The Good, the Bad, and the Unclear

What went well these past twelve months, and what could have gone better? I’m supposed to ask myself this every quarter—it’s in the plan!—but that part of the plan, two years running now, has fizzled. Still, it’s not too late:

1.  TIME

On a good day, I can look up and be amazed that five hours have slipped by. But  I may not have produced much, as it can take me multiple iterations to figure something out. I hate this about my writing. And yes, I do know people who get it right the very first time. (Okay, only two people. And yes, they are MacArthur prize winners.)


But hey, not for nothing, all those hours this work-a-day writer has put in, for at least I have established a voice for this blog. That’s one part of the plan that went well. If you say soulofaword, you mean me.


Every post, including this one, comes with photographs (part of the plan). And, as was true from the very beginning, trawling the photo sites and picking the pictures continues to be a pleasure.  It’s like accessorizing. The hard part—the writing—is done, and now we get to pick the shoes.


My sense is that these posts are growing in complexity, both in content and in language. This was not in the plan. Is this a good thing? A bad thing?  I’m not sure yet, but I will say that complexity doesn’t add to the ease or speed of the undertaking. And it takes up time that should be spent on other things, like the business of blogging.


The stories are one thing, and people have their favorites, but many of the most popular posts here deliver information in neat, tidy lists and/or have titles that begin “How to . . . ” What to make of this?  Are my readers pressed for time? Are they looking for instruction? Do they prefer to graze, not read?  And from a writer’s point of view, is it easier or more difficult to use this form?

These are some of the questions I’ll be answering as I make my year-end plan. For now, though, I’m off to gather the hard data, another something I’ve left for the very last moment, but oh well, it’s not too late.

Comments welcome and edited to include first names only, and website, if provided; never your email. Photo credit – Giacomo Lorenzo.

Just the Facts

As the cop says to the old lady, “Just the facts, ma’am.”

Number of months blogging: 8.

Number of posts: 65. Ones I particularly like:  21.  Website tune-ups: 3. Improvements in the works: 3.

Posts pulled from an inventory of ideas: 15.  Freshly conceived, more contemporaneously inspired posts: 50.  Rate of new pieces generated as compared to inventory:  3:10.

Number of free photo sources: 3. Countries represented in my stable of photographers: dozens. Number of photographers I called upon repeatedly: 2.

Number of permissions sought: 11. Most required for a single piece: 7. I didn’t run it, even though it sported two from the CIA, one of them a spy, a famous cartoonist, an accomplished painter, the king of Bhutan, a parrot, and a man who knew how to cure prosciutto in the attic. . . .

Dumb decisions to which I nonetheless adhere: 1 (The issue: SEO versus what one would really like to say.)

Publication: twice weekly. Number of Tuesday pieces that spiked: a lot, randomly. Number of Friday pieces that spiked: same. Biggest spikes:  unrelated to day of the week.

Most popular post:  How is Information Acquired.  (Note: Topic had sex appeal.) 22 others also particularly popular, including: What’s in a Name?, Three Writing Principles a Long Way Downstream, Trash and the Written Word, Flamingo A-go-go, Choosing to Write, Owning a Word, and The Clause for Immortality.

Number of planning hours per week:  2.  Number of writing hours:  never enough, and they fly by.

Number of pieces that just did not work:  7. Number of times I tend to go at a piece, over and over, until at last I come to my senses and trash it: 4.

Typical posting hour: 6:30 a. m. Latest posting hour: 3:30 p.mTwice.

Number of languages in which spam arrives: 5. Most popular, of late: Russian. Rate of real comment (best as I can tell) to spam: 1:15.

Most fun in the working day:  selecting the photography, which is refreshing after the labor of writing.

Number of changes as promised in my last blog, which addressed a refocusing initiative: 1. The change: This blog is now a weekly, with Friday posts.

See you next week.

Photo credit: