Category Archives: writing

Last Minute Gifts For Bloggers

almie-rose-tipsy-elves

Word up: this post was inspired by Tipsy Elves, whose delightful Hanukkah sweater I am wearing above. Tipsy Elves make fantastic, comfy, and quintessential ugly/tacky (their words!) Holiday Sweaters. If you really want to make a blogger’s holiday a happy one, get thee to Tipsy Elves.

So anyway, the holidays are here. I am typing this from an airplane. The future is here! And so is Hanukkah, and soon, Christmas. If you’re reading this blog, then you likely have someone in your life who is a blogger or writer of sorts. And you may be stumped as to what to get them. I have some ideas. Most of these gifts are free to give. Just keep an open mind. Here are last minute gifts for bloggers.

Offer to do their social media for a week.

Sometimes, doing our own social media can be fun as all getout, but other times, it can be tedious. If you’re a good, trustworthy friend to this blogger, offer to do their social media for a week. Post their articles on their social media on their behalf. Run their media the way you would as if they were a legit company. The idea of someone doing my social media for me makes me want to swoon. They’ll love it. Cost: just your patience and wit.

Buy them a premium subscription to Spotify.

A lot of writers and bloggers listen to music while they work. Spotify is free and great, but with that freedom comes ads. And with those ads, you can break out of your writing groove. So get them a premium subscription to Spotify. Ad free, plus they can listen on their phone as well. Cost: 3 months for only $0.99, then $9.99 per month.

Introduce them to your connections – agents, managers, etc.

No one really just wants to blog forever — there’s usually some kind of end goal here. Maybe they want to write for television. Mybe they want to write novels. Maybe they want to be a staff writer for their favorite site. Do you have connections to make this happen? Do you know any talent agents, lit agents, or editors at major sites? Hook them up. It’s up to them to provide they glory; all you have to do is provide the contact. Cost: one quick email to your contact introducing everyone and that’s it.

Offer to be their mentor or set them up with one.

Now that I have an awesome mentor, I couldn’t imagine not having one. Are you in a place of wisdom? Do you have some idea of your path in life, and do you see your path and yourself in your blogging budy? Offer to be their mentor. Sure, it may sound awkward as hel (“Hello, Dave, it’s your older friend, Jack, and I would like to mentor you, child”) but it’s really rewarding for both parties. The mentee gets someone they can look to for advice and leadership; the mentor gets someone who delivers instant and loving ego boosts. No but really, it’s a great team to have. If you or your uncle or aunt or someone is a writer and can share and guide another writer, do it. It’s free, but it’s going to cost as much or as little of your time as youre willing to provide. Cost: your time, your patience, and your open mind and heart.

Offer them a work space.

Sometimes, writers have to write in the worst conditions; a cramped apartment, a house full of barking dogs, Jack White’s basement (hey, I don’t know your life) and it would be really nice if someone could offer their luxurious home for a work space for about a week. Oh, is that someone you? Groovy! Lay out the parameters with the writer/blogger; tell them what’s off-limits and what isn’t, and then, invite them in with open arms. Sometimes the hardest thing about writing is just sitting down and actually doing it. A clean, bright, quiet space can do wonders. Cost: nothing. Just your liquor, because upon finding it, the writer will lap it up.

 

Writers and bloggers: what gift would you most like to receive?

 

Photo: Instagram via @Apocalypstick.

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My Writing Process

writing

The Gaggle asked me to participate in this blog roll about my writing process. And I said yes. So here are some questions about writing, along with my answers. I want you guys to answer them, too!

Some background: I’ve been blogging on my blog, Apocalypstick, since 2009. I also write for HelloGiggles, The Gaggle (obviously), Thought Catalog, XoJane, and We Love Dates. My work has also appeared on The FriskyThis Recording, and in Genlux magazine. I’ve been published in Indie Chick magazine and in the books The Jewish Daughter Diaries and my own book, I Forgot To Be Famous. I tend to write about dating/relationships, living in Los Angeles, and pop culture.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to the questions, shall we?

 1. What am I working on? 

In addition to my regular columns and articles for HelloGiggles, The Gaggle, Thought Catalog, etc, I just started writing regularly for We Love Dates and No Strings Dating blogs. But I’m also working on a pilot. It’s like Girls but set in Los Angeles. (Someone had to do it, right?) It’s a little zanier than Girls and there’s also more dudes. It’s in its very early stages and I’m almost paranoid even talking about it, but I feel I gotta put good vibes out there, right?

