Categories
Creativity Writing

All writing is in the edit

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see the disclosure for more info.

Like photography, all writing is in the edit.

When you fall into writer’s block — a myth, by the way — you should move freely between devices, formats, and even different places in order to shake out of it. Here’s one recommended writing approach I encourage you to try: 

First, start writing on paper to help generate ideas. Anything goes. Then type out what’s worth keeping on to your phone to finesse your text. Better yet, throw the first draft onto different apps like WordPress (read why I recommend WordPress for blogging here), Byword, Bear, or iAWriter and then process it for grammar through the Hemingway App or my favorite writing assistant, Grammarly.

In summary: 

  1. Write everything out on paper
  2. Type your notes out on your phone or computer
  3. Copy-paste written text into an app like Grammarly for proofreading

Blogger Michael Lopp sums up his writing process nicely in How to Write a Blog Post:

Repeat until it starts to feel done in your head. If it’s handwritten, type it into a computing device. When you are close to done, print it out on paper. Sit somewhere else with your favorite pen and edit your work harshly. If this piece is important, let someone else edit harshly.

That’s right! Print it out and edit it in a different place altogether. Some writers think better to the hum of the coffee shop, JK Rowling included. Others need absolute silence, preferring to stare at a wall so that the only work to look at is the one being created in the mind’s eye.

artwork by Alessandra Olanow

Write with intent to publish

Do you do your best proofreading after your writing is out there in the wild?

Write with intent to publish. Hitting the publish button forces you to scrutinize your work more closely. If you’re lucky it’s a blog post you can go back and edit. If it’s a tweet or an email, you might be fat out of luck.

The writing process is a messy one that includes not only different formats but also different writing environments. Sometimes a great sentence starts on paper; other times it starts on your smartphone. Just be ready to review it a few times before you hit publish.

Categories
Creativity Productivity & Work

Keep them guessing

They say write to be understood. But what’s the point in spelling it all out?

Said author William Faulkner in an interview with the Paris Review:

INTERVIEWER

Some people say they can’t understand your writing, even after they read it two or three times. What approach would you suggest for them?

FAULKNER

Read it four times.

Write to be misunderstood?

It doesn’t hurt to make an arcane reference here and there to keep the reader guessing. Obscurity is luminosity.

Said author Jonathan Franzen in lunch with the Financial Times:

“I think you have to have a few things that you have to kind of chew on to get.”

When you first listen to a new Radiohead song, something about it sounds off. But after a few listens, the sounds in between appear and ameliorate Thom Yorke’s mystical voice. Nothing makes sense, but the emotional tug works, the same way laughter doesn’t need thought.

It shouldn’t be the author or musician’s goal to demystify everything. The maker is often still figuring it out himself, recasting their own interpretation.

Categories
Arts Life & Philosophy Writing

Writing helps you seek clarity

giphy (32).gif
via giphy
  • Change the font
  • Write freehand or on a different device
  • Use prompts to help you get started
  • Sit and think about what you want to say. No computer. No pen and paper.

Because writing requires daily practice, doing it can get boring and predictable. It helps to have a system of hacks to drive the writing habit along the way.

Whether you’re writing a book, a blog post, or in a journal, writing is the most efficient way to purge your thoughts from the darkest and dormant corners of the brain. Writing is like talking to your therapist, a bicep curl that strengthens familiarity with your mind.

“I find that by putting things in writing I can understand them and see them a little more objectively. For words are merely tools and if you use the right ones you can actually put even your life in order.”

Hunter S. Thompson

You don’t have to be a published or aspiring author to write, nor do you have to be a student. Writing is a system for coping with the vicissitudes and celebrations of life.

As David Ogilvy once said, “People who think well, write well.” People who write well think well because it’s hard to clarify thoughts. The writer’s main challenge, therefore, is to find ways to keep on doing it.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Poetry Writing

Walking in circles

gif by Yali Herbet

Abstract thinking strings together collisions of thought, producing ever-more complexity or the deepest simplicity.

