Tweet, toot or something else?

My good old friend Chuck introduced me to Twitter in 2008.

It seemed like something a writer should get familiar with, and it still does. Unlike some, I’m not planning to stop being either* @bjsmith or @BJSmithWords there any time soon.

Hanging around that long has been good in a number of ways. Ditto for my various forays into websites, blogging and publishing. Curiosity about how these things work has paid off for me in my day job, for example, and helped me sell some crime novels and make some great connections.

Curiosity also led me to poking around in other social media. I was hooked on Facebook for a while and I have a little fun on Instagram now and then. In 2018, I gave Mastodon a try. I’d almost entirely forgotten about it until this week, when everybody (not literally, of course) starting talking about it on Twitter.

I’ve now “tooted” on Mastodon a few times to see what might happen, and I’ve put the same content on yet another alternative someone suggested: Counter Social. I might stick with one of them. We’ll see.

For now, I hope to see you around somewhere, my friends. Just let me know where to look.

Write on,
B.J.


* Why two handles? I’ll save that for another time. Maybe I’ll write about why I quit Facebook a few years ago, too.

Life is too short for FAQs

If I’ve ever found the answer to one of my questions by sifting through an FAQ, such an event was so rare that I no longer look at FAQs. There may be a few useful ones here and there, but I don’t waste my time hunting for them. Life is too short.

As a person who writes and edits for a living, I confess that I’ve been involved in creating an FAQ page or two for a website. I hope they’ve long since been deleted, and I would not be surprised if they were never updated. FAQs are prone to being neglected.

Your first question

A few tips:

  • When someone wants you to create an FAQ, ask your first and most important question: Why?
  • Whatever the response is, ask your second and third questions: What are those frequently asked questions? What are the answers?
  • If you get a list of questions and answers, make sure the information – not the Q&A – is easy to find, in context, where the web visitor can find it without having to go to an FAQ.
  • If you don’t get a list of questions and answers, be glad you don’t have to create an FAQ.

Life is too short. Don’t waste anyone’s time on something that is almost always a bad idea

B.J.

Alter egos are us

We (my alter ego and I) thought we would give this share a Twitter link thing a try here on the blog and let y’all know we’re there.

We might even let WordPress automatically tweet this blog post about Twitter to both of our Twitter feeds at the same time and see what happens. Yeah, let’s go with that.

Write on.

B.J.

Writing, blocks and deadlines

I caught part of an interesting discussion on The Content Wrangler the other day about technical writer’s block. As something of a writer’s block skeptic, I was reminded (again) about the importance of defining terms.

A highlight for me in Overcoming Technical Writer’s Block was host Scott Abel’s perspective on having to meet deadlines when he worked as a journalist. As another guy whose writing career started at a daily newspaper, I could relate. Writer’s block? A reporter who can’t meet deadlines probably isn’t a reporter for very long. I think the same applies to other writers who need to finish assignments on time.

Another type of block. Image by Foundry Co from Pixabay

I’ve read various takes on writer’s block and accept it is a real thing in people’s lives, but it can mean quite different things in different circumstances. Much depends on how you define the words you use. Take what you mean by writing and deadline, for example. Here’s what those terms mean here at The Smith Compound:

Writing – A process for creating prose, poetry or another collection of words for any purpose. It is not an act. The writing process begins with an idea. In the news business, it often begins with an assignment to be finished by a deadline. Gathering information is part of the writing process. Figuring out how to tell a story is part of the process, too, whether the writer is hiking in the forest or fishing or riding a bicycle. Sitting in front of a computer screen or other device to put words in a certain order is part of the process. Doing any of those things while struggling to come up with an idea of what to write may indicate the existence of writer’s block.

Deadline – An unmovable target for completion of a project, writing or otherwise. If the target date can be changed, it might be a goal – or a suggestion, or maybe wishful thinking – but it isn’t a deadline. There are consequences for missing deadlines.

Write on, my friends.

B.J.

Strive to be antique

Image by Darkmoon_Art from Pixabay

Strive to be antique.
Your value is already
considerable.

B.J.