Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Blogging 100,000 words

"You have written 102,097 words on 232 posts since you started publishing 257 days ago".

That's what my user interface at Gadling told me this morning. Gadling is the Internet's most popular travel blog, with millions of readers every month. As a writer you can't ask for a bigger audience unless you write about teenaged wizards or Masonic conspiracies, which I don't.

Working for Gadling has taught me a lot. At first I worried I wouldn't have enough material. It turned out there's an inexhaustible font of travel news and features out there if you know where to research and are willing to wander a little. The appetite for this kind of writing seems inexhaustible too. Day after day I and my coworkers post on everything from the best destinations for scuba diving to saving elephants in Chad, and the readers never seem to get enough.

Blogging is also good for learning to write concisely, something that's never been my strong point. It also teaches you the value of networking and just how useful a tool the Internet can be, and just how unreliable it can be too.

It's also (slowly) teaching me nonattachment with my readership. As a writer it's your job to inform and entertain the reader. A good writer gives the reader what they want; a great one gives them what they don't realize they want. But you can't please everyone, and with several million readers able to use the comment feature, all of us at Gadling end up with a lot of negative comments. The problem is, angry people are more likely to comment than satisfied people. Some of the comments are valid, many more are inane, racist, or just plain abusive. Check out the comments on an innocuous post I wrote about Finland banning smoking and you'll see what I mean.

I'm teaching myself to take a big breath and let the perpetually angry people to rave on unchallenged. I'll never change their way of thinking, and that's not my job anyway. It's not easy to ignore them, because I'm of a rather confrontational nature myself, but it's a useful lesson to learn.

The most important lesson, of course, is one I already knew from my book writing--that if you want to do a big project (like writing 100,000 words), doing a bit every day over a long period of time will get it done. So keep at it, writers. You'll get there eventually.

So how many words have I written on this blog and my travel/personal blog? I have no idea. Is there an app for that?

1 comment:

Angela K. Nickerson said...

Fabulous! I enjoy your content on Gadling, too. Congrats on crossing that huge threshold. :)

Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Civil War Horror blog, where he focuses on Civil War and Wild West history.

You can also find him on his Twitter feed and Facebook page.