Tinkering with possibilities makes everything strange, at least at first. But that’s yesterday’s genius.

Today and tomorrow we’ll mill around some more, waiting for the most certain idea. Even the subconscious doesn’t give time off for the brain to relax.

Said one, “If a mind was so simple we could understand it, we’d be too simple to understand the mind.”

Crunching it all down to the essence, we complicate nothing. We’re always left circling the strange, with more questions than answers.

Categories
Books Productivity & Work Writing

Steve Hely: ‘Writing a novel is a pain in the ass’

Writing a novel — actually picking the words and filling in paragraphs — is a tremendous pain in the ass. Now that TV’s so good and the Internet is an endless forest of distraction, it’s damn near impossible. That should be taken into account when ranking the all-time greats. Somebody like Charles Dickens, for example, who had nothing better to do except eat mutton and attend public hangings, should get very little credit.

Steve Hely, How I Became a Famous Novelist
Categories
Blogging Productivity & Work Writing

How to set up a blog on WordPress Business

Pro Tip: Before we begin, if you just want to start creating a blog right now, get started with a free site on WordPress and be on your way to publishing in less than five minutes.


If you’re going to use your blog for business, then you should be using the most robust tool that powers 30% of the internet: WordPress.

Like most people, I set up a free blog on WordPress before upgrading to premium. However, I quickly realized that I wanted more advanced tools including unlimited storage to upload as many photos and videos as I wanted, built-in SEO, plus the ability to install third-party plugins like Google Adsense to monetize my site.

So I went all-in on a WordPress Business account and I’m never going back!

Note: If you’re still having doubts about paying money for a blog, especially if you’re just starting out, I would highly recommend you start a WordPress blog for FREE to see if it’s for you. Also, this post may contain affiliate links. Please see the disclosure for more info. 

Create a stunning website

“Everyone should write a blog, every day, even if no one reads it. There’s countless reasons why it’s a good idea and I can’t think of one reason it’s a bad idea.”

Seth Godin

Yes, a business account can be pricey (remember, you can always start with a FREE plan or the inexpensive personal plan on the pricing page) but upgrading is worth every penny. Here’s what you get with WordPress Business.

You get access to all the premium WordPress themes with the plugin customization of a .org account, along with your own custom domain name, site monetization, SEO tools, and simple payments. And if you ever run into difficulty or have any questions, WordPress live support is a chat button away. Seriously, I’ve contacted the priority support team on issues from design, to button creation, to slight tweaks on my sidebar widget to the smallest problems in spacing and the Happiness Engineers almost always have a quick solution. No waiting time!

If you’re SERIOUS about blogging and turning it into a legitimate business, then level up with a WordPress Business account.

Why choose WordPress over Squarespace, Weebly, or others?

I’ve tried all the writing platforms (Squarespace, Blogger, Tumblr, Weebly, Wix, etc.) but none of them were built for handling a ton of blog content. As bloggers, we need quick and easy tools to find and edit hundreds of posts. And there’s no better platform for cataloging all your posts than WordPress. Because us bloggers can get uber-detailed, you can also snag a .blog domain name instead of the usual “.com.”

WordPress also never goes down. It can’t afford to — it powers 30% of the internet! Like Facebook, rest assured that WordPress stays up all day and night so you won’t lose precious visitors or revenue.

Even more, WordPress Business comes with the Jetpack plugin, which among site stats and gallery/slideshow tools, also guarantees your site’s safety so it never gets hacked.

Jetpack also backs up all your content, plugins, and settings automatically with a Business account so you can rest easy. As an additional bonus, Jetpack uses advanced CDN technology to speed up site loading times for image-busy sites like mine. You don’t want people clicking away from your site because an image took too long to load! Video loading is speedy too.

