Paula Writes

Paula Puddephatt – Author

Why Write About “Depressing” Subjects? — February 5, 2018

Why Write About “Depressing” Subjects?

why-write-depressing

This post was originally published on my previous blog.

So, why would anyone love writing or reading dark fiction?  Or survivors’ poetry?

In December 2017, I did publish slightly revised versions of two other posts: one regarding my personal writing journey, and another about writing modern historical fiction.

I considered also republishing this one, but decided against it, at the time. I didn’t see it as a priority, because I have other posts that cover much of the same ground, including one regarding my approach to mental health issues in my fiction, and another about the process of writing dark fiction. There are also elements that overlap with my post on character development.

However, on balance, I have decided to go ahead, and share it again.

I feel that there is enough here that could potentially be of value, and it doesn’t do any harm, in my opinion, to revisit some of the same subjects, when they are ones that are close to our hearts. So here goes…

I don’t know where to start with the subject, but it’s an important one, so I want to address it.

I know that more people are familiar with my poetry than my fiction, as there isn’t much of the latter “out there”, as yet. The fact is that I deal with dark and controversial subjects throughout all of my writing. I am focusing more upon my fiction here, although much of what I say applies across the board.

Firstly, my fictional characters are not me.

They each contain aspects of myself, to varying degrees, but none are me, as such. That isn’t how fiction works.

Some experiences of certain characters are heavily autobiographical, but there will always be fictionalised aspects, and it shouldn’t be important for a reader to know what is based on my actual life experiences, and what is not.

That’s not to say that readers won’t, or even shouldn’t, be interested – and often, I will be happy to clarify and share my own stories, since I’m a naturally open person.

There is definitely an element of therapy to writing for me, that is essential to my survival – to my sanity, such as it is.

I do write to explore subjects and situations because I’ve been through them myself, or something similar.

Yet, this is not always the case.

I have had, for my writing, to research subjects, including heroin addiction and abortion, and many others, of which I have no direct, personal experience. Is it “depressing”, if you like? Yes, at times. I would say it is deeply painful, and also makes me more compassionate – and, at times, paralysed by my own inability to fully understand, and do justice to the subjects.

The social issues won’t go away by ignoring them.

That said, is it sufficient that many of us attempt to write about them, in our fiction? Isn’t there more that we can and should be doing? Sometimes it isn’t easy to know what to do, but I can’t close my heart or mind to these themes, to which I feel drawn.

I’m so restricted by my own health and circumstances, and I don’t have the answers – only more questions, and they replay, on an endless loop, inside my mind.

I think that the best answer is that I would find it more depressing to ignore the issues, and I don’t know if I will ever achieve what I ideally want to through my work, but I just have to keep going. I hope that this made at least some sense.

Follow me on any or all of my various social media sites, where I regularly share writing related posts.

Social Media for Writers: Building Your Author Platform — February 1, 2018

Social Media for Writers: Building Your Author Platform

social-media-authorsAs writers, we should be building our online platforms.

 

In days gone by, there was no internet, let alone social media, and writers still managed to get their work out there. However, it was much more difficult to do so. Not to use social media nowadays, as a writer, would put you at a serious disadvantage.

 

The question is, where do you start?

 

There are so many social media networks now. Do you need to be on them all? I would say, definitely not. In fact, there are so many alternatives that it’s hard to imagine anyone, who wasn’t a celebrity, with a huge following already, being successful on every platform. And someone in that position would, almost certainly, have dedicated teams to manage their various social media channels. Hardly comparable to the position that most of us are in, when we’re just starting out.

 

Most of us will find our personal favourites, by trial and error.

 

The networks that you actually enjoy are probably, on the whole, the ones to go with. There are, however, some that do tend to be more useful for connecting with other writers, or people from particular target audiences, so it’s worth keeping those factors in mind. I’m still in the early stages, when it comes to building my own platform, but am definitely starting to discover which platforms work for me.

 

 

Although, in this post, I’m primarily discussing social media, I should mention that it’s important to have a home base.

 

By this, I mean a website or blog – an online space, to direct your online traffic to, other than social media. And, no – an Amazon sales page alone isn’t sufficient.  Aim to include as much evergreen content as possible, on your website or blog.

 

 

Personally, my primary channel is Twitter.

