Article: Blogging bad idea for writers

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Article: Blogging bad idea for writers

Postby Rachel Ventura » 02 Oct 2011, 14:25

http://www.howtomakeawebsite.ws/2010/02 ... hard-work/

It seems counter-intuitive, but lot of what this guy says makes sense. I, too, am one of those "reclusive introverted types" he mentions, although I'm not entirely a misanthrope. (Just when I haven't slept well and/or get up too early!) Also, even if I have to write little things here and there online just to put my name forth, I think blogging per se is too much of an effort. It's really self-publishing in the truest sense, and a lot of self-pubbing (probably most of it) is marketing. Plus, wouldn't the creative energies be better channeled into actually writing a book? Case studies like Julie/Julia and Shatner My Dad Says (edited for content!) seem the exception rather than the rule...

I wonder if would-be authors have to have a blog in addition to things like Twitter/FB, or if it's OK to just have a static page and some "snippets" like tweets, status updates, forum postings, etc., here and there along the way. I had a look at Tumblr but it seems too complicated for basic things like just adding favorites lists. Seems you need to know HTML &c., which I don't, and just don't have the mental acuity (or time, or interest) to learn. (Or the money to take a class.)

Thoughts are appreciated!
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Re: Article: Blogging bad idea for writers

Postby GingerWrite » 02 Oct 2011, 20:54

Depressing, but valid. I'm relatively new to the blogosphere, and I'll admit part of the reason I started was to put my name out there. And he has a point with the domain names. All the good ones were snapped up long ago. But I'd like to think it's good to be involved in the blogging community. If you aren't, what are the chances you would find useful information from other aspiring writers? If it weren't for reading Nathan's blog, or Miss Snarks, or Query Shark, or countless others, I'd still be floundering with trying to understand the publishing world.
But, still, he has a point. Which is sad. :(
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Re: Article: Blogging bad idea for writers

Postby Rachel Ventura » 02 Oct 2011, 21:08

Sorry, Ginger. I didn't mean to depress anyone. :| I'm sure there are plenty of other ways to promote without exhausting yourself blogging.

I wonder what the great Obi-Wan Branobi's take is on this? I know he there's no such thing as too early to start with social media, but maybe it's just blogging per se that's not a good idea. I'm sure (well, not entirely "sure") that FB could be useful if only people can avoid the spam links and temptation to play Mafia Wars instead of writing the next Godfather.

Unsure about Twitter's usefulness if you're not already a celebrity or existing "brand" like Coke or Google. :?
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Re: Article: Blogging bad idea for writers

Postby Quill » 03 Oct 2011, 04:18

I tend to think the article is correct. Although it is focused on the idea of making money from blogging, its premise that blogging is too time and energy consuming, and the payoffs are usually slight, is correct, I suspect.

I've long dreaded the idea that I must blog as a way to build my "platform". Not sure even what sort of platform blogging builds. For non-fiction writers, a platform is considered a readership or following based on one's expertise in a field. I'm wondering what field the fiction writer is saying they are expert in with their blogging. The field of social networking? Or being witty? Or helpful to other writers? Or it says, I write regularly, I'm a real writer?

I also seriously wonder about the drain of creative energy, pumping out continual free content. It has got to affect one's output of book writing. I know that for me working on my book projects takes about everything I've got. Self-promotion is a conundrum. I need to find the most efficient way to do this.
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Re: Article: Blogging bad idea for writers

Postby Sommer Leigh » 03 Oct 2011, 06:14

I think the article is a little too generalized, though it has some good points. It really focuses on writers who write blogs to make money, which isn't what most of us are doing.

One definate piece of advice you can take away from the article though is, don't blog unless you enjoy blogging. Because if it's not fun for you, it's not going to be fun for anyone reading you.

There is one major bone I'd like to pick with the article, though. Comments and communication are the reasons blogging feels satisfactory and fulfilling. It's what makes it so much damn fun. The people I've met and the people who comment totally make my day. No nitpicking involved. And maybe that's the real benefit of writers blogging. It's one half reaching out, and the other half being reached.

