A New Look and Blog Updates

As you might have noticed, I’ve updated the look to 411 Junkie. Not by choice, mind you. I loved the look I had before, but for whatever reason, my menu bar just stopped working with that layout. No clue why. 

This was the next best thing. Yes, it’s a WordPress theme, one of the Twenty-somethings. I’ve used it before so if it looks familiar that’s why (and I’m going to say that you’ve noticed because that means you visit my blog often enough to notice and pretending that you’ve noticed will make me happy and you know, what? It’s kinda of my blog so . . . yep). 

I am also giving the 411 Toolbox a makeover (scheduled to be done within these next fourteen days–days because it sounds longer than two weeks. Trying to psych me out!). I stumbled on the coolest thing this past weekend when insomnia hit. Now, I’m always looking for ways to improve my blog (just because it’s my belief that you can never not improve, you know? That there is always something new to learn). So, if you’re a blogger or if you’re learning about blogging . . .  actually, if you’re looking for ideas, advice, or just tips and tricks on finding a way to get passive income, you really need to check out Pat Flynn’s website, Smart Passive Income

So I subscribe to his emails and in one of his emails (is SPI Weekend Digest) he mentions ways to improve your blog with his post “10 Things You Can Do RIGHT NOW to Improve Your Online Business or Blog.” This lead to a website grader which lead to another great website! John Saddington’s website john.do. And I liked his Colophon. I’ve thought of doing something similar for a while now and two things stopped me. One, time. And two, I didn’t know how to start other than “About me.” And I love how inclusive he is and so that was my inspiration.

There will be a few more changes (hopefully) by the end of this month. There are things I really want to get done, that it’s about time they get done, and I’m picking this month to get them done. I’ve said I’d get things done before and never did (and hopefully this time will be different, you know? With me being more focused and stuff), but for some reason or other I feel motivated to do so. And I never ignore my instincts so . . . this month. May. Some changes. For the better. Hopefully. Most likely.

And I never ignore my instincts so . . . this month. May. Some changes. For the better. Hopefully. Most likely.

 

Random 411: Thoughts on the new year (so far)

So, here we are. Twenty-four days into 2017 and I’m wondering if I’ve been productive enough. You know, if I’m off to a good start or not. And as always, I’ve thought a lot about this blog, what it means to me, and what (if any) are the plans for its continuation into 2017. Should I still do it? Should I keep doing things the way I’m doing it? Should I scrap it and start over? I mean, what’s the point? There are millions of blogs out there covering all kinds of topics. And I tend to focus on movies, television, and books reviewing them at my leisure, but there are so many out there. There are so many better ones out there, why do it? What am I contributing this fine industry that is entertainment? And the internet for that matter.

For me, it started off as a jumping-off-a-cliff type of thing. I wanted to get used to writing for an audience. Before this blog, most of my writing was done on an academic level so only my professors and very few classmates got to read what I wrote. For the most part, I did pretty well as far as grades go. I felt like I needed to take the next step. Or a different step. My research papers, essays, creative writings are, more or less, decent on a collegiate level, but now what? Do I try short stories? Do I participate in contests? Do I submit papers to the school journal?

These ideas terrified me if I’m being honest. I suppose they would intimidate anyone who has never considered writing for a bigger audience. A different audience. The court of public opinion (is that being a bit dramatic? Maybe, considering I don’t really have that many followers (when compared to others, that is). Anyway, I needed to take a step . . .  somewhere.

Blogging was all the rage around 2012. In fact, I’m pretty sure it was all the rage earlier than that, but that’s when I stepped into the blogging scene. And because I’m such a data junkie, I took a look at my stats from when this blog was first published on WordPress.com and then moved to WordPress.org in 2015. I was expecting to see lower numbers than I have. I’m not saying I’m doing immensely well, but for someone who was expecting to see maybe a hundred or so views and visits, I did not expect the 1,449 views and the 899 visits in 2016 alone. I’ve gone from publishing 11 posts in 2012 to 367 posts in 2015.

So, what does this mean? I have no clue. Back to my initial point. Why?

I googled “Why do people blog?” I did this to see what reasons are floating around out there. I know your reason is only as good as your reason, but I was curious to see why others do it.

ShoutMeLoud.com published a post listing the top 10 reasons why people blog and those are solid reasons. Things like networking, connecting with like-minded people, self-promotion, to name a few. One reason did appeal to me, though, because it aligns with why I started. To satisfy your creative side. To quote the section on this reason:

To Satisfy Your Creative Side

Sometimes your mind is abuzz with creative ideas, which you are not too sure of, expressing openly, you have a lot of fear of their acceptance, or you are not too sure how to start something like that, blogs are the best option for unleashing your creative ideas.

It not only gives you readers who might admire your work piece but also gives your confidence a boast.

One also has liberty to write semi-professionally.

(Remember to take a look at the complete list of reasons)

Is my mind abuzz with creative ideas?

