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By Chris Hutton
My multi-month absence now draws to a close. As mentioned last week, I am officially back.
You may have noticed that I have been transitioning into my usual activity for a while now. In mid-April my social channels returned with 1-2 posts a day across Facebook and Twitter regarding recent news in science-fiction and horror. The first week of May, my social channels resumed their usual speed, with a mix of science, sci-fi, and horror news, along with media recommendations on Tuesdays, comic releases on Wednesdays, sci-fi and horror movie releases on Fridays, a mix of additional topics, and the return of my Instagram account. The second week of May (last week), I announced that my blog was returning, and now as we enter the third week of May I present this, my first new blog on writing for 2017. Next week, I resume posting short fiction.
This staggered approach has been intentional. While I was away and my absence from this forum plagued me (which it did daily), I pondered the causes of my long absence and how to best resume without making it a Herculean task. This contemplation led me to the subsequent conclusions – the few lessons of my absence, which I would like to share. Each lesson is listed in brief here, but there is likely much more to be said. Rather than make this an incomprehensibly long post, I will give the Cliffs Notes today and share the longer version of each in the weeks ahead.
1) Be lenient.
You have a right to fail. And you will. Expecting perfection is a sure way to never finish anything.
We all fall, but standing back up is key. Don’t just move on, but also learn from your mistakes to move forward all the stronger for each misstep.
Novels. Comics. Scripts. Know your medium. and not just the rules, but what you like, and what you don’t like. Consume as much as possible.
4) Be consistent.
Set a plan and follow it. Marketing plans are a must. Consistency from week to week helps establish your brand. In doing this, however, be sure to provide your readers with expectations that you can meet. Otherwise stumbling is likely.
5) Have a plan, but not ironclad.
As mentioned plans are a must, from marketing to story outlines. At the same time, malleability is key. An ironclad plan is one more route to failure. It will break you, whereas a little flexibility allows you to bend and move forward without snapping.
6) Create a backlog.
Don’t want to stumble? Stop rushing to post when you’re not ready. If you have plenty to say, then you might as well write as much of it down now and generate a glut of content before moving forward. See my staggered approach in the opening of this entry. That staggering was intentional. It allowed me to generate a backlog while easing back to full speed. And by the way, backlog everything.
- Social Media Posts
- Blogs Entries
- Short stories
Any content that can be pre-planned, do it. This post is a prime example. I drafted it on April 22nd.
7) Strike while the iron is hot.
You have an idea? Write it down. You’ve started that story. Finish it, now. The longer you wait to act, the less likely that idea or story will every be realized. I generated the plan for phasing back my writing presence on April 12th while getting ready in the morning. I immediately jotted down these seven notes before progressing with the day and had temped in April’s social media by the 14th, and begun in-depth social media for May and June by the 16th. Had I not done that, I doubt this post would be here or that my blog would be live again.
I can’t say how much anyone else will learn from this, but these lessons really are vital to me and my ability to successfully maintain a blog or any form of public, open writing. If you’re looking for tips to help with your writing endeavor, whatever it may be, I hope that you find these useful.
Either way, Happy Writing, All!