Does it help with building a platform and selling novels? Oh I have no idea. I read a lot of author blogs, and I enjoy many of them. I think it's not so much an essential as it is a really good extra. I read books where the author has a blog and where the author doesn't. I don't enjoy the books any less, but I do pounce on new books from authors I follow a lot sooner than those I don't keep up with regularly. Part of it is being aware of release dates, but another part of it is because the author has gotten me excited about an upcoming release for months ahead of time. Chances are I was reading the blog while they were still writing it and so I've been there peripherially through out the process. So when it is released, I've been anxious for it for a long time. I think there is probably benefit there that you can't get from authors without blogs to follow. But if an author doesn't enjoy blogging, they really, really shouldn't do it. It's a huge time sink and only has benefits as far as you're willing to take it and to the degree you know what you want from it. It's probably going to be a pretty lonely place if your goal is to make money from it.
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Re: Article: Blogging bad idea for writers

Postby Rachel Ventura » 03 Oct 2011, 20:44

@ Sommer: So what you're basically saying is author platform has (or should have) a sorta "I knew you when" feel to it. ;) As in people would love to say they knew Brad Pitt when he was just a scruffy kid in N'awlins or Bruce Springsteen when he was really eight years old and running with a dime in his hand. :)

I'm sort of a Luddite, though, so maybe I'd actually feel better waiting tables like aspiring actors/musicians do, and building my "platform" at a local truck stop. :|

That said, not to sound all doom-and-gloom (I'm just naturally pessimistic about these things, though), just today I read more articles about the coming death of the "novel" in its truest form, from The Guardian newspaper site:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/oc ... ority-cult
http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/greensl ... lnewspaper
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/au ... n-morrison
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/au ... xaggerated

The fourth article was an attempt to calm some of the arguably sensationalist fears generated by the third one. Pessimist that I am indeed, I tend to think #4 was sort of sugarcoating and that #3 is probably more on target. Plus, I guess what I'm lamenting most is what will NEVER happen to me now: as a commenter said on the first page of the third article, "the death of the Lost Symbol / Harry Potter-style book deal." (A.K.A. I so don't want to get a "day job"!)

I wonder if any of those "wealthy patrons" mentioned in #3 are in the phone book?

But IDK, when I picture the average self-pubber, I can't shake the image of these weird kids at my school who wrote fanfic about Naruto and Inu-Yasha (two anime series). I mean, they were....WEIRD. They used to cut themselves and listen to bands like H.I.M. and Hawthorne Heights and actually dress up like the characters when they came to class. Emo. To me, self-pubbing is so EMO. They were all, "OMG" when they heard Stephenie Meyer likes My Chemical Romance. IDK, I'm sorta ranting here, but isn't FanFiction.net an example of "self-publishing" (and a horrible one at that)? :?
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Re: Article: Blogging bad idea for writers

Postby Chantelle.S. » 04 Oct 2011, 03:30

I don't see Fanfiction.net as a self-publishing site because you can't make a dime off of what you put out. Your only reward are reviews, and sometimes even the reviews become monotonous and lose its charm.
I think FF.net's sister site, FictionPress.net (I think, I might have the actual name wrong), is more of a self-publishing site. You can build yourself a decent platform there, or at least get to see whether your book idea will attract the target audience you're aiming for.

Sorry, I had to throw that out there. I love FF.net. :oops:

On the topic of blogging being bad for writers, I don't think it's that bad. Considering how many writers out there have blogs and maintain them well, I don't think it's a bad thing at all. I blog as a means of procrastination, and a place to take a breather from my actual project by writing ABOUT my project, or whatever writerly things that crop up in my head. It's my little corner on the internets where I can clear my head. That's not a bad thing.

But as everyone else has pointed out, the post was more directed to writers who blog to make money...so my input is probably irrelevant.
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Re: Article: Blogging bad idea for writers

Postby Rachel Ventura » 06 Oct 2011, 04:05

Hi Chantelle,

Chantelle.S. wrote:I blog as a means of procrastination


Then...maybe it's not a good idea? :?