 

It’s definitely one of the best for writers, especially from the point of view of connecting with other writers. Post regular, quality content: a combination of links, writing and inspirational quotes, videos, and so on. Ideally, post a mixture of your own content, and that of others, in your niche, or related areas.

 

Definitely, make use of scheduling, as consistency is key with Twitter, but do also ensure that you make time to engage with others on the platform.

 

Checking in daily, or at least most days, will help, although it doesn’t matter, if you can’t always keep this up, as long as you remain active, via scheduled posts – and make the effort to engage, when you do go on.

 

And use hashtags. 1 to 3 per post is the general recommendation.

 

I currently stick with 2. 4 is borderline, but more than that, and your posts will tend to be regarded as “spammy”. But don’t miss out by omitting them altogether, as they help significantly with reach. I recommend using #amwriting or/and #writerslife, on most writing related posts. Others that I regularly use are: #writing, #writingforever, #writetip, and #poetry.

 

Then, of course, there’s Facebook.

 

With even more forthcoming changes, that will impact upon the, already limited, reach of our Facebook pages, many people feel that it’s no longer a viable channel. I personally believe that it’s advisable for writers to have Facebook pages, but not to rely upon them as a primary traffic source. That is, unless you’re in a position to run paid ads.

 

Facebook groups, on the other hand, are a different matter, and probably the way forward, for writers who want to remain active on the site.

 

They are certainly time-consuming but, as long as you love using Facebook, can provide that ideal space, in which to build a community. If you don’t fancy starting up your own group, it might be a good idea to join a few existing ones, and participate in those. My own group, Writing Forever, at the time of writing, is comparatively new, and welcomes new members.

 

Tumblr, a very visual site, has a strong writing community.

 

Poetry, and writing and inspirational quotes, are popular. Tumblr drives very little traffic to my blog, but I find the site inspiring and enjoyable to use, and have received positive feedback on my posts.

 

Hashtags are effective on here, but not exactly the same ones as on other sites, such as Twitter.

 

Try #writing, #lit, #prose, and #poetry. I don’t know whether this is true or not, but I’ve heard that only the first 5 tags register on Tumblr’s search facilities. Beyond that, they only function to search within your own Tumblr page. I tend to use 2-4 tags on Tumblr. I do also find the queueing system – mentioned in my social media scheduling post – invaluable.

 

Google Plus – now, this is an interesting one.

 

In general, people tend to dismiss it, but actually, I really like it, and think that it’s worth taking just a little time to investigate this network. If nothing else, because it’s part of Google, and being active on here does appear to help somewhat with SEO.

 

If you have a Google account – which anyone who has a You Tube channel, or Blogger site, does – you automatically have a Google Plus page.

 

It doesn’t take much effort to update it, now and again.

 

Hashtags do work on Google Plus, but this platform tends towards descriptive, “does what it says on the tin” tags.

 

Many popular Twitter tags don’t work at all. #Writing, #fiction and #poetry will get you further than #MotivationalMonday. Sometimes I do end up using Twitter hashtags, simply because I send a percentage of posts via Buffer to Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus, simultaneously. However, when I post specifically on Google Plus, I opt for more generalised tags.

 

My main advice for using Google Plus successfully is to set up Collections, on topics of interest.

 

These are similar, in a sense, to Pinterest boards – and I’ll talk about Pinterest, in a moment. Collections are shown to other Google Plus users, and you can potentially end up with additional subscribers to individual Collections, who may not even follow your account, as a whole. They’re probably one of the best ways to get your posts seen on the site, and so easy to set up.

 

Communities may also help, but these are equivalent to Facebook groups, and potentially more time-consuming.

I don’t really have enough experience to comment upon their benefits or otherwise, but they may be worth exploring.

09/10/2018 update: I was sad to learn that Google Plus is apparently closing next year, as a consumer website.

 

I more or less ignored Pinterest for years, but lately, I’ve become obsessed.

 

I’m building my Pinterest boards, and learning more about the platform via various blog posts and You Tube videos. And yes, You Tube is awesome, and coming next on my list.

 

As for Pinterest – well, I’m exploring it, and loving it, but am very much in the early stages.