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Man, I’m just hoping it does. I guess it’s different because of its (I’ve been told) “ballsy” approach. I’m very honest in my writing. I hold nothing back, for better or for worse. Also, it’s hard for me to go one blog post without dropping a Simpsons reference. So there’s that.

3. Why do I write what I do?

Everyone says “write what you know.” I do that and believe that, but I also believe in “write what you love.” I love Los Angeles and stories of dates gone awry. I love obscure pop culture references. I love 1960’s dieting and beauty tips. So really, I take all of that and churn it out into what I hope is honest and fearless writing. I’m a very anxious person but I think in writing, it works to my advantage; it seems like the more anxieties I have, the stronger the writing.

4. How does my writing process work?

It often involves a lot of false starts. I’ll think I’ll have something only to scrap it. Or I’ll have an idea and then take my sweet time actually getting on it. Once I have the idea though and feel confident about it, I just attack it. I don’t outline or anything. Sometimes I’ll have some notes to work on, but generally, I dive in headfirst, hoping the proverbial water is deep enough and I don’t hit my head on the bottom like a jackass. With my pilot, I had some lines in mind and some characters, so I just started writing, and thankfully, it all came out. That’s generally how I write. I just attack the damn thing, like it’s one big cookie and I’m the Cookie Monster.

5. And the other part of this question, how does my writing process not work?

I don’t know how to answer this, because if it doesn’t work, I make it work. I guess though, my biggest problems with writing are in structure. I have great lines and great flow, but sometimes my structure, especially for TV writing, is a little off. I guess that’s because of my “screw it, we’ll do it live” approach to writing. But really, if something isn’t working, I’ll ask my writer friends or editors to take a look at it and give me their thoughts. I don’t give up. I know it’s gonna happen. Dental plan! (There’s that damn Simpsons reference.)

Now I want my friend Simone of Skinny Dip to answer these questions on her blog! I absolutely adore her writing. This post on “Blurred Lines” is one of my favorite posts from her.

How do you guys write? Let’s talk about writing!

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I’m So Bored

bored

Internet, we have a problem. I am so very bored.

It’s not that I don’t have things to do. I have a job (freelance writer) and I’m very grateful for my work and assignments. Every day I have a deadline. But every day I am so bored — with myself. I realize it’s a luxury to be bored, and I wish I had something more interesting to complain about, but that’s the truth — I suffer from terrible boredom, and since it’s with myself, I don’t know how to escape from it.

This is me every day:

bored

Every day after I finished whatever work needs to be done, I have no idea what to do with myself. Working from home is great, but it also has its downsides. You start to feel really trapped, because where you work is also where you play, rest, eat, and sleep. You get bored really quickly. Again, I am so grateful for my work and for what I do, and that I can do it. I have to find a balance.

Even if I get out of the house to go to the grocery store or for coffee or whatever, it still doesn’t help. And it all goes back to what my boredom is really about: me and my life. I feel I don’t have a solid arrow in my life pointing me to go where I need to go, and so sometimes, I feel like I’m drifting. I do my work, and I love it, but I wonder if I’m supposed to be reaching towards a bigger goal.

Do I want to be a writer “when I grow up”? If so, what kind? More books? Television writing? Journalism? I have absolutely no idea what to do, and so I don’t know what to do with myself, and thus, the boredom. And the fear. I believe, strangely enough, that boredom and fear go together. I fear, at my core, that I have no idea what the hell I’m doing with my life. And because I don’t know what I’m doing, I’m bored. Boom — boredom and fear, BFFs.

Does anyone know what they’re doing? Do you know what you want to do with your life? Tell me. Do you feel bored and scared? Tell me. What are you afraid of? Tell me. I feel like I’m alone. If you’re a freelance writer, tell me. Tell me how you do it. Let’s just talk from our hearts.

 

 

Photo of Anita Ekberg by Allan Grant, 1955, via LIFE Photo Archives for Google.

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7 Blogging Tips

blogging tips

I’m frequently asked to share my blogging tips, so I decided to make this post. Blogging can be intimidating sometimes. Sometimes you don’t even know where to begin. So here are my 6 tips, some of which I use, some of which I should use. I hope they help you with your blogging!

