This past weekend I attended the Tucson Festival of Books, met some seriously fantastic people and had the opportunity to listen to some of my favorite writers (and some who I hadn’t yet discovered) talk about the biz, their spirit animals and cuddling. It was a glorious time. Sonnets will be written. (Not by me).
Now, to the recap-mobile!
Please note: recap notes were roughly translated from hieroglyphs chiseled in my notebook and are not direct quotes.
- Blog like no one is listening/reading – don’t be a brand, just be yourself.
- Be a fountain to the interwebs, not a drain. Always present the best version of yourself.
- If your blog can tie into the topics of your work the better – it will help keep your readers interested. And since you’re obviously interested enough in the topic to write about it in the first place you’ll probably have a much clearer voice.
- Edit, edit, edit, edit, edit, edit. Think you’re done? Bwa ha ha – nope! Edit some more!
- Be aware of the rhythm (heartbeat) of each post. Short and long sentences, fast and slow beats to the writing. It should be a good mix, just like any other writing.
- Content is like a cocktail party – it should be engaging and fun.
- Continuity is important – form a habit and stick with it. If you dedicate yourself to always blogging on Tuesday afternoons, only an apocalyptic meteor shower or your own death should stop you.
- Spirit animals should always be chosen for you by your peers.
- If you can’t get people to read your free stuff (i.e. your blog), you’ll have a hard time convincing them to pay for your book.
- Writing – any kind of writing – is about your voice. And if you write fiction you have to be a good storyteller. End of story.
- Don’t be timid or afraid. It’s better to offend 10,000 people to get the 100 people who will be passionate about what you do.
- It’s not uncommon for it to take 10 years to say something interesting enough that people will give you cash for it.
- Let your readers know you’re a real person. Connect with them. Connect with the writing community.
- You are a character in your own novel, write your own life – don’t let it be written for you.
- At the end of the day, a writer writes.
[Note: the next section will be somewhat serious.]
I think one of the most important things I took away from this festival is that I don’t have to try to brand myself as a writer. It took me months to finally birth my blog-baby because I kept freaking out about the image I was going to present to the world as a writer.
My blog doesn’t offer a service, it offers me. Pure, undiluted and packed with nutrients. And I write it for me, with the hope that maybe someone else might enjoy it or find something useful/inspiring. That’s all I’ve ever wanted in a blog. I’m not going to suddenly start blogging about the average rainfall in Uganda (about 62” per year, in case you were wondering), but I’m not forced to stay within the strict confines of topics a brand would impose.
[End serious section.]
The following amazing people contributed to these awe-inspiring notes and self-realizations: Chuck Wendig, Shari Stauch, Sam Sykes, Kevin Hearne, Jonathan Maberry, Weston Ochse, Elizabeth Bear, Vickie Mullins, Grael Norton
A big thank you to Jamie, Ric and Nikki (check them out here, here & here) for befriending a random writer stumbling over her own shoes, too hopped up on caffeine and nervous about being exposed to a large writing community to speak coherently in front of strangers. I know it may not seem like a big deal, but it meant a lot to me.
Any recap moments you’d like to share from TFOB?