Category: blogging

International Blog Delurking Week

International Blog Delurking Week

Hiya people,
Today I’m not here to talk about myself. I do that all the time, don’t I? But today is different. Today is about YOU.
This is blog-delurking week. Is that a blank look on your face? Don’t know what I’m talking about? The thing is – the number of people who drop by here for a look is way larger than the number who leave a comment – just a minuscule percentage do that.
But I’d like to know ALL of you – specially you the silent ones. If you’re one of those quiet lurkers, now’s the time to show up and say a hello. I’d love to hear from you even it’s just this one day in the whole year.
So come now don’t be shy. A simple hello or a hi would be fine. Of course, if you’re in a garrulous mood you could tell me something more about yourself – your family, your profession, a favourite hobby, a film you watched recently. Or ask me something, anything.
Or you could simply tell me what makes you come here (that essentially means you have to say nice things about the blog).
PS: This invitation includes family members and close friends too. Reveal yourself guys. I know there are some among you who never admit you read me but the one time I blogged about something I didn’t want my parents to find out – a rather scary car accident a few years ago – news reached them faster than I hit publish. So come now, own up, show yourself.

That’s all from me for today. Go on say something.
Learnings from the A to Z Challenge

Learnings from the A to Z Challenge

April might not be the next month but the sign up list for this year’s A to Z April Bolgging Challenge is open. You can take a look here. Isn’t that badge really cool? 

Last year after much coaxing and deliberation I participated in the Challenge. I shy away from everyday monthly challenges because, well because they require posting everyday for one whole month. By the end of the month you find yourself dying to get out of it and the quality of your blog posts goes down too.

However, the April A to Z Challenge turned out way more fun than I’d imagined.

Sharing some of my learnings from the experience. If you’ve done it before you know them all. If you’re a first timer you might find them useful.

1. If I were to give one single advice to a first timer at the A to Z Challenge it would be SCHEDULE YOUR POSTS. The Challenge isn’t just about writing. It is about visiting and discovering other blogs, about making friends and coming away with a wealth of reading material. If you have your posts all done beforehand you have the luxury of reading and commenting on other blogs.

2. KEEP THEM SHORT.. 300-500 words. This is a toughie for me. I found myself constantly struggling to chop my posts if they exceeded the 500 limit I’d set myself. However people are blog hopping like crazy and have many many posts to read. Keeping it short gives you a better chance of being read.

3. HAVE A THEME. It helps you focus when you’re in the ‘what to write’ phase. Contrary to what it seems, broader the canvas more confused your thoughts. What’s better, like many bloggers, it might result in a book later on. Last year I’d talked about 26 of my favourite authors. Before long people were trying to guess what the next alphabet would bring and then I started leaving clues and began to announce the names of people who’d guessed right each day. It turned out to be fun.

4. STICK TO THE CHARACTER OF YOUR BLOG. Make sure your posts resonate with the character of your blog. That’s one big mistake I made last year. I am essentially obsessivemom here. Of course I also have a passion for reading. People who dropped by only during the A to Z Challenge would assume this was a reading/book related blog. Once the challenge was over and I went back to blogging about the twins with an occasional book review thrown in they had a right to be disappointed. It would make sense not to deviate too far from the original character of your blog.

That’s it. Those are my learnings. I do hope I can push myself to take up the madness this year too. It’s fun in retrospect.

Do share your suggestions please, anything to make it easier, more fun. I could do with help.

Battling Bloggers Block

Battling Bloggers Block

 It seems the world is conspiring to rescue my blog from inertia. I’ve been trying to get back to posting regularly but nothing seems to be working. First I did a week-long Drabble Fest. I struggled to sit at the computer each day, posting my entries late into the night. Once the Fest was over I was back to square one.. Idealess, inspirationless.

Now I get a second chance…
Write Tribe asks us to list five ways to tackle bloggers block. If I don’t make use of this bit of introspection to help myself, I truly never will. So here goes…
The first thing I should be doing is 

Read read read

…blogs. I find reading other blogs often opens the floodgates of my creativity. Something somewhere sparks off an idea – an agreement, a disagreement an add on – And voila.. I’m off. Then there are times (like now) when reading doesn’t do it. So then I look for ..

Blogging prompts

Sites like Write Tribe throw up prompts which are a great way to begin that conversation with your blog. I often weave my current state of kind into the prompts. Not just is that a bonus but it also helps me open up my heart. And that’s how blog posts happen for me – from the heart. Less mind more heart!
If that doesn’t work either, I try a..

Free write

I often win my battle with the block by pushing myself to sit down with the sole purpose of writing. That in itself is a task – no browsing, no FB, no tinkering with the kids’ projects… just writing. It’s hard, often. However, once I make myself sit I simply write the day’s happenings. Mundane details like what I did, where I went, how I felt – a good meal, a nasty neighbour, a challenging day with the kids, a spot of good behaviour from them – anything can make for a post. Of course a bunch of such free writes never get to hit the publish button and languish in my drafts.  And that’s where I go scavenging when I’m at my wits end.

