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My drug of choice is writing--writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Monday, January 20, 2020

Update Schedule 2020


[Given the lower traffic on bank holidays, I decided to update another one of our end of year/beginning of year administration posts. It might not be exciting to most, but a few of you might like to see what "under the hood" looks like for a working writer.]

While most of you just click the link I put on social media when you see that something I have written interests you, there actually IS an update schedule here, and in 2020 it's going to have some pretty significant changes.  

Writing About Writing consists chiefly of one guy who takes care of a 5-year-old and a toddler, is writing a novel, posts on another blog (and only then when his thoughts are a bit too prolific for his Facebook wall), and sometimes even does really wacky shit like play D&D or even try to get laid.

Outrageous right?

He is also a working writer though, so he better stop making a bunch of excuses and make with the clackity clack.  This is the schedule we will generally make an effort to keep. I say "make an effort" but I have to be honest about two things. #1- I have written posts from my bed with 102° fever and from coffee shops out of state and while on vacation, so it is very likely that no matter what happens, you will get about the same number of posts week after week.  #2 I am absolutely balls at keeping on top of WHAT gets updated on WHICH days, and I am likely to mix things up if I SNEEZE too hard.

Thanks to my patrons, I have been able to quit part time teaching, pet sitting*, and cut back on the amount of nannying I do as a side gig to focus more and more on writing. If you would like to help us write more and better updates, even a dollar a month helps me budget.

*I still have a couple of close, super-easy clients, so you might see me post about this stuff, but I don't run all over the Bay Area anymore.

Friday

Fridays, for the most part, will be The Big Post™ of the week. If you're here for the hard-hitting writing advice (with the occasional examination of how language and narrative play into broader social issues), Friday is the day to tune in.

Tuesday

I'm going to try to get something up on Tuesdays a little between "fluffy puffy" and The Big Post™

Wednesday

We need (at least) one dedicated day a week to kind of take care of what I call "jazz hands," although it might be better described as "admin-ish stuff." It's not necessarily Total Fluff, but it usually isn't a new article. We are constantly running some kind of "Best Book" poll and the calls to nominate or vote go here. The review of the best posts we did in the month prior. Often we have some kind of announcement or meta news. You might also see a single entry for the long-forgotten character lists or an update to one of the menus (along the top of the page).

Thursday

Mailbox! Now that the chaos of the last few months is shrinking in the rearview, I'm going to give our most popular type of article the weekly post it deserves. Usually it's only one question, but sometimes I can tie a few shorter ones together with a theme. If you'd like a question answered, write us at chris.brecheen@gmail.com

Monday (Schrodinger's Post)

Monday is going to be Schrodinger's Post for now.

I'm not saying yes. But I'm not saying no either.

I have a new schedule, and I probably could do five posts a week. But it's probably best if I let Treebeard say "Let's not be hasty...." to me a few times before I commit.
  • Once a month I cannibalize a day of blogging to write my Patrons a newsletter. 
  • I am OFTEN in need of a second "jazz hands" day in a given week just because we tend to go through so many reminders and announcements.
  • I absolutely need to spend a day or two every month just doing admin stuff for Writing About Writing (like catching up on emails, cleaning up menus, and the like) or it gets SO far behind, SO quickly. 
  • Also, I have a couple of other projects that require my time and attention including this little novel I'm only three years late in writing.
So before I dive into a blog posting schedule that has me singing "Livin' on the EDGE*!" I'm going to just say that Mondays exist in an ambiguous quantum state.

(*And honestly, I'll tell you, I'm just going to end up singing "Livin' in the Fridge" by Weird Al and no one wants that.)


The Four-Post Committment

Some weeks aren't going to go down like clockwork and they might be front or back loaded with side gigs or other commitments. My writing career is also starting to open up occasional opportunities of interest like conventionsspeaking engagements, interviews, or podcasts. I'm trying to be better about the (literally) health-shattering 80+ hour weeks I was working. That's a needle to thread when you are your own boss and you know that people will lower your income if they aren't getting enough of the content they want. So in the cases of major schedule upheaval, I will try really hard to get four posts up. They might just be posted off schedule––landing on a Saturday or Sunday, for example, but barring illness, injury, or fabulously unforeseen circumstances (usually involving toddlers and five-year olds working their chaos engines in tandem) I will try hard to at least hit four.