 

It’s more of a visual search engine, rather than a conventional social media site, and I’ve heard amazing things about Pinterest, for driving website traffic. That said, I’m not using any sort of scheduling, Boardboaster or Tailwind, and haven’t got into group boards either, so can’t advise on any of that.  August 2018 update: I still pin manually, but should point out that Boardboaster has recently closed down. I do now have some experience with group boards. My Pinterest post elaborates.

 

July 2018 update: See my recent post about using Pinterest, as part of your author platform.

 

You Tube, as I mentioned, is awesome.

 

I watch many You Tube videos. I comment on a decent number. What I don’t do is to make them myself. Well, I did upload a couple, towards the end of 2017. Short clips of our pet cockatiels. But honestly, if you’re confident enough to make writing videos on You Tube, go for it. You Tube also, in common with Pinterest, has the bonus of being a powerful search engine. It’s a great platform for writers – probably one of the best. It’s also an excellent resource for research.

 

So, how about Instagram?

 

Or Linked In, Snapchat, Reddit, Stumble Upon – and all the others I’ve missed? Basically, yes – you can use any of them, as a writer. I simply can’t advise on them, because I lack experience on the platforms.  That said, I’m becoming more active on Instagram right now.  Oh, and I’m also on Flickr – although not on my original account, which I’ve unfortunately been unable to access, in recent years.

July 2018 update: See my recent Instagram for Writers post, as I do now regularly use Instagram, as part of my author platform.

 

There are so many options out there. Hopefully, you will find at least one or two that work for you.  Also, do take a look at my post about how to build your author brand. And there is now a new Social Media for Writers 2019 post, which may be of interest.

 

Keep believing.

 

Find me on social media.

 

 

Facebook Changes, Pinterest, and All Things Social Media — January 19, 2018

Facebook Changes, Pinterest, and All Things Social Media

facebook-changes

This is an update to one of my posts from December 2017, in which I discussed some of my thoughts about Facebook pages and groups, going into 2018.

It turns out that I was being too optimistic about the possibility of organic growth on Facebook, certainly in relation to business/fan pages. The forthcoming changes to the newsfeed could effectively mean that most of us will soon reach none of the people who have “liked” or/and followed our pages: literally, none. To be honest, at times, it isn’t far off that already, for many of us.

I set up my groups, Writing Forever and Music Forever, towards the end of last year, and groups are definitely the way forward on Facebook, as far as I understand it.

Other than posts from friends and family, and paid ads, it could be the only way in which to reach our audiences, in the future.

In terms of scheduling, about which I have already written a post, and a part 2, it may become almost pointless to use schedulers such as Buffer, for Facebook posts.

I currently use a combination of Buffer, Facebook’s native scheduler, and some real time posting, and would consider using Facebook’s own schedulers entirely, if that would increase my chances of people actually seeing my posts. I’m not sure that it will, from what I’m hearing. For now, my posts that are going via Buffer to Twitter and Google Plus anyway, might as well continue to go to Facebook, as I get very little reach on the posts – but still, something.

It is also unclear whether, in the future, posts will be seen by our friends, when shared via our fan pages.

At the moment, sharing to our Timelines can help somewhat. I’m hoping that this will continue to be the case.

Whilst I feel disillusioned about yet more changes to the Facebook algorithm, which don’t appear to be ones for the better, I will always seek positive solutions.

I hope to focus upon building a community via my groups, although I do tend to be inconsistent on social media, due to having multiple projects, and struggling with health and personal problems. I’m also completely neglecting my novel. I need to find the right balance: an ongoing challenge.

Lately, I’ve been exploring Pinterest, and this could well become one of my main social media channels.

Twitter will probably always be my favourite, the one that I return to, but I’m definitely feeling inspired by Pinterest, and continue to enjoy Tumblr and Google Plus, as and when.

September 2018 update: I’ve made significant progress with Pinterest, since writing this post.  See my Pinterest for Writers post.

Going back to the subject of Facebook – if you do “like” any or all of my pages, please consider adjusting your settings to “See First”.

It’s an option, listed on the drop-down “Following/Notifications” menu, at the top of the page. You’re significantly more likely to be shown my subsequent posts, and I would really appreciate the support. It makes a difference.

Find me on social media – via this post, which includes links to my various profiles and pages. I’ve updated this, to include links to my Facebook groups, and my Pinterest profile.

For quick reference, my Facebook pages are: Paula Puddephatt – Author, Vibrant Darkness – Poems by Paula, and 80s/90s Music.

