Rock Stars and Writers–Yes, We Really Do Work

Welcome to WANA Wednesday, the day I dedicate to helping you guys rock it hard on social media and based off my best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. Many writers groan when I tell them that they need to blog. In fairness, I can’t blame them. Writers have been hearing that quite a lot. The problem, however, was that no one was teaching them HOW to blog. Oh, because writing is natural. I mean functional literacy is all that’s required to write….right?

Well, it seems that is the general perception.

Remember the 80s? The group Dire Straits had a song called, “I Want My MTV.”

That ain’t workin’. That’s the way you do it.

You play the guitar on the MTV.

That ain’t working. That’s the way you do it.

Your money is for nothin’ and your chicks for free.

Recently, I heard this song and it struck me that most people do not perceive the creative professions as real work. Look at this song. So learning to read music isn’t work? Or learning how to play a guitar? Bands tour the world in 6 months, working 18 hour days with no time off. Frequently, they are hospitalized for exhaustion. Yet this is the public perception:

Now that ain’t workin’, that’s the way you do it.

Lemme tell ya, that guy ain’t dumb.

Maybe get a blister on your little finger.

Maybe get a blister on your thumb.

This song made me think about how most people feel about writing….worse, how many writers feel about writing. I know I was guilty. I had a job in sales and a 9-state territory. I drove 1200 miles a week. Hey, being a writer was the LIFE! I could sit at a laptop and wear a beret and get to be creative all day…

…or not.

Do I have a point? Yes. Too many of us feel like because we can slap a sentence together we can write a novel. We made As on our English papers, so we are ready to take on NY publishing. Hey, I thought so, too. Reality punched me in the face on that one. But many of us feel the same way about blogging. Again, you think I would have learned, but um….yeah, no. I have this penchant for learning the hard way. Took a year of writing less than stellar blogs for me to get frustrated and start studying what successful bloggers were doing that I wasn’t.

Most writers, when I mention blogging, promptly develop dizziness and nausea. WHY? If we think about this for a second, writers should LOVE to blog. Really. We got into this profession so we could do what we love—WRITING—all the time. So, why this aversion to blogging?

I will tell you my theory. Most of the blogging advice has tried to overlay traditional marketing onto social networking and it DOES NOT FIT. Many PR people and social media experts tell writers to blog about themselves, their characters, their books, because our novel is the product that will be for sale. They advise, “Get out there and talk about your book. Offer free downloads. Entice customers. Talk about your writing process.”

Okay, I am going to apply a little logic here. Since when is talking about ourselves non-stop EVER been a good plan when it comes to social discourse?

No wonder writers feel queasy when told they need to blog. On some intuitive level, we know this kind of narcissism is a bad plan. Not only that, but for blogs to be successful, they need to be posted frequently and long-term. So now we are supposed to talk about ourselves MULTIPLE times a week….FOREVER?

No longer a mystery why writers feel verklempt when I mention blogging.

This approach is crap. It is a formula to alienate others and undermine our platform. Applying traditional market norms onto a world ruled by social norms is like saying, “Your blood type is A positive? Well, all we have is B negative. But, hey, blood is blood.”

Mix two different types of blood together and what happens? Sickness and possibly death. Same with blogging. Try to use a blog for advertising and we are mixing traditional marketing with social networking, and the effect will be sickness or even death of our author platform. Same with Twitter. Want to see who gets ignored? The person who only tweets about herself, her ideas, her thoughts, her opinions, and her blogs. The most popular people on social media serve others first.

I have been truly amazed at the sense of community we have created on #MyWANA. Writers are coming together as friends, following each other, talking to each other, and offering unprecedented support and encouragement. Yet, spend a day watching #MyWANA (or any other # discussion) and it is easy to see who is ignored….those who post like a spam bot.

Here is my blog.

Here is my book.

Here are my ideas.

