Blog Word Counts by Christine Duncan

I’ve been doing a little research on blogs. And I’ve learned that blog writing, like everything else has a spin. For instance, I’ve always been told to keep it short. Two hundred words is a great number for most readers, or so I was told. Shorter is better.

But in a post entitled “4 Statistics Every Blogger Should Know About…”, the author claimed that longer was better and that Google labeled posts of two hundred words as “thin.” Your reader will stay with you if you take the time to write a lengthier post.

But in another post on Slate, entitled, “You Won’t Finish This Article”, author Farhad Manjoo asserts that 38% of the people who land on a page won’t read any of the article. That seems high. So I’m back at the keep it short theory of blog writing.

Until, of course, I do more research and land on this post, “How Long Should a Blog Post Be?” Writer, Marieke van de Rakt, asserts that longer posts rank higher in Google.

So…it took me a little bit, but here is my takeaway. If you are writing a blog post filled with info that people are clamoring for, write as long as you want. They’ll stick with you until they get that key information they need. If you are a marketing type blogger, trying to tell people, for instance, “Buy my book! Buy my book!”–Keep that sucker short.

Finding Silence

If you own a cafe, or a bar, or a bookshop, can I ask you one favour?

Turn the music off.

I’m out of the house today and looking for a place to work for an hour. But every single place I go to has music pumping out. It’s distracting, it’s annoying and it’s not necessary.

It’s difficult to read when the music plays, it’s difficult to talk and it’s impossible to write. I do use music for inspiration, but not last years pop music played into my ear at
top volume.

This sounds like a rant. It is. It’s impossible to find a moment a peace, and if you are a writer, or a reader, or want to talk to your companion, or just someone who values silence it’s impossible to find a place to be.

So I beg you, turn it off, let us have our own thoughts for a while. Please.

From a frustrated writer.

The ” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby

The Women Of Baker Street

Sent from my iPad

Bookshops by Christine Duncan

Michelle wrote about bookstores in her last post and I was immediately nostalgic. I remember bookstores.

I used to spend hours on weekends in bookstores, happily deciding on my purchases. Our town had a multi level independent bookstore and I loved to go there. My husband and I would often have to search for one another and the kids on other floors as we all spread out. It was the best way to spend a cold winter day.

Now the independent bookstore I love has downsized dramatically and I don’t often find what I want to read there. The nearest other(new)bookstore is miles away and is part of a chain. It too is small, and I mostly go there to purchase books for gifts to kids.

As much as I love ebooks, I am sad. There is a part of life that has been lost with these bookshops and the next generation won’t get that back.

Catching The Eye

My local bookshops do wonderful displays. It’s not just the way they pile the books up. One of their employees is an artist (not hired as such, she just happens to be one) and she creates beautiful posters to show off books.

A good display is necessary. For my first book I got given a table to myself (a small one) with a quote prominently displayed and I saw it draw people towards it. Books may be words, but it’s the visuals that catch someone’s eye. When you go into a bookshop, what draws you? Is the pile of books, or the displays and the quotes and the cover?

Of course, as authors, we can do next to nothing to influence how our books are displayed (though I have been known to go into a bookshop and just turn my book around so you can see it on the shelf). But it’s worth remembering that sometimes a book catches attention because of the artwork displaying it.

The ” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby

The Women Of Baker Street

Sent from my iPad

Motivation by Christine Duncan

I’ve been spending a great deal of time lately thinking about motivation. I am, without a doubt, busy. I work two 12 hour days a week at a bookkeeping job. And three to four days a week, I am babysitting my grandchildren. Sunday is my day with my husband.

So writing is going by the wayside right now and I don’t like that. My running is also taking a hit.

My standard way of motivating myself is what I have heard referred to as “if, then.” For example, if it is Sunday night after dinner, then I write this blog. There is no fudge factor. That has always worked with my running too. If it is morning, then I am running before work. This used to be unarguable. But when I am already getting up at four a.m. for those twelve hour days, I find my capacity to argue to be increased exponentially.

Recently, though I ran into a couple of quotes that are helping both with writing, and running. The first is from Voltaire.
“Perfection is the enemy of the good.” I am a perfectionist. If I am going to write, it should be for hours. If I am going to run, well, then it should be at least four miles, right? But a couple of miles is better than none. And if I don’t make a run on Monday or Tuesday, well, then I haven’t ruined the week,I will run on Sunday and Wednesday and…. And as for writing, well, I might not have hours now but there are times when the kids are sleeping, or sometimes before they get here.

But often when the kids nap, I am tired too, and maybe I haven’t had lunch yet and it’s summer and I don’t feel like writing. I’m not feeling inspired.
Which leaves me with the second very cool quote I read lately. This one is from an artist, not a writer. Chuck Close said, “Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us show up and get to work.”

All of which brings me back to my if then approach. From now on, if the kids are napping, I will do some writing. It will not be the perfect number of hours, but it will be good. I can eat while I write. Now all I have to do is figure out how to fit in cleaning the house, paying the bills, and lawn and garden chores.

The Magic Path

So I’ve got to the point in my book where I sort of know what’s going to happen, but I’m not quite sure how to get there. I am also wandering round the streets muttering about who is going to die next, and how I’ll kill them. In fiction, of course.

I’m one of those writers who makes the entire thing up as they go. I rarely plan, and find if I do plan, my characters end up veering wildly off course and doing what they want to do anyway.

It feels like a roller coaster, writing that first draft. I know there’s an ending, and I know maybe one or two stops along the way, but otherwise I just hurtle towards it at top speed, trying to remember to all the rules and not to scream in terror and jump off. And then I get to the end, take a deep breath, look back and can barely believe I’ve done it.

I do know some writers who plan everything, right down to every paragraph. It works for them, they write good books, but me, I need to discover for story as I go. I’ve tried the planning, and it just doesn’t work for me.

Every writer has a different path to that magical moment when the first draft is done. What’s important to remember is, do what works for you. Try different methods and different styles and ideas, but no one way is perfect. Only you know what works for you.

The ” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby

The Women Of Baker Street

Sent from my iPad

Happy 4th Of July Everyone! By Christine Duncan