Keep believing.

When Life Happens, and Writing Doesn’t — January 11, 2018

When Life Happens, and Writing Doesn’t

The title says it all, about where I’m at, right now.

when-life-happens

Health issues are happening. Stressful life events are happening. Writing? It will come. Pressure from within is the last thing I need – and guilt.

Baby steps are the way forward.

Starting somewhere, as opposed to either everywhere or nowhere.

New year, new start.

It isn’t exactly working out that way. Yet, now and again, I hear my characters’ voices, letting me know that they are still there, inside my heart and mind.

As for the blogging – well, this is my second post of 2018.

Such as it is. There will be more, and they will be better.

It’s okay to struggle sometimes.

That’s what I would tell anyone else, after all. It isn’t always easy to believe in yourself and your dreams, but since when has anything worthwhile been easy, right?

Previous related posts include one about procrastination, and another about slow progress.

Find me on social media.

My Writing Journey — December 20, 2017

My Writing Journey

journey-paula-writeswriting-Gloria-Steinem

Before I could physically write, I was already, in a sense, a writer.

I invented people, worlds, and situations. I daydreamed, and also “played games”, assigning roles to my brother and friends. I talked to myself, as well. Past tense…? Well, not entirely – because I’m a writer, and writers are weird. That’s my excuse, anyway.

steam-train-journey

When I was five or six, and able to go beyond the formation of individual sentences, I wrote my first stories.

I was that child who loved writing stories at school, so much that I wrote my own, out of choice.

I found Maths boring and difficult.

I have the co-ordination disorder dyspraxia – which, at the time, was undiagnosed – and was, therefore, useless at the so-called “fun” activities. This covered pretty much every sport, basically. Yes, that’s right – not a fan of PE.

I was bullied relentlessly, right through school, and struggled with depression and anxiety, from a very young age.

I never fitted in, and longed to, but if I had, then maybe I would have been happy but ordinary, and not a writer. It was the one thing that I was able to do better than average, and I focused on that.

I do have periods of writers’ block, for want of a better term.

I also have long reading slumps.

I don’t write every day. I would like to say that I do, but I don’t. That’s just the truth.

I currently have many health issues, physical and mental health.

I have also been let down many times, by people I thought I could rely upon – family members, who have been less than supportive, to put it mildly – and so-called “friends”, who have hurt me deeply.

Poetry, although not my original passion, has often helped me through.

I will probably write a post specifically about my poetry journey, at some point.

I do also have a novel that I’m working on, sporadically – an old project, which I revived in recent years.

I’m making slow progress, but getting there. It’s a project that means so much to me, more than I can express – and yet, I’m terrified of failure. Sometimes, the fear leaves me paralysed, and I don’t get anything done at all.

However, I believe in what I’m doing, with all my heart, and know that I have to finish my book.

I did finish another, and shelved the first draft, without revising, which I am okay with. I felt, and still do, that finishing was enough, in that instance.

This post was originally published on my previous blog, and I simply made a few minor adjustments.

Since then, I have developed more of an interest in blogging. I plan to focus much more on this aspect of my writing in 2018 – and do also hope to make more progress on my novel, than I have in previous years.

If you would like to know more about the themes and topics covered in my fiction, I would suggest reading a recent post of mine, concerning my approach to mental illness, alcoholism and drug addiction, in my work.

Also, my piece about writing dark fiction, may be of interest.

Writing is my life.

I’ve been in some dark places, and I truly believe that I wouldn’t be here without my fiction and poetry – and increasingly so, my blog.

Believe in yourself and your dreams.

Find me on social media.

train-journey

 

Facebook Groups, Facebook Pages, and Twitter: Going Into 2018 — December 12, 2017

Facebook Groups, Facebook Pages, and Twitter: Going Into 2018

facebook-group-page-twitter

Like many of us, I’ve seen the best and worst side of Facebook.

From personal experience, the best place to start, for a writer, when trying to grow an audience from scratch (or close), is definitely Twitter.

Facebook is much more challenging, and it’s beyond discouraging when you are posting your consistent, hopefully quality, content, and Facebook is showing some of these posts to about two people.

