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Saturday, June 30, 2012

10 Blogging No No's

Being a part of blogging communities means I visit random blogs daily. There are some things universally annoying about blogs and their authors.
 
I have been running in to them over and over recently. It is frustrating. Half of the problem affects content so much it is impossible to determine if the content is worth fighting through the hardships for. 

Offense #1 Auto-play music 

It. does. Not. Work. For. Blogs. Cease and desist. Including a player that visitors could individually enable would be fine. For the rest of us a link to a YouTube video or having one imbedded is the best alternative. Nothing makes me want to leave a blog or even a website faster than some auto play audio or video being forced on me. 

Offense #2 Visual Issues 

WoNkY FoNtZ, weird text, odd paragraph alignment, designs on the background of the text or poor color contrast choices. 

Offense #3 A Lack of Spacing

The entire post does not need to be double spaced. Yet and still adding an extra line between every 3 lines of text can really give the eye a break. 

Offense #4 Regurgitating News 

When I want just the news go to a news source. When I visit a blog I want to hear what the author thinks about what maybe going on in the news. I get annoyed when I feel like all they are doing is rewriting a news story hoping to attract hot topic viewers. 

Offense #5 A Short Story Masquerading as a Blog Post 

When a post goes over 700 words I get bored. Wrap it up, extended it into a two parter or a series. Do. not. try. to. hold. on. to. people. endlessly. 

Offense #6 A Snippet of Information Masquerading as a Blog Post 

If it will fit in a tweet…why did I have to visit your blog? When a post is just a few lines it feels unfinished and readers feel cheated. 300 words is a good minimum. 

Offense #7 Phrases like “New Blog Post” 

With all the millions of bloggers in the world who cares? Your newest blog post has a title and a theme. Use them. Tell me why I want to care. Don’t waste time or space stating the obvious. 

Offense #8 Vague Content 

I click on posts where someone mentions they are dealing with a problem to see how they have dealt with or are managing through the problem. I navigate away feeling ripped off if the problem never really gets revealed. 

Offense #9 Vapid Valuelessness 

A public blog is not a journal… too often I see people whose blogs add no value, begging for more followers and attention. Put out good content, be entertaining or informative and the people will come. 

Offense #10 Sharing without connecting 

As I mentioned I have joined blogging communities. There are those who visit other blogs and comment on posts via the communities. There are others who leave comments on the blogs themselves. Then there are those who are too busy or clueless to be bothered...

Friday, June 29, 2012

Hone Your Craft


I am going to disagree with Jeff here today. Only because I have learned things about myself: I am a messy creative and it does not hinder my creativity. 

There are times sure when it might hinder my productivity but who has not misplaced something in the last three days? 

Life happens. Even to the most well intended and organized. 
I have read a lot and known a few people who can be negatively physically, emotionally or mentally affected by what they see.
If their area is a mess it bothers them. This is not just for the OCD among us. 

I understand the visual mind body connections.

I just also know that they do not all work in the negative. I like stuff around me. 

Everything has a place and everything is in its place. That is where I last left it. 
More importantly it is handy to me where I am. I want function over appearance.

So I will not be delaying this post to organize my room. It does not matter to you whether or not I can see my floor. I should take a picture. There is an upended chair in the middle of the room. A failed move. 

Somehow I misplaced one of the feet getting it from the 1st bedroom here to the second a few months ago. 

Thinking it would turn up, the foot that is, the chair stayed in a waiting position. 

Now it is a cat rest.

If what you see affects how you work by all means go clean your area or remove yourself to a more productive spot. 

You have to do what works for you. You should be old enough to understand these things about yourself.

For me I can be myself anywhere I land. 

I have learned to edit my own writing as I have committed myself to blogging. It does not happen when I journal. 

I do not recall it happening when I was posting to my private online communities. 

There I did not feel spotlighted. I felt like one of many free to express myself. Now with the blog I know I am on display. I am reaching people who do not know me.

It carries a different weight. I have also learned that sometimes the writing speaks for itself. I might start a piece with one idea in mind but what I write morphs into something else. 

I have learned to go with the flow. 

I edit the title and post.

Once a post is written I do a word count. When it is over about 500 words I usually find myself taking bits and pieces out. I like to add in lots of texture and context.

This can be good. It can also weigh a piece down. Somehow I see this for my written work but not for the things I leave laying around.

Interesting no? Maybe because they are all around me but they are not attached to me.

