An Alpha-Worthy Blah-g

BLAH-G
Hi friends. I’m on a kick to answer more of your writing questions this week. The lovely Alicia Rivera has asked for some tips on blah-ging. Here’s what she said:

Lisi,

Do you think there’s a way to spice up my blah-g writing? I’m not really sure where exactly I should go with it.

♥︎ Alicia

Alicia, I’m certainly no expert blah-ger, but I have committed to posting every week for my readers, no matter the circumstance (OK there has been the rare exception), so I’ve picked up a few tips along the way and learned what it means to be blah-g worthy. Here’s what works for me and what might help you with your own blah-g writing.

DECIDE WHAT KIND OF BLAH-G YOU WANT TO WRITE

What is your blah-g about? Is it based on sharing information or sharing more personal aspects about your life each week? Are you talking about fashion or hobbies or everything under the sun? There are all different kinds of blah-gs so this tip doesn’t need to be so narrow, but readers will want to come to your site and within a few moments understand what your blah-g is all about. Can they either learn something from it or be entertained or both? Find your blah-g “type” or brand, if you will, and be consistent. Which reminds me…

BLAH-G

BE CONSISTENT WITH YOUR POSTS!

A major part of developing a blah-g audience is to deliver when readers expect you to post. This allows people to keep your blah-g in mind and return each week for new content, and it’s a great way to develop your blah-g community. I’ve read blah-gers should set one day a week to put up new posts. Mine’s Wednesday. Yours could be Tuesday, or Thursday, or whichever day you choose so long as you post on that day each week. Don’t post more frequently than that unless you can truly commit to a few quality articles.

BLAH-G A LOT

WRITE FOR YOURSELF FIRST

Choose topics that interest you, ones you can enthusiastically write about and genuinely want to explore or share with your readers. Don’t worry about whether or not anyone else reads your posts; eventually they will. But it takes time to grow your audience. Write about what excites you and that will translate into excited readers who care about your words. Be true to your voice. If you don’t know what that is just yet, you’ll be developing it each week the more you blah-g.

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STAY ON THE PULSE OF NEW POST IDEAS

This is where things get tricky. I brainstorm each week with my office elf to decide what the next blah-g post will be. Sometimes it feels like I’ve already blah-ged about everything worth blah-ging about. It’s not true. There’s always a fresh way to look at a topic and it’s your job as the blah-ger to find it. A great way to write compelling posts is to engage with your social media network, keep tabs on any comments or tweets you’re getting, and pull out of those places topics your readers are interested in. They’ll let you know.

HEADLINES ARE EVERYTHING

They’re the first words people read, and often they’re the only words people will even see when sharing your posts on social media. So make your headlines catchy and intriguing. Make them click-worthy and readers will know you’re blah-g worthy.

Lastly, KEEP GOING! Building a strong blah-g takes time and practice. Don’t give up because your follower count isn’t where you expect it to be. Be good to the readers you have and give them blah-g love whenever possible. More will come.

Hope that helps!

TTYW,

Lisi

Clique Connection

Hi friends. I had an entirely different blah-g post in mind for today, and then I got Taylor’s message. I couldn’t help myself. I had to respond.

Here’s what she said:

Hey, Lisi!
I’ll try not to take up too much of your time and bore you with one of those “your book really changed my life” stories because those are so cliché. I just wanted to tell you that I started reading The Clique in sixth grade and I fell in love instantly. After I read your books I began to read different kinds of literature and then I began to write. I finished The Clique series my sophomore year of high school and literally felt like I’d lost five of my best friends. I honestly felt as if I had grown up with these girls and shared their struggles and triumphs. I am now a freshman in college pursuing a career in English, and, hopefully soon, journalism too. Without you and your amazing books, I don’t think I would be writing today. I just wanted to thank you for inspiring me to do this and giving me five of the most amazing best friends a girl could ask for, even if it was only for a few years. Though they were
fictional, they’ll always be in a special place in my heart, and so will you!
-Taylor Johnson

That seriously brings a tear to my eye. The left one. The right one is throbbing from staring at a computer for the last five hours. Those girls were as much a part of my life as they were yours. They lived inside my head for years and took 30 years to form. Writing fiction is like getting a golden ticket to travel to a new universe. One that plays by your rules and is inhabited by the creatures you create. It’s also a really cheap form of therapy. I get to work out all of my angst and issues and you get to read about them. Hmmm, maybe that’s not therapy. Maybe that’s more of a perversion–some form of mental flashing. Whatever you want to call it I am grateful. Grateful as a reader, a compulsive writer, and a pale California girl who has found a way to connect with people like you.

Thank you for the kind words Taylor! So proud to have you in the Clique.

Clique girls

 

TTYW,

Lisi

 

Building Books

Hi friends. I promised I’d read you an excerpt from Judy Blume’s Forever…, my favorite banned book in continued celebration of Banned Books Week, but I’m holding off on that until next blah-g post. One of your comments on writing caught my eye and I’m addressing it today since I’m also neck deep in my own process finishing the Dirty Book Club.

Here’s what Lydia said:

Lisi you always give the best advice…
I’ve been writing a book since March and I’m only on Chapter 4. My process is pretty slow, but I want to get it moving a least a little bit. If I can’t think of anything for my current chapter, I write little bits and pieces in my notes. I also feel like my writing style is inconsistent. I try to use descriptive words here and there, but it seems too sporadic. Plus my witty retorts and personalities for the characters remind me of “The Fault In Our Stars” and feel too dated. How can I find my own style of writing without letting the books I read influence it too much? 