Literally. You can throw a “one hundred percent conversion rate” party, when a post is shown to three people, and you actually manage to get three “likes”. I know, I know – “pay to play” – but that doesn’t work for those of us who are starting out, and don’t have an advertising budget. There are strategies that help with organic growth on Facebook, but I’m not in a position to give much specific advice about these right now, because I’m honestly not there yet.

However, I’m not giving up, and I do believe that organic growth on Facebook is possible.

It takes time and effort, like everything else in life. I sometimes think it’s ironic, that I’ve watched so many You Tube videos, and read so many blog posts, about all things social media related, and yet, I don’t see to get anywhere fast. But hey, do I need to get anywhere fast? If it takes me longer, so be it. This is a journey, and I can appreciate it.

At the start of 2017, I had Vibrant Darkness, my poetry page, which I had more or less abandoned.

Other than that, only my profile page. This year, I started to update Vibrant Darkness, and also set up my author page, and 80s/90s Music page. The retro music angle, incidentally, does tie in with my writing somewhat, as well as covering an area of interest, since I write modern historical fiction, set primarily in the 1980s. And very recently, I ventured into setting up Facebook groups, Writing Forever and Music Forever, to help build more of a community, which is a major difference between Facebook pages and groups. I’m in the early stages, but hopeful.

This time last year, my approach to social media was completely random and chaotic.

I only had a few hundred followers on Twitter: now my main social media channel, where I’m currently working towards 3k, my next milestone – but, more importantly, enjoying the community, and trying to give back something of value, to the amazing people I’ve been able to connect with on there. I’m still random and chaotic, but perhaps a little less so – a work in very slow progress, just like my novel. And, yes – I have now officially updated this blog in December: consistently inconsistent, right?

January 2018 update: I’ve written another post, covering Facebook pages and groups, and Pinterest, in which I touch upon the latest changes, announced by Facebook.

Believe in yourself and your dreams.

Find me on social media.

How I Schedule Social Media Posts For Free – Part 2 — November 19, 2017

How I Schedule Social Media Posts For Free – Part 2

automation-2

I shared a post recently about how I schedule my social media posts.

If you haven’t read that, I would suggest that you do so, before reading this.

As I mentioned before, I primarily use Twittimer for scheduling Tweets – and also regularly use Buffer for posts that I decide to send simultaneously to Twitter, Google Plus, and my Facebook author page.

I’m trying to schedule more posts to my Facebook pages via their native scheduling system – but am not currently consistent, in how often I actually go on to Facebook. I try to keep up with regularly posting on my various Facebook pages, and I also want to ensure that my author page on there offers more than simply duplicating a percentage of my Twitter posts. That’s the aim, anyway.

I mentioned that I had signed up for Social Oomph, and used it a few times, but wasn’t yet particularly familiar with it.

Since then, I have discovered a little more, by trial and error. I wasn’t using it much, because I couldn’t see much advantage, over Twittimer and Buffer – especially given that it doesn’t allow posts to be saved and reposted, even for a limited time, unless you upgrade to the paid service.

However, I did experiment with using Social Oomph, exclusively for my poetry graphic posts, partly because I could do with all the scheduling help I can get, should I decide to have a week or more away from social media, over Christmas and New Year – but that’s a whole story, in itself.

Anyway, I expected it to stop me from scheduling, once I reached the standard ten posts, but it didn’t – and I don’t know what the limit is, because I have apparently not reached it, as yet. I have scheduled poetry and writing advice graphics for the rest of the year, and so far, it is working out well. It isn’t as efficient to physically use as Twittimer and Buffer because, with the Social Oomph free package, you do have to add save the text part of the post initially, and then go back into it, via the edit function, to add any images.

Because I’m now using multiple schedulers on a regular basis, I’m attempting to be more organised – always a challenge for me – and am developing systems, so that I avoid posting more than one update at identical times.

I am also, increasingly, sticking with a “this scheduler for this type of post” system. Hopefully, I can manage not to become completely confused and overwhelmed…!

Sending love to all of my friends and social media followers. You’re awesome. And for my long-suffering Twitter followers – a heartfelt thank you, and I am aware of my tendencies, such as over-Retweeting in batches, and maybe still over-posting in general, on occasions. It’s a journey, like everything else in life, and we’re all learning constantly. Thank you to everyone who has supported me, and inspired me to keep going.

Believe in yourself and your dreams.

Find me on social media.

