out one of my deadlines and start plugging away at it, so that theoretically I could then do Bloggiesta stuff today (assuming everything was fixed)?

Magazine Mogul

No, I did not. I spent the night waiting and checking my email for site updates. And playing Kairosoft’s Magazine Mogul on my Kobo. (I love (and have) all of Kairosoft’s games …) This is the kind of thing I do when I’m stressed or tired or procrastinating.

So here I am on this sunny early spring morning, writing what should have been my Bloggiesta wrap-up post. The way it looks now, I probably won’t get to my Bloggiesta to-do until next weekend.

And a PS: for everyone who tried to comment with a link to their posts on my Bloggiesta challenge post, I’m extending the time to enter the challenge and giveaway by two days, to Wednesday, April 1 (the draw will be made on April 2), to make up for the page being down on Saturday evening..

So, how did your Saturday night go? Much better than mine, I hope!

What I’ve learned from nearly four months of blogging daily

daily blogging

Up until December of last year, I wasn’t the most faithful of bloggers. When I first started MsBookish back in November of 2008, I did blog somewhat regularly, but as time passed, I stopped being consistent.

For much of last year, my blogging was quite sporadic—to give you an idea, in 2014 I posted seven times in January, twice in February, once in March, once in April, eight times in May, four times in June, three times in July, once in August, no posts in September, once in October and no posts in November. So, 28 times from January to November.

And then I made an important decision—I committed to 365 Days of Blogging beginning December 1 of 2014.

This wasn’t something I had to do. It was something I wanted to do—I wanted to do it, because aside from work deadlines, I’m not exactly the most committed or dedicated person. And, well, I wanted to see if I could make that type of commitment.

It’s been almost four months now, and I have managed to blog every day (except for Christmas Day, which I decided to take off from blogging).

And I’ve learned some surprising things, which I will now pass on to anyone who might be interested.

It’s much easier to blog every day than it is to blog sporadically.

I think Gretchen Rubin has mentioned this too. I would never have given it much credence, except now I’m doing it, and I know it’s true.

You know that feeling when you haven’t blogged for a while, and you get an idea for a post but you feel kind of weird and all guilted-out about it and so you don’t? And the longer it’s been since the last time you blogged, the harder it gets to write that new post? Yes, been there, done that.

When you blog consistently, you don’t feel that way. And honestly, I don’t even think it’s about blogging every day. What makes the difference is committing to a schedule, even if it’s only once a week. It’s that commitment that makes a difference. Or at least, it has for me.

Your posts feel less precious.

Losing that sense of preciousness has been an extremely powerful experience. I find I’m no longer attached to the words I write the way I used to be. I don’t agonize over whether I said something clearly enough, whether I was witty, whether I was interesting. My words are no longer my darlings. So I bang out a post that kind of sucks? It’s not worth caring about, because I’m just going to be writing another one tomorrow.

It’s a great feeling. It lets me be me, however I happen to be feeling on any given day.

You stop worrying (so much) about getting comments.

When I was blogging more sporadically, sometimes I’d get a ton of comments on a post. Because eventually all your blogging buddies get a chance to come by and leave their thoughts on that post, since it’s been hanging around in the “most recent post” top spot for weeks.

But when you write a post every day, you know no-one is going to read every single post you write. And you know no-one is going to comment on every post you make. And for some reason, knowing that makes those anxious thoughts ease up. Life (and blogging) become that little bit easier.

You get more ideas for posts.

I prepped for my 365 Days of Blogging by creating a blog post ideas stash (you can read more about generating your own ideas stash here), but the funny thing is, I haven’t had to use very many ideas from my stash. It turns out the more I blog, the more blog post ideas I get. I’m not sure why, but it’s a good thing. So it’s like some sort of wonderful cycle: when you blog more you get more blog ideas so you can blog more so …

After three months and 24 days of daily blogging (not counting Christmas Day), this is what I’ve learned so far. Will I continue blogging daily come December 1, 2015? Probably not, but I definitely won’t leave my blogging up to chance or whims. I’ll definitely be committing to a blogging schedule, and I’ll stick to it.

If you haven’t yet, check out the rest of the discussion links up at Bloggiesta on Your Best Blogging Advice Ever!

Photo credit

How to create a treasure trove of blog post ideas {#Bloggiesta challenge}

It’s Bloggiesta time again, and here’s my challenge to you: Create your own treasure trove of blog post ideas!

Why create a stash of blog post ideas?

Back in December, I embarked on 365 Days of Blogging, and to help prepare myself for a year of daily blogging, I spent some time in November creating a blog post ideas stash.