I’m not here to make anyone feel badly. Remember, I made all the dumb mistakes so you don’t have to. I listened to the “experts” in the beginning, too, but after weeks of failing to connect? I tossed their ideas and started looking for what worked and WHY. And I don’t think these “experts” stay up all night thinking of ways to make writers go even crazier, but I DO feel like many of them are not writers, so they can’t appreciate our unique challenges. We must connect on social media if we hope to get anything out of it. It is called social networking not social advertising.

So back to my original point. How do others—friends, family, society in general—feel about what we do?

That ain’t working, that’s the way you do it

You write the novels on your Mac PC

That ain’t working, that’s the way you do it

Your money is for nothing and your perks for free.

Now that ain’t workin’, that’s the way you do it

Lemme tell you those geeks ain’t dumb

Maybe get a blister on your spacebar finger

Maybe have your legs and butt go numb.

Others can feel this way about what we do. That just means we do our jobs so well it looks easy. They key is to make certain WE don’t feel this way about our work. Writing is TOUGH. We have to research, read, outline, study, blog, and all of that on top of the writing, which is often ON TOP of the regular day job. We also have to learn about social networking. This stuff isn’t imprinted on our DNA. Just because we can type doesn’t mean we understand how to really use these amazing tool (blogs, Twitter, FB).

This is why I hope you pick up a copy of my #1 best-selling book, Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer. Blogging isn’t as natural as breathing. It is a skill that can be learned through two years of trial and error and chocolate…or it can be learned by taking a day to read my book.

Writing is tough, but now we have #MyWANA to make is easier. Blogging is social, and should be fun. Let’s leave the advertising to McDonald’s and Nike. Blogging mixed with friendship (like #MyWANA) is the best combination and can keep you energized to write. Blogging can help us be tighter, faster, cleaner writers who are much better at meeting deadlines. Best of all? Our blogs can make us friends with people we, otherwise, might never have known.

So what do you guys love about blogging? What makes you hate it? Dread it? Any advice or suggestions?

I love hearing from you! And to prove it and show my love, for the month of May, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of May I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

Note: I am keeping all the names for a final GRAND, GRAND PRIZE of 30 Pages (To be announced) OR a blog diagnostic. I look at your blog and give feedback to improve it. For now, I will draw weekly for 5 page edit, monthly for 15 page edit.

Important Announcements

Make sure you join our LOVE REVOLUTION over on Twitter by following and participating in the #MyWANA Twibe. Read this post to understand how this #MyWANA will totally transform your life and your author platform.

My book We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media hit THREE best-seller lists on Kindle last week. #2 in Computers & Technology, #13 in Authorship and #17 in Advertising. THANK YOU!!!!! This book is recommended by some of the biggest authors AND agents in New York, so make sure you pick up a copy if you don’t have one already.

Also, if you want to learn how to blog or even how to take your blogging to a level you never dreamed possible…get your copy of Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer today. This book hit #1 on the best-selling list in less than 48 hours thanks to all of YOU!!!!! Not only will this book help you learn to blog, but you will be having so much fun, you will forget you were supposed to be learning.

Happy writing!

Until next time….


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    • Kerry Meacham on May 18, 2011 at 2:29 pm
    • Reply

    We got to rewrite structureless novels
    Practice log line deliveries
    We got to move these YA Paranormals
    We got to move these high Fantasies

    Great blog Kristen.

    • Caroline Clemmons on May 18, 2011 at 2:47 pm
    • Reply

    I actually love blogging. I love research, so any excuse to use it is a plus for me. But then, I would be Queen of ProcratinatorsRus, but we never get around to elections. See, it’s hard to temper diversion with discipline. How much time for this and how much for that?

  1. We’re teaching marketing next month at Write it Forward and the single most important thing in that is consistency. One thing you can see is Kristen posts these blogs every single day, every week. It’s a lot of work but pays off in the long run.

  2. I think #myWANA is kinda like an 80’s rock star’s mullet–bidness in the front, and party in the back!

    Kristen, once WANA sort of gave me “permission” to blog on just a few topics that I really like, and your other blog on keeping posts short (a la putting myself in freelance-article mode), blogging has gone from being something I dragged my feet on, and deep-down couldn’t stand to something I actually look forward to. And feel proud of. My Worldbuilding Wednesday series has been going on for 9 weeks now!