Access to popular third-party plugins

My site is jam-packed with so some awesome plugins. Again, you can only get access to plugins as a WordPress Business account or you can go through the self-hosting route. Here’s a list of plugins I use every day and why:

  • Pretty Links: This plugin shortens your affiliate links to something short and memorable and on-brand. For instance, here is my affiliate marketing link for WordPress as processed through Pretty Links: https://wellsbaum.blog/Wordpress (it originally looked like this: https://wordpress.com/create/?aff=7193). Pretty Links also gives you click stats as well so you know exactly how many people are engaging with your affiliate links.
  • Mailerlite: Mailer Lite is free and an easy to use email software for up to 200 subscribers. It contains automation tools so you can email folks specific content after they opt into your email. You can also set up a pop-up via Mailerlite that prompts folks to sign up for your email.

My other favorite plugins include Ad Inserter for Google Adsense, Paypal Donation Pro, and the Popups Premium Plugin.

Conclusion

WordPress Business is a no-brainer for a professional blogger looking for all the features, especially when it comes to hosting and plugin installations. With WordPress, everything is all in one dashboard. You don’t have to go back and forth between your hosting providers like Bluehost, Namecheap, or GoDaddy if you have any issues. WordPress also offers the chance to monetize your site; you can even run its ads along with Google’s to maximize traffic.

The WordPress post environment is also minimalist and clean so you can ward out distractions while you write your stellar post. Above all, one of the main reasons I joined WordPress.com instead of WordPress.org was to be part of a thriving community of creators and interesting people who also use it. Because your content will appear in the WordPress Reader to make it more discoverable, this community will be the first to become your subscribers, fans, and brand advocates.

Wait no more. If you’re serious about blogging, set up your blog with WordPress Business today. Focus on your content and let WordPress handle the rest.

Click here to build your site today!

How to start a WordPress blog, in 3 steps

A kid at a computer setting up a blog on WordPress Business

1. Register your domain name.

You can click here to purchase a domain name and create a WordPress blog, then proceed in following the steps outlined below.

A picture of a laptop with URL being typed about how to set up a blog on WordPress Business

Think about your own name or brand name you’d like to use for your site. It can be fun, serious, or just catchy and easy to remember. Also think about the domain name (.com, .blog, .church. biz) you want to append to it. I went with .blog as in WellsBaum.blog because I wanted folks to know that I focused on creating interesting content in a blog format. But .COM always works fine as the default, assuming it’s available for the name you choose.

Keep in mind that if you opt for the Personal, Premium or Business plan, your domain name will be free. Again, the best deal is still signing up for a Business just because of all the added value (Google Analytics, max asset storage, install 3rd party plugins) but Premium or Personal may be best if you’re looking for blogging basics. You’ll be billed yearly.

Wordpress pricing and plans for blogs

2. Choose a theme

WordPress has hundreds of themes to choose whatever your blogging goals are. You can choose a theme that focuses on text, text + images/videos, or goes right to a fancy sales page. You can even set your site to a landing page instead of a blogroll if you wish. My recommendation is to pick a clean and visually stunning template so you don’t scare your readers away. After all, content is king!

A pictures of WordPress.com templates for your blog

3. Install Plug-ins

If you register for a business account, now you can install all the additional plugins that will help your blog gain maximum exposure.

  • Pretty Links: This plugin shortens your affiliate links to something short and memorable and on-brand. For instance, here is my affiliate marketing link for WordPress as processed through Pretty Links: https://wellsbaum.blog/Wordpress (it originally looked like this: https://wordpress.com/create/?aff=7193). Pretty Links also gives you click stats as well so you know exactly how many people are engaging with your affiliate links.
  • Mailerlite: Mailer Lite is free and an easy to use email software for up to 200 subscribers. It contains automation tools so you can email folks specific content after they opt into your email. You can also set up a pop-up via Mailerlite that prompts folks to sign up for your email.

My other favorites include Google Adsense, Paypal Donation Pro, and the Popups Premium Plugin.

A screenshot of WordPress plugins
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