1. Make sure your blog has a clean, aesthetically pleasing layout.

 

If your blog doesn’t look pretty, no one’s going to want to read it, no matter how brilliant it is. I’m sorry to tell you this, but it’s true. Your layout needs to be easy to read — please avoid using small font and neon backgrounds (or a black background with a white or screaming neon colored font). If you’re not good at doing HTML, it’s worth it to just hire a friend who is, to make your layout. Think of your blog as your home on the Internet. You don’t want to leave a toilet on your lawn and have your house painted a horrendous color. Same goes for your blog. And make sure it’s easy to navigate. Have a search bar, too.

2. Update frequently.

 

This is the advice I should take. I’m terrible at this one. Ideally, you want to update your blog 3-5 times a week (not month, Almie). You want to keep your blog alive, and the only way to do that is to keep updating it. You want to give your readers something to come back to. With the Internet, I’ve found that the more you give out, the more you get back. Updating every day is a bit much, because you want people to be able to digest what you’re putting out there, but you want to update as often as you can. Make a chart and choose which days during the week you’re going to update, and at which times. (You could go even further and designate which days are going to be about which topics. Example: Mondays are fashion posts, Wednesdays are dating posts, Fridays are anything posts, etc.) And about timing…

3. Figure out that magic time to post your posts.

 

As for times when you should update: honestly, it’s like closing your eyes and throwing a dart at a dartboard without knowing if the board is even there. Some people will advise you to post in the morning; others say afternoon is best. I say, experiment with your blog. Try posting on a Friday night and compare to how it does vs. posting on a Monday afternoon. I always like to schedule my posts a few hours early than I normally would, so that my East Coast readers can read it at a good time, too. This is one where you’ll have to do a little research and work. Generally, weekday mornings and early-mid afternoons are best, because that’s usually when people are killing time at work. But you need to figure out what works best for YOUR blog and YOUR readers.

4. Offer your readers something they can’t get anywhere else.

 

Maybe it’s your awesome giveaways. Maybe it’s your irreverent Mad Men recaps. Maybe it’s your cool daily outfit photos. Maybe it’s just your writing voice. Whatever it is, it’s got to be uniquely YOU. Don’t try to do what other blogs do. Do what you WANT to do, and stick to it. I feel I offer my readers a quirky view of dating and pop culture. I feel like my unique voice is something they can only get here (and on the other sites I write for). So that’s what I try to deliver. Find what your thing is, and deliver like Dominos.

5. Engage your readers.

 

Don’t just blog into an empty space; think about your readers when you write, and have a call to action at the end of your post. For example, if you’re writing about the best date you’ve ever been on, try asking your readers, “What’s the best date you’ve ever been on? And why? Don’t be shy!” Let them know that you want them to chime in and contribute. Remember: your blog is your home, and you’re inviting your readers into your home.

About comments: Don’t have too many comment policies, and make it easy for people to comment. I know some bloggers have comment policies — I really don’t, you can comment anon, you can comment negative stuff about my writing as long as it has a point (as opposed to posting just, “you’re a miserable wench and I hate you”), you can comment basically whatever unless I feel threatened (like this one time someone pretended to be my dad, it was weird) — but if you want to have some comment policies like “no attacking posters” that’s fine, go for it. Just don’t have a really long list of rules, or it will keep people from commenting, and you want comments or why would you write a blog? If you’re not prepared for comments, you should write a diary instead.

And if someone comments, respond to them. I try to reply to every comment I get, because I appreciate that someone took time out of their day to talk to me.

6. Make the most of social media.

 

I have a Facebook page just for my blog that I use to promote things I write, as well as my Instagram feed, Twitter feed, and whatever silly/fun/funny pics I happen to find. I also sometimes promote certain posts on Twitter. Social media is such a gift to this generation; I say, use it to your heart’s content — but don’t go bananas. Don’t spam your Facebook wall or friends’ Facebook walls with your posts every day. Share it, put it out there on Pinterest, Twitter, FB, whatever — and then let it be. And a few days later, share it again, for those who may have missed it the first time. But share other things too, things that aren’t solely your content. Again, you don’t want to oversaturate with your own content; it turns people off.

7. Write what you love.

 

You’ve all heard that old saying, “Write what you know”? I say, write what you love. I love Billy Joel. Do I know him, or his life story? Nope, but I wanted to write about him. If you have a passion for what you’re writing, your readers will have a passion for what they’re reading. Your excitement will carry through. So only write about ideas that excite you. If something makes you go “meh”, it’s not worth writing about, because it won’t be worth reading.

 

So what am I missing? What blogging tips would YOU offer? Let’s make this a place to discuss the hows of blogging!

Photo by vintage19_something via Flickr.

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