Going through my drafts

…and trying to rework them helps sometimes. Seen days or months later from a new perspective they throw up new insights. 
And my final astra against the bog block are

Listicles

.. articles written as lists. I try some easy ones…

5 reasons I love blogging
5 reasons I enjoy going to the gym
5 kinds of people I cannot stand
5 ways to handle cranky kids
And that normally does it for me.

Still stuck?

If my top five didn’t work for you, do check out Write Tribe for more bright idea from some of the most fabulous bloggers. Good luck!

Notes from a survivor

Notes from a survivor

It’s five days and my celebratory jig hasn’t stopped. Yeah I survived.

Oh it has been exhausting (the jig as well as the Challenge) but what a journey it’s been.

How I got caught

Blogging has, for years, been my happiness thing. I had always believed any kind of mandatory writing would take away that pleasure. However this year I discovered it needn’t. Carried along on the wave of enthusiasm of some dear friends I put up my name for the April A to Z Challenge and it’s been a blast.

..and I planned

On advice from veterans I wrote up almost 21 posts in March. Wasn’t an easy thing to do since I’m such a last minute person. Besides, I’m rarely happy when I read what I’ve written, so I end up reworking and rewriting and editing and sometimes deleting it all and starting from scratch. However I had to be satisfied with simply tweaking the finished posts before publishing them this time. Okay I redid four or five and that was it. Those that I’d left for the last minute almost endangered my challenge but did get done before noon everytime.

Oh the thrill!

Each day I woke up with such a feeling of anticipation, my head buzzing with author facts. The comments would start coming in .. Warm and encouraging and I’d flit crazily between reading, answering, visiting and posting for the next day. It’s truly the best feeling in the world. A bit like having month-long exams in your favourite subject, one you know you can handle. Oh I messed up too, scheduling a post for a Sunday then withdrawing it, like a typical amateur. Hee hee.

A bit of a regret

My only regret is I didn’t visit enough blogs. This year I was more concerned with getting my posts out in time. Maybe next year I’ll manage things better. Yes, I think I’m in for the next year. Whatever little I read I enjoyed thoroughly. What a reading feast it has been. Fellow bloggers – AditiShailaja, Shilpa, Vidya, Oven-goodies… all amazing reads.. most I’ll continue to follow faithfully. 

The Acknowledgements

Before I end I do need to thank some family members.

First my SIL, S, an avid reader, who was even more excited than me at the choice of Amazing Authors as my theme.  She made me mail her my list of authors, added suggestions and mailed it right back. Then lobbied pretty fiercely for her favourites and is still a trifle miffed because I didn’t do justice to her favourite Ha Jin.
My sister, who also lobbied, though more subtly, for her favourite Shashi Tharoor and when I couldn’t find a place for him in the S or the T suggested I go in for an Amazing Authors Dvitiya, (Amazing Authors II).
My friend J, who put up with my endless chatter about the Challenge – during our late night walks, in the gym or even during our coffee outings.
Thank you guys – you’re the bestest girl-friends I could ever ask for.
Finally a huge thank you to my co-participants. You’re the only ones who can truly understand how I’m feeling. Thanks for reading and commenting so faithfully. Suzy, Sreeja, Nabanita, Sulekha, Beloo .. it was good to have you guys around. Thank you all for making it so much fun. I’ll see you around in blogsphere.

Those then, are my Reflections on the April A to Z Challenge.

April A to Z Challenge – the How and the What

April A to Z Challenge – the How and the What

I was never serious about the April A to Z Challenge. One
because I feel daily challenges become boring and you end up writing a lot of stuff that’s just not good enough and two because they involve too much commitment.
However I sometimes suffer from the foot-in-the-mouth syndrome. I talk about things I
have little or no intention of taking up. During one such conversation dear friend Shailaja mentioned the Challenge to me and I said she should certainly sign up. I never included ‘me’ in this whole thing, yes I remember very clearly.

But was she listening? No sir!
That day onward I had no peace. Like a well-meaning bulldozer, first she firmly raised all my objections to the ground. Then she dragged me (protesting all the way, everyday, even now) to sign up, then to join the Facebook group, then to put up the Challenge logo on my blog and then to take part in this theme reveal.
And so here I am, kind of getting used to the idea that I will be posting 26 days almost at a stretch, at a time of the year when I normally clock 3 to 4 posts a month since it’s vacation time and I’m travelling. I have been working furiously to get as many posts done before April as possible. The odds are against me certainly, yet I just might see this through thanks to support and encouragement from friends like Vidya and Corrine. (No, I will not mention Shailaja). Thank you guys, you’re the best.

For the Challenge I have decided to keep it simple, since it’s my first. I have chosen to write about 26 very special people, people I know well. Some, I’ve known since I was a child and some who I met as recently as last year. I have chanced upon them in stores, through the computer or at libraries. These are people I have come to know through their books.

My theme is AMAZING AUTHORS – Some with books dating back two hundred years some as recent as this year. 
They have not just saved me from a very dull existence but have enriched it in a thousand varied ways. They have made me smile, laugh and cry. They have shown me miraculous worlds, real yet magical. They have taught me to love, to be patient, to persist, to follow my dreams and sometimes to simply sit back and have fun.
I love them all. My only regret – I have had to leave out many others, who are equally dear to me.
So come join me in this month-long journey. You’ll certainly find some old friends here and maybe some new ones too.