Priority to Fiction (The Monthly Increase)

The hardest thing I've tried doing as a blogger is keeping my fiction at a high level of priority. It's SO easy to just write a blog, call that my writing, and call it a day. And that's what I'm getting paid for, so it's even easier.

But...as much as I've surprised even myself by discovering how much I fucking love blogging, I do want to write fiction too. And that needle is going to be one I work hard to thread. While I am getting traction out of writing an hour or so of fiction first (so that then I still have to do the blogging in order to do "a day's work"), there may still be times where the needs of fiction completely take priority over blogging.

I'm firmly in the "Write Every Day" camp. But how much I write, what I write, and what takes over the inside of my brain like a rabid weasel demanding to get out, sometimes can still be a creative ebb and flow of being at my Muse's whim.

I'm also going to try something new and interesting. Each month I'm going to take an ADDITIONAL day off to sequester myself and work on my book (as well as possibly other fiction). I'm calling the time on the train January. In February, I will take two days off completely from blogging. In March it will be THREE days. In April, four. Etc....

(Hopefully I'll have something to show for it by the time Patrons might be complaining that I'm not updating enough, but I hope that the transparency and gradualness help in that regard.)

Facebook Writing and Social Justice Bard

Most of my major writing ends up on this blog (or at the very least, you can find the links to it by looking around on this blog), but some of my more throw away thoughts don't. If you particularly enjoyed our Social Justice Bard posts, don't worry. I do as much yelling at clouds as I ever have.

I invite you to follow my Public Facebook Page (you can friend it if you send me a message, but it might be better if you follow it for a while first––unfiltered me is not everyone's cup of tea).  I post somewhat more "political and partisan thoughts" there (rather than just social ISSUES) and also often post "proto-versions" of what later become full blog posts (if you're interested in seeing how those things develop). [There's also personal updates and nerdery there.]

I also have another blog called NOT Writing About Writing that I update usually once a week or more (although not on any kind of regular schedule) where I put shorter media reviews, personal updates, and political thoughts that don't really tie into writing but that also aren't really short enough for Facebook.

Everything I ever write for any medium (and reruns of my best stuff) gets cross posted to that Public Facebook Page, so join me there if you want to see everything I write.


More posts?

There MIGHT occasionally be a fifth or even sixth post in a week. Usually this will happen when I need to cover some ground on "blog business." (Like when I revise an old article so much that it deserves a fresh post, update a menu, write a new answer for our F.A.Q. or otherwise do something that needs to get done, but doesn't fit into our usual posting schedule. In this case, you might see an extra post pop up from time to time on the weekend or two in one day. Fiction will also usually go up independent of our regular schedule. Actually fiction usually goes up in the deep of night when no one is watching and I wash my hands twice afterwards.

Reminders:
  • I still nanny for a five-year-old and a soon-to-toddle toddler––sometimes at the same time. Plus my host body occasionally succumbs to your Earth illnesses, so those four posts might not always happen like clockwork or may involve going off the rails of my usual updates. Until my Patreon pays all the bills, my reality is that I sometimes have to prioritize paid gigs.
  • If I meet an empathic metamorph who says "I am for you Chris Brecheen," it's going to be a couple of weeks before you hear from me.
  • This flexible update schedule should also cut down on the thing where I'm apologizing to absolutely fucking nobody that it's Thursday and I've yet to put so much as a taco video up. I know that some people are annoyed by how often I apologize, and the rest don't really care. But this also settles my own inner overachiever. As long as I get in all the entries that week, my readers (who have literally never said anything in six years about my update schedule) and myself can give me a break.
  • I invoke the Anything Can Happen™ real world excuse. I usually have a couple of "emergency blogs" tucked away, but I chew through them pretty quickly when the fit hits the shan. Health complications might crop up suddenly and have me needing to do a sudden unexpected several-hour shift or even an overnight...or maybe even more. Trust me, I'm going to feel ten times worse about missing a post than all of my readers combined. 



Also......folks, if you like what I do, support your "local" artist. (In this case we mean more independant, amateur, and two bit than literally down the street.) Stuff a few dollars into that "tip jar" at the top left, or even better yet sign up to be a monthly patron through Patreon and get in on the back channel discussions about posting schedules, big changes, and upcoming projects. I have bills to pay like any other starving artist, and though my schedule is a lot better than three years ago, I'm still working two side gigs to make ends meet. Even a dollar a month (just $12 a year) will go a long way.

