Saturday, October 12, 2013

Write. Good. Shit

So I've been wandering around lately looking for posts on how to work the social media and I see articles (formatted into lists) on how to effectively blog, and I keep running into the "write good shit" mantra. That is, write great content. Because, these people say, if you write good shit you can break almost every other rule about blogging.

Rules. About blogging. Yeah.

I guess I don't follow rules. This is why I have a very small readership.

Setting aside my feelings about "blog rules," I can't help but wonder exactly what is good shit? There seems to be a kind of consensus that writers need to write "good shit" but I have yet to find anything that explains what that could be.
How about this?

It was cold but the chill in the air appeared to be standing in the room, a small entity in itself. She raised her hand, feeling for a breeze or the indication of a crack or some breach in building structure but there was none. Just the cool, slightly damp of a large basement with a single column of cold right in front of her.

The lights flickered, not that it was very bright in the first place. They'd installed old lights overhead that gave off a tired glint. The kind of artificial light that drains your energy if you stand under it too long.

She sighed. The smell of moldy, damp earth filled her nose. She shouldn't be surprised about that. She might be in a basement but she was deep enough under the building to be standing on dirt.

A sound. Scratching. How cliche, she thought. She looked down at her feet. Always the same, never different. She thought about how people are so wrapped up in themselves, how easy it would be for someone (or something) else move around you without your knowing. Someone could be standing right next to you or right behind you if you're wrapped too much in your own head space.

Head space...  She tried not to think about that. She tried not to think about how she hadn't looked around herself in the last five minutes or so, and that if she did now, there might be someone or something standing right outside her field of vision.

Something brushed the back of her hair. She glanced to her right, perfectly still. Sometimes these things don't jump out at you like a guy with an ax in a horror movie, she thought. Sometimes they don't jump at all. Sometimes they're just standing there, waiting.

She took a breath and then slowly turned around.

Sorry about that. Definitely NOT good shit but having written this little pathetic missive makes me wonder some things. Could good shit be about telling a story even if you're trying to sell something? Is good shit a story and is it possible that stories, told well, are one of the best ways to move people?

Okay, how about this?

Ice plant flower. An invasive species scattered along our California coastline. Taken at Gazos Creek State Beach along Highway 1. Who might consider this good shit? My mom? She loves my flower pictures. A botanist? A beachcomber?


Or what about this? The fabled formatted-into-list post which appears to be everyone's, and I mean EVERYONE'S favorite type of post. Apparently, blog stats show consistently that if you want to increase the chances of having your post shared, you write a listed post. As in:


These tips are in no particular order, I've just numbered them so Google will pick up that this is a list when it crawls through my little corner of the web.
  1. Pay attention to the light (and by extension, color). Whether you're outside or indoors, pay attention to where the light is coming in and the angle. For outside pictures, it's widely said the best light of the day is at sunset but even if it's high noon, you can still get a decent shot if you pay attention.
  2. Move around. Or better yet have your subject move around. If you're taking pictures of people, don't just settle for everyone standing in front of something and smiling. Watch what people are doing, and see if you can get some group shots where they're interacting with each other or with some landmark. And try running, jumping, walking, dancing, any kind of movement pictures, especially if the light is good and you're in a nice location. And definitely do this is you're photographing kids.
  3. Vary the perspective. As in, zoom in, pull out, get low to the ground, or high above your subject.
  4. Explore your surroundings. Keep looking for a better background, a better angle. Sometimes it's all about standing, watching and waiting for the light to shift a little. An obvious situation would be during a sunset but this tip applies to all photography.
  5. Experiment. Keep shooting and trying different techniques, equipment, places, ideas.
Good shit? Naw, just the usual list of tips, right? Plus, it's too damn wordy.

Round two of the fabled bulleted list post:

(even though this is posted on Blogger)

  1. Consider how you're using the site. Are you showcasing your photography? Selling something? Blogging? There are a zillion themes that tailor to whatever your objectives are so take a look around.
  2. Ease of use. Do you know nothing about website building and need something you can just upload and start blogging on? Do you know CSS? Do you have a web designer and/or webmaster who will be maintaining the site?
  3. What's your learning curve? Are you planning on getting in there and learning how it all works so you can do it yourself? Will you hire someone to help you? Or do you just want to throw money at someone or a team to do it all for you?
  4. What's your budget? The possibilities are endless. You could go with the free Wordpress theme 2013 and do just fine for the most part or you could pay a yearly license for a Premium theme that allows you drag and drop functionality and flexibility.
Still not making it. Sigh.
One of my friends occasionally writes these great little posts with useful links. If I post a bunch of links about writing good shit, does that make the post good?

Write Epic Shit by Corbett Barr. Barr states you need to write posts that make people think, that are useful, and inspiring. Okay, that makes sense. He also says epic doesn't mean long. Uh oh, I think I've already screwed up there with this post.

The Number One Secret to Growing Your Audience: Write Good Shit by Ricardo Bueno. I'm not sure if this a good article on writing good shit but it's a nice list of tips for writing in general.

How to Write Great Shit and Own It by Kristy Gardner. I have to say I kind of like this post, particularly her number one suggestion.

The Most Important Lesson I Ever Learned by Steve Pressfield. Um yeah. This is a GREAT cold water splash of a post. Definitely worth reading.

Aright. I'm tired and I don't think I've gotten any closer to figuring out this epic shit thing. The cure for that is to keep writing. At least I think so.

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