Perhaps. Okay, yes. I mean, there are these tiny thoughts that populate my mind constantly and while I journal regularly, some thoughts just want to be heard, or written out loud.

Do I have a fear of acceptance?

I would like to answer this one with a resounding YES! because that seems to be the case, right? I wanted to jump off a cliff, so to speak, and get comfortable writing to an audience. But truthfully, I don’t completely fear acceptance. It may be more like I fear rejection. I fear ridicule. I fear negative comments and feedback.

So, where does that leave me?

411 Junkie started as a way for me to voice my thoughts on the information I gather from daily living. To put them into a post. To send them into the internet, curious to see who actually reads and responds to it. To see who provides feedback.

So it’s going to stay that way. Except, I’m going to open up the floor to include anything and everything worth sharing. Focusing on movies, television, and books is advice given by many individuals who gave advice on how to make a successful blog or how to turn your blog into a business. While I find this to be very good advice, I guess my definition of success is a bit different. I’m not set out to make money with this blog (although, maybe, perhaps, one day, I could use it to help me freelance some stuff. Maybe. But I’ll cross that bridge when I get there). And considering the walk-through I just gave myself, my definition of success, the purpose of this blog, was to give my inner musings an outlet.

So, here’s to 2017! To being amusing, random, and freeform!

NaNoWriMo-slash-NaBloPoMo 2016

All right, all right, all right she says in the best Matthew McConaughey impression, in her head.

It’s National Novel Writing Month and for the blogging community National Blog Post Month. A push to kick it up a notch in the writing department.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with these terms, feel free to do a quick Google search because there is tons of information on both events. Or you can just continue to read on. I used to post links to sites like BlogHer for more information, but it seems the links have disappeared on earlier posts on the subject.

National Novel Writing Month is when authors, and writers, push to reach 50,000 words by the end of November. A motivation, a goal, to get your novel done or at the very least make a sizable dent.

Piggy-backing on this writing event, is National Blog Post Month where bloggers post one post a day every day for the month of November.

It’s been three years since I discovered this event and the one time I successfully completed 30 days of blog posting was last year. This year, I hope to keep up the momentum. And as it happens every year, when you think you’re ready for it, you have a game plan, you realize you don’t. This year is no different for me. You’d think I would be better prepared for it. Regrettably, this is not the case.

The rough outline I have scheduled for the month is to post the usual stuff (I know, I know. It’s sorely lacking, but I’m trying. I promise!) and more mindful of what I post. I want to say I want to up the ante on quality as well, but I’m not so sure I’ll succeed at that one. So, one step at a time. One step at a time.

Let us see where Words take us this month. I’m interested to see how this plays out this month.
Photo: lovelygeek.com

 

 

NaBloPoMo15: Wrap Up!

What a month!

Can you believe in 30 minutes it’s December 1st? That is, for folks in Hawaii Standard Time. I realize that half of the world is already into December 1st. The point is, can you believe it’s already December?

Where did the year go?

And just 30 days ago, National Novel Writer’s Month started.

Stats! (59)

Total words written (up until that “59” marker after stats): 14,878
Total Daily Posts: 29
Average words per day: 496
Longest post written: November 6 at 1,378 words (NaBloPoMo15: That Biggest Fear!)
Most words written in a day: November 6 at 1,378 words

Did I accomplish my goal?
Even though I didn’t really set goals except for posting daily, I do feel I accomplished what I set out to do. I wrote everyday and I posted 29 out of 30 days (and only due to operator error which was forgetting to click “Publish” before closing my computer).

Any takeaways?
Loads! This is my second year participating in this event and I love the chance to work and focus on writing. And now that I’ve met my goal of posting daily, it’s time to work on content. How to improve my writing.

And that’s not just for blogging but writing in general.

I also appreciate looking back at what I wrote and deciding whether I could have done something different. I haven’t gone through that process yet, but as the year comes to a close, I know that I’m going to be analyzing what went on this year.

Overall, I enjoyed it. I love having an excuse to write everyday, to think about life everyday, and to think about how I want to spend that day so I can write about it.

So, fellow writers and participants in this annual event, how did you do? I hope you were able to accomplish your goals this month and had fun doing so.

Until next year!

Blogging 2.0: A Look Back

So, being that this is NaBloPoMo and all, and being that I’m back to writing, and being that I’ve posted daily, it’s hard not to think about what’s been done since I started blogging. Thinking about how I started, I decided to share how I started blogging.

I think it was back in 2009 when I said, “Hey, I like writing. Maybe I should blog.” Of course, as with most bloggers and writers go, it’s probably not as simple as that–or maybe it is and if it was that way for you, awesome. For me it was sort of that way, but there’s a good chance I mentioned this before. I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and write for public viewing. I mean, everyone was doing it write, I mean right? So, one more blog won’t hurt, right?

And even if no one read what I wrote, I was blogging main for me. To prove to myself that even though I’m posting to the internet, things will be ok. My biggest fear in posting online was that I’d get some pretty nasty feedback. That’s what stopped me from becoming a writer as a career. I mean, what if someone hated what I wrote and wasn’t afraid to let me know it? Could I handle it? Would I keep writing after that?

