The Six Month Meta Post
As this blog is quickly approaching it’s six-month anniversary1, I hope my readers will indulge me in a bit of navel gazing. I’ve never written about why I write, which given my current circumstances seems as good a thing to talk about as any.
Don’t Repeat Yourself
When I first started writing, I saw this blog as being more of a “greatest rants” page. I’ve always been one of those prolific forum posters when I’m in a guild, but I frequently found myself repeat things over and over or writing on topics that were of interest to me, but not to anyone else (at least, not at the time). Often, I’d write a brilliant post only to lose it to a forum database crash or leaving the guild and having the article locked behind a login screen.
Rather than lose those posts, I decided to move my writing here and direct people there from the guild forums. This gave me freedom to write on topics that might be relevant in the future. From January through April of 2009 I wrote ten articles or so. All this time I was raiding, first in a small 10 man guild that fell apart in March and subsequently in a 25 man guild that turned into a 10 man guild due to some poor choices on the part of the leadership.
After I left the second guild, I committed to starting a raiding guild, for reasons I’ve gone into in previous articles. As part of the planning for that, I thought about the ways in which guilds I’d been in had failed in the past. The common thread seemed to be that the members didn’t really understand what the guild leadership was thinking about – what direction they wanted the guild to go in, what concerns they had, what policies they were considering implementing or changing. Over time, the collective vision of the members and the vision of the leadership diverged and people started to leave. One day you cross this vague line where people don’t think the guild has a future, leading to the inevitable downsizing or demise.
I also knew that I have some very strong and polarizing ideas on how a guild should be run. One thing I didn’t want to do was try to get people involved in a new guild only to find that they didn’t agree with my vision. So I decided to focus my writing on guild management topics, getting all my ideas written down so that I could say “go read those articles, and if you don’t think I’m a loon when done, you’re welcome to join the guild”.
Publishing to the World
Unfortunately competition for guild members on my realm was fierce and I couldn’t garner much interest (this was in the early days of Ulduar), so I put the guild plans on hold while I took a vacation on the US realms. But I kept writing. Some time in early May, I made a promise to myself to do three simple things with regard to the blog:
- to publish two quality (~1000 word) articles per week, on the same days (Mon/Thu)
- to never post a “sorry there’s no post today” post
- to stay focused on guild management or raiding in the context of guilds. I didn’t want to become a “re-post news with a bit of commentary” blog, and there are plenty of good niche blogs out there covering particular classes, specs and roles.
I’ve met #1 and #2, which I’m personally quite proud of given my previous experience writing a personal blog. #3 has suffered a little – sometimes I have something I want to write about that just doesn’t fit the overall theme of the blog, but I try to mark those as off-topic and keep them as infrequent as I can.
Watching Your Writing Grow
Forcing myself to publish regularly is a double-edged sword. In an ideal world, I’d write when I had a fully-formed article in my head, and the words would flow quickly from thoughts to keyboard. Ironically, this is the best example of an article that “writes itself” in the last two months. Unfortunately, I am not blessed with fully formed articles when inspiration strikes. Sometimes all I have is a title, sometimes a body with no introduction, and sometimes little more than an anecdote that I think I can spin into a lesson.
If I waited to publish until my articles were perfect, new visitors would probably still be reading something from May. I’ve never written an article that I would say is perfect. A strong committment to meet my publishing deadlines pushes me to get it to a place where I’m not embarrassed to have others read it. Sometimes the quality is above average, sometimes it’s below. Sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised to find that when the article pops up in my RSS reader it flows much more smoothly than I thought it did during editing.
I learn something from every article I’m not pleased with. I wish I could say that the quality was an ever-increasing, but that’s not realistic. Sometimes I find myself in a slump, and the quality of my writing suffers. I find the best way to break that slump is to go in an entirely different direction, as I am today.
I tend to create a draft article whenever any idea strikes me. Right now I have only two drafts, but it’s usually more like six or seven. If the title isn’t enough to remind me what the article was meant to be about, I might stick a few point notes in the body for myself, but usually I save the bulk of the writing for when I’ve decided that a given article is going to be published. Sometimes the articles languish in my drafts folder for months – other times they get picked up within a few days. Others never leave. Sometimes the initial idea I had for an article just doesn’t work out, but then I see someone touch on the topic on another blog and it gives me some insight into a different way to approach my writing.
One thing that I know contributes to poorly written articles is leaving them until the night before. I did a huge amount of writing before going on holiday to keep the Cataclysm analysis articles flowing during my absence, but since then I’ve found myself wrapping things up at 10pm on a Sunday or Wednesday. It’s a bad habit, and one that I am working to correct.
As more information about Cataclysm and the guild changes therein start to be published, I anticipate having much more to write about than the content and topic lull that we’re in right now. If I’m very lucky I’ll get into the beta (I was in the TBC beta but not WotLK) and be able to speculate less and document more. The topic of guild management isn’t terribly sexy at times, but Cataclysm offers some very nice changes that I hope my readers will look forward to reading analysis of.
I also get ideas for articles from comments that people leave. I don’t want to turn this into another “Officer’s Quarters”, but if anyone has an idea or topic (even one only touched on in a previous article) that they’d like to see expanded upon, please leave a comment or get in touch: email@example.com.
Lastly, I’d like to say thanks to everyone who stops by to read what I write. I must admit that I find myself sneaking glances at my feedburner stats once a week or so – while I only have 60 subscribers to the blog, that’s more than double what I expected to pick up in the first six months. Even bigger thanks goes out to those who leave comments – knowing that my writing is being read is often enough to get me to promote one more article from drafts to scheduled.
Anyone who has their own blog should note that I’ve installed the CommentLuv addon, which automatically adds your latest blog post to the signature of your comment. This is a great way to increase traffic back to your site (presuming you write something witty!)
It’s been a pretty rewarding six months so far, and I promise to still be around at the one year anniversary.
I’d also like to include special mention of Gravity from pwnwear.com. I’d seen Gravity’s posts on tankspot before I started this blog, and the continuing stream of comments and encouragement is very much appreciated. Not being a DK tank, I don’t find myself commenting on articles there much, but I do read all of the articles and enjoy the level of detail immensely. If you haven’t visited pwnwear, I highly recommend that you do regardless of your class or spec.
My recruiting efforts for Cold Comfort the guild ([A] The Sha’tar-EU) have been somewhat less than encouraging. I throw out my recruiting blurb in the Guild Recruitment channel between each heroic, but so far there has been no interest. I’ve avoided posting in general or trade so far due to the quality of applicants that tends to produce, but to boostrap things I suspect that’s my next stop. So very few people seem to join the Guild Recruitment channel, and on an RP server they are likely those looking for RP guilds. If you are on the realm or know anyone who is looking for a new home, please consider suggesting that they look at the guild forum or contact me in game: my primary characters are Divodia and Jehnen.
Until Next Time
1 Technically it’s closer to ten months since I started writing articles, but I kept them private for a few months before comitting to publishing my work for others to see.