If you have written something and are nervous about sharing it, could you trim it and release it? 

Can you clear some space right now and bust out a post?
Maybe decluttering is not about clearing the place where you are or places you have been.

Maybe it is about clearing a path to where you are going.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Write Wild Get Loose


Tip number twelve is: Provoke through your writing.

If you needed someone to give you a push, here goes!


I learned this lesson about relating to others early. Be real. Be honest. That means sharing the good the bad and sometimes the ugly.

I remember with my social communities the hardest thing I had to share was when my father died suddenly one day. It was so shocking I did not want to scare others. 

Still I decided it needed to be shared. If anyone else was about to go through that I wanted them to have that extra push to give a hug or place a call etc.

As a writer on a normal day I have an edge. I want to be provocative. I am passionate and I can hop up on one of my many soap boxes in a moment.

Nothing is really off limits.

There are a couple of blogs I see in my blogging communities talking about adult bodily functions these days in a series. 

I think we all have those and don’t really need to discuss it for fun.

Other than that thankfully I have been living a thoughtful life. Since my daughter has been on the scene I have understood that someone is watching me. 

I make decisions knowing that what I do affects her. I want her to be able to respect me. I do not want to jeopardize our life together.

Do you have an ugly hidden story you need to reveal? Do you worry that you will be judged or unloved when you do?

Have you imagined that you might endear yourself to your readers? 

Can you imagine that whatever you are hiding is not unusual? 

Go right now and type it into a search engine. Topics should pop right up. Read a few and then write and release something deep and dark. 

Whatever you have done or gone through is a building block towards your future. 

Do not be afraid. If there is some commentary you have been biting your tongue against releasing to the world say it! Speak out.

Post it to social media your friends will understand. Frame it out on your blog that is your private platform. Be humble and honest. 

Your readers will tell you what they really think. If you are wrong you want to know it. If you need to make amends when will there be a better time?

Life is not about being perfect and always beautiful to look at. It is about finding the beauty in all seasons and areas of life and living. Write dangerously fearlessly courageously.

BE BOLD

If you have to, write it just for yourself and do not even share it. Just look at it in written form and be real with yourself for a moment.

Find others who are dealing with the same issue and be renewed. You do not have to tell them you share their issue. It can be a secret but there is healing in community. Go

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Publish Something Tip #13

One of the reasons some writers do not think of themselves as writers or authors is because they have yet to publish. 
Jeff seeks to curb this and other myth with tip number thirteen.

I am very close on this one. I have three blogs but since they are all up and running they do not count.

I did submit a post to a well established blog that was accepted but there have been some site issues since then and posts have not been coming out as scheduled.

The other thing I have going for me in this direction is something I planned as the year began. I struggle to understand the format needed for writing something and calling it a book or an ebook for that matter.

I know that may sound silly and I am not even sure I am describing what my problem is properly. Let me say this, I never thought I had a book in me or how I would know until I ran across NaNoWriMo. It is a November writing challenge. 

The goal is to write 50,000 words during the month. This should be in the form of a book or a novel. When the month ends edit and publish. Presto authorship.

I needed a word goal. That helped me frame out how much information was needed for a base. I know there are books of all sizes thick and thin. I also understand that since I am the author there is a level of autonomony to my writing that will alert to when a work is complete unto itself.

Maybe there are so many variables I just needed something to grasp onto.

With the word goal then came along another nugget. I was following a local publisher on Twitter. She shared a blog post with this heading

Looking that over got into another aspect of writing that I know is very common. Outlining, planning even. I understand it but it cramps my writing flow. 
I need to write first edit and rearrange second. I can write a killer out line and amazing pieces on the same topic and have them look nothing like each other.
 
When I am doing school assignments I have to write them ahead of time and then pull out the lines for the outline and submit it backwards when the professor calls for progressive pieces to be turned in.

I purchased a web address this year. I secured hosting which came with WP.org capabilities.

Long before I had a blog I had a web presence and created an online community that I communicated with regularly.

The content of my messages to them I think will make a nice…something to publish to Kindles through Amazon. So I secured an account for that as well.
I just need to formulate edit and publish it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Of Branding & Impressions


Tip #14 is about branding. Your brand is the impression you leave people with.


Thus it is not something we decide to do or not do, have or not have on any given day. It is something that is always a part of us.

This however does not mean the impression we leave people with cannot be changed.