About the article: The guy is mostly targeting people who try to make money blogging. But he does mention J.K. Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, and I think Stephen King in there too. None of whom have a regular "blog" on a daily basis, and all of whom became hugely successful. Of course, Stephen King reached fame before the "internets" were anything more than the fantasy of some bored MIT geeks. J.K. Rowling's success was in the post-internet era but not the "web 2.0" mess that we're seeing now. Twilight was published in I believe 2005, but Meyer didn't "blog" per se; she just had those Playlist.com things (grrr, MCR) and every once in a while gave some interviews on MySpace (which was all the rage at the time).

I forget when The Notebook came out, but Nicholas Sparks didn't blog either. Kathryn Stockett's The Help came out in 2009, and Facebook was already a phenomenon. I could try Googling her but I don't think she "blogs" as in maintains a daily internet diary. Might The Help have received a sooner acceptance date had she done the whole platform thing? IDK, but what's past is past, and AFAIK her book took off the "old-fashioned way." I just think a lot of this stuff, the Tumblr, Twittr, Flattr (I thought this was the "e-" generation -- so where are all the "e"s?) is very gimmicky and overrated.

But in terms of FF.net vs. blogging, one could say that most bloggers don't make a dime off what they put out either. Have not seen FictionPress but I think that's a bad idea for a name, since people might think it's associated with WordPress/BuddyPress, etc. I guess that's what could be considered "branding" in that any site with a "Press" at the end might get an automattic (ha!) association with the WordPress universe.

All that said, I've not been feeling well as of late so I decided to procrastinate revitalize my creative energies at I Can Haz Cheezburger. :lol: Damn, I'm a phony, aren't I?
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Re: Article: Blogging bad idea for writers

Postby Mira » 06 Oct 2011, 14:19

I truly believe that the only reason to blog is because it's a creative outlet, and it nurtures you.

Creativity can be alot of things, some folks get all excited about networking, some about the writing itself, but it's still a creative outlet.

If you enjoy it, and it's good, people will connect with your blog and become interested in who you are and what other things you write. It will be an organic process, one that develops naturally, and it may lead to increased sales of your book(s), but that's not the real point of it.

But if you don't like blogging, I think it's best not to do it. The fact that you don't like it and that you're only doing it because you want people to buy your book will be tranmitted to people who come to your blog - it's very hard to hide that.

So, I think that blogging can be a wonderful idea for writers, if they like to blog. If it's not, it's probably best to look for other ways to reach out to readers, or set up a blog that is mostly information about your books, so readers who want to know about that can find it.

My humble opinion. :)

Very interesting question and discussion!
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Re: Article: Blogging bad idea for writers

Postby Sommer Leigh » 06 Oct 2011, 14:47

Rachel Ventura wrote:About the article: The guy is mostly targeting people who try to make money blogging. But he does mention J.K. Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, and I think Stephen King in there too. None of whom have a regular "blog" on a daily basis, and all of whom became hugely successful. Of course, Stephen King reached fame before the "internets" were anything more than the fantasy of some bored MIT geeks. J.K. Rowling's success was in the post-internet era but not the "web 2.0" mess that we're seeing now. Twilight was published in I believe 2005, but Meyer didn't "blog" per se; she just had those Playlist.com things (grrr, MCR) and every once in a while gave some interviews on MySpace (which was all the rage at the time).


One point that I think is very important to note is that the very popular blogger authors tend to be young adult authors. I think that probably has a lot to do with the demographic of reader. These authors aren't necessarily monday through friday bloggers, they blog when they blog. They don't tend to disappear for more than a few days, but they've built up a raport with their readers that is casual and interesting. But, with a few notable exceptions like Kiersten White, these authors were already selling books before they built up a big online following. They don't tend to blog about their books and about writing, they blog about the world in a more general sense as it affects young adults. They tend to treat their online communities as just that - a community - and maybe their books brought people to the table, but the conversation at the table has nothing to do with the books.

Don't blog if it's not something you are interested in. You will hate it and readers will know you hate it. Like Mira said, it is very hard to hide that you don't like to blog and are only doing it to build this enigmatic idea of "Platform."
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Re: Article: Blogging bad idea for writers

Postby Rachel Ventura » 06 Oct 2011, 20:29

Sommer Leigh wrote:One point that I think is very important to note is that the very popular blogger authors tend to be young adult authors. ... They don't tend to blog about their books and about writing, they blog about the world in a more general sense as it affects young adults. They tend to treat their online communities as just that - a community - and maybe their books brought people to the table, but the conversation at the table has nothing to do with the books.

