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

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Mailbox--Quickies

[Remember, keep sending in your questions to chris.brecheen@gmail.com with the subject line "W.A.W. Mailbox" and I will answer them each Thursday as long as I have enough to do.  I will use your first name ONLY unless you tell me explicitly that you'd like me to use your full name or you would prefer to remain anonymous.  My comment policy also may mean one of your comments ends up in the mailbox.]  

Just a couple of quickies today, in keeping with the low key week.

Matt Writes:

How come everything is in "The Best of The Mailbox" right now?  It can't all be the best.  That's not what best means.

My reply:

I can tell I'm going to have to get up pretty early in the morning to get one over on you, Matt.

I'm usually getting enough mail to do a Mailbox every week.  I've only skipped one week in the last couple of months, I think, because I didn't have enough mail to answer.  At fifty-two weeks a year, it wouldn't take long before the list ran several screens down the page and was utterly unweildy.  We all loved Strong Bad e-mail until it took fifteen minutes to scroll down to Trogdor.  So at some point soon, I will probably reach the magic number and start funneling the less popular weeks' Mailboxes into the basement part of The Reliquary (where I can list them without so much formatting formality).  Then people can dig through every old question if they want, but the more popular ones will be easier to access.

Dan Writes: 

I am barely making ends meet, but I really like your blog.  I wish I could donate, but money is super tight right now with Christmas and stuff.  Is there anything else I can do?

First of all, thank you.  Sometimes I go an awful long time between people getting anything but nasty anonymous emails about Writing About Writing, so it's nice to hear the good stuff once in a while.  Also, I hope you get through the holidays unscathed.  My holiday shopping used to be more than mitigated by rich grandparents writing me checks, but since they passed, I've always watched the coming of the holidays with a sort of financial dread.

You can absolutely help without paying a penny.   Right now, W.A.W. is still very much a start up blog.  On a really, really, REALLY good day, I'll make a little over a thousand page views.  (But really it's more like 500-600 right now.)  So, even at my extremely-rare, very best day, I am STILL only at about 30% of the level of traffic that I would need to make even a very modest income.  Anything you can do to help me get traffic would be tremendously helpful.  Even if you only get me a couple dozen views, that is a substantial percentage growth.  Sharing articles you like on Facebook, Twitter, Digg, really helps.  It REALLY helps.  Someone put one of my Skyrim article on Reddit, and it got 200 hits in a few hours.  At the time, that nearly doubled my usual daily hits.  Stumbleupon is particularly awesome because it pairs up pages with people interested in the topics, so only people looking for pages about "writing" will see my articles.

Beyond that any kind of "Like" "+1" or such will help.  A stumbleupon "Like" can generate 15 hits instantly and have a "cascade effect" if any of those people also like it.  That was how my #1 article got over 3,000 views in two days.   Further, any positive feedback like "Thumb up" "+1" or "Like" helps improve my ranking in Google searches which is very important since I don't try to seed keywords to "trick" SEO.  Because of Google +1's, my Prometheus review is on the first page of a Google search for "poorly written movies" and it gets a couple hits a day just from that.  I couldn't have done it without people clicking those approval flags.

Danielle asks:

When do you do your writing?  When you wake up or at night?

My response:

I do my best writing of different kinds at both those times.  I have practiced enough with the floating half hour of writing that I can just about sit down and write fluidly no matter what time it is.  But we all have our own rhythms and processes that work best for us.  I find that in the morning when I first wake up, I am most creative.  This is the time for first drafts and ideas.  As the day goes on, my raw creativity tends to fade a little.  In the evening, I often do revisions or work on things where I've got the idea going but I just need to sit and actually do the work of writing.  I have, of course, revised in the mornings and written creative drafts at night, but I get the best results from working with my natural proclivities.  I also find that I'm usually highly creative after a really good nap, so I'm quite sure it has something to do with neurotransmitters and sleep.  I often wake up from a nap and jot down ideas for twenty minutes.

Tim asks:

Are you ever going to finish the Glossary?  Also, will you post more fiction?

My rationalization:

Yep.  Certain things like the glossary (also product reviews, elements of style, and the writing process articles) are a high priority now that my dribble of page views is turning into a trickle.  When my friends and SFSU co-classmates were the majority of my traffic, I did a lot to entertain them and many of them wouldn't find those sorts of articles very informative.  But now that I'm getting more and more traffic from further and further away, it's important that W.A.W. try to be informative as well as fun.   You can expect to see a lot of articles focusing on that in the new year.

As for fiction, I definitely want to post more of it but I've never been great with short stories, so I have a few that I can clean up to post (and I mean to in the coming months) and every once in a while inspiration hits me to do something shorter.  I've got a couple of ideas bouncing around that I need to sit down and write. The real answer sort of depends on where this blog goes and how well it does.  It's taking up a HUGE amount of my creative and logistical energy right now and the question of whether it can survive on autopilot is a huge one.  Right now, it can't.  I'm doing 95% of my own promotion, so if I don't post content daily (or if I set it to auto-post through Blogger), my traffic plummets.  When my "steady stream" is a little bigger, I plan to shift more of my focus back to fiction.

It also really depends on if I can make a living with just the blog.  If I can, I may offer some of my novel length work through free PDF's or posted here in chapters or something.  If the blog doesn't quite pay the bills, I may offer them through ebooks or on-demand publishing for as low a price as I conceivably can.  If the blog never makes more than a few cents a day then I'm probably going to drop down to much less frequent posts and pursue a more traditional route with trying to find a market for my fiction.


  1. Hey, thanks for answering my question!


    1. As long as they're in some small way about writing, and until I have more than I can answer, I'll answer them all.

    2. And you're very welcome, not-really-Dan.

  2. I love your blog and would like to put something in the tip jar, but PayPal and I can't get along. Do you have another option?

    1. Hmmm. Right now I don't have any other options for anything direct. Do YOU know of any other similar services? (I'm actually not a big fan of PayPal's business practices.) If not, helping me by boosting the signal like I mention above would probably be the most helpful thing you could do. The other helpful thing is to turn off your ad-block for just my page. (You can turn it off for just one domain.) I'm not allowed to ask people to click my ads, but maybe you'll see something you like.

      You're the first person to ask about this. Perhaps if I hear more similar feedback, I'll consider getting a P.O. Box.

  3. Is there an easy way to find fiction that you've already posted up on the blog somewhere?

    1. Yes. If you go to The Reliquary (on the right hand side just under the ad) at the bottom there is a link called "...and occasionally some writing."

      There are only two pieces now, but more to come.

  4. I understand where you're coming from with the short stories. They are not my strong suit either, but they are a lot of fun because they are so challenging. I'm better with longer novels because I have more space in which to create a sequence of events, if that makes any sense.

    Thank you for posting what you do. As a fellow writer, I look forward to reading them.