At any time in our lives we can decide to reinvent ourselves or present new sides of our personality to the world.

What people see of us at any given time is only a slice of all that we fully are.

For those of us who have dreams or visions of fame and notoriety even simple business success, branding is important. 

Decide on the image you want associated with your content.

I share stories and perspectives from my own life. As a writer I see myself writing non fiction. Truth is stranger than fiction and I have a lot to say. 
There are ideas of fictionalizing some content but it is more about changing names to protect private citizens rather than deciding how a story will go. 

As a brand I like to be versatile.  

I never know where inspiration will spark or what new thing might grab my interest.
All in all I cannot say enough about the power of intention based action.

I will leave you with this story from my high school days:

We moved across the country just in time for me to start 9th grade.

I understood school culture and cliques. I was used to knowing most if not all the students I had classes with. 

As a people person this was very comfortable to me. It afforded a wealth of information if no other clout. 

The last thing I wanted to do was get thrust into the wrong or even just one clique in the new location.

What to do? What to do?

I decided to dress the part for groups I wanted to infiltrate.

This meant picking severely different outfits from day to day. 

Preppy
Rocker/Stoner
Girly Fashion
Nerdy/Geeky
Normal

Thankfully there are few pictures of those long ago days. Each look of course included make-up and hair. 

I did not act any different each day. I tried to stay open and talk to everyone. I settled in and life went on. 

My family had moved from a large capital city to a one stop light resort town so the high school was not very big. I soon did know a majority of students at least those who I shared immediate grades with.

It has only been in the last few years via Facebook that I heard this report from an old high school friend:
 
"Tosca I remember when you moved to town. Before I knew you I was watching you and trying to figure you out. 

Every day it seemed like you dressed to fit in to a different group. It was curious. I was not sure what kind of people you would best fit with."

Success!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Writing Tip #15


Ok so I came extremely late to the 15 Tips for Being a Great Writer party.

Today is day 15 and it is ending for everyone else. No one said I can’t start now and just do it backwards so that is what I intend to do. I hope you my readers will get a kick out of it.

Today’s tip is to: serve others with one’s writing.

I totally get that. 

Not long ago I was sharing my blog via my Facebook feed asking my friends to vote for me in a challenge. 

One of my wry friends commented “Why do you need our help? Don’t you write for your own personal satisfaction?”

I was a little taken aback that anyone would ask me that. I had to decide it was not personal. I also figured people were not clicking the link and reading my posts.

I replied for those who were interested to see.

If all I wanted was to see myself write, I have a journal that I write by hand with pens in spiral note pads. I also have an abandoned Myspace with a blog plus a forgotten private LiveJournal.

No! I blog (write) to help and reach others. I blog (write) because I have something to say that I know people want to hear. I learned that when I created online communities via Yahoo in years past. 

People really responded to me sharing thoughts, feelings, insights and emotions.

They called me fearless for saying things they only dared to think about and giving voice to their dreams while silencing the evil inner critics so many feel hampered by.

I do not even want to write as much as I want to speak. If only someone could transcribe my life. For now writing is an out let for my spark.

The quickest things to get me fired up and posting are social issues or struggles that I see people are having. 

If I had not signed on for this challenge there is a painful line from a popular song running through my head that I would love to write about.

The blog about my daughter is born out of the pain in our relationship. My other support blog started when I heard families reaching out for support via Twitter.

When what I am writing has no direction and does not seek to help anyone it does not get shared. Often times it gets erased. There is enough vapid noise going on in the wide world. I do not need to contribute that way.

I want to break into Ebook writing and publishing but I need a good guide or outline to follow. I do not get the format yet. 

It took me all this time to decide to blog. 

I was waiting to see if I felt I had anything to say. Equally as important I was waiting until I knew I could put my work before at least a meager audience.

I call this blog an informative lifestyle place. I cannot much more define it. What will persons find here?

 Whatever it seems persons are in need of for that day.

Something that burns inside me if I refuse to say.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Enjoying the Frugal Life


Yesterday I shared some frugal tips on saving money.

Sometimes those types of posts irritate me because they highlight nothing new for me to add to my list of things to do.

I really cannot imagine never scrutinizing my budget. That is the only way to get the most out of it. 

For those who find scrimping and saving a challenge I believe it comes down to finding the proper motivations.

I am not one to suggest being a miser who does not enjoy the every day. It makes no sense to live without, while having a bank account or mattress stuffed with untouched funds.