That confuses me even more. :? It seems completely the antithesis of what the standard advice is, to pick a niche and stick to it. Julie/Julia's niche was cooking; she didn't blog about politics or shoe designs. I've always been told the more generalized blog doesn't seem to sell well. That in query letters, one should stick to relevant material that applies to your book. Even when writing the book itself, don't digress or drift into asides and footnotes.

Your point makes me wonder, are YA authors' blogs intentionally ADD because their demographic is the ADD generation (talkin' bout my generation!), the "OT" and "TL;DR" type of prose that's made blogging and "hyper-linked" media so much of what it is today?

Maybe part of my problem with social media, which you're right, is a very Millennial thing, is that I never actually talked to people my own age (because they never wanted to talk to me). So as a result, I don't know what they like, how they talk, what they do, etc. I'd end up trying to write a Twilight that reads more like War and Peace. ("Red blood in Red Square! Vampires and Commies and 800 pages of exposition, oh my!") ;)

I swore I'd left behind high school forever but the thing is, I like a lot of the YA fiction that's out -- I like Hunger Games and Eragon and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. But because I felt so alienated from my own generation, being bullied a lot in HS, I feel I've missed out on a lot of camaraderie. I wonder if, at just 19 (or *ahem* 5), I am in fact the youngest member of this board. Having no friends and no feedback from people my own age, I just naturally found solace in books. The "classics," if you will, that kids don't much care for. I admit I'm an adult before my time because my own teen years were horrible, traumatic and unduly frustrating and I sort of wished them away. High school is dystopia, never mind Big Brother's regime or The Capitol. If I'd mentioned "Big Brother" to someone my own age I would've been likely to get a response of who was voted off the previous night or some mention of, literally, an older male sibling who excelled on the athletic field.

And I figure that now, since I'm no longer in school (thank Albus), the idealistic teen years are like that Christmas song Toyland ("once you pass its borders you may never return again") or, in Holden's world, the illusory preservation of the Museum of Natural History. Plus, the kids at my school didn't read at all. They were too busy getting pregnant or getting into fights with people, or picking on the art students, the *gasp* computer aficionados, the foster kids, the ESL students, the special-needs kids...Example: Some kid with CP that was in a wheelchair got "taken under the wing" of the B-ball players. Despite the promise of a handicapped basketball tournament they would be starting, they instead locked him in the utility closet. The janitor found him at 2:00 A.M. after finishing up his rounds. You never saw this kid again because his parents figured a group home would be a safer place for him. He was so beat up that you'd think he didn't even have CP because he could barely move anyway. :cry:

I think I might actually like the idea (the idea) of blogging but I feel I'd really be going it alone -- and hence, there'd be even more of a "time sink." I'm not as much a digital native as most kids my age, and with that comes a little weirdness to begin with, because of the expectation, the self-fulfilling prophecy of the majority. FB and blogging started out as a thing among teenagers to communicate with each other in a way their Luddite parents didn't understand and thus couldn't spy on. I never had much use for them because I never had anyone IRL I could "add" to my "buddy list." I wonder if HS bullying would make a halfway decent blog topic or if I'd just be, yet again, a voice crying out in the wilderness, a pin drop in a forest where everyone that could hear me is already tuned in to someone else. :(
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Re: Article: Blogging bad idea for writers

Postby Sommer Leigh » 06 Oct 2011, 21:00

Well, you're not the only 19 year old on the boards, so you're not alone here :-) Although most of the Bransforumers are older.

The whole niche thing? Yes and no. It's complicated, which isn't helpful for someone starting out.

If you write non-fiction, then yes, having a niche blog is absolute. If you write books about cooking or food, your blog should be about cooking and food. You're establishing credibility and your blog becomes an extension of your book. That's the easy one.

