In March 2013, I said the blog is dead, long live the podcast. In January 2014, I say the blog is back, ready and able to coexist happily alongside the podcast. Yes, that’s right. I’m going to start blogging again.
A little history
I started this blog in 2008 when that’s all it was: a blog. I had a separate ‘personal’ site under my own name, but Write for Your Life lived and breathed all on its own at writeforyourlife.net (I still have the domain, it just points back here).
Write for Your Life’s tagline was, ‘Practical advice and productivity tips for writers’. By and large, that’s what I wrote about, all be it with a sprinkling of personal stuff related to me trying to get my first novel published.
At the time, when there were far fewer writing blogs around, I felt like I had lots of things to say about the writing process. I also loved the whole charade of publishing on the web. I collected blog comments eagerly and checked Google Analytics with unhealthy regularity.
But I soon became cynical. Very cynical.
Because blogging is a mostly self-interested activity. Bloggers talk of building a community, when what they want is a readership. They insist you absolutely have to have their free PDF, but what they mean is give me your email address. Topics and posts are regurgitated over and over again. Headlines are written as link bait.
Frankly, I began to find the whole thing very off-putting.
It seems many blogs about writing are written by people with little to no experience or credibility. Everything and everyone sounds the same and to be honest with you, as a result, I’ve long felt stifled by the need to say something new. I have many unfinished blog posts.
But I must take some of the blame. While the Write for Your Life podcast has gone from strength to strength, since becoming a published author, that notion of needing to be brilliant has only amplified. It’s created some ludicrous internal pressure for me to always be brilliant and correct. Which is silly, I know.
Anyway, it’s for all these reasons that I hit pause on my blogging in March 2013. I’d just about had enough of it all.
Last year, I read Austin Kleon’s excellent Steal Like an Artist and it resonated with me in lots of ways.
Its principle theory is that nothing is original and creative types should feel free to take existing ideas and make something new. Kleon says that putting your spin on things has plenty of artistic merit and value. It’s what we’ve all been doing for years.
With that in mind, let’s talk about linklogs.
Some of my favourite blogs are linklogs, which is where regular blog posts intersect more frequently published links (with added quotes and commentary) to other articles on the web.
It sounds simple, but there’s an art to it. Most linklogs are rubbish, but the best have a storytelling quality and intimacy that I really love.
For a few months in 2011, I tried this method of blogging on Write for Your Life. It didn’t work out because I didn’t take it seriously enough and fell into the trap of posting for the sake of it. However, I’ve always felt that there’s a gap for a thoughtful, hopefully interesting linklog about writing, reading and publishing.
So that’s what this new blog will strive to be.
I understand the format far better than I did before. I feel like the world of writing and publishing continues to change and is ripe for discussion. More than anything else, it feels like the right thing to do.
My return to blogging doesn’t mean I’m going to stop doing the other stuff I’ve been working on in the last year.
The Write for Your Life podcast is in the process of moving to 5by5 and me and Donna are making plans for upcoming shows. It’s been the one constant in my online publishing world and I still love recording and producing. More than ever, I think it will be the perfect companion to the blog.
I’m going to keep on recording the videos too. There’s been a short hiatus but I think the vlogging (what a word) has lots of potential and there’s an entirely separate audience over on YouTube.
Again, I love the production process and though I can’t commit to a weekly schedule, you’ll definitely see regular videos appearing on the blog.
How Very Meta
One final change to tell you about. The name. It’s changing.
In many ways it doesn’t matter because the blog has long been part of iainbroome.com and the title could, I suppose, be anything. But it’s nice to make some distinction and I know that there are plenty of people who subscribe to the blog who aren’t interested in my personal wares.
Write for Your Life was a smashing name for a blog aimed at writers, but that’s not my only audience. The podcast will remain the Write for Your Life podcast, as it still makes sense. But the blog (this blog) is now called Very Meta.
This was initially the name I chose for what was a short-lived one-man podcast project. The podcast wasn’t very good. I liked the name.
Notes for subscribers
For those of you who are subscribed to Very Meta (stick with it, it’ll grow on you) by RSS, you’ll notice that link posts will behave differently to normal posts. Basically, the titles will direct you to the article I’m linking to.
For email subscribers, you will still get updates on the day I post them, but you can expect them more frequently. I’ve had to move away from Mailchimp for this service too, as it would have cost me a fortune to send so many emails a month. Your emails might not look so pretty, but it’s what’s inside that counts, I hope.
Finally, you can opt to follow the site’s account on Twitter, where posts will automatically appear when I hit publish.
If none of this makes sense, I’ve put together a handy guide to how the new approach, particularly link posts, will work. If you have any questions, you can of course email firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch via Twitter.