Since then, I’ve dipped into my stash occasionally, and I also spend some time every week adding new blog post ideas to it. Now that I’m into the daily blogging habit, I do find it’s not as much of a problem coming up with a blog post idea as it used to be when I was blogging more sporadically, but there have definitely been some days when the idea well has run dry and I’m so glad I have my ideas stash to dive into!

“But I can barely think of one idea, let alone a whole treasure trove of them!”

You can trust me on this one: once you get your idea wheels turning, it becomes easier and easier. You start looking at everything with new eyes—and you’ll find blog post ideas lurking in all corners of your life. Really, you will!

But getting started is probably the hardest part. So here are a few idea jumpstarting methods to get you started.

Brainstorming

Sit down with a blank piece of paper and jot down every single blog post idea that comes to your mind. The important thing is not to judge any of it. If you’re thinking to yourself, “I like oranges … maybe I could write a post about how much I like oranges …” put it on the list! With the brainstorming method, the point isn’t to have every idea you come up with be a really really good blog post idea. What you want is to generate a creative flow of ideas, and the way to get that is through quantity.

Once you’ve got a good list going, you can put your judgment cap back on. Sort through the ideas, and transfer the good ideas to your blog post ideas stash (this can be an electronic document or a notebook—digital or analog, use whatever works for you.)

Here are some of the ideas from my blog post ideas stash that I came up with while brainstorming:

Yet Another Time Suck (about the Facebook groups app. Which I spend way too much time on!)

The Benefit of Having Book Goals (about how having a book goal has reduced the number of books I DNF)

One important tip: Be sure to include a description of what your idea means to you. I have this jotted down in my notebook: Road to productivity: the envelope. And I have NO clue what I meant by this!

Other Headlines and Post Titles

Do you keep track of your favourite blogs on Feedly or Bloglovin or something similar? Open up your feed reader of choice and start scanning all the post titles. Or pop onto Twitter or Facebook and see what headlines and post titles catch your eye. It doesn’t even have to be an article you want to read—you’re mainly looking for interesting words or topics, or interesting types of posts. And, for you book bloggers out there, it doesn’t have to be a book-related article or post. In fact, this works really well with headlines and post titles that aren’t book-related.

Now for the fun part! Go through each headline or title on your list, and try to rework it into a post you’d like to write. Use each headline or title as a starting point, and see where it takes you. The goal with this exercise isn’t to come up with a similar idea—it’s about using an existing headline or title as a jumping off point to come up with your own idea.

Here’s an example. Opening up my Feedly just now, I came across this post from Brit & Co: Disney Princess Weddings IRL: 14 Cinderella-Inspired Ideas. Now, I’m not a particularly romantic kind of person, but I have a soft spot for Cinderella stories. So working off this title, I might add the following ideas to my blog posts notebook:

7 Books I Love That Have a Cinderella Theme

It’s About the Underdog! Why I Love Cinderella Stories So Much

If I was a romance reader, I might jot down 5 Great Wedding Scenes I’ve Read, or something like that. These are just off the top of my head, but you get the idea.

Write About/Respond to Another Article or Post

I use this method to add to my blog posts ideas stash all the time. I’ll come across an article or post about a subject that I’d like to write about or respond to, and I’ll add it to my ideas stash. In some cases, I’ll accumulate a set of links about one particular topic, and I’ll use those as the basis for a blog post.

For example, I had jotted down these two links in my ideas stash:

On marginalia http://www.farnamstreetblog.com/2015/01/marginalia/

More on marginalia http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2014/dec/03/weapon-for-readers/?insrc=rel

I ended up using these links, plus a few more I found once I started writing, to write this post on marginalia.

Use a Blog Topics Generator

Here’s a fun one! Try out this blog topic generator at Hubspot. I entered “books”, “Cinderella” and “oranges” and got this:

Blog post ideas generator

The Prizes

One winner will receive his or her choice of any one 5X7 Art Card from my friend Judy Clement Wall’s Etsy store. Here are some samples of Judy’s Art Cards:

The Road is Life Judy Clement Wall

Brazenly Beautiful Judy Clement Wall

Another two winners will receive prize packages of five books/reading-related postcards, selected randomly from my postcard collection.

So, Are YOU Ready to Take This Challenge?

Here’s what you need to do. Come up with at last twelve new blog post ideas to start off your ideas stash. Once you’ve done this, write a post about your idea-generating experiences—talk about anything you like, such as how you came up with your ideas, what you’re using to keep track of your ideas, if you think this is something you’re going to keep doing. Maybe even share some of the ideas you’ve come up with, if you’d like! To be entered into the draw for the prizes, come back to this post and comment with a link to your post.

