Thursday 7 June 2012

What I Know About Blogging

1. Be Yourself. 

Sounds obvious. But most of the time everyone is trying to be everyone else. Trying to shape their reviews to sound like that guy from The Guardian, or they're trying to replicate the style of already established magazines/websites (perhaps in the hope of getting a job). The blogosphere is flooded, there are too many of us. The only way you stand out is to be YOURSELF.

2. Being Yourself Is What Brings You Your CORE AUDIENCE.

Your core audience are those people who comment on all your posts. Who read every article. Who feel you like are an extension of THEM in some way. Your CORE AUDIENCE is never big. After a few months of blogging, you may have ONE. After two years you may have NINE. But these are the people you're writing for. And I don't mean you have to try to write specifically for them, you just have to truly write for yourself; by being yourself. That stuff resonates, and that is the kind of writing which makes people stick around. Your core audience will grow gradually in time.

3. Focus on the Specifics. 

I once wrote articles solely about 'The Apartment' for a week. By the end I had a valuable insight, that even though many of my readers didn't care for it, 1% were PASSIONATE about it. It became a motto of mine; write for the 1%. The 1% who truly GET IT. They'll share the articles, they'll tweet about them, they'll tell their friends. When we ALL write about the latest Tarantino movie, we become part of the flood; and nobody cares.

4. Write on Popular Topics. 

Yes I'm hypocritical. This is the exact opposite of rule number 3. But the fact of the matter is; I can write four hundred articles about unknown films and get three new visitors. Or I can write about the American Pie Franchise and get thousands of visitors. Occasionally; you should definitely write about things which are either popular or topical, because they're things the wider world are processing. And your view on them may well be unique.

BUT, if you solely blog about the things everyone else blogs about, you'll be lost in the onslaught. Pick the moments that resonate with you. I wrote about 'American Pie' because I absolutely love it.  The new visitors it brought to me were a bonus. Many of them have stuck around.

5. Don't Accept Advertising Offers For Small Amounts of Money from Unrelated Businesses. 

After you've been blogging for a while; you'll start to get offers from insurance companies and loan companies offering you $89 to put an advert on your site for six months. It seems like free money; but you're hurting yourself in the long run.

Firstly; it will annoy your readers. Secondly, Google will penalise you. Because they know when a website has integrity; they know when things are as they should be. If you're writing a blog about movies and you have links to a dodgy site about life insurance; Google will take you less seriously and no-one will ever find you in Google searches.

6. Vary Article Length. 

People want short and sharp bits of entertainment. They also want to sit down for twenty minutes to read something lengthy and intelligent. Celebrate both sides of yourself. Write at length about your passions and subjects you have expertise in, but also share errant thoughts, ideas and pictures.

7. Make Peace With The Fact That Sometimes People Do Not Care

It's like with movies; you never know what will connect and what won't. Sometimes you'll pour your heart into something, and nobody will read it. Maybe your core audience are on holiday, or maybe people are just feeling quiet, or maybe what you wrote sucked. It's just part of it. If you're going to be a writer; you have to know that sometimes people just aren't around to witness it. Make peace with that inside yourself.

8. Take a Break. 

Your writing is so much better when you've taken a rest from churning out material.

9. Be Personal 

Share your hopes. Your anxieties. Your worries. Your dreams. The internet has a way of being so impersonal; but we are here to CONNECT. If you're yourself and you connect in a personal way, people will stick around.

10. Enjoy it. 

It's only blogging. Have fun with it. If it's stressing you out, refer to rule 8.

Care to share?