    Even Twitter is becoming my friend, thanks to Twitter Tuesdays, the #myWANA hashtag, and my adorable little program Choqok (a Linux-native app with abilities similar to TweetDeck), Twitter doesn’t seem like such a bunch of chaos anymore. I feel like I’m making real connections and carrying on real conversations, albeit brief. That means worlds more to me than “properly marketing” whatever I’m marketing (nothing yet, but soon).

  3. The challenge of blogging, for a generalist like me, is staying broad enough for my readers (male and female, from BC to Australia to England) to find stuff they all enjoy. But interesting enough they’ll keep coming back.

    The fun of blogging, for me, are the very cool conversations that happen in the comments thread…writing into the void of silence….that’s traditional publishing.

    1. Work on creating community and finding topics where people can voice opinions or advice or even hang out in the comments section. When my blogs really improved was when I started worrying less about ME being interesting, and focused more on being interestED. It is a challenge, but I can say that practice does make it easier :D.

  4. Lol. My legs and butt go numb all the time. But that’s enough about me. . . . Let’s talk about my accomplishments. . . .

    So spot on, Kristen. There is exactly no social setting where people want to hang out with people who constantly talk about themselves. Many people don’t understand that social interaction is a gift we can give people which returns a gift to us, as well. When people use me as an excuse to promote themselves, it isn’t a gift, it’s an attempted taking, and that’s why they leave us feeling mugged. Great post!

  5. Anyone who can mix in Dire Straits lyrics into a blog that exists to help us writers out is awesome! Love the personalized lyrics, too!

    Like you were, I’m still in the “first year writing the blog blues” stage. I feel that I cover alot of awesome topics that most writers would find interesting, but it’s just not really going that well. I also feel that by trying to come up with 5 topics a week, it feels forced at times. So, I’m taking the weekend to read my copy of WANA cover to cover and hopefully it will crack open my hard head, the stubbornness will ooze out and I will embrace yuor concepts with a renewed sense of vigor! Viva blogging! BTW, how do you say ‘blogging’ in Spanish?

    1. So wonderful to see you here, Mark! If you get a chance, read this new one, Are You There Blog? LOTS of tips in there to make blogging easier and more engaging to readers.

  6. Don’t you sort of feel like you’re getting away with something?

    I love to write even if it’s hard work. If I got paid to do it? Sheesh. I feel like I was raised in a world where you’re not allowed to love what you get paid to do.

  7. Oh. Em. Gee. This has been torturing me. It’s the reason I’ve been putting off getting a blog, and the reason why now that I have one, I feel like hurling my computer down the stairs every time someone mentions “building a platform”.
    Because I knew, KNEW, that nobody wanted to hear all about me me me every day. My life is kind of lame.
    But it all feels a little pointless when nobody reads my blog anyway. Even if I start putting interesting content on there, I’m at a loss on how I steer the flow of traffic in my direction. Is twitter and commenting on blogs enough to do that?

  8. Great post, again! I love blogging, but my challenge is finding the right topics for my readers. I have several readers and just a handful of subscribers, so far, and of course I want to attract a lot more. I think I’m doing everything possible to get the blog noticed. I’m writing about 4 times per week on topics that can appeal to writers and readers, but getting visits is slow-going. I have both of your books, almost through the first and hoping when I have finished both, I’ll have the answer.

  9. I really appreciate the advice you give on your blog as well as in the LIRW course, it cleared up many questions on blogging basics for me. And your strategies for success are much easier to grasp than the other “experts” anyway! Blogging is about the people, and getting to know the people. Now that I can understand and not feel like I had to go back to school all over and become an expert on something that I might lose interest in. It’s more fluid than that. Thanks for pointing it out to us!