I will put the names of all participants into a hat and draw the three winners on March 30  on April 2 so you have until April 1 to post your links to enter the giveaway (I’m extending the time to compensate for my site being down for much of Saturday evening) – I’ll contact winners for their addresses via the email address they use in the comment form.

Have fun, everyone!

My spring Bloggiesta 2015 to-do list

Bloggiesta

Who’s doing Bloggiesta this spring? This year, it’s a week-long event, so there’ll be lots of time to do those blogging things that need doing and fix those bloggy things that need fixing!

I didn’t do very well at all with the mini-Bloggiesta earlier this year, so here’s hoping I’ll do much better this time around.

My Bloggiesta To-Do List

  1. Write that first newsletter. A must-do as I actually have people signed up for it now. It didn’t seem so crucial before, when I had only two people signed up, both friends.
  2. Create a standalone newsletter page.
  3. Create a Hire Me page, and link to home page.
  4. Work on an editorial content calendar.
  5. Add an Instagram plugin for sidebar.
  6. Clean up categories and tags.
  7. Update About Me page.
  8. Go theme hunting and plugin hunting, see what’s out there.
  9. Show summary of posts on home page, with Read More link.
  10. Think about installing Discus. Or not.

When it comes to Discus, I get all decided that “yes, I’m going to switch over” and then I change my mind again.

I think I should be able to tackle all of the items on this list, especially now that Bloggiesta is a whole week!

What about you? Are you signing up for Bloggiesta?

A Not Getting Things Done Day and a Quote for Book Bloggers

I had set aside today to work on Bloggiesta and also on all the administrative things that have been piling up. Things like invoicing, which is a pretty important thing when you work for yourself, so I don’t know why preparing invoices usually tops my list of Things To Procrastinate.

One thing led to another, and I found myself designing a new invoice template. I’m not sure what possessed me, but there you have it. I just kind of decided to do it. That took me just about forever, because I’m not exactly the most proficient with a spreadsheet. I’d managed to get about half of my invoices prepared when I got an email from a client which basically added more work to a deadline I’d just finished up.

I gave up after that. Took a nice, long hot bath and then lay on my bed for a good half hour, just resting. The day had turned into a Not Getting Things Done day and I thought I might as well not resist it.

I did, however, come across something earlier today that I really liked, so it wasn’t a total waste of a day. It was a post on Seth Godin’s blog called You are what you share. There was one quote from the post that I liked in particular, so much so that I quickly posted it to Tumblr. And then decided to make a picture quote out of it for today’s post.

Seth Godin quote

I think it’s an apt quote for book bloggers every where – after all, isn’t that what we’re saying every time we blog about a book we loved? “You really need to read this one!”

Now I’ll hit publish, and then pin the quote to my Pinterest board. It will make me feel halfway productive about today.

My Bloggiesta To-Do List

Bloggiesta-MiniW15

I’m signing up for next weekend’s mini Bloggiesta (the sign-up page is here). If you haven’t participated in Bloggiesta before, it’s a great way to get some things done around your blog along with other bloggers who’re also participating.

Here’s my Bloggiesta to-do list for next weekend. It’s on the short side, because this is a deadline-heavy month so I won’t be able to invest as much time as I’d like.

1. Research new WordPress themes. I prefer the theme I was using before I upgraded, but that one had a single post page that didn’t include the sidebar. Now, obviously I’d figured out what to do about it when I used it previously, but all the changes have been lost and I wasn’t able to find any instructions that didn’t involve a “child theme”, which I’m not really ready to learn about yet! So next weekend, I’d like to put together a list of possible themes.

2. Find new templates for each of my three 365-day-challenge Tumblr blogs. Right now they’re each using the generic default template, which isn’t really much to look at. I’d love to find templates that fit the topic of each Tumblr blog: creativity, writing and short stories.

3. Re-organize my sidebar. As you can probably tell, it’s pretty cluttered right now.

4. Activate the What Would Seth Godin Do plugin. Which basically means I have to create a newsletter sign-up page.

5. Create a “Hire Me” contact page. You know, for all those people clamoring for my freelance writing services. They’ve got to be somewhere out there, right? And how can they offer their writing assignments to me if I don’t have a contact page?

Hopefully I’ll be able to tackle each of these to-dos next weekend!

Are you participating in Bloggiesta? What things do you need to do around your blog?

Enter: Marcus

Thank you so much to everyone who commented on my 20 minute writing commitment post. I felt so inspired after reading all of your comments – and suddenly, it really did feel very much like “it’s only 20 minutes”.

So I took roughly 20 minutes today to work on Waverley; I am now 1200 more words into the story, and even better, a new character has made his way into the tale.

