What I’m learning about technical writing

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August 17, 2015

TechCommLogoMy summer blogging break (as I’d like it to be known from now on) is still going on, but I wanted to let you know that I have an article up on the technical communication blog of ClickHelp: Learning technical writing: adaptation and evolution. Because even if not all writing is “creative,” any writing is a lot of fun. I know, I’m just as surprised as you are.

Trying to blog better: categories and tags

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April 2, 2015

daffodilsYou all know about my regular struggles with blogging and being on the Web. I’ve made so many mistakes that although I’ve had this online space since 2008, I haven’t gotten anywhere with it and my audience has in time diminished rather than grown. I think that speaks a lot of my slight OCD (I keep making changes that triggers other changes, that in turn . . .), my lack of social skills (even online), my resistance to self-promotion (visceral), the ambiguity I feel about sharing personal information online, but also my slow learning . .  . Right, there are too many and this is turning too negative. Let’s move away from that.

My latest efforts have been to organize my tags and categories, and mainly to understand what they are. The best analogy I found, one that makes these concepts more comprehensible, is that categories are the table of contents of your blog, they organize the information into smaller bits that have a common core, and the tags are your index, a collection of topics that your blog discusses.

An important thing to know is that changing your categories will mess up the organization of your blog, so you should take your time from the beginning to settle on a number of categories that will represent your site well. You can change your tags as you like, however, without many repercussions. (I, of course, as I was writing this post itself, decided to change some of my categories because I didn’t like the sound of them; and this is how my great journey toward the beginning continues!)

daffodils5From that it was clear to me that I should not aim at too many categories–just a handful of topics that I approach most often. This helps with my writer’s block too: when I don’t know what to write, I take a look at all my the categories and suddenly I feel like there is a multitude of subjects that I could focus on.

With the tags the situation didn’t become much clearer. I got it that I can have more tags than categories, because indexes are much larger. I also understood that the tags should refer to ideas and key words contained in each category. While in deciding categories I only considered my material and what sort of structure would serve it better, when deciding on the tags I considered the user’s needs: what words, concepts would someone interested in my categories be looking for in particular.

An important part of all this is to know how categories and tags are used by readers and search engines. Readers use them to find the information they are interested in, and search engines can discover the content of your website based on the categories and tags that you are promoting.

I’m sorry if this post is boring for you. All these details of blogging mechanics are irresistibly interesting to me, I can’t help it. This renewed interest is fueled by the fact that I am now taking a course on information design, which I love. I am learning, for example, that center alignment is a darling of beginner designers and it is rarely the best choice. I am also talking an online documentation course at the same time, so it’s going to be a busy two months or so. But hopefully spring won’t tease us anymore and soon we’ll be able to go out to the parks and hang in the front yard in the sun, so that we replenish our endorphins and regain energy and optimism that have slowly all but disappeared during this long and unbearable winter.

Blogging is hard work

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November 22, 2013

 

IMG_6013You know how I whine all the time that nobody reads my blog? I try to sound like I’m joking, but the truth is that it’s not that great as it might seem at first sight. It doesn’t really motivate me to keep doing this, does it? I mean, there are more rewarding ways to fill my fifteen minutes of baby-free time that I get every two-three hours each day. Like reading, for example, or drawing, or even sewing little things (bibs, lots of bibs!) (yes, and tiny sweaters cut out from old sweaters. Lots of those too!).

I do enjoy writing blog posts and I used to put a lot of time and effort into them, but honestly I don’t know if it’s worth it for me. Sure, I am trying to get my writing career off the ground again, and blogs are supposed to help with that. It’s not like I’m going to stop blogging now, but I have to confess to a disabling lack of motivation. It takes a lot of work to achieve even a small degree of success in the blogging world. And it’s not only work, but it helps if you are a certain type of personality, you know what I mean, very open, unafraid, effusive, engaging … I don’t know … I think I am maybe just a little too … boring? Let’s just say that. I am trying to pretend to be more interesting, hoping that maybe it sticks, but it’s not working very well, is it?

I do want to keep writing the blog for the person who reads my book (hopefully soon to be plural. The books, not the persons–I am fairly sure more than one poor soul attempted to read the thing and even finished it) and is intrigued to know more about the writer behind the work. I know I often go that route when I read something I like. I research the author to death and gaze at millions of photographs on google images. I imagine there are others like me out there. And I hope that one day there will be one or two curious about this writer. So I guess it is for that distant dream that I will keep doing this blogging thing. Because dreaming has always come easy to me.

Back to blogging

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September 19, 2013

back-to-bloggingI have big plans to revive this website and start spending more of my time to update it. I know it is what I should do. I mean, it’s about the only thing that I could relatively easily do to keep my name (my books) alive out here on the Internets. For a self-published writer, I am really pathetic at marketing my books. Maybe that’s why I’m such a failure. But, look, I have decided to try harder with the website, at least.

Although, you know, I do have a long and sad history of not keeping my promises here on the blog (never ever did I post those “more vacation photos” from India or showed you more of my seasonal uniforms, as I had vowed to my faithful(?) readers(?). So, I don’t know if your should get your hopes up. Not that anyone would actually hope for anything regarding my website — I’m not delusional, don’t worry.

I do have conflicted feelings about blogging, that’s for sure. First, after long absences it’s hard to find my voice again, and that makes me write the dullest and shortest posts in the history of the world wide web, when I do try to write something. Then, I know that blogging success is a lot about networking, and my talents in that direction are nonexistent. Then, blogging often involves a lot of work and I ask myself often how much of it is worth all that.Then there is the eternal question of how much is too much to reveal on the Internet. I don’t know how to find that acceptable, safe balance.

Anyway, let’s hope it works for me this time, right? Blogging is also fun and inspiring and a good way to interact with people who are alike (although, often way more creative, wiser, and more interesting than I could ever be). So, small steps. One post every week. See how it goes. Wish me luck.

A writerly use for Pinterest

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October 31, 2012

Pinterest-boards-2I don’t remember whom I should give credit for making me aware of how authors can use Pinterest for inspiration or to promote their books. There are many articles online to this effect. I have been a member of Pinterest for a while, because I have some interest in personal style and natural-fiber clothing, and I could create beautiful boards around these interests. But now I have a new board up: Spell of Blindness. If you check it out, it will take you inside the world of Ana Dor, the main character of my book, on the streets and parks of Bucharest, and into the Romanian village landscape. It is a visual journey inside the book, which I hope will be enjoyable for readers.

As I am working on my second book, I am planning to start a board for that. And this new board will be more for my benefit than the readers’ because it will serve as inspiration for my writing, I hope, helping me get into the mood of the novel and into the atmosphere surrounding my characters. Maybe I’ll even attempt a cover.

See you on Pinterest!