If you’re a Buzz fanatic then you’ve probably read Melinda Harris’ post, “Three Reasons Writers Might Want A Blog” about the importance of keeping a blog. Here’s a recap in case you haven’t: a blog “keeps you writing,” “builds a readership,” and helps to develop an online “community.”
Sounds rather nice, right?
So we’ve established why having a blog is an awesome tool for any writer. Now it’s time to get technical. You want a blog, but what website builder should you be using?
I’ve provided a list of pros and cons for three popular and free website builders that anyone can use which are WordPress.com, Weebly.com, and Wix.com. I built my own unpublished blogging websites using these three builders so I could personally give you an account of what makes each different.
Before delving into the differences of these builders, let me mention a few features that they all have in common. All three builders are easy to learn, customizable, have search engine optimization (SEO), can be edited from mobile devices, and allow you customize your blog posts using HTML. When used correctly, each of these features will help you build and maintain a stellar blog.
So, without further ado, let me introduce my findings:
Most likely if you’ve ever looked into building a blog or you follow a blog, you’ve come across WordPress and there’s a reason for that. Not only does WordPress power 25% of the web, but it was built with blogging in mind!
Weebly allows you to build beautiful and simple websites with pre-made themes ranging from business to blogging. This builder has a unique drag and drop features that simplifies any website building. For those who aren’t tech savvy, Weebly allows you to contact support via emails regardless of if you’re using a free account or an upgraded one.
Wix is an amazing builder for those who love a little extra glam for their websites. Not only are their themes fun and interesting, but, without having to upgrade to a paid website, you can upload video clips to use as your background. Plus, they have animation features that will bring to life any piece of content you write.
These are, in my opinion, the best of the free website builders that you can use for your blog. Wordpress would be your best bet if you want a no frills website that is devoted to blogging and building a blogging community. Weebly is a wonderful option for both those who are and are not tech savvy due to the ability to customize templates with code and their customer support. Wix is a must for bloggers who really want to stick out by using their amazing video and animation features. Weebly’s and Wix’s easily enabled e-commerce options make them great options for anyone who wants to mix business with blogging. If you’re still not sure which builder to use, create websites using all three and publish your favorite one!
Have you ever been at a loss on where to start writing? I’m guessing you have. Why not draw on personal experience?
It must be part of the human condition to think that we lead boring lives. Every other person’s life looks better than our own, and we wish and dream for change. That’s called discontent, people. It is poisonous and will only lead to trouble and despair. We constantly compare out lives to the movies that we see, or the books that we read. Who doesn’t want to be Elizabeth Bennett or Jack Ryan (Tom Clancy’s famous character). We read a book and (usually) think, ‘what I wouldn’t give to be that person’ or ‘wow, my life is so boring’, but this will get you nowhere except into a pit of despair.
Instead of hopelessly wishing for a different life, look to the one you lead for inspiration. I just bet that you could take any one experience that you’ve had in your day and turn it into a story. Walked your dog? Write a funny story about how everything that could have gone wrong did. Ripped a hole in your favorite shirt? Turn into an emotionally charged narrative about lose. Tripped on the stairs in front of the person you are smitten with? Turn it around and make it a romantic story. The possibilities are endless.
Please, don’t believe the lie that you lead a life that is less worthy than those around you. You are you, and you are awesome. What you do is unique to you, and you should take full advantage of that opportunity. If you are looking for some inspiration, check out YouTube personality Olan Rodgers. You won’t regret it. He is the perfect example of what I’m talking about here. One of his stories can turn my day right around, and his stories are about the most simple, most strange things. If you watch, you’ll understand. Follow his format if this seems weird. He is successful at it, so you can be too! Maybe not in the same way, but it will certainly add some flavor to your own personal and creative life.
I challenge you to take moments in your life and transform them. Use them as creative fodder and see where it takes you. Maybe even string a couple stories together and make a character that resembles you. Remember, you are great, your life can be the perfect inspiration, and no one does your life better than you.
We’ve all had those moments where we have great writerly ideas at horrible times. Out on a date, riding in the car, at your cousin’s ballet recital, a distant relative’s funeral--you name it. Here are a few methods I’ve experimented with to make sure that none of my ideas die and fade away before I have a chance to write them down.
Pros: It feels very writerly, walking around, taking notes, having a pen in your pocket and a little Moleskine book filled with observations from your day. Even if your ideas are shit, you look the part at the very least.
Cons: Well, you’re carrying around a pen and a notebook everywhere. Pens explode. They leak ink. And notebooks are bulky, even when they’re small. Carrying around 50 index-card sized pages around is a feat that can’t be done without pockets are a little bag. For female writers, shove it in your purse. For males, maybe invest in a satchel?
2. Text yourself the ideas as they come.
Pros: Efficient, autocorrect takes away the typos that come with trying to jot down ideas quickly. All your ideas end up stored in a single place, the text thread that you share with yourself. You can also text yourself pictures, sound bytes, videos, etc. that you found inspirational.
Cons: It feels a little strange and lonely, texting oneself. But we’re writers so I guess strange and lonely are right in our wheelhouse. Also, if your battery runs out then you’re shit out of luck. Also people might ask who you’re constantly texting, and it is a little uncomfortable to have to explain that you are--in fact--texting yourself. Because you’re a writer/have no friends, basically.
3. Write on yourself--hands, arms, legs, socks, etc.
Pros: You definitely won’t lose your ideas, they are literally on your person. You don’t have to carry around a notebook or worry about texting yourself, just have a pen with lots of ink to cover yourself with. Temporary tattoos are cool.
