IW Update :: Patreon

logo_one_banner_small

This week has been rather overshadowed by personal health issues, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t had my eye on the ball in terms of preparation, which should step into high gear starting on Monday. What that has meant in practical terms is preparing my Patreon space and finally pinning down what rewards will be available on ‘launch.’

Stage One Patreon Rewards have arrived 😀 #photographer #InternetofWords

A post shared by AltChat (@alternativechat) on

Right now I’ll be offering what I consider as a pretty decent set of physical incentives. On  order are Enamel Badges with the IW ‘logo’ plus special ‘Thank You’ cards, with these rather snazzy wristbands already in hand. On top of that there will be 10 ‘Founders Rewards’ which represent my top tier of participation, which are being routed in solid wood and which I will hand finish myself. Having read some stories about how there are those who unscrupulously pledge only for rewards and then leave, I’m hoping what I’m giving here is unique enough to simply appeal to those with a genuine interest. It has also been suggested I wait for a month’s pledges before anything goes out and that might also be a wise move on consideration.

The nuts and bolts of the tier rewards themselves are now sketched in a notebook, and I’ll exclusively reveal them to my Twitter feed this weekend, not simply as an early incentive but to check whether people think they’d be interested in what is being offered. To see what else is on offer apart from the physical rewards it is time to

where you can be actively involved in lots of cool stuff ahead of time.

nanowrimo_band

After that, next week will see my back end planning shift up a gear, and there’ll be areas appearing on the site to cover the body of work that will be produced under the Internet of Words ‘concept.’ I’ll be introducing each ‘strand’ as we go, and looking for feedback and interest at the same time. I’d also like to take the opportunity to thank everybody who has encouraged and supported me thus far. I’ve been literally gob-smacked that not only are there those of you willing to take a chance on my ideas, but that you’re already offering help and support for the journey.

Thank you so very much indeed.

All Change

logo_one_banner_small

As was promised on Monday, you’ll now see a major change to the site’s layout. This is, for the main cosmetic at present, and is being facilitated early to allow me to stealthily bolt on space for the new content whilst not interrupting what already takes place. That will all happen at the IW Portal (see menu above) which will remain steadfastly under wraps until my Patreon officially launches on June 1st.

A number of you have already arrived at the Twitter portion of proceedings, and will be treated to the ‘Beta’ version of what will pass for daily curated content on Social media going forward. That will include content permed from the literary and scientific communities, with my own observations and comments intermingled. I’m not following anyone at present, but that will change once everything goes live.

wordywordy

There will be other portals too, but for now we’re just going to stick with one thing at a time before it all gets incredibly confusing and I combust in a brain-fuelled implosion. Needless to say, if you want to know what’s happening and you want to get the low down on things before they happen live here, following the Twitter account is a good first start. I’ve intentionally divorced all of this from my main account for a good reason, which will become clear as time goes on.

I’m incredibly excited for what IW will mean going forward, and I hope you’ll be joining me on the journey.

Blogging For Noobs :: Think

You have a ton of posts all ready to go after the last portion of our Guide, and now you want to publish them all in one hit. This is where I put up the single finger in a kind yet firm manner and say NO, do not do this with your work. The temptation in the early blush of creativity is to share everything immediately. This is perfectly normal and I see it happen all the time: the problem then comes a month later when you’re struggling for stuff to fill your space and creativity appears to have evaporated. That’s why this time around, I’m going to ask you to wait, and start planning ahead. Remember that blank calender I left you with last time? Here’s where the fun of Learning to Organise begins.

schedulea.jpg

I’m going to be rebranding this site next month as the Internet of Words (for those of you paying attention) and that means that I need to do a couple of things before that happens. Once I’ve followed my own previous step and worked out what will qualify as content, I’ll need a week to make sure that I have graphics for everything made and ready, and there are spaces in the web design to accommodate what I’m doing. That’s the 14th to the 19th for me, which is my Pre-Planning and ‘Back End’ phase. In that time I can also write posts in anticipation of my launch (June 1st) but not publish them until I know my redesign is working properly. In your case, it could just be getting yourself comfortable with blogging to begin with, and you have a week of playing with layout and posting until you’re comfortable with both.