  10. “Blogging advice has tried to overlay traditional marketing onto social networking and it DOES NOT FIT” So very, very true. I cringe when I visit blogs that are all about me, me, me. I’m sure many are written by people who aren’t narcissistic at all, but some blog guru told them to be. It ends up looking like a your great aunt trying to do cool dance moves. Embarrassment all around.

  11. Lots of great posts!!! I’m half through We Are Not Alone and have purchased the Are You There Blog book. There is so much information and I love that it deals directly with writers. So many other social networking books just didn’t work… 🙁

    I’m looking forward to applying your techniques. The hard part (like you’ve said) is finding something to write about. I’ve tried the Me, Me, Me approach and have discovered just how boring I actually am. I think if I could figure out what it is that I need to blog about, I would feel much more comfortable posting more than once per week.

    Thanks for the information. I’ll definitely keep checking back.


      • Tamara LeBlanc on May 18, 2011 at 7:29 pm
      • Reply

      I could never think you’re boring Tami. i happen to like your blogs.

      1. LOL, Tamara!!! Thanks so much. I like yours too. I like your book more, so keep writing!!!


    1. I agree that (a) Tami is not boring, (b) her blog is terrific. Love the new look! 😉

  12. I love blogging! For me, since I’m just starting out as a writer, I am way more productive with my blog than my writing, and i tend to feel guilty because of how much time I spend on my blog versus my “writing”. I know I know…blogging IS writing, or at least writing practice. Blogging really does require a lot of time, effort, and as Kristen stressed…interaction. I love to read other blogs and discover new ones. I look forward to reading them. I don’t think you can fake enjoying other people’s blogs, but it’s pretty much necessary to get as involved as possible. And if you don’t like something, why do it? So if writers groan and complain about blogging I suppose it’s good I’m starting with blogging and moving outward…. 🙂

    Thanks Kristen for another great post!

  13. Can I just say, I haven’t had a moment to read this but I have been complaining for the longest time that people think because I am a writer I don’t work. It makes me crazy. Now, when I get a break I am coming back here to read this because I know that you always make me laugh and inform me at the same time. Thanks for letting me rant just a little.

    • Terrell Mims on May 18, 2011 at 5:44 pm
    • Reply

    Love blogging. Love the post. To me, the best part of blogging is taking what you love and presenting it in a format that appeals to a broader audience. Fantasy writers can talk about Smallville or Supernatural and gain a bigger following. Thanks for the blog.

    • naomi on May 18, 2011 at 6:31 pm
    • Reply

    I used to love blogging. I did it a lot when I was toying with the idea of writing and only had to worry about a handful of my friends actually reading what I write. Now I’m floundering. Social media is great for staying in touch with people I know but branching out? I’m lost. I watch other do it with what feels on this end as effortless ease and wonder, “How did they come up with that? How did they know that would draw someone’s interest? Are they just that much more interesting them me?”

    Thanks for this post, and this blog. I’m a new reader but you bet I’ll be adding you to my blog reader now. 🙂

  14. And because I don’t know how you will know I linked to this post and mentioned your book on my blog, I’ll let you know via comments. 🙂

    • Tamara LeBlanc on May 18, 2011 at 7:41 pm
    • Reply

    “Most writers, when I mention blogging, promptly develop dizziness and nausea.”
    That’s me;)
    But…and this is a big but, your post today didn’t make me want to hurl (the subject of your post that is. Your words of wisdom never make me queazy:)
    I know alot of people, writers, that blog. Some of their content is good, some brilliant, and some not so much. And I suppose, instead of just reading thier words, I should also study the compelling one’s blogging method. How is the blog set up? What makes it interesting? What keeps me coming back for more?
    Disecting my favorite blogs in order to see what makes them tic never occurred to me until now.
    I owe that inspiration to you. I also loved your Dire Straights remix!!
    Thanks for your wisdom.
    Have a lovely evening:)

  15. I swore I would never write fiction. I’m now working on my fourth novel.

    I swore I would never blog. I lied.

    Unlike other lies I’ve told myself, this one seems to be turning out all right. I finally gave in to your peer pressure a couple of months ago, and so far it’s been a lot more fun than I expected. I must be doing it wrong. 🙂

  16. Wow – i really enjoyed this one. It makes total sense! I get it that we have to blog and network online but yes, I was cringing at the thought and the process. On twitter, i HATE those who are so obviously pushnig themselves forward and Im so suspicious of their attempts to FRIEND me. I defn dont want to be one of those people.
    I agree blogging and writing is very hard work. Ive seen some of my friends decide to ‘start a blog’ and then trickle away into nothingness when they find out that its actually a slog. Some days its boring and drives me nuts. Some days you think your talking to yourself. But you force yourself to keep doing it. And then there are the great days. When you get awesome feedback, when someone links back to your blog post on their blog AND tells everyone they should read your book ( even when they havent read it yet…just because they love your blog!) etc.

    Thank you for another great useful post. I always learn something new.

  17. At first I worried about blogging, but I received excellent advice: give the readers something. I don’t expect people to visit my blog and read about ME! Hopefully when they come to my blog they can learn along with me. Great advice here 😀

  18. Hi Kristen! Loved your book We Are Not Alone and ripped through it in 2 days. Have to get your blog one. Wonderful, expert points on growing your platform. Personally, I love blogging about different topics – life is full of various events and thoughts. I also love how satisfying it is – write a blog, post it, and receive comments. Writing the book is harder! Long periods of silence and self doubt and no one to tell you whether or not you are good. Blogging also takes time away from the serious writing so I am always trying to balance. I now try hard to limit to 1 hour a day, but like your book, I minimize twitter and go off and on between writing bouts. I will now join your new hashtag!!!

  19. I love blogging because I am writing about the things I am passionate about – TV, movies, books, authors, and an upcoming favorite household items. I look forward to future blog posts when I feel like I’ve actually entertained or helped someone else out there reading my blog. And really, it’s all because of you!

  20. Yes it’s work, A LOT of work. I was unwilling to work at it for a long time and just spent (wasted) my time fantasizing about the lifestyle. Thanks for the insights.

  21. You make some strong points here, but I am left with one thought above all else. You need to get a photo with you at computer, sleeves rolled up, wearing a beret.

    1. And here I was trying to impress you with my Dire Straits remix :D.

  22. Truly terrific post! At first, just the mention of starting a blog had me, as you put it, verklempt (SNL – love it). But once I finally gave it a go I started to enjoy it. I love checking out fellow writers’ blogs, and I think that’s what has helped me build up a decent following in just over a week. Thanks for putting MyWANA together; it totally rocks!

  23. I don’t talk about writing much on my blog. I tend to use it as an outlet for all the other crazy little things I am interested in besides writing. But, it helps my writing in that it keeps my brain sharp. Ever since I started blogging (almost 4 years ago) I look at the world differently. I tend to see connections where I didn’t before. It’s because I’m seeing every moment as a potential blog post. I’m thinking “has this happened to anyone else?” or “how can I make this ridiculous situation relatable to others?” My family has started asking me “is this going to be on your blog?” It’s kinda weird, but really very fun, too.

  24. Hey, it’s good practice. I have a list:

    Book of Honor 1000 Words
    About Writing 500 Word Article
    Through the Looking Glass 500 Word Article
    Web Lit Canada 500 Word Article
    SemiAccurate 1000 Word Article

    That’s what I’m supposed to be doing today. It may get modified. Something may become 250 words, or 750 words, depending upon how the subject works out. But I try to stick to it, every day.


  25. I love blogging. It is exercise for my brain. I need it. The children are destroying my brain cells daily.

    It is the other writing time (for my book idea) I struggle with. Being a SAHM with a toddler who hounds me, I have time for a 300 word post but never enough time to get very far on the book idea. My time is coming eventually though! I do what I can for now. Baby steps.