Find Me on Social Media — November 5, 2017
Slow Progress is Still Progress — November 3, 2017

Slow Progress is Still Progress

progress-slow

My last post was about how I schedule my social media posts.

The other side of this is content creation. I mean, we need something to schedule, right? And we can only recycle old posts so many times, before it becomes too much.

Most of us know that we need to post consistently – that we need to provide valuable content to our audience.

I think that, at some point, we all struggle to keep up with this. Maybe some people don’t, but I’m not one of them.

Personally, as someone who struggles with multiple, chronic health issues – both in terms of physical and mental health – I find it hard.

It’s rewarding. It keeps me going. It inspires me to carry on, some days. Yet, still – it isn’t easy. Not that anything worthwhile ever is, or should be.

The part that drives me crazy is that I have this habit of talking myself out of my own ideas, whether it relates to my novel – “work in very slow progress” – or an idea for a blog post.

It’s frustrating, to say the least.

Anyway, I’m working on it.

I do want to be more consistent with blogging, and with working on my “work in slow progress”.  I wrote a post about procrastination, which does seem to tie in with what I’m saying here.

Keep believing. More soon – hopefully…?

Find me on social media.

keep-believing

 

 

How I Schedule Social Media Posts For Free – Part 1 — November 1, 2017

How I Schedule Social Media Posts For Free – Part 1

automation-1

I’ve started to schedule social media posts this year, and it’s awesome.

I’m on a very limited budget, and have only ever used free services, which currently works out fine for me.

As a slightly related side note, I have to say that disconnecting Twitter from my Facebook profile page was the best thing I ever did.

Shortly after, Tumblr randomly “decided” to disconnect from Twitter, also – and, again, this has turned out to be a blessing. Each platform is different, with its own audience and atmosphere, and I really never tuned in to Twitter or Tumblr before. I used them both principally as ways to indirectly post to Facebook. My approach to social media has completely changed, and I now regard Twitter as my main social media site. That said, I am more active on my Facebook poetry page, Vibrant Darkness, than I have been in previous years, and I have also launched my author page, focusing more upon the fiction side of my writing, and a page dedicated to retro music, from the 1980s and 1990s. I also have a blog and Twitter page, covering the retro music side of my interests.

The main scheduler that I use, on a daily basis, is Twittimer.

I use it for updating my primary Twitter account, and I can’t speak highly enough of it. It’s straightforward to use, and meets all of my requirements. You can schedule up to ten Tweets at a time: text, images and links. I’ve only ever had a handful of “failed Tweets” with this app, and have always, in these cases, been able to do “send now”, after which my Tweet has been posted.

I also use Buffer, and this is set up to post on Twitter (main account), my Facebook author page, and Google Plus.

Again, they allow up to ten posts to be scheduled for free, and text, images and links are all fine. I’ve had slightly more failed posts than on Twittimer, but still an extremely low number, as a percentage of the number of posts sent. In general, the failed posts do eventually send, although there have been a handful that were lost entirely, and a few posts that didn’t make it to one or more of the connected networks. On the whole, however, Buffer works beautifully – and their customer service is excellent.

I’ve recently joined Social Oomph, and so far, that is working fine, but I can’t see it taking over from Twittimer or Buffer.

If you do want to use this as a free scheduler, I’ve got a quick tip. It gives the impression that you won’t be able to upload images, unless you upgrade to the paid version. This isn’t the case. You have to initially save your post as text only, but later, there is an option to add an image. I’ve only linked Social Oomph to Twitter.

I use the native Facebook scheduler for Vibrant Darkness, my author page and 80s/90s Music.

It’s easy to use, and there is the option of scheduling posts further in advance.

After not touching Tumblr for approximately ten months, I recently went back on there, and discovered their queueing system, which I absolutely love.

Currently, my Tumblr posts ten times daily, during the time frame I specified, and it’s working out well.

A couple of days ago, I tried out Tweet Deck, for posting to my 80s/90s Music Twitter page.

I found it slightly awkward to use, but it did work, and I will hopefully use it again soon.

So, there you have it: a few highlights from Paula’s Adventures in Social Media Scheduler Land.

The adventure will continue and, if my systems change over time, I might write another post on this topic, at some point.

Quick update: There is now a Part 2 for this post.  You can also find me on social media.

Believe in yourself and your dreams.

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