One quiet moment this month, a post among the latest batch I’d scheduled to appear like clockwork on WritingRedux.com took me over the 1,000 posts mark. The website has been going 17 months (almost to the day), meaning an average of 60 posts a month, not counting book reviews (those are pages, not posts, in case you’re wondering).
A moment to take stock of A Blogophyte’s Progress:
Pacing not racing – for future websites (now developing two out of four ideas) I have set a much slacker pace of no more than 100 posts a year, given that I want to continue expanding WritingRedux at its current clippety-clop trot. This isn’t only a question of time limitations on my side, but also the availability of time and mental space people have for what can only be discretionary reading, no matter how marvelous and enticing I believe that reading to be.
The original idea was to drip-feed thousands of quotations amassed in a makeshift database, drawing on decades of reading and note-taking. In fact I’ve barely scratched the surface of sharing that treasure trove because most quotations featured draw on present reading. I hadn’t anticipated the extent to which this would provide more than enough mind-ammo to keep feeding a fairly brisk pace of posting.
And this despite the fact that writing about your reading leaves a lot less time for reading. Which leads me to:
The reading to writing ratio – time spent actually reading a book relative to time spent taking notes; organizing them by category and theme; choosing which quotes, metaphors, triologisms and words to feature; finding the right images to illustrate quotations and metaphors; writing the spiel that accompanies each featured item; choosing which books to review and constructing those reviews (I don’t write reviews, I construct them). The reading ratio, which was previously about 1:1 (an hour of reading to an hour of note-taking) has now become approximately One Hour of Reading to Ten Hours Writing-related Activity, depending on the book and its yield of things worth sharing.
Is this time lost? In terms of how many books I can get through in a year, yes. But I see it as reinforcing the reading. All that copying and choosing and categorizing and commenting significantly reduces the speed and quantity with which books tumble through the sieve-holes of memory. Which means better recall and access to ideas and extracts I cherish, which makes for a richer existence. Then there is the long term benefit that eventually I will be less benighted. And of course, the sheer pleasure of building something culturally worthwhile through the steady accretion of items of beauty and splendour.
Book reviews take much more time than expected, at least the way I want to write them, and partly due to unavoidable procrastination over which book to feature next. I’ve had to drastically rein in initial expectations of writing a review a week, when I naively assumed this wouldn’t take more than one long and dedicated evening. Realistically it takes at least a full day, sometimes several, and that’s after I’ve managed to choose the next one to sing about. One a month seems the maximum I can manage.
Seeking online engagement involves another ‘SEO’ acronym, Search Engine Optimization. As the range of topics touched on expands, so does the likelihood of somebody stumbling upon your posts while searching this or that term. And as the body of content grows, I’m able to cross-reference more posts. Interesting to see the extent to which the invisible hand of search engines works to connect unknown readers to unknown websites – I am thrilled that anybody finds me at all, given the billions of websites out there.
Social media surprises – referrals to your site don’t come from the most expected sources. I have an author’s presence on GoodReads which so far hasn’t brought much traffic and nor has Twitter, both supposed to be indispensable to a writer’s outreach. Yet when I started putting links on a photo website, I discovered a surprising number of people were clicking to see how Photo X was being used to illustrate Quotation Y. I only did it a few times as a half-baked experiment, but it proved to be something worth investing in systematically.
And to those who have read this far, thank you for reading at all, let alone all the way to the bottom of one of my longest spiels. To express my appreciation, drop me a line mentioning ‘Yes, I Read the Whole Post’, and I will gladly send a copy of any book reviewed on this site to the first person from whom I receive such a message (please provide your name and a postal address, as well as the book title of your choice).
Thank you and here’s to the next 1,000 posts.
Photo credit: Jerry Kiesewetter at unsplash.com