typinghanks

I’ve then scheduled a Testing Week, which will basically act as my migration period for all the old content, deleting the stuff I don’t want to keep, and getting everything ready to roll. As you can see, after my launch date I’ve got a load of +1 and +2’s marked: the latter indicate days when I’ll introduce a facet of the site, the others marking down that for the first month, I want to generate a post a day. To do that will require me to organise in advance, to have ideas ready to roll, and once I obtain that early impetus it will be important to ensure I have a plan. That’s why I’m writing on Post It notes, scribbling in a notebook wherever possible, and keeping track of things I think are important or interesting going forward. It is why this weekend will be devoted to thrashing out many of those scribbled notes into fully-formed topics to form part of my site.

planttotheface

The key, of course, is to have a lot of content to go, but there are days when I undoubtedly do my best work from a cold start. Today was a case in point: I didn’t expect to create a logo or start a Twitter account for the redesign but both of those happened. I’d simply planned to day to explore the possibilities of both, but you’ll learn in time how inspiration strikes, and when to make the most of it. This is where organisation truly becomes invaluable, because in those creative-rich days, if you can get words down they can be kept and scheduled for days when you’re out of ideas. It also means you are never totally beholden to your site either, and can take holidays or time off without it appearing you lost interest in the project.

punch1

You will find, as time goes on, that if you set aside a set time each day to write, this will also aid enormously with productivity and creativity. For me, I do my best work on non-fiction before lunchtime, whilst fiction always works better in the evening. That means I’ll be able to balance my time effectively around other stuff and still aim for a set result at the end of each week. You may wish to plan ahead on a spreadsheet programme, and there are plenty of time management tools/apps that can help you out, but for me I am at my best with a Moleskine Diary, pen, pencil and ruler. In fact I’d be utterly lost without them now. My planning for the week is either done Sunday night or Monday morning, and this dictates the entire workflow for the next seven days. Find the system that works for you, and don’t be afraid to mix and match until you’re comfortable with the result.

intothedoor.gif

The biggest trick however is not to panic when you’re out of ideas. That’s why you have a notebook, its why you plan in advance… and its where Social media can save the day. Current events, personal interests, what other people are talking about, the latest complaint/beef in your friends circle… all of these are potential topics to start a blog post. For me, I have a ton of projects in various states of completion to consider, a vast array of topics on the Internet of Words that all have a potential place in my planning: but the trick is not to obsess too much about all the possibilities. I’ll be picking a couple of the best ideas to work with at the start, and we’ll go from there. Once the framework is established and has run for a while, I can look at analytics to see where the interest lies, and work from there.

Organisation really is everything if you want a professional looking site. It also doesn’t all have to happen straight away. Just because I’ll be doing a post a day means it will stay that way. We’ll see how things work, and the trick in these early stages is to listen to other people very carefully. Many will give you feedback, and if it isn’t great, you’ll need to be ready to act accordingly. Next time, we’ll talk about how you keep people interested whilst they read, because that will matter long term just as much as your content.

Blogging for Noobs :: I Love You

It is time, finally, to write stuff. Are you excited?

excited-baby

Number one in our Ten Things to Learn guide is, I’m afraid, NOT how to write gud. That I can try and help you with but, to be honest, you are mostly on your own. If you’ve reached this stage anyway the desire to write already very much exists (which remains half the battle on any given day) but developing a strong, individual style takes both time and effort to perfect. If, like me, you write for other people, their style will vary greatly from your own. That’s why learning to be your own Editor is great practice for when you end up having to deal with somebody else critiquing your work. There are however, certain things you really shouldn’t do, and it seems only fair to provide a list of those:

  • Take the first person out of your work. I did this and I did that is perfectly acceptable, in certain circumstances. The first person pronoun makes for a deeply personal insight, but often not for great writing. I’m going to use myself as an example of this: I think this post would be far better re-written without the excessive use of ‘I’ within it. The content’s sound, but the execution needs work. Using ‘we’ is a better idea for a lot of reasons, and it will make your whole blog resonate better with people you do not know.
  • Use a spell checker. Most blog interfaces provide one as standard anyway. Try to avoid abbreviations or excessive use of jargon/abbreviated speech. Imagine you’re talking to whoever you know personally who doesn’t have a clue about all this stuff and make it so they’d understand what’s going on. If you want people to notice your work, it isn’t just about what you write, but as much about how it is presented. 

