Monday, January 24, 2011

The Writer's Virtual Watercooler

(tap, tap, tap) "Hello? Is this thing on?"

That old saw refers, of course, to the performer sweating on stage, tapping the microphone to see if the audience can hear him . . . perhaps in the wake of a joke that has fallen flat, or a rousing speech he hoped would inspire murmurs of agreement. Instead there is dead silence--the proverbial chirping of crickets. Surely they didn't hear him, or they would have responded! (tap, tap, tap) "Is this thing on?"

In some ways, blogging is like performing on stage. You send something out to the universe, hoping it won't come back void. While some bloggers may write purely to express themselves, not especially caring to hear what others think about what they've written, we at Writing North Idaho care deeply about what the Inland Northwest literary community is thinking and doing.

One of our dreams for Writing North Idaho is that it will be a place for writers, readers, and others who love the written and spoken word to come together and share thoughts, information, ideas, opinions, and inspiration. We'd like to be a gathering place, a virtual watercooler for wordsmiths. To do that, we need to hear from you!

Now that we've gotten our sea legs at this whole blogging thing, we'd like to increase blog traffic and activity and get the conversation going. While researching ways to do this, I've learned a few interesting tidbits. Most of them are pure common sense, like paying attention to what we put in headers, linking to other blogs, joining a blog ring, and adding a blog roll to the homepage, all things to consider as we move forward.

But we also want to hear from you, dear reader. Specifically:

*What would you like to see more of (and less of) on Writing North Idaho?

*What would make the blog most useful and fun for you?

*What inspires you to comment on a blog (any blog, not just WNI)?

*What might prevent you from posting a comment? (One potential commenter mentioned being intimidated at the idea of posting on a blog for writers, worried that we're hovering here with eagle eyes, ready to swoop down and pounce on every grammar and spelling mistake. Believe me, this is not Mrs. Grundy's English 101 class! We're eager for your thoughts and ideas, not precisely placed past-perfect participles--if such a thing even exists!)

*Finally, if you are a blogger yourself, what tactics have worked for you, in terms of increasing traffic and getting comments on your blog?

As always, we're eager to hear from you!


Jessie Gunderson said...

I follow your blog hoping to connect with other local authors. Get a "pulse" for the community of published and aspiring authors as well as local events etc.

I am often inspired to comment when there is a specific question posed or sometimes if I disagree or see an alternative benefit to something. In other words, "hey, but what about this?"

One deterrant to posting is when the author or other readers don't respond back. I like a blog where there is an actual conversation going on even if it is short.

For example I post - "I'm going to try this."

Blog author posts later - "Great, let us know how it goes."

Or another reader posts - "I tried it this way and it worked great, here is a link."

On blogging -
1.It seems like it takes a year for blogs to get their own momentum.

2.The most traffic I have is when I write personal/humor posts but that might have something to do with my nutty life!

3.I also had great success with a weekly "carnival", something that happens regularly with active participation/homework :) and often links to other blogs. BUT...that's hard work and often brought readers ONLY in it for the hits to their blog.

4.FB and Twitter pages that automatically post new articles. People will often comment there and/or click over and are more likely to participate now that I'm "bringing it to them".

Hey, what I just wrote would be a good post for my blog :) In order to get comments rolling I will often ask at the end of something like this, "what did I miss?" "what works/doesn't work for you?"

I hope to meet readers and authors here so feel free to come say hi! And I'll be back. I have this blog on my igoogle page!

Jessie at Blog Schmog (PostFalls, ID)

Nancy Owens Barnes said...

Jenny, thanks for your post and the important questions about commenting on blogs! And Jessie, I appreciate your blogging tips and suggestions. I also like a conversational style of blog, although I admit I'm sometimes timid about commenting on other writing blogs for various reasons. Like Jenny said, if we ignore Mrs. Grundy and share our thoughts and ideas, we all benefit. Thanks to you both.

Norm de Ploom said...

Jessie, thanks for your many excellent tips on blogging. We welcome all writers and want the writing community to continue to grow. Interactive conversations are a fun way to share. As Jenny said in her good post, we edit and proof read our own writing so much that here typos and incomplete sentences are inconsequential. Just give me a new or differing perspective on some aspect of writing and I am a happy dog.

Jennifer Rova said...

Excellent tips, Jessie. We are always learning. What do you write in addition to your blog?

Mary Jane Honegger said...

Thanks for finding a way to open the lines of communication, Jenny! What fun to hear from others who read our blog! Good ideas all around!

Mary Jane Honegger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jessie Gunderson said...

inconsequential- good word Norm! And in the context of editing I spell deterr(a)nt wrong. Ha! I do worry about that too, which sometimes keeps me from commenting. Pride I guess...

This has been a great conversation already.

Jennifer- Great question! What do all of you write too?

I write short stories, short Biblical fiction, an occasional terrible poem for church or fun (heehee), and my husband and I are working on my second ever novel--a political suspense (I hope) about a talk show host determined to expose the NY senator of terrorist ties and the senator's Muslim sister striving to redeem her honor in the US as secretary to the senator. It is inspired by the story of Joseph in the Bible (but no coat or dreams, ha).

Jessie Gunderson said...

BTW- I hope to join you soon for the IWL. Maybe even this next month but I'm also due with baby #5 at the end of Feb. so we'll see! Good news is if I do come you won't mistake me and my huge belly. :)

Jennifer Rova said...

I write creative nonfiction. I am 99% finished with a nonfiction book but I have to write the proposal before I send any query letters.

I know the IWL members would love to have you join us. It is an interesting bunch of writers of all genres. I always learn something at the meetings.