 

Lydia, I feel your pain here. Based on what you explained is happening it sounds like you may not have started with an outline. WRITE AN OUTLINE FIRST. Is there a specific message or idea you want to explore? Is the book plot or character driven? Have you thought about how you want the story to resolve? Characters and some plot lines will probably end up changing along the way, but get down the basic skeleton of where you want the story to go. It’s a must. It will save you days if not months of agonizing over the turns you want to take in your book.

As for your descriptive words feeling a little sporadic, are you peppering in adjectives or are you fleshing out a scene based on the senses? Show, don’t tell. Give your reader a feel for the scene by describing the taste of air on a muggy day, the smell of a character’s home, or the texture of the worn-in hoodie she always wears.

Develop your characters as much as possible. Get to know their dark secrets, their driving motivations, their quirks, worries and fears. If it helps your mind to stay organized, create a doc for each character and include everything about him/her down to their favorite snacks, sayings and what nervous ticks they have. All of this will inform you while you’re fleshing them out. It will also make it easier to imagine what your characters might do in the situations you’re creating for them, which will help with your momentum.

I’d usually say to read as many books as possible by your favorite authors to get familiar with the tone and structure of stories you like, but you’ve mentioned you might be too closely mimicking another writer’s voice. While you’re honing your craft and finding your voice, this isn’t the worst thing in the world to do. You come with an entirely unique set of experiences and will approach TFIOS diferently than John Green did writing it. Even if you’re basing some characters’ personalities off of the ones he’s created, you’ll naturally insert your own twists, which will engender new variations. Play around with that. See which parts of them you like, which parts can be edited back and try to develop what will make your characters complex and memorable.

With all that said… four chapters since March? You’re doing great! Keep it up and let us know how the book is coming along soon.

TTYW,

Lisi

Banned Books Have More Fun

banned books week

What does a book have to do to get banned? For censors, it’s usually that the content is too controversial. Maybe the book isn’t exactly “age appropriate.” Fortunately, the best way to sell a book is to ban it first. We are in the midst of Banned Books Week, the annual celebration of the freedom to read. From coast to coast bibliophiles are fighting against censorship and pushing for their right to read… anything they want. I’m in full support. So much so that I’m putting myself on blast and posting my favorite controversial book. Judy Blume’s Forever…

Blume is best known for her Young Adult fiction so this may come as a surprise, but over the last 40 years her books have been banned or challenged dozens of times over. In fact, Forever… is among some of the most frequently challenged books at libraries since its publishing. Blume’s novels were groundbreaking and went where other YA authors never dreamed. Several of her books are on the list of all-time best selling children’s books and she’s earned too many awards to count, possibly thanks to censorship itself. Forever… is truly ah-mazing but whatever you do, DON’T read it… You’ve been warned.

 

forever

Next week I’ll be posting a video of me reading my favorite excerpt out of Forever… 

TTYW,

Lisi

Don’t Rush the Crush

Not even my looming Dirty Book Club deadline can keep me from responding to all of your Q&A submissions, except for possibly overlooking them in the comments section. I’ve answered my way through most of your questions (can you believe it?), but if I’ve somehow skipped yours, comment it below so I can give you the attention you deserve.

Today’s blah-g post goes out to Kiki. Here’s what she asked:

Dear lisi,
Lisi you always give the best advice… So I’m having some boy trouble.
There is this guy at my school who I have liked for a while and I just realized that he and one of my friends have a ‘thing’ going on, he likes her and she likes him. And so I’m trying to move on and there is this other guy in my school who is continuously flirting with me and everyone thinks he likes me. So Like any other teenage girl I’m following the advice from all the cliche high school movies where the girl was so obsessed with one guy that she didnt see the perfectly good one standing right in front of her, and I refuse to be one if those girls. So I WOULD totally make a move for it if this guy wasn’t my best friends crush 😁😁😁. WHAT SHOULD I DOOO!!!
-yours truly,
Kiki

Kiki, I am here to come to your aid, although you’ve already answered half of the question yourself. My advice to you is simple: keep stepping away from the crush. I know it’s incredibly disappointing when a long-time crush remains unrequited because he develops eyes for someone else, especially a friend in your circle. But your instincts were spot on when you decided to start moving on and opening up your sights for someone more available. Things get messy when you pine over a boy your friend might be dating, so don’t do that to yourself. It won’t be easy. You might feel a pang in your heart when you see them together, but let it be a reminder you’ve got a heart that works, and then give it to someone who deserves it.

You’ve got options. Is this new flirtatious boy someone you think you could truly like? Or is it just his interest in you that’s intriguing? If it’s the former, then problem solved. Get to know him and see where things go. Maybe you’ve met your match. But if he’s only on your radar now because you’re in boyfriend-hunting mode and the crush didn’t work out, I advise you to step away from this boy, too. He won’t be any consolation until you’ve completely moved your heart on from your soon-to-be former crush. Take your time. There’s no rush. People throw out this cliche because there’s truth in it: it’s when you stop looking that you find what you need.

Hope that helps!

TTYW,

Lisi

 

 

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