    hiaustinpowers

  • Don’t make it personal. There’s going to be a whole week on this, because there’s been some notable legal events in the last couple of months that prove if you are libellous or slanderous to people, there are consequences. I’ve notably used a blog post to stop someone stalking me, but I can attest this is not to be recommended, especially not in the current climate. If you can’t keep it civil and pleasant, don’t write it. Go shout at people on Twitter instead… no, don’t do that either. Just be nice.
  • Explain yourself properly. The point of good blogging, at least for me, is making one point per post. After that you’ll find the retention rate of your audience tends to drop dramatically. Sure, you can make long complex arguments in blog posts, but the best work is when you set yourself a question to answer in X words, or you show your reasoning for something in Y words. Don’t waffle. Learn to work out what is useful in a sentence, and what’s just repeating the same point again.typing3.gif
  • Formatting is everything. If I had a business WordPress, which may well happen by the end of the year, SEO is a thing. If you have no idea what that means, here’s a guide Google made explaining how Search Engine Optimisation works. That, coupled with using formatting for improved readability (which the business version of WordPress will also offer as an option) gives you a better chance that people stay with your article and read until the end. For now? Don’t write massive blocks of dense text. Split it up, and stick pictures in between.

Having said all of that, I told you that ideas matter a great deal, and they do. A combination of information, entertainment and inspiration seems to be why people keep coming back to what I do. There’s stuff on daily events, things that matter to those playing the same games as me, and who maintain a comparable set of interests. I use the GIF as art, whenever possible, as a cheap laugh or to reinforce a bigger point. The fact I’m attempting self improvement via exercise, and that I suffer with mental health issues that I’m happy to discuss and dissect all form part of a complex landscape, that has become an online extension of my real-life self. I’m not expecting you to do all this when all you want is to help people play a game better or share your art. However, there should be a distinct part of you in every word you write. The passion is what matters most.

dramatickangaroo.gif

The enthusiasm and passion is what keeps the desire to write moving forward, even on the days when you seemingly have nothing to offer. For me, I’ve found a way to counter my lack of enthusiasm by creating a series of weekly ‘topics’: a banner headline under which I can write about an aspect of the general subject matter. That means, that once a week (unless a more important topic supplants it) I’m writing about my time in Warcraft, chronologically, from beginning to the present day. I have the headline, under which I’ve planned several months worth of potential subjects. What this gives me is a chance to both think ahead and know I have work to do even if the game is not particularly active and I don’t have a lot to say. This is a great way to keep your enthusiasm for work moving forward, by planning a larger subject to break down in parts. In fact, this Guide itself is being written on the exact same principle: weekly parts that will form an overall whole.

charliebrownspecial.gif

The other way that blogging is incredibly effective is if you have something in your life that you can react to/talk about. That trip to the end of the Earth, your battle with cancer, the problems starting a business, becoming a successful writer… all these things are subject matters someone will want to read about. It might be something that happened to you in childhood, or perhaps your attempts to find meaning in an increasingly complex world. If you have the time to talk to someone, you could write it down. If you find yourself spending more than three tweets in a day ranting about anything on line? That’s blog material, right there.

10514-inmyheadsurreal

Blogs can do many things, the only limit being your imagination. If you have ideas, the best thing you will ever do is not just jump in without giving them form and focus. In fact, planning may sound utterly pointless but it is more likely to keep you from just giving up and not bothering. It is, for me, the very foundation of effective blogging. You have the passion to write, and all the ideas required to do so and now it is time to give yourself a framework on which to hang them. In that notepad that you’ve been using for recalling inspiration, you now need a planner on which they can be placed

calender

Feel free to copy this and print it out on a sheet of A5/A4 or whatever size your notebook is. This is your first month of blogging. The launch date for your blog isn’t top left either: next week, using April 1st as our start point, I’ll show you how to prepare and plan a Blog launch in advance: from scheduling posts to engaging an audience before a word is even written. I hope, by suggesting this as a way forward, I’ll be able to keep enthusiasm going well past that first four weeks, and help you create and form good habits for years to come.

This Town Aint Big Enough For Both of Us

January. YUK. 

