Monday, 2 January 2012

Two exciting new writing initiatives for 2012

Today I have embarked on two exciting new initiatives related to my writing career.

The first, which I signed up for a few months ago, is an online course called "blogging to build brand". It was a spur-of-the-moment decision to sign-up, made when I had all the time in the world and was often to be found lost in blogland. I think the course goes for a month and I have no idea what it's going to entail, but the idea is to help authors (and aspiring authors) cement their brand on the interwebs through social media.

I've spend a deal of time thinking and reading about online branding over the past year. It's very hard to justify the time needed to read the vast number of interesting blogs, not to mention actually blogging oneself, when it's at the expense of actually writing. After all, what's the point of having a "brand" if one doesn't have anything to hang it on? The wisdom does seem to be, however, that even aspiring authors greatly benefit from having a strong brand, particularly when it comes to agents taking notice. Not in lieu of the writing or the story, of course, but every little bit helps.

Anyway, I decided that for a small fee and a little bit of time spent blogging (which I do anyway) I might as well find out some tips about how to make better use of my writing blog (the other one, not this one). Because the flipside of the "why bother worrying about brand?" argument is "why bother blogging at all if nobody is reading it?".

The course starts this month -- any day now I reckon -- and hopefully will result in some action on the other blog, which, like this one, has been somewhat dormant since I began work again. (I'll continue this blog in the same vein as ever -- a bit of this and a bit of that.)

An unanticipated side-effect of this course, however, is the Twitter interaction. There is a Twitter hashtag (#wana112) associated with our group of 100 or so writers, and we were all commanded to "stop using the Yahoo email group for chat" and instead get onto Twitter and start using either HootSuite or TweetDeck, which are more sophisticated Twitter handling interfaces than Twitter itself. (Many in the group had never used Twitter -- thank heavens I had, at least a little.)

I selected HootSuite in the end, on account of its being hosted in the Cloud, and now I have a dashboard containing several columns of Twitter feeds, all going off at once. This morning there was a flurry of messages and new people following me, and then I had to follow them all back, and between this and facebook I felt as though I was manning a complicated communications consul. It made me giggle. Since most of the other participants are in the USA, I'm going to be out of sync if they post in the evenings (our morning, when I'll be at work), so perhaps it won't be too demanding to keep up most of the time.

But the priority for this year, as already stated, is to complete a draft of a novel -- which brings me to the second initiative. Through one of my new blogging buddies, I was introduced to the #WIP500 project being run by writer, Cara Michaels. I daresay I will cross-announce this with the appropriate links on my other blog soon. It's being run like a low-key NaNoWriMo, where you aim to write 500 words a day for the entire year, and log them into the website daily -- and use the associated Twitter hashtag for chatting with others on the same journey. Since this coincided with my personal aim for 2012 anyway, it seemed a good idea to sign-up and have someone to be accountable to.

So there you have it. Pretty exciting! All I need to do NOW is go and write 500 words for today... and maybe some for yesterday as well.

It's going to be a brilliant year!

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