Beating the slump 1000 words at a time
GenCon is done for another year. I’m back home in New Zealand and have returned to work. Things have more or less returned to normal, including the views on this blog. I experienced something of a spike in popularity during GenCon. Apparently people wanted to read the 5am musings of a Kiwi geek a long way from home. It’s a posting format I’ll use sparingly, but it’s good to know it’s there.
As expected, once GenCon finished the hits began to ease off. Readers realised I had written all I was going to write about the event and went elsewhere for more in-depth discussion, review, and commentary. Sure, I could have provided some or all of those here, but that’s now how I was treating GenCon. I wanted to offer a personal look at what it’s like to attend the event. It isn’t everyone’s preferred type of Con Report, but it worked for me. It also didn’t help that my journey home took 24 hours or so to complete. I don’t know about you, but I find it a little hard to write a blog post on my cellphone, while walking briskly between terminals at LAX. Sadly, none of my flights offered Wi-Fi, so I was out of luck there, too.
By the time I got back home, this was how my Dashboard was looking….
This is a pretty good indication of the fickle nature of blogging. One minute people are dropping in, reading your posts and clicking your links; the next, it’s as quiet as a digital tomb. Seeing this sort of thing when you open your WordPress Dashboard quickly has a demoralising effect. You want to maintain the hits, but don’t necessarily have something to write about to get them back. It’s tempting to return to the topic one more time, just long enough to generate some hits that get you through the weekend, but it’s not worth it. Forcing yourself to write about a topic that you’ve moved on from is not good. Far too reminiscent of school writing projects about topics that were neither interesting or engaging. Ironically, my GenCon Report was What I Did On My Weekend, but at least I wanted to do it that way.
After a couple of days of feeling demoralised (and catching up on sleep and TV), I realised that the best way to break myself out of this slump would be to write, write some more, then write a little more after that. It may not return my hits to the GenCon levels, but I’ll be wiring. Ultimately, that’s what’s important. People could be reading this, or not. It doesn’t really matter, either way – it’s not like I’m getting paid by the page view. What matters is that I’m actually writing. And if I’m going to take this seriously, I’m going to have to find something serious to write about. I can’t just rant about Games Workshop’s business practices and talk about Kickstarter projects until the end of time. Tempting as that might be.
As luck would have it, I stumbled across the perfect inspiration earlier today. i09 started up a collabrative writing project last weekend. Essentially, every couple of weeks they post up a couple of pieces of artwork and the readers then write a chunk of a sci-fi story inspired by the art. The object of the exercise being that, over time, they’ll build up to a full story made up of different chunks of reader submitted material. It’s a great idea, and one that is already off to a strong start. Now, tempting as it is to simply join in on their exercise, I’d like to do one myself. It’s not that I’m turned off by the giant planetary nipple featured in the first selection of artwork, it’s just that I’d like to have control of my progress, to a degree.
Here’s how it’s going to work. Each week, I’m going to find a piece of artwork (following a loose theme) and use it as inspiration for part of a story. I’m not going to limit myself to 800 words like they are at io9, but I’m not going to let it run for more than a couple of thousand, just to keep things manageable. Each week I’ll post up the artwork by itself, followed by a separate post containing the story segment that goes with it. I’m not sure yet how well this is going to work out, but there’s only one way to find out.
I will post the first piece of artwork in the next day or so.