His name is Marcus, and as I’m writing without rereading what I’ve written, I just inserted him right in the scene I was writing – I’ll have to revise earlier chapters to get him in just right.

But the great news is, he fits. He was an off-page character earlier on in the novel, but I’ve been having this feeling that something was missing, and apparently, that something was Marcus.

The funny thing is, I know him so well – if any of my characters is my alter ego, it’s Marcus.

So now I have my threesome: Charlie, Nella and Marcus. They have come a long way since they were Thing 1 and Thing 2 in my mind. And while they still have a long way to go, at least now I feel like, yes, they will get there eventually.

At the pace of 20 minutes a day!

************************************

Is anyone signing up for Bloggiesta? It is being held on January 8, 9 and 10 of the new year, and I’m debating whether I’ll be able to sign up.

Unfortunately, it falls right on the final weekend of my current “I’ve got a TON of work” period. And we’ve been invited out for dinner on the 8th. So I’m not sure I’ll be able to commit to doing Bloggiesta properly or not.

On the other hand, I’m going to be installing a new template for MsBookish, and it would be lovely to be able to get that done during Bloggiesta.

So I’ll have to see how many of my deadlines I can finish ahead of time. I may be able to sign up after all!

How about you? Do you have plans to do Bloggiesta in the new year?

Bloggiesta Update

blogiestaThe past two days definitely flew by. I didn’t accomplish everything on my Bloggiesta list, but then again, with a couple of deadlines hanging over me (one down, one to go!) I didn’t really expect to.

I found that just making my Bloggiesta to-do list was helpful, and I will likely be making my way through the list for the rest of this week, getting everything ready for when I leave for vacation!

So here’s my list – I’ve crossed off the things I did manage to get done:

  • write and schedule as many Incoming! new book arrival posts as possible.
  • update my writing blogs links page. It is woefully behind, in comparison to the book blogs one.
  • figure out how to copy all of my existing blogging templates from my desktop to my netbook (this one is very very important)
  • create master printed list of usernames and passwords for handy reference while I’m away
  • begin compiling my Sunday giveaways post before tomorrow night (I’ve been falling into the dreadful habit of doing it all last minute, and it can take me three or four hours!)
  • upgrade existing plugins
  • upload and activate new plugins

I also did some template tweaking that I hadn’t contemplated: I added gravatars to the comments section. And I now have threaded comments! I’m pretty thrilled about that one.

I also completed the following mini-challenges:

The Book Lady’s Blog: Clean up your feedreader

Fizzy Thought’s challenge: Go forth and comment!

And I did one that I hadn’t thought I’d have time for: Ruth from Bookish Ruth – You’re going to analyze what? My score? 97/100. I was pretty happy with that.

As you can see, I’ve been quite the Bloggiesta slacker compared to a lot of you. I kept up with everyone’s tweets through #bloggiesta and many of the participants were up to some awesome stuff. Debbie from Debbie’s World of Books and Diane of The Book Resort both put up brand new templates (and Debbie actually switched over to her own domain!)

Natasha (MawBooks) has The Bloggiesta: Finish Line post up, so you can check out how (and what!) everyone did over the past 48 hours.

Bloggiesta Mini-Challenges

blogiestaI just checked out the Bloggiesta mini-challenges, and I’ve decided to add these ones to my Bloggiesta list:

The Book Lady’s Blog: Clean up your feedreader. This is something I’ve been thinking about doing – I even posted about blog overload recently! My plan is to borrow an idea that Beth F. suggested to me: place the blogs that I am subscribed to in alphabetical folders.

Speaking of Beth F., I’m also going to be doing her challenge: Write a post and save it for another day. I’m not sure whether I’ll write an opinion post or a list post, but I have ideas for both in my blogging notebook, so I have quite a few choices.

I love blog commenting, although I don’t have as much time for it as I’d like. So I’ll be doing Fizzy Thought’s challenge: Go forth and comment!

Some time today I’ll also be heading over to GalleySmith’s and linking to something on here in her comments section with the proper anchor text. Unless a blog has enabled do-follow comments (for example, when you comment here, Comment Luv is activated and you get an SEO-valid link back to your latest post), you’re not going to get major SEO benefits from links in your comments on that blog, but it’s still a VERY good reminder to always use related anchor text when creating links to your blog!

The final mini-challenge I’m going to attempt is Book Blather’s blogging tips and tutorials challenge.  The idea is to go through this  list of blogging tips and tutorials at Problogger and learn a new tip (and possibly put it to good use over Bloggiesta!). This one sounds like fun.

Are you in Bloggiesta? Which mini-challenges are you going to tackle? Even if you’re not doing Bloggiesta, do any of these mini-challenges sound like fun to you?