A number of people have asked me about blogging, first why, and then what are the mechanics. The why part is easy: I’m a tough guy to shut up. I have opinions on just about everything and need almost no coaxing to share them far and wide. This is just one of my venues. Plus, it’s easy. I pull up a chair and start banging on the keypad; I’ve never, and I mean never, had writer’s block.
Then too, the self-imposed discipline to post twice a week on a specific day is important.
There is a guru of the writing game who I ran across a lot of years ago who suggested that you (the writer) should knock out a thousand words a day before ever talking to anyone, and in her view it didn’t matter about what. Just get the words down. Thomas Wolfe, who could and did, penned many thousands of words about a party in “You can’t go home again,” and he knew the process well. As legend goes, he once waxed eloquent on the towels in his bathroom, just to keep the flow going.
And frankly, I enjoy it. Contrary to the corporate scene where I labored for many years, blogging lends me the particular pleasure of being my own boss. True, the pay is only in my own mind, but good enough, and I’m the only one wielding the red pen. If I like it, it goes. And better yet, I’ve received many notes from you that it tends to be a fun read. So what’s not to like?
On the mechanical side, publishing could not be simpler.
First, there’s no charge to me. I do the writing, and then a London-based publishing house puts it on-line. As you’ve seen, following the dot behind “usingsbyjohnk” is “wordpress.com” who posts mine and thousands of other blogs, 24/7. The process for signing on involved securing a username — which is also free — and then basically hitting the keypad.
Well, no, there’s more. First, your username has to be one of your own invention. If not, you have to make alterations until it becomes original. You’re familiar with this kind of stuff. Then you can totally invent your own template to carry your words, or you can use a template provided by WordPress. Mine started out as a WordPress template which I modified — and continue to do so, as you’ve noticed, with my own photos.
I do not type my “post” directly on the template. For that I go to what WordPress calls a “dashboard” that carries a bunch of “departments,” including data on how I’m doing out there in Wonderland. On a daily basis I can see how many hits (but not who did the hitting) I’ve gotten, and how those relate to each story. I use the dashboard to add extra enhancements to each story — such as photos. One day I’ll add videos, music and other goodies, when I figure out how to do it.
Which brings a problem that so far has eluded my grasp: the Brits are frustratingly hard to contact. Forget phoning, and email has thus far been ineffective. Then again, contacting mighty Google can also be a trial. It may be that it simply comes with the territory. And admittedly, their online help can be very complete. You just have to take the time.
But still, it’s a kick. WordPress is one of the best, at least that’s what a guy at the Times told me, and it’s supposedly one of the biggest, if that has any bearing at all. And, as I said, getting started with the basics is very easy. The more advanced bells and whistles you can learn on your own time.
Why all of this? It’s encouragement to do it yourself. No charge, and you’re out there with the potential to gain the same audience at CBS News. Well, O.K., that can take some time, but realistically it can be a new way to talk to friends without the constraints of email. I’m not selling here, rather I’m saying, why hoard the fun? At the very least, check out http://en.support.wordpress.com/introduction/