A Fantasy Writer’s First Step into the Blogosphere…

Writing a first blog post. Sounds easy, doesn’t it?  At least, that’s what I thought when I first decided to do it.

When I sat down to write this, I was excited, eager, and ready to connect to the “interwebs” through my very first blog post.  I was confident that the words would be flowing the moment I opened my laptop…but that didn’t happen.  Instead, I found myself staring at an empty page that screamed “You have no idea what you’re doing!”

And it was right. I had plenty of ideas for content, a long-held and strong desire to write a blog, but not a single clue on how to actually go about doing it.

“I’m a fiction writer!” I thought to myself.  “How hard can this possibly be?”

Well, the answer to that question is: a lot more difficult than I anticipated!

I take comfort in one thing, however.  I am sure that at a lot of authors (and by authors, I mean anyone who writes in any medium) are intimately familiar with this problem.  Indeed, a quick Google search on the subject turned up 364,000,000 results.  That’s a lot of advice!

So for those of you who are in the same boat as I am, this post is for you!  The art of blogging might not be my main focus from here on out but that being said, maybe this will help someone break the ice in their own first post somewhere down the line.  It’ll also help me establish ground rules for myself going forward.

Beginning my first blog post

Let me start by saying that Epic Dark Fantasy is my genre. I rarely write in other areas, although I have done travel articles, scientific pieces, poetry, and a few short fiction pieces in other genres (albeit under a different name).  When I decided to start this blog, I first turned to one of the graduate advisors at my university. I didn’t know him at all but he is known for blogging.  Unfortunately, it didn’t go well.  I received very little input on my concept for a fantasy author’s blog.  All I got was a single comment stating that the Fantasy genre is overly saturated along with an insinuation that I most likely didn’t have a unique story anyway, which is the only thing that would allow me to be successful as a Fantasy author.

The slight against my creativity aside, Fantasy, specifically Epic and Dark (or Horror) Fantasy, is my area of expertise.  This genre is my passion—it’s my “thing,” my “bag.”  Over-saturated or not, it’s what I’ve got to bring to the table so here I am.  Isn’t better to lead with your strengths?

forging ahead

Undaunted by the advisor’s veiled criticism, I turned to those millions of results from Google. After a bit of digging, I found an incredibly useful post by Michael Pozdnev of titled How to Write Your First Blog Post (16,000-word Guide + 64 Expert Tips).  Not only did Mr. Pozdnev describe exactly how I felt about writing this post, but he has also compiled a lot of good writing prompts (57 in all) that would come in handy regardless of your focus.  He also included advice from a ton of other successful bloggers.  If you’re looking for some very inspirational tips to get your creative blogging juices flowing and get that first blog post written, I’d highly recommend checking this article out.

For me, there were two experts in particular that I found helpful in terms of jump starting the process: Michael Akinlaby and Enstine Muki.  Their “first blog” tips were so complementary of one another that it seems only natural to discuss them together.

Mr. Akinlaby’s advice was to share a personal story about why you’re writing a blog in the first place.  To be honest, this was a face-palm moment for me.  As a fiction writer, writing stories is what I do best!  Seriously, how did I not think of this myself?  Add to this Mr. Muki’s advice to write as though you were telling this story to one person, and I had a recipe for success…at least in terms of getting words on to paper.  That mental shift of treating this as though it was an exciting personal conversation made this first blog post come together much easier!

write what you love

Another blogger featured in Mr. Pozdnev’s post was Jill Caren.  Ms Caren’s advice was to “be true to yourself. Do not write for search engines, do not write what you think people want to read—write about what you know and what you are passionate about. By being true to who you are and your personal writing style, you will separate yourself from the others and let readers get to know the real you…”

You honestly have no idea how much better I felt upon reading Ms. Caren’s advice. This is especially true after the disheartening reply I got from the graduate advisor.  Frankly, I love fantasy.  I love writing it.  The processes that go into the development of a complex, rich, and vibrant world are fascinating to me.  I genuinely adore the creation of various cultures and races and exploring their nuances.  Above all, like so many writers, I am absolutely fervent about the world and characters that I create.  In short, you can pretty much interpret this as saying that I am a huge fantasy nerd and I totally geek out on this topic regularly.  These are genuinely things that I can prattle on about forever.

Even if the Fantasy genre is over-saturated, should I really refrain from talking about my passion?  Why shouldn’t I share my perspective on what I’ve learned in class and through my own trial-and-error?  Why can’t I talk about my own creative process or share the history of Verdin?  Wouldn’t talking about these things help others with similar interests or goals?

I believe that it would.  And I certainly don’t feel that I should shy away from writing about the genre simply because there are a lot of other Fantasy writers blogging about the same thing.  So, like Ms. Caren urged, I am going to follow my heart in this blog.

Key to success – Passion

Another article I found was by a writer named Jane Friedman.  It was titled How to Start Blogging: A Definitive Guide for Authors.

First, I have to say that I found Ms. Friedman’s site quite helpful.  She offers quite a bit of sound advice for anyone starting out in blogging. Much of of what she shares is specifically geared towards authors. One of the things that immediately stood out to me in the above-mentioned article, though, was how much more difficult it was for a fiction writer to blog as opposed to a non-fiction writer.  This was exactly what I found myself struggling with in writing this self-same post you’re reading now.  Since I don’t want to simply regurgitate her article, instead I’ll explain how I’m going to apply her advice to this blog.

As Ms. Friedman says, passion, creativity, consistency, and patience are major keys for success. Passion, I believe, I have already covered here in spades, so moving on to the others…

key to success – creativity

As for creativity, well, I’m a Fantasy Fiction writer who is building an entire world from scratch.  There’s a wealth of information I can work with here.  And honestly, my desire has always been to cover the mechanics of fantasy world-building and elements of fiction in a blog.

I also want to share the history and background of my characters and of the world I’m creating.  There’s a lot of stuff that I can’t or won’t be able to include in the stories or novels—things like an explanation of how time works on Verdin or how the multiverse was created.  These things are an integral part of the process of writing and of creating Verdin itself.  Therefore they influence the stories I tell. In some cases, they are things I feel the reader needs to know or would like to know.  This is especially true if they’re anything like me and absolutely devour even the tiniest bits of information on the people, cultures, and customs of the fantasy worlds they’re reading about.

key to success – consistency

In terms of consistency, I will post no less than once a week, barring unforeseen circumstances or illness (life does have a nasty habit of happening, after all!).

key to success – patience

Finally, in regards to patience, I’m not in any big hurry to build a massive readership.  Like any writer, I of course want people to read what I write but I’m creating this blog because I love this genre and all that goes into it.  If I can help people along the way or make a few new friends or get more people to read my stories, that’s an amazing and welcome side benefit—but I’m really doing this as a labor of love for a genre that is often not taken as seriously as it deserves to be by the literary community.

So please—I invite you to come back and see what’s new, to share your thoughts, and (hopefully) to enjoy what I have to share.

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