Cons: Temporary tattoos might not be cool when you can’t scrub them off and the ideas turn out bad. Your arms/legs/hands also offer only so much idea-space, and ink has a tendency to rub off when it’s left on your skin long enough.
Whenever I finish a really good book—one of those books that keeps you up at night, begging to be finished, that makes you think about something completely differently, that inspires you to create something that beautiful and thought-provoking, yourself—I immediately wish I could talk to the author. Sometimes I’m dying to ask the writer about their plot choices, but mostly I just want to know how. How’d they do it? How did they come up with the idea? How did they survive the grueling process of writing and editing? I want to know all about their process and experiences and habits, anything to give insight into the amazing feat of writing a book.
If you’ve ever felt the same way, then you’re in luck. We’ve invited some of Unsolicited Press’s fabulous poets and writers to join us for a little round table Question-and-Answer. Some questions are serious, some are silly, and all are interesting. Read on to meet some of our authors and find out about the behind the scenes process of writing.
To read what the authors had to say, click to read the article. This is a longer piece, but I hope it stimulates conversation!!!
Finding Your Write Voice
Writer’s block is always going to be a problem. At some point you bump up against a wall and sometimes you just need to break it. So how do you get there? Here are some ideas:
1. Keeping a journal is a great way to record ideas as they come to you. Sometimes a dream journal can provide just enough inspiration to create a story or generate a run of ideas. Journals can be small enough to carry with you or something that sits on your bedside table. These pages will become a run of ideas to come back to later when writer’s block pops up again.
2. Sometimes a prompt or writing group can provide just enough motivation to get words on a page. Both of these options provide an expectation that work will be generated. Whether or not this work is quality or used later is not the issue. Simply starting the process might be all you need to get back on track. Taking five minutes to focus on a prompt or write in a group of people provides valuable kick-start time.
3. Some authors find that music provides enough distraction to block out background noise, but still lets them focus. Try the soundtrack to a movie or a videogame. These soundtracks are designed to keep you focused while providing background noise. Sometimes music can be the change of pace that gets words on a page.
4. A change of scene is another great way to get your head in the right place to write. We all have places we naturally focus and part of that is due to how our brain associates activities with that place. For instance, reading in bed can cause your brain to associate the bed with work, which might make people have trouble falling asleep. If your desk is usually associated with work, you might find it a little too stressful or put too much pressure on yourself to produce work. Try changing venues. Writing outdoors or in a café might help your brain settle into the right place to get something done.
In the end it comes down to “butt in seat, laptop at hand.” Put the time in with your butt in a chair and a laptop opened up to a blank page. The only way to get writing is to start writing. Sometimes this way takes the longest to get started. You only have your own thoughts and the words you can bang out through the keyboard, but you have to push on. You can’t edit a blank page until you put something on it.
Books have always been my favorite accessories. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t buried in their pages. “She’s going to be a writer,” my mom would tell dinner guests as I shook breadcrumbs out of my book. I never really thought about doing anything else with my life. It seemed like it had been decided so many years ago. I would be a writer. I fought my instincts all the way through my second year of journalism in college before I finally ran out of gas and admitted my biggest fear: I didn’t want to be a writer.
The ensuing identity crisis was turbulent. In freeing myself from the race to create the “next Great American novel,” I felt as though I might have lost my chance to create anything. It’s difficult to be part of a species obsessed with creation when you don’t feel a desire to add to its library, but I’ve learned a lot about my definition of creativity over the last few years. Here are five things every supporting player in the book industry should remember.
1.) Being an enthusiastic audience member is just as important as writing the play, scoring the film, or designing the set.
Addressing fans at the final Harry Potter film premiere, J.K. Rowling said, “No story lives unless someone wants to listen.” The audience's role is just as important as the role of the writer or the performer. The ability to absorb a new idea or concept is creativity in its rawest form. Just because you didn’t create the words on the page does not mean you’re a passive consumer without value or creative abilities.
2.) Love things with an unapologetic enthusiasm.
When you’re not at peace with your role in life, it can be difficult to enjoy others’ artistic efforts. The books, shows, and art you used to love might suddenly trigger an irritable response. Don’t let your perception of what you think you should do limit who you are. Inspiration is everywhere. Absorb new ideas. Explore new environments. Be who you are in this moment. Love things enthusiastically and unapologetically without forcing yourself to contribute an unnecessary admission fee.
3.) Don’t confuse creation with affirmation.
I get it. It’s difficult to be surrounded by successful writers, writers/editors, designers, and photographers if you’re struggling with your creative identity. But they will be the first people to tell you that a need for positive affirmation does nothing to drive their creative impulses. Their need to create is driven by curiosity and a love for the creative process, not by a positive reception. Just because you don’t thrive on that creative process doesn’t mean you don’t have something to offer. Embrace what makes you different.
4.) Cut yourself some slack.
Life isn’t about overcoming obstacles that block the path to who you think you should be. Life is about exploring different abilities and letting yourself be what feels right to you. Be the first person in line to cut yourself some slack.
5.) Don’t be afraid to be a human bookend.
There’s a reason we have marketing and publicity departments. There’s a reason we have booksellers and librarians. Not everyone wants to be the next John Green. I’ve learned to embrace my supporting role in this industry. I am a proud human bookend. Now it’s your turn.
Thanks to our stunning author Ani Manjikian, we were able to read about five up and coming magazines that you should submit to this year. We didn't write it, but we would love to share it with you:
"Small and independent magazines are the lifeblood of the literary scene, providing many emerging writers with their first chance to have their work published. Here are five new literary magazines accepting submissions this August."
You can read the article HERE
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