Note: Hi there Mr. Elephant. I guess we should address you.

So....yeah. I ABSOLUTELY KNOW that there are a pretty loud contingent of "Who? Fucking? Cares??!" from the other side of the internet, and I'll give you all nod if this isn't your cup of tea. It's cool. You do you. Posts such as this one are my least popular kinds of posts. I'm pretty sure I could film me trying to use toenail clippers to deal with my ingrown toenail and get more hits. 

However, I'm not going to stop posting them. One of our mission statements is to keep "The Process" transparent and give you updates in real time as WE learn them, so there will always be an occasional post about the meta. I want people to understand that writers struggle with their own productivity, schedules, and discipline. I want them to see that someone who is making a paycheck doesn't have all the answers. I want them to see how their work life balance matters and how easy it is to fall into working TOO much. I want them to see that a successful blog doesn't require nine updates a week (and, in fact, that's too much). And I want them to see how artists are constantly struggling to fiddle with the knobs and get it just right because they are at once human and also never satisfied but also so dang human with their need to eat and have shelter. They don't just eat rainbows and shit brilliant prose. Even if a follower or fan never uses this as a formula for their own success, let it be a comfort realizing how flawed and human working writers can be.

I want you to see how messy and non magical it all is.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Follow Us on Social Media (Updated for 2020)

Interested in following Writing About Writing? Or Chris Brecheen as a writer?

If you're trying to follow Writing About Writing (or if you are trying to follow ME as a writer), it might actually be confusing to navigate all the different ways I am online and what goes where.

Writing About Writing is on several social media, but each medium is updated a little bit differently. Some get every post I make, no matter how major or minor. Some media are privy to a cycle of "reruns" where, at least once a day, I cycle through the popular posts of the past so that new folks can see old posts they may have missed (and old fans can be reminded of treasured classics).

Some social media have different signal-to-noise. Some I update in other capacities. Some are fire and forget. In some, I post my writing that is not "about writing like the blog NOT Writing About WritingWhile other places I will link only this blog and the posts I write here.

  • What should you follow if you want to see everything I write? 
You want My Public Facebook Page. Follow it (or friend it if you check out the guidelines below). Though be warned that it can sometimes be like drinking from a firehose. All posts from ALL the places I write, reruns, plus navel gazing, proto-posts, Jack-Handy-caliber deep thoughts, amateur political punditry, social justice thoughts, macros, silliness, and geekery.
  • What should you follow if you basically want all the official posts I write, but not a bunch of crap about politics, video games, my day, or social justice?
You want My Twitter. Every post from every blog plus the reruns, but no other posts because I don't really use Twitter except to cross post.
  • What should you follow if you basically want the Writing About Writing blog, but nothing else. 
You want the Writing About Writing Group. 2 posts a day (usually 1 new and 1 rerun). There is one meme (but only one) that is the prior day's best from the page.
  • What should you follow if you basically want memes, puns, articles, and "you should be writing" reminders and don't really care about your writing.
Okay, that's cool. No no. It's fine. Really. While I put some aloe on this burn, you want the Writing About Writing page. Lots of memes, macros, puns, and comics and it's easy to scroll past the occasional post from my blog.
  • What should I do if I want all of these things? 
Follow the Writing About Writing PageThe Writing About Writing Group, and my Public Facebook Page. Then go to the following button on the page and set your preferences to "See First." I will warn you that you may see some repeat posts, but this if you want to miss the fewest things I post, that's the way.




The real "Join this site" button is at the
bottom of this (and every) page.
Follow Writing About Writing through Google Google's Blogger allows you to assemble a collection of blogs you follow. Most people following the blog this way have their own blog through Blogger, but it's not necessary. (You only actually need a Google account, which many people have through Gmail.)

Pros- Shows all updates (minor and major). Updates in a timely manner.

Cons- No reruns. No posts from any other venues. Blogger usually takes a few hours to get the latest post up.

It's going to burn your FEED!!!
Wait...what?
R.S.S. Feed (Feedly, Feedburner) If you have an RSS reader, you may like to simply be updated by having your RSS feed updated with the text of my latest post. If you click on the Feedburner button AT THE BOTTOM of the page, you can subscribe to Writing About Writing through a number of RSS readers including FeedDemon, Netvibes, My Yahoo, Shrook, NewsFire, RSSOwl and more.