With fiction, it's harder. A lot of writers seem to start out their blogs writing about writing. It's an easy place to start because you're in the thick of it, but most don't stay writing about writing, and that's good because writer blogs tend to attract only other writers. The good thing is that writers, especially writers who are bloggers, are some of the best people you will EVER meet online. They can make for a great community foundation. But at some point you need to branch out or you won't hit readers, which eventually is something you'd want to do.

Figuring out a niche can make things easier, sure. But only if you already HAVE a niche. Let's say you're writing a historical romance set in the 1840s. Your blog might find its niche in history, research, and romance. You might share research advice and resources, fashion posts about the 1840s, the way women were treated, the way they acted in public, men, children, schools. You could spend your whole blog talking about interesting facts, art, and whatever from that time period. You'll attract other history buffs or other writers and readers of historical romance. You probably won't attract anyone else, but maybe that's ok. Because these are probably the sort of people who would read your book. Marketing your blog is easier too because you can go to forums, websites, and other blogs with the same niche, post comments and get involved in conversations.

But having a niche can make blogging very difficult too because eventually you might feel like you are running out topics. There are only so many corset posts you can make and mini lessons on decorum. Being too narrow can give your blog a short life, unless you are a wealth of information and you love your topic dearly. You may never have a very big following, though they may be very loyal and comment often. You will likely only draw people who are already interested in your topic, and maybe not very many people who have never heard of your topic or never knew they had an interest in it.

I personally started out with a pretty narrow focus on storytelling - very specifically books. I eventually expanded to include topics on all sorts of storytelling, but I narrowed my focus in that I write YA speculative fiction so most of my blog topics are sort of geared that way. It is broad enough that I can talk about steampunk one day and zombies the next and most of my readers love speculative fiction in all its forms, so it works out ok. I can also include talking about blogging, videos, music, and art because these too are forms of storytelling. I've got a good background in writing, blogging, and art, so it makes it easy to find lots of post topics. While most of my readers are writers too, they show up more for the speculative fiction talk than they do for advice on writing, which I don't have a lot of.

Kiersten White is a great blogger who doesn't really have a niche, although before she was agented and published she blogged mostly about being a writer on a journey to publication. Now she blogs about whatever, and her readership doesn't mind. The thing that makes her special is her voice. You feel like she's hanging out with you in your living room, not some stranger halfway across the country. She brings something special to her online presence. Same goes for author Maureen Johnson.

Beth Revis, Tahereh Mafi, and Alex J. Cavanaugh are three other fantastic blogger authors who don't really have a niche exactly, but they have something else that is totally worth reading. It's hard to pin down exactly.

If you think you might like blogging, that's awesome! Anyone can do it, but not everyone will want to KEEP doing it. It might not seem very time consuming at first, but eventually it is very time consuming and for some it is worth it and for others, it's not. The way my life is scheduled makes it very easy for me to shoulder the time commitment of blogging. I have a lot of pockets of extra time in my day that are excellent for reading blogs, commenting, and writing blog posts, but aren't very good for working on my manuscript or reading or doing other things. So I use these pockets of time to do blog work and then I don't take away from writing time. Not everyone is so lucky.

Blogs do not have to be a 5 day a week job either though. Sometimes it might feel like it should, but one day a week, or twice a week, is fine too. Consistency is better than quantity.

A final option if you want to think about blogging or trying it out are group blogs like the one I am involved with (with other Bransforumers) over at Wicked & Tricksy http://www.wickedtricksy.com We have guest bloggers every friday. Margo handles the arrangements but you could always come try your hand at writing some guest blogs for us and see what you think.
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Re: Article: Blogging bad idea for writers

Postby Mira » 07 Oct 2011, 13:10

I like the conversation here, and I guess I want to add one thing.

It's really important to remember in doing all this that no one really knows if social media works to sell things, and if it does work, how it works.

I know there's lots of stuff around that says a writer HAS to blog, and HAS to blog in a certain way, but this is all anectdotal. There is no evidence one way or another. And it all really could be completely off-base, or totally on target, we just don't really know.

It needs to be studied! As in research.

