These days, I can typically track how busy I’ve been by how many days go by between each of my blog posts. Since I started doing this, I’ve missed days at least twice (if not more).
This is the longest it’s been between postings. But it wasn’t totally because I was busy.
The truth is, I’ve been dejected. In September, I wrote two pieces for submission — one fiction, one creative non-fiction. Neither one made the cut.
Since the start of the year, I’ve been questioning my ability as a writer. And suddenly, hit with these two rejections, one of which I didn’t even really care about getting into, my entire professional identity came into question.
Who was I, if not a writer? And could I even call myself a writer if I wasn’t getting published enough?
Even as I hit milestones in the other work I do, I wonder why this hasn’t been happening for my writing.
What if this was as far as I could go? The thought frightened me.
So I worked on other things. I read books, played games. The blank screen suddenly seemed like the scariest thing in the world.
But then I remembered something I’d read years ago: the answer to the question “when can I call myself a writer”.
One of my hobbies is testing out website builders and content management systems (CMS). I recently got around to building a proper website on Squarespace and this time around, it seemed a lot easier to use.
Previously, I couldn’t get over the fact that the only way to access the CMS was through the page builder and that put me off working on the pages.
But after today, I realise that the website building experience is actually a lot simpler compared to WordPress (which is usually my first choice).
It also has email marketing built into the website, which can be convenient. There’s no need to sign up for separate marketing software.
On the other hand, I don’t love the fact that, compared to WordPress, there’s limited flexibility in terms of design. It’s also slightly more expensive and there’s no free tier.
The email marketing plans are also on the pricy side, compared to tools like Mailchimp, Mailerlite (current favourite for marketing) or Substack (current favourite for content).
In terms of analytics, Squarespace again provides a lot of convenience with their built-in analytics, which is comprehensive enough. Using it means one doesn’t have to set up Google Analytics (Google Search Console still required though).
After trying it out this time, I’d say I would probably use Squarespace to build a portfolio website or a content website with a fixed focus but likely not as a personal blog.
I have been caught up in the world of The Wheel of Time. The complete series in ebook format has been sitting on my e-reader since earlier this year and I’ve been putting off the re-read.
Now that principal photography for the TV series has begun, I thought it was time to begin.
I first started reading The Wheel of Time at 14, when nine of the books had already come out. I kept up with the series up till the 11th book, then somehow after the four-year gap until the next book, I never continued.
It was the first sword and sorcery fantasy series that I’d picked up, and it spawned a love for the genre. It broadened my reading horizons — which at the time, was mostly chick lit and sci-fi. In a way, WoT led me to The Lord of the Rings.
In discovering WoT, I found myself discovering more and more fantasy stories and as always when it comes to reading, one thing leads to another. I eventually found Terry Pratchett, who led me to Neil Gaiman, who led me to even more writers.
In the past couple of years, I haven’t read much fantasy. And now that I’m immersed in the world of high fantasy again, I realise that I’ve missed it.
Having been fascinated by ecommerce for some years now, I tend to follow brands and stores that excite me.
One of these is Whisky River Soap Co, an amazing example of how ordinary products can be made special through great copywriting.
Their products include soaps, candles and stationery. When said this way, it sounds utterly ordinary.
Take their “First World Phobias” collection for example. It’s a range of soy candles with different scents and features names like Burn Away Guacophobia (the fear of missing the two-minute window of a ripe avocado).
Now, I’m not saying that all brands have to write in the same irreverent way.
One of the keys to great copywriting, I think, is knowing one’s audience ie. who are you selling to?
And it’s also about knowing yourself ie. who are you and why do you exist?
The struggle to appeal to the masses results in a watering down of one’s brand identity.
Like the story of the father and son with the donkey, if you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one, including yourself.
Having a good product should be a given, not a USP. The question is, how can you go further?