Anniversaries are a great time to reflect. So we had a round-table discussion on the topic: “What have you learned/gained from your year on the Author Chronicles?” (And don’t miss our anniversary giveaway.)
GWENDOLYN: A year ago, I suspected a blog, even a shared one, would be a time drain and I wasn’t sure that the rewards would equal time lost. Now, I can tell you, a blog does suck up time, but on the other hand, the rewards have been great.
J. THOMAS: One important thing I’ve gained is a feeling of accomplishment. I haven’t had much success in regular posting to an individual blog. Having a group blog means I only have to think up an idea and write a post once every five weeks. Dividing the responsibility has worked — and now we have a year of success to celebrate.
GWENDOLYN: Being part of a group blog has given me the chance to tiptoe into the water at a manageable rate, to get comfortable with the mechanics of Word Press and my writing responsibilities without having to stop life to do so.
MATT: I agree with that. It’s forced blogging, in a way. I’ve done the blogs before, but this time around it’s few and far between. Keep thinking I’ll get to it but it’s unnatural for me now. The group blog still feels honest, and my future posts are sort of set up for me by discussions I have at work from time to time.
J. THOMAS: You make a good point, Matt. Because we’re part of a group which is depending on us, we feel more pressure — like peer pressure, I suppose — which forces us to get our scheduled blog posts done. Having a definite deadline is always a spur to completion of tasks. We also have our fellow blog members to remind each of us when it’s our turn to post, which you don’t have on an individual blog, where it’s much easier to let life get in the way and skip a week and then another.
GWENDOLYN: When working on something the length of a novel, it’s been satisfying to have concrete, imminent deadline, a bite sized project instead of a marathon feast, and week five comes around quickly enough but not so quickly that it is overwhelming. Being able to meet those five week deadlines gave me the courage to try writing something every week, something else to soak up more time, but another way to grow as a writer.
NANCY: I have been thinking about this for days. I have also tried to blog on my own and it fizzled out. Here I have friends depending on me which is a terrific spur. I also have that feeling of ‘Why the heck are people going to want to hear from ME? I’m not published, just a schelp working towards it.’ But then either I come up with an idea or Kerry makes a suggestion and I think, ‘Hey, yeah, that would be interesting!’
KERRY: I think the fact that we have a decent sized audience helps motivate us, too. I mean, people are READING what we write! On my personal blog, if I get 30 hits in a week that’s good. Here we get about 25 in a day – even days we don’t post anything new. Knowing people care enough to read what I post makes it a little more exciting for me, and I bring my A-game.
J. THOMAS: I hadn’t thought about that, but you’re right. The larger audience does make a difference. It motivates me to do my best work too.
NANCY: Also Top Picks Thursday (TPT) has been great because I’m actually reading blogs! Before I’d think ‘Looks interesting, I really must read that blog . . ., hey, is that the time, gotta pick up my kid’. I’d rarely actually read the darn things. Now I do.
J. THOMAS: I have to agree with Nancy about reading blog posts now. I’m reading a lot more of them because of doing TPT, and that’s a good thing. There’s so much valuable information in blogs, but I too always have other things to do.
KERRY: I always read some blogs, but the neat thing about TPT is that we all contribute DIFFERENT blogs. There’s very little overlap (almost none) between what we all send in. As a result, I read a lot of blogs that I never would have found on my own.
GWENDOLYN: In reading others blogs to find Top Picks for Thursdays I’ve learned different things than I’ve learned from reading writing books. Perhaps it’s that smaller amounts, read more often, make it easier to access that information. Reading about other writer’s journeys I’m beginning to see more and more clearly our common journeys as writers.
NANCY: I keep remembering what I’ve been thinking about as I press ‘Enter’. It’s the mechanics of WordPress. It may sound odd to you all but I have never gotten into the mechanics of embedding links, etc. I re read the email Kerry sent about how to post a billion times when I too occasionally do TPT and it’s always exciting to have it work out.
KERRY: I was also thinking about how much technical stuff I have had to learn to use WordPress to its full potential – and I’m sure there’s a lot I still don’t know. I’ve learned a ton about using it, and even a little about rudimentary HTML coding. It’s been a fantastic learning experience, and I look forward to continuing to develop that side of things.
J. THOMAS: For some reason, I have a strong reluctance for learning the technical stuff unless I have to. It takes time and frustration to learn the basics and some of the extras. I’ve done it because of the blog. Fortunately, once you’ve learned how, it doesn’t take so much time. Like you, Kerry, I still have a lot to learn. I feel like a novice, although other people who know less think I’m a whiz. That really boggles my mind!
GWENDOLYN: As I look back over the last year, Author Chronicles is a measuring stick of my growth as a writer. My comfort level in writing for other eyes is greater now than it was a year ago and while my writing is still not speedy. I complete my blog entries faster and more confidently than I did a year ago, and the person who reads my writing before I post it spends less time yanking at his hair and asking, “Why? Why? Why do you do this to me?”
So there you have it: we’ve all gained so much from working on the Author Chronicles this past year. A sense of accomplishment and support from fellow writers seem to top the bill. As our friend Jonathan Maberry, the man who brought us all together, likes to remind us, writers are always better when they’re part of a writing community.
Thank you for being part of our community for the past year. What have you liked most about the Author Chronicles? Any suggestions for things you would like to see in the future?