For me pinching a penny just comes naturally. Instinctively I can sense a good deal or create one all while thinking about the next one.

Getting the best price on things I have to buy and, saving on unavoidable bills means more left over for fun extras.

I have been on the credit card track owing more than I could pay off each month. Let me just tell you there is nothing like the feeling of being free from this type of debt.

School loans or a mortgage have a whole different feeling. The worth and the value of the product weigh against the pain of having to make payments.

My daughter laughs at me when we go to the store for one thing and come out with a cart full of items. 

This only happens when other bills have been paid and we are in a place where I know I am getting the best bargains.

It is the only type of Retail Therapy we allow ourselves.

There are of course things we want that we see advertised or hear about from friends. 

At the same time we know life is not about keeping up with the Jones or others.

True enjoyment is found in simple pleasures mixed with real relationships. Chasing the next big thing leads to always being on an emotional and financial roller coaster.
I am teaching my daughter to be a savvy shopper as well as how to budget.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Simple Money Saving Ideas

One of my Twitter contacts shared her frugal tips recently. It sounded so much like my life I decided to share with you all my dear readers.

How many of these tips can you use or relate to? Let me know. Thanks!

    1) Go for a less fuss and muss hair style to avoid going to the salon 

    2) Pay your bills early or on time to avoid late fees
 
 3) Buy, create, and plan gifts ahead of time to avoid a rushed expensive last minute expense

    4) Impose a waiting period for major purchases. Use the time to research other deals
    5) Use cash or the envelope system instead of atm debit

    6) Plan a staycation or something closer to home

    7) Hang clothes to dry save on dryer electricity

    8) Borrow or trade for tools, goods and services

    9) Do your own manicure and or pedicure treatments

    10) Repair or sell those unused items collecting dust around your home
   11) Eat at home. Make a pizza, churn some ice cream, grill burgers and fry or bake fries etc.

    12) Add some fun summer accessories instead of a whole new wardrobe for the season 
    13) Reassess banking fees. Look into a credit union or no fee plans

    14) Utilize the public library and avoid fines by returning items promptly….hahaha

    15) Pre cook meals so hunger does not drive you to buy fast food at the last minute

    16) Think outside the box. You might do breakfast for dinner. I am more likely to do dinner left overs for breakfast

    17) Make frugal friends who will spur you on and encourage you

    18) Pack your own snacks and lunches when planning to be away from home during meal times

    19) Take your morning beverage with you instead of stopping to pick up coffee and a pastry 

    20) You do not need the newest gadget

    21) Run multiple errands when you have to go out

      22) Drink more water less sodas and prepared drinks. Make tea or lemonade at home.

    23) Re sew on buttons, darn seams that come undone, treat stains to keep clothes longer

    24) Say no to friends booking at home parties

    25) Cancel something you are paying for that you do not use. Insurance, membership etc.

    26) Stop food waste. Use scraps and leftovers. Change purchases to reflect what gets eaten.

    27) See movies at the discount theater after 1st run

.   28) Give up cable for Netflix or Hulu

    29) Go see and do around town for free. 

    30) Use rags instead of paper towels, cloth instead of napkins

    31) Search out coupons for food and other things you buy. 
    Print from manufacturer websites

    32) Let your next dinner party be a potluck. 

    33) Refurbish older furniture or other household items

    34) Automate bills, save on stamps

    35) Use cloth diapers for babies, cloth pads or reusable cups for women 

    36) Pay full price retail only as a last resort

    37) Bake something like banana bread. Makes a great take along snack.

    38) Foster pets instead of purchasing an expensive one. Food and supplies are often included

    39) Follow great frugal savings blogs if you can find them

    40) Do your own yard work, housework, shopping, minor repairs etc.

    41) Make a budget and stick to it. Learn to say no to yourself and others like friends and children  

    42) Shop thrift!

    43) Bulk is only a bargain when you need the items and the price is right

    44) Adjust your water heater, curtail those 30 min showers

    45) Buy generic hair care and cosmetics see how they fair against your favorite pricey options

    46) Let people help you and gift you things. No guilt. No shame. Pay it forward

    47) Pair down your expensive entertainment activities and hobbies

    48) If your kids are bored put them to work or let them figure out what to do.

    49) Planning a wedding, birthday, barmitzva etc.? It is not to upstage the last one you attended

    50) Contact your bill collectors cable, phones, internet, gym membership etc. renegotiate rates