So, I jumped of the cliff (metaphorically speaking of course, in case that needed to be defined) and launched my first blog as In My Opinion in June ’09. It sucked. Hard. I did get some views, but it was mainly postings of articles I’d read and I’d offer my thoughts and comments on it. I thought I was pretty clever, giving “my opinion.” It was a bold step since I’m one to hide from conflict and the articles I’d repost were on pretty much anything. And nothing earth shattering happened. No one completely hated what I wrote so I didn’t get hate mail, or laughed off the internet. In fact, I didn’t get anything at all. And I realized, even though I like reading all kinds of things, maybe reposting articles on computers, or cybersecurity, or government ideas weren’t as appealing to, say, anyone else. Of course, I didn’t know of SEOs or anything like that so it was just, “here I am world” and then sit back and see what happens.

Needless to say that fizzled out in about four months. Running parallel to that blog, I decided to start one that talked about my life. I called that … well, I forget. As you can tell, that one didn’t work either. And after that I started to lose a little steam. It’s one thing to want to write and a whole other thing to actually write something that people read and if the point of me writing to get over my fear of public writing then people reading blog was an important part of accomplishing that goal.

The year 2012 was a turning point of sorts. I decided to get serious. The fall of that year I decided to go back to school and my writing class gave me a little boost. So on September 24, 2012, I jumped off that same cliff and 411 Junkie was born and in the Spring of 2013, I really started to get serious. I put together a game plan on what I wanted to write about and things I wanted to post.

Three years later, I’m still writing because I renewed my love of writing. I have 168 followers, although that includes Twitter followers, which is a whole lot more than when I started in 2009. I’ve had about 800 views and 15 comments and none of them hate mail.

It’s taken a few attempts, but for anyone who is just starting out or who’s thinking about it, the best advice I can give is to just do it. Just write. Write and post. Write and post about things you really love, or don’t. But the key thing is to get started. There is a gap between my second attempt at blogging and 411 Junkie. It wasn’t because I was off doing profound things. I spent most of the time thinking what I wanted to blog and trying to plan what I wanted to blog about. Looking back, it hindered me. One day, it dawned on me. Just do it!

The key thing to accomplishing your goals is to get started, take action. Put one foot in front of another (again, metaphorically speaking in this case). You never know what’s going to happen if you just stand still. So, jump off that cliff and take that leap of faith. I’m happy with my results. I got over my fear of public writing. While the fear of having hateful feedback will always be in the corner of my mind, I see now it’s a three on my “fear scale.” I’ll recover quickly because people have commented on my posts. They’ve liked my posts. They’ve reshared my posts. I’ve met fellow bloggers and made friends through this blog. So, while there is a chance of negative feedback, there’s an even greater chance of connecting with others and that’s what matters.

So this is my where I land on my feet, look back at the cliff, and say “Let’s do that again!”

NaBloPoMo15: Mid-terms!

National Blog Post Month 2015 is halfway done. Have you been writing everyday?

I have and I am sincerely impressed that I’ve lasted this long. There was that one day that I missed posting my blog entry, but I did write it, I swear. I just clicked on “Save Draft” instead of “Publish” and the “Schedule” posting did schedule. But, I did write.

And so far, I remember why I love writing. There are some days I found it really hard to write, only because there were so many other things competing for my attention, but I made a commitment to write every day, so every day I made it a point to write. That decision has been liberating. It seriously has. It’s cut out the excuses, or at the least lowered the amount of excuses I make sometimes.

Back to the point. I remember why I love writing.

It sets my mind free. I can wonder about anything I want. I can have arguments with myself, explore the opposing side of an argument, and create a whole new world. I reflect upon events of the day, the week, the year and wrap my head around topics to scary and/or controversial to utter out loud. When I write, my mind speaks.

I may have mentioned this before, but the past few months have been hard on me writing wise. With a new job taking up my main focus and school taking up everything else, it was hard for me to take the time to let my mind think what it wanted to think. Whenever I had a free moment, I’d read or watch a movie, just to give my mind a break from thinking. I thought these options would be a bit easier on the mind since writing is still engagement. Again, this month, so far, made me realize that shutting out writing has taken a toll on me as a writer. I missed it. And now that I’m getting back in the habit, I hope it continues.

But that’s on me. To continue it, that is.

At the end of it all, though. These past fifteen days has revived my love affair with writing.

So.

Mid-way through NaBloPoMo15 and the progress report is an A.

My goals for the rest of the month is to get back into the grove of reviewing books, movie, or television or if this isn’t working for me any more to figure out another format. I also want to get into the habit of writing at least one strong post (I forget what this is called in the blogging world) that will be engaging.

Mid-way through NaBloPoMo15 and there is work to be be done.

Whoever is participating this year, I hope all is well with you and that you’re making progress and head way as well!

Best of luck for the rest of the month!

Until then … 🙂