Pros- Shows all new updates (major and minor). Updates instantly.

Cons- R.S.S. feed does not include reruns (even the really awesome ones). No posts from other venues. Many RSS readers are JUST text, so you won't see the images. Also, if you get a little behind on your feed, catching up feels Sisyphean and knowing the next update is coming feels like the sword of Damocles. (Gotta get my Greek metaphors on.)

In retrospect, I probably shouldn't punch in
the addys of all those Nigerian Princes.
Email Notification At the bottom of the page, there is an option to put your email into a text field and subscribe to W.A.W. through email notifications. Every time I post an update, you will be sent an email notification containing a link to the post. I've been told that there's even some preview text (the first 200 words or something).

Pros- Shows all new updates (minor and major). Updates right away.

Cons- No reruns. No posts from other venues. You probably already get ten billion emails a day.

Twitter
(That heading is a link) I was off Twitter for a while when they were making excuses for not banning Nazis. They seem to have pulled back from that position and are now basically as horrible as most other social media, so I opened a new account. It's JUST a tweet of our posts (and reruns). That's it.

Pros- Gets all posts (reruns, new, other blogs, everything)

Cons- Gets nothing else.


Facebook Page for Writing About Writing 
(That heading is a link)

W.A.W.'s Facebook page is its whole own thing.

In order to build an audience on Facebook, I spend a lot of time posting memes, macros, "you should be writing" reminders, inspirational messages, videos, and whatever thing about writing I find interesting and want to share.

This may seem counter intuitive, but I actually try NOT TO POST TOO MUCH FROM MY BLOG. The audience I've spent years carefully cultivating will not stick around if things get spammy. Most of the FB audience is there for the shenanigans, not the blog cross posting. FB's algorithm blacks out posts showing a post to roughly .00025% (that's 1/40th OF ONE PERCENT) in order to encourage content providers to spend money promoting themselves.
Bitter.
So very bitter.

Pros- Lots of other fun stuff going on. Most posts from other venues.

Cons- Lots of other stuff going on. FB algorithm prevents page followers from seeing every post so some W.A.W. posts will get lost. Not a good place to get all the updates if you want them. Enjoying anything on FB requires a shower with steel wool and industrial cleanser. Facebook is the antichrist.

Tumblr 
(The heading is a link)

I joined Tumblr after Facebook's latest round of content throttling. Then Tumblr started doing it too and THEN they axed LGBTQIA+ content because of overkill compliance with Fosta/Sesta and now I post maybe one thing there a day. My goal in the new year is to send the "best of" post that I put up on the GROUP on Tumblr as well.

Pros- One post a day, always a new post if that's what I have.

Cons- Tumblr really took me for a ride, and now it's hard to give a shit about them. I sometimes forget days and don't really care.

Close but........no.

Facebook's Writing About Writing Group-
(The heading is a link)

Different from the FB page, the Facebook GROUP will only have the blog posts and a single macro/meme/infographic that is kind of like "The prior day's best."

Pros- Mostly just blog cross posts. (Reruns and current.) Once-a-day "best of" macro/meme.

Cons- Nothing else.

My Public Facebook Profile
(The heading is a link) My Public FB profile is a melange of personal updates, posts about politics and social issues, geekery, things I find about non-monogamy, introversion, and pop culture. But it will also include some "behind-the-scenes" thoughts about writing, running a page, and the creative process. If you wish there were more "Social Justice Bard" posts, this is a place where you can read the proto-versions of some of them as well as the ones that never make it to the blog.

  • You might want to follow for a while and decide IF you want to send me a friend request. I'm definitely not everyone's cup of tea with the geekery and the social justice stuff. 99.9% of my posts are public, so you really wouldn't be missing anything except the ability to comment.
  • If you don't care for my (very) occasional social issues post on other social media, you will like my profile even less. I write about that stuff almost daily.
  • I can be a bit much for people. I post a lot. 
  • I have a Commenting Policy for this profile. You should read it before charging in. ESPECIALLY before charging into a contentious post. 
  • If you do want to "FRIEND" me, send me a PM with your request. (Don't worry, I check my "Message Requests" at least once a day.) That account gets around 200-500 friend requests a week. I reject most of them because I don't know if they're there to try and rent my page or just pick a fight in the comments. So send me a message along with the request.
Pros- See more of "me." Get behind the scenes updates. See "alpha" versions of posts and thoughts that never quite make it.

