On Writing

The New Writing In A Dead World


Writers tend to have diverse interests. As an author, a writer may choose a particular genre from which to construct his or her stories—mine lean toward Dark Fiction—but as a blogger most writers have many topics, thoughts, and ideas that fascinate and that could make their way to the virtual page. And yet, over my four years of blogging and of following blogs, I have seen some of my favorites disappear. It’s not an overnight phenomenon, but instead begins as a slow process—the space between posts growing longer and longer until, one day, there are posts no more. I find that both scary and sad. Almost as frightening as the possibility of awaking one morning with no ideas and no motivation to write another book. Such uncomfortable thoughts inspired me to search for the answer to the question, “why do bloggers with both small and large followings simply stop posting?”

There are probably as many individual causes as there are individual writers blogging. Life changes, priorities take over or the thing that drove our passion for the topic has been satisfied. Although I am certain that the causes vary by writer, my own experience also makes me certain that an underlying factor plays a large role in the disappearance of members of our writing community. And as much as I’d like the reason to be something as grand as a dark government conspiracy, alien abductions or a digital Grim Reaper stalking from its virtual world, the cause is no doubt birthed from the place the blogger began. A place that, by design, leads the writer to a single destination. A scary little place of darkness and hopelessness where the sign over the entrance reads, “Welcome to the Village of No More Ideas.”

That Village awaits for all of us, but it is not our destiny. Arrival is a choice each writer makes. The Village is not inevitable, it is just the inevitable outcome of taking a journey down a particular path. The path always leads to the Village, but we can always step off the path and take a new and different route. If you haven’t reached the Village, there is always time to avoid it. If you are a blogger, you may very well be on that path right now. It’s simple enough to determine…just look back to where you began…to that moment when you created your site’s name. Because the journey to the “Village of No More Ideas,” always begins in the “City of the Specific Blog Theme.”

In the City, we have much passion for our beloved and specific theme—be it writing, or movies, or smoothie recipes. In the City the bright neon lights illuminate the seemingly endless possibilities for our topic. Those bright lights mask the Village beyond and hide that horizon behind perceived colors of endless topic writing ideas. And in those words that begin with “about this blog” we step upon the path, leave the City, the illusion a false light of images like those created by an unexpected camera’s flash.

The exact moment the illusion fades happens somewhere along the journey from the grand city to that lonely dark village. It is a slow process. The writer’s eyes adjust to the looming darkness. A nagging and panicky sense of emptiness grows among the urgent whispers that the new ideas are, in fact, becoming sparse. And then, with the last salvageable idea somewhere behind, the writer arrives at the gates to that Village. Hope abandoned and a dark conviction that they have no further words to share and nothing of importance left to say.

Some may retrace their steps. They may return to the City, find a new idea, construct a new blog in the warmth of those City lights, and begin again. Others choose to simply forget, to toss the dream in the stark fields of other lost dreams. To pretend the writing never served any real purpose. To create a mental list of all the reasons it was not important—readers didn’t care, no money was made, no fame achieved, more “important” and “responsible” things to pursue. And perhaps those things are all true. Perhaps the writer won’t feel the small, cold emptiness left in the wake of lost passion. Perhaps that “once upon a time writer” will believe it was inevitable…but, of course, it’s not.

The culprit is not the City, the problem is not the Village, the cause is not an absence of interest or skill. The issue is the self-imposed restrictions borrowed from genre writing. A belief that a blog needs to be about a single topic. Misunderstanding that a “theme” does not need confinement within a single topic, that it can be broad and deep. That readers may be attracted as much to the “writer’s voice” as to any single point of discussion. That both the reader and the writer are diverse and that informing and entertaining can include many things. In a world of tags, categories, genres and 140 characters it’s easy to forget we are free to write about any or all of our interests.

It took me two blogs to learn that lesson. My first blog, nightmirrors.wordpress.com, had a strict horror focus and when I arrived in the Village, I went back to the City and created Writing in a Dead World, with an intended focus on “writing” and the “writing industry.” And although I have not yet arrived again at the Village gates…I can sense it just up the road. All the landmarks look familiar…I have been here before. Knowing the terrible feeling that might await, I gave thought to expanding my blog ownership to other blog titles. I have, after all, many diverse interests that could serve well under other themes—writing, marketing, psychology, dark fiction, current events. I could create a blog for each and for a while travel many paths…to that Village. Instead…

I decided to take a chance. To test my theory that blog writing is not only about ideas, but also about the writer’s voice. In this case my voice. Perhaps not every reader will have interest in every topic, maybe some will “un-follow,” but won’t there also be an opportunity to gain greater readership? Or will the shifting topics confuse the readers? To the last, i don’t think so. I’m betting most readers have a variety of books on their shelves. I bet they see an entire range of movies and television shows. I bet they are interested in diverse topics. Readers are not singular in their interests, so why would I make my blog such?

So this is my experiment. No new blog address, no single topic, instead a blog restricted only by the things that don’t interest me—no sports news here and no algebra discussions either. Writing? Yep, still my greatest passion…there’s a category for that..right up there on the top right. It’s called “On Writing.” But also so much more. Like Trending for book, industry and social media topics. And Jung’s Sofa for psychology both in and out of the writing world. Blogcaster for video and podcasts, and of course my favorite interactive articles, Blogger Insights and Indie Author Interviews. I will warn ahead however, the Wit without Wisdom category is meant to be a little snarky and a little controversial. No “hate” speech here but certainly my thoughts on some of the craziness going on in our world.
Will the new WIDW work? Don’t know. Maybe I wind up with one follower or maybe…a thousand. What I can be certain of is that since I am seldom without an opinion on something, the diverse categories allow me a single place to share a lot of those thoughts and avoid my second visit to that distasteful little village. So I hope you will continue to join me and to comment, but mostly I hope you continue to follow your own dreams and to pursue your passions like they are the reason for living…because… I think they are.

To see more of what’s to come, visit the About the Categories page for brief descriptions of each.