But in the meantime, I think it's best to trust your instincts. If you want to blog in a certain way, and it feels right to you, that's the way to do it. It will reflect your personality, your interests and your writing style, and that will draw people to you who are a good match for you - whether in writing support, or in the types of things that you write.
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Re: Article: Blogging bad idea for writers

Postby Rachel Ventura » 07 Oct 2011, 21:28

Wow, thanks for ALL the replies here! :D

Mr. Bransford just replied to my question on the Ask Nathan section about time balance and social media. He said he's managed to find time for "writing" writing but that he feels behind a bit on the blog. :?

@ Sommer Leigh: Thanks for the very detailed reply about niche topics. There is indeed so much online about "niche topics" but I think it's true, that most of these how-to articles are geared towards NF writers. ProBlogger is an example of a "metablog," that is a blog about blogging. (Which basically ensures that Rowse and Garrett will never run out of topics.) Another thing: I don't want my audience to be too limited, another definition of "niche" as in "niche audience." A lot of this does boil down to marketing and defining your audience, and surely I am not the guy who invented Nielsen ratings. (Remember, though, don't call him Shirley.) :lol:

Semi-OT, but related to my last post, I wonder if you think HS bullying is a good topic to include in a writer's blog, even if it's not related to the story at hand (although for one I've got brewing, it kinda is). I just know that this is a critical subject facing kids every single day, like it did me. But I wouldn't want my entries to become too rant-ish or depressing. I put a topic in the suggestion box here about a possible feedback section specifically for drafts of blog posts/concepts. A question about the "community" style of blogging, then: is it possible to save a draft (like in this forum) and offer it up for senior members to have a look at before it goes to "press" so they/I can edit accordingly?

@ Mira: This actually relates to my other thread about someone doing the platform for you. Maybe I shouldn't go so far as to hire a body double Cyrano-style. :oops: But is this (critiquing the blog post in draft) or even doing a line-by-line edit something a social media/marketing expert would do? I get burned out rather quickly, but I do tend to elaborate quite a bit. Someone else wrote a thread about being too wordy in critiques; is it points off to write TL;DR style postings infrequently or would that actually keep people from coming back? Again, this goes back to the idea of others correcting/editing drafts and then publishing the finished product "on the fly." Is that possible?

EDIT: I just checked out Wicked & Tricksy. You folks are very smart -- actually, I don't quite think I'd measure up ;) But I just wanted to point out a technical bug: When clicking on the link to one of the guests' entries, called "Self-Publishing: No Longer a Fool's Friend" by a writer named David Gaughran, the link just redirects to the listing of guests and their respective articles.

The guest entries collection is http://www.wickedtricksy.com/?page_id=88 and the link for Gaughran's article points to the same page, not wherever his article is. Might want to fix that if at all possible. :)
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Re: Article: Blogging bad idea for writers

Postby Fenris » 10 Oct 2011, 08:21

Don't sweat it about the age, Rachel, I've been here since I was 16 (17 now). Best to get an early start, right?

I'm afraid I'm not really the expert on general blogging pros and cons, but I can say that I'm getting rather fed up with it personally. Do I like it? Yes. Occasionally. But more often than not it comes down to me scribbling down something at the last minute (if at all) because the rest of my schedule is clogged up with school and writing and research and having a social life (which is still mediocre at best), so it becomes rather depressing and begins to feel like make-work. Quite obviously, that's not the best environment for even the hardiest blog, let alone one as shaky as mine.

When I started blogging in April, I had a lot more freedom because I was in the middle of a year-long break from school (not a gap year--well, kinda--just a break from college for medical reasons), and since I was just starting out I had a lot to talk about. Now that I'm back in college my workload has nearly doubled, I'm not allowed to do things at my own pace anymore, and I'm feeling more stretched by the day.

And because I'm so darn bullheaded, I don't want to quit blogging because I feel I'd be letting what few followers I have down. So I've managed to write myself into a corner, just in real life.

As terrible as that all sounds, keep in mind that's just me. If you have time to blog and things to talk about, and it sounds like a good idea that you'd have a lot of fun with, go to town. You can build quite a community around yourself if you stick to your guns--look at Nathan! Whatever you decide to do, good luck.
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