Wednesday 6 June 2012

The Kid In The Front Row

I used to sit in this crate box thing in the garden and pretend it was a car. I used to sit in the car and pretend it was a spaceship. I was afraid the ice cream would melt. I was scared they'd pick me for the choir. I did not like even a single vegetable. I kicked a tiny little stone all the way to absolutely everywhere. I climbed things. I fell off things. I thought kicking her in the foot was a good way to impress her. I stood on my Grandfather's feet and he walked me around the room. I was only allowed to the end of the street but I went all the way as far as almost past the end of the street. I had the Ghostbusters backpack. I constantly wrote stories about spaceships. I gave up bike riding every time there was a puncture. I skated straight into a wall. I didn't share my chocolate with her because it was mine and she could get her own. I saw her sad-eyed reaction so I gave her all my chocolate and then she went off with another boy who had the same name as me. I hid in the ditch and pretended to save the world. I swung so high on the swing that I fell clear off. I stood right next to the swing which she swung straight into my finger. I had a fight with a giant bully and won. I played cricket in the garden. I ran around the big lake. I put my coat next to hers and it felt like love. I built a wooden model of a boat but only got as far as cutting a big piece of wood into a medium piece of wood. I asked for my ball back and they told me to go away. I climbed up onto the shed and found maybe twenty tennis balls. I was young. 

Care to share?

When You're In The Moment

When you're engrossed in the movie; when the song gets you high; when the book has you screaming through the pages -- for the briefest of moments, you get to drop your identity.

Your personal history is irrelevant. Your broken heart; the money you owe; your deepest insecurity -- they're all gone and non-existent.

Great art lifts us above the self-definitions and outside of the boundaries which rule our everyday lives.

We get to dream. We get to be kids in the front row.

Care to share?

Tuesday 5 June 2012

The Party

I always think I'm not invited. 

I was on my way to a party a few days ago; and halfway through the journey my brain went into a panic. 

I was convinced that I was invited by mistake. That maybe the text reminders were for someone else with the same name as me. 

That kind of panic I can handle, because I've been doing it all my life. But then it got more insane. 

I suddenly had a bigger worry ----- what if there is no party? What If I got it all wrong? What if I turn up, knock on the door; birthday card in hand --- and I got the wrong day? Or maybe there is a gathering but it's not a birthday..?

My brain couldn't cope. Complete anxiety. 

I scrolled through all my text messages, desperate to see the word 'birthday'. It wasn't there. 


I arrived at her place. I knocked on the door. 

I heard some voices; it sounded party-like. A good sign. 

And then it hit me. What if everybody hates me? What if they want to talk about my film work the whole time? What if they don't even mention my film work? What if they don't talk to me? What if I don't talk to them?

The panic reached fever pitch. I was about to walk into a house full of people who would see me give a birthday card to someone when it wasn't even her birthday. And then they would all hate me because somehow they all had access to my deepest insecurities and would use them all against me. 

This is why I hate going to the party. I lose all rationality. I get scared. 

Care to share?

Saturday 2 June 2012

KITFR Screenwriting Program Begins Tomorrow

For one week, starting tomorrow; the following readers of the blog, all of whom are writers (although not all of them identify in this way... yet) will be taking part in the Kid In The Front Row ONE WEEK Screenwriting Program.

Anthony Abatte, Texas. 
Cheryl Beading, San Francisco, California. 
Chad Brown, Studio City, California
Lesya Hearst, Ukraine.
Kim Nunley, Oakland, California.
Matt Zurcher, Pennsylvania.

For one week, starting tomorrow; these six writers will be penning their own short-form screenplays -- with my assistance. The purpose, more than anything, is to get them writing. To get their visions to the point of completion. Will the scripts all be perfect? Probably not. Will they get made into movies? Who knows. That's not the point of this exercise.

The point of the screenwriting program is to get writers writing. At the end of the week; I will publish all six screenplays. If any of the writers don't complete their scripts by the deadline, Sunday 10th June, then I won't publish their scripts and won't take them seriously as writers again.

I will be on hand to assist them in any way I can. They may not need me. Or they may be stuck on a blank first page and need some motivation. Or maybe they'll need someone to brainstorm with; or they'll need help overcoming self-doubt. Who knows. Whatever it is; my plan and hope is to see six completed scripts, based on their own original ideas; all completed by next Sunday. They will retain full ownership, and credit, it's their babies --- I'm just sitting in the passenger seat, trying to egg them on.

Care to share?