Cons- I post a LOT.

Instagram
(The heading is a link)

Technically this exists. Very very very occasional updates. Not really a good way to follow anything. I actually post most pictures I take or of me on my Patreon as part of the selfie tier.

Others? I would love if something could replace Facebook. Anything. Right now, though, I am fettered here. For all its throttling and trying to squeeze blood from my stones, Facebook is what has made it possible for me to be a working writer.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Admin Posts are Coming [Cedrick Update]

Hi everyone,

Cedrick here.

Chris is currently running up and down the grass hills just outside my window, jumping the hilly brush, and filling the air with joyous screaming about the bliss he will have ensconced in his new schedule.

Want to know what he's NOT doing?

He's not writing a goddamned post. Just jumping that hilly brush. He's not looking for the evil mystery blogger. He's not cleaning up the random slices of cheese on the third floor that have begun to smell like a cross between old people's jockstraps and what wafts up when someone on a Southwest flight takes off their socks and shoes.

So while Chris is out there frolicking and acting like he's a teen-ager in love and not a 45 year old who is going to pull a tendon or break something tumbling enthusiastically down a hill, I will start taking care of a series of admin and admin-type posts that we do every year here around the new year.

We review our update schedule, our business stuff, anything that needs adding to the F.A.Q., how to follow us, what monthly posts will go into the "Greatest Hits" (now that the year's best have been "promoted") and give a huge shout out to the Patron Muses. [I'm not linking the ones that are going to change significantly when those posts go up shortly.]

Listen, I also just got a lovely holiday picture of Dor, and I have to admit a renewed sense of purpose and motivation. I even let Leela Bruce call it a "door" last week.

NO MORE!

I'm going to roll up ALL my sleeves and get some work done here on things that have spent years being unfinished, like making sure the menus are all cleaned up and keeping you abreast of who all you might run into working behind the scenes here at the WAW compound. No more treading water (which you know I'm particularly good at).

We'll hope that Chris gets this shit out of his system and gets back to some respectable word counts soon. In the meantime, you may see admin posts going up on our usual days off and even a couple of two posts days until we're all finished.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Best Modern Science Fiction (Poll Results)

So last night I got home and went right to work. (Literally, I grabbed a Lyft from the train station and went straight to my nanny job with all my luggage.) Today I've got a long shift as I tag out the person who's been covering MY shifts while I was out of town. Which means, for now, we just have a quick posting of our poll results.

This weekend there is more end-of-year admin to do. Next week both the fruits of my train "writing retreat" and the new writing schedule will start to kick in. There was a really good spread (until 4th place) so either the Douglas Adams fans swamped the poll, or this is pretty reliable.

Thank you for voting. I'll start taking nominations for the next poll very soon.

Text results below.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy -D. Adams 127 42.47%
Parable Duology (Earthseed Series) - O. Butler 63 21.07%
Hyperion - D. Simmons 36 12.04%
Consider Phlebas - I. M. Banks 19 6.35%
Doomsday Book - C. Willis 18 6.02%
A Fire Upon the Deep - V. Vinge 16 5.35%
The Dosadi Experiment - F. Herbert 12 4.01%
Don't Bite the Sun - T. Lee 8 2.68%

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Train Reminder

Sorry for two posts in one day, but I want to remind everyone of how things will work while I head home on the train. It basically goes backward from when I come east. Tomorrow I will be almost completely unable to post because of lack of signal. On Thursday I will hit a lot of cities and get a lot of signal, so I will be able to post some stuff to Facebook through my phone, but I will not have WiFi to update the blog. Late Thursday I will be home and our posting schedule will resume. The first thing you can expect is the results of our current poll. So go vote

I already have a new post ready (and the conclusion of the article for Early Access) but it's going to take more editing than I need to get it up early tomorrow morning before I leave for the train, so it's going to have to be Friday. And then I'll drop some admin stuff over the weekend and give you all a full week of posts without my usual days off to make up for all this travel time.

If you're seeing this on social media, no need to click the post. You've read the whole thing. (Although there is a LINK to the blog.)