  26. When I started blogging a year ago, I was fortunate to hook up with a great ship of fools. Clay Morgan and I sort of joked around that we felt like someone had accidentally allowed us nerds to sit at the cool kids’ table. Which was excellent.

    And then we realized that all bloggers are nerds.

    I love introducing people to each other, giving people a platform to share their words while also sharing my passion and worldview.

    I love the folks at #MyWANA and, you are right, the folks I love the most are the folks who are those who are willing to stop the world and melt with you… for a moment. (See that, see how I did that. Okay, so it’s no Dire Straits, but still. It was the ’80s. 😉 )

    I’m still easing my ay into Twitter. It still feels like a time drain to me. But I am allowing myself 20 minutes each day. To thank people for re-posting my stuff. To comment on something funny. To respond to a message. I still prefer to contact people via email and tell them I think they are fabulous in more characters than Twitter allows. 😉

    I continue to be astounded by how many great writers there are out there. No wonder it is so hard to get a book published! Thank you for helping us to guide our little crafts, oh captain, my captain.

  27. As always, another awesome post. Love your stuff. Blogging was like a nail in my heel, until I relaxed a little and stopped being so worried about perfection. Heck — we’re all imperfect. Thank you for all the great advice. *big hug*

  28. Hi Kristen,
    Yet again I have included your post in my weekly roundup of cool ideas, trends and craft tips for writers….I’m a Kristen fan! I try to take a sample of the best most interesting discussions on what is happening out there for my NZ readers to get a sense of what is coming to hit us…You and Bob have such clear voices and you both explain the good points and the bad so that we get a big picture look…Thanks
    New Zealand

  29. Kristen,
    It’s hard to imagine the reigning Queen of Social Networking as having trouble connecting, but hearing that gives me hope. I’ve dabbled with the hard sell marketing approach (mostly in my mind, thank goodness), but I’m glad to leave it behind. Thank you for your generosity in sharing all this fabulous information. You always brighten my day. WANA is a terrific book, and I can’t wait to get my hands on Are You There, Blog? I’m a member of Petit Fours and Hot Tamales, but my own blog tends to get neglected. But I WILL be blogging soon – about you. I promise!

  30. What about people who don’t really have much knowledge? I mean, I’m a new writer and have nothing to offer any potential blog viewers, no information or anything. I’m definitely not an expert by far.

    I guess that’s what is so intimidating about blogging. I do it, sure, but I often feel that I’m failing because I’m not giving to others that much.

  31. Love the post and love blogging. So far the biggest challenge has been learning the blogging platform. The rest was far easier thanks to the awesome principles in “We are not alone”. Sure there is always tweaking to do, but it is nice to not fret over the basics or worry that I’d be wasting time on subjects no one cared about.

    #MyWANA has been the greatest innovation, real genius Kristen. Giving writers from every genre, walk of life and viewpoint a chance to mingle together for friendship, support and knowledge is beyond golden, its priceless 🙂

  32. Your post really hit a chord with me. I have been hemming and hawwing and basically putting off blogging. Maybe this will kick me into gear!

  33. Hehe. You want to see a Rock Star click here.

    Yep, those pictures are of me, with my Yamaha Bass and my Parker P42 6 string guitar, and no, the images aren’t reversed, I’m left handed. The pictures were to go on my blog, but I’m not happy with them, so we are going to have to do them again.

    And yes, that is an authentic Firefly Browncoat that I’m wearing. My wife and kids know how much I love the show, and that was my Christmas present one year. When I started blogging seriously, and needed an online ‘identity’ that people would recognize, I went for the Browncoat because it stands for much of what I stand for. I guess you could say I was trying to send my enemies a message of sorts 🙂 Of course since they aren’t the sort to watch something like Firefly it went right past them…


  34. Glad you made those mistakes beforehand. It’s a valuable lesson to us. Otherwise, it’s we’d be like the lost sheep.

    Just exploring the outskirts of your lessons. Maybe I can find ways to do it better based on your recommendations. Who knows? I’ll keep on studying and improving based on your techniques. Thanks, Kristen.

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