Right then, time to get organised.
Those of you paying attention will know that I’d (stupidly) running three blogs this year, because I am clearly a masochist and don’t know what the concept of relaxation is all about. You get THAT GAME on one, ME on the other and here is where the two approximately interface. I have grand plans for this year, and this is the moment I pull off the velvet cover and reveal to you what the feck is going on in 2016.
For that, I think we need some appropriate background accompaniment.

Firstly, THERE WILL BE WRITING. Having proven to myself I can finish something to an acceptable standard, it’s high time I did that with the fiction piece I started in 2015. That means The Sayers will be completed this year, if only to maintain a commitment to an idea I love, and that deserves at least a cursory audience. Once I’m ready to continue we’ll do a repost of the stuff so far. I’d expect that to get an edit too, because I’ve learnt an awful lot in terms of writing in the last year.
This year’s major project.
However, there is a bigger plan for 2016. I’ve been writing MMXCI for the best part of fifteen years, off and on, and this is the year when I finally do it justice. I’ve been spending mornings this week getting myself in the head-space of the setting, and I’m ready to finish what I started. You won’t see this here, only spoken about in passing, because I’m hoping I might be able to get this published by somebody else. I hold no illusions, I get how hard this is, but if there were anything I’d want to see as a book it is this idea. So, that’s my big project. Expect much muttering, and the Sidebar Playlist will change this week to reflect my current earworms.
Then there is Podcasting.
I’ve promised to undertake a series of Podcast Interviews for The Starting Zone (which I co-host) in the #WhyIWoW Series. My first one happens tomorrow, and I have many lined up in the weeks that follow. I also hope to do some other aural projects this year, but having learnt a salutatory lesson last year with over-stretching myself? Baby steps. Watch this space.
There will be other shit, clearly. For now, that’s what I’m prepared to admit and pin myself to. Expect this space to get Gaming love too, because it’s not like Warcraft’s the only thing I play.
Yeah, I’d better fix that in 2016 too ^^

Feeling Good

There is much excitement in the house, for tomorrow is Elbow at Hammersmith Day. I’ve managed to not see this band for far too long, and tomorrow this will change in a deliberately intimate gig that is already making me vibrate silently with excitement. Considering the shit weekend I’ve just had, the next five days is already looking rather awesome. I’d been ready for a fight this morning over the washing machine but instead I have an assessor coming on Wednesday and the promise of a new machine. The week’s traumas have all sorted themselves out almost mechanically and to top it all, I now have two days next week booked and planned for getting my health looked at, securing some new spectacles and finishing off my Podcast gubbins once and for all.

It is almost as if this hard work is finally paying dividends.

If you’re a regular reader of the Other Blog, you’ll also notice I’ve gone up to two posts a day. Some of them will be new but others will be reposts of notable stuff from ‘times past’ because with over 2000 articles in the back catalogue, I’d now be seriously stupid not to occasionally repeat myself. What it does mean is that parts of the gaming site will get revamped and updated, and posts like today’s ‘How to Start Blogging’ will be repackaged from time to time to remain current with changing trends. it’s not like this isn’t done on the Internet anyway by the entire rest of the population to begin with. I’m also going to get in the habit of writing two posts a week here and scheduling them if necessary. You can expect regular content therefore as follows:

  • Monday: FICTION DAY 😀
  • Wednesday: General Discussion Topic FTW.
  • Sunday: Week in Review.
This is part of my long-term commitment to Getting Shit Done. 

On that front, there is a piece of Fiction ready for upload, so let’s get to it 😀

Start

My Kitchen, yesterday ^^

My house currently resembles a low budget Disaster movie. All I need now is for Morgan Freeman to turn up and tell me this is all a test and I’ll utterly believe him. Needless to say I’ll be having a few choice words with Bosch Customer Service in the morning. I have a script prepared, and it is EPIC. YES I AM READY.

In the meantime, my patience for many things has reached it’s limit.

STOP! Cuppa time 😀

I’m now behind enough on my Podcast Project to be annoyed, and I’ll do my utmost to get two episodes done this week. There is too much noise and not enough work getting done and I need to fix this, and so I am going to selectively stop listening. Please feel free to take this personally, as I am absolutely sure some people will. I will refer you to the last post, and I’ll be here trying to get myself back organised.

Oh, AND THERE WILL BE FICTION TOMORROW.