Dear Matty

This is a guest post whilst Hugh’s away on holiday.

Dear Matty,

Long time reader, first time writer, but hopefully not for long. I want to start a blog, but am really nervous about it. What if no one reads it, or worse, read it and troll me? I really love WoW, and think some of the other blogs out there are so cool. I am wondering how to get started, and if I should get started.

Signed,

Pixel-back Writer

Dear Pixel:

When I ask my cross-dressing rogue for the time, he will tell me the history of clocks. I will try not to do that in my response, but make no guarantees. I know you don’t have all day.

As we all know, the term ‘blog’ stands for web log, and it reminds me of a Captain’s Log (ah, Jean-Luc, steer my ship to safe harbor, sir…), a form of writing that is frequent, reflective, informative, and entertaining. Consider the ancient log of yore, used for charting courses, weather, navigating those rough seas that were so critical to survival for crew and cargo. When you have your own blog, first and foremost, you are the captain. It’s yours to steer as you wish.

There are three primary considerations when publishing a blog: Fear, Content, and Time.

Fear: First, get over it. Okay, I am sorry. Let me rephrase. Recognize that fear is a healthy thing, and now get over it. Our own inner dialogues are the most damning. And the thing is, you may hold the fear that if you start a blog no one will read it. You know what? You’re right. But you guarantee that no one will read it if you don’t write. And you may also be afraid that readers will think it’s awful. But I’ll address that in content.

Starting this one, I didn’t realize there were so many bloggers out there already firmly established as the rock stars of Azerothian fame and glory. And I am not being self-effacing when I say I will never be as charming and genuine as Tome, or out-spoken as O, creative as Vidyala or Cymre, rambunctious and sweet as Navi, or hysterically funny as Bear, as irreverent as I Like Bubbles, or as amazingly analytical and enriching as Cynwise or Ironyca, or the folks at Sacred Duty. And thank heavens for Psynister who saved a poor wretched noob like me with his guidelines. All one needs to do is look at blogrolls to have access to too many wonderful writers to list. But that is okay. In fact, it’s more than okay. I love their styles, and their voices. I hope, on occasion, they like mine. That’s what makes writing so powerful and damn cool. No one else has your perspective, insight, humor, or story. No one.

Content: Consider establishing a creed, philosophy or mission statement. Give yourself boundaries, and then permission to break them. To quote one of my mentors and dear friends, “Rule 10: Anything goes.” My own boundaries include not trashing others, not exposing too much personal information (you’ll just have to take me at my word that I’m awesome), and try not to be negative. Now, I have failed at this, a few times. When I joined my former-former-former guild, I was told not to tell this one player in particular that I had a blog because he would tease me for my “woman feelings.” I have called folks out on their shenanigans on my blog. That goes under breaking rules. But sometimes…I remind myself of Rule 10 and put the verbal smack down. Again, as captain of my ship—if it sinks, I go down, too.

And speaking of “woman feelings,” we have covered a lot of ground on that issue. (Ironyca’s post is the superlative analysis on this in my opinion.) From what I have ascertained, blogs seem to be very gender-free or sexist-free zones. The blog authors I read run 5050 male/female, with many having co-authorship of equal gender representation. It’s a big table, and we’re all invited.

So, as far as content goes, set your purpose. Do you want to focus on a particular aspect of the game, or a multi-layer approach? Like trying to classify genres of music, sticking to one main topic is nearly impossible. But those are what Pages and Blogrolls are for. Go-go widgets!

If you want to draw readers to your blog, I’ll tell you what my mom told me: to have a friend, you have to be a friend. Comment on other’s blogs, show them that they inspire you, and over time the traffic will build. And again, consider your purpose(s): if you want monetary gain or high traffic, you can definitely pander and use key words that will gain a lot of traffic. Just make sure it’s the kind you want. The old adage “sex sells” is not accurate: it should be “sell sex.” (Oh, key word searches, how you entertain me. And scare me.)

Now, there’s this, too:

There are hundreds of books on writing, and publishing, grammar, and more websites devoted to these topics. Consider your audience and how you want it to be a reflection of who you are. Typos happen, even to the best of us, but remember the impression you want to make is to not have bad grammar or too many misspellings get in the way of your story. I know I sound like a crabby old ‘get off my grammar lawn’ lady, but do try to give your words some polish.

Many great bloggers have written about their approaches to writing, and it is all great advice—and that is just it: advice. Use their intelligent insights as a framework for your own approach. Are you going to be one of those who never looks back, which hits publish and runs? Are you going to be a careful worrier (like me, occasionally) who goes back to posts and revises them? Is there one thing you may do that will make your blog unique? Those things usually can’t be answered up-front, but your style evolves over time, trial and error. Be patient with yourself.

Speaking of time:

Time: I am not sure this has happened to anyone else, but sometimes, I think about what I write before I think about anything else, including bodily functions and shaved legs. I mean really, I get so focused on writing I don’t want to do anything else. To me, it can be more addictive than, (dare I say it?) time in Azeroth. In fact, this morning I had this post so much on my mind I forgot to put on mascara before I left for work. Dude. Seriously. Ultimately, I am compelled to write. I’d like to think I look good doing so, but not always. You may find, as I have, that balance between work, playing, and writing is not easy. And you end up with hairy legs.

So, good luck, Pixel. I want to hear what you have to say.

Matty

Big Bear Butt

Manalicious

Tome of the Ancient

Psynister

Bubbles of Mischief

I Like Bubbles

The Daily Frostwolf

The Story of O

Ironyca Stood in the Fire

Cynwise’s Battlefield Manual

Sacred Duty

And of course you should also check out Matty’s own Sugar And Blood for more community-centered WoW blogging!


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