Archive of Articles about Writing

Nostalgia Punches Me in the Face

John Stewart is Stepping Down

I just finished watching John Stewart announce that he is leaving The Daily Show. It was hard to watch him make the announcement. I am not a daily The Daily Show viewer anymore, but there was a time when I wouldn’t miss it. In a sense though, I had moved on, just as he plans to do now. His show became a challenge to watch, from both a perspective of time and of emotional fortitude. Stewart, and the show, are always funny and insightful. The problem is that no matter how on the nose his commentary has been, it really changed nothing. The world is not a worse place that it was in 1999. It is actually better. Unfortunately, politics itself is a carnival of angry voices and poor decisions designed to make us think the world is worse. That isn’t going to change. Stewart couldn’t make a dent in it. It doesn’t make me any less fond of his attempts though. Sometimes is the the attempt that matters more than the result.

1999

John Hewitt is not Stepping Down

Right about the time Stewart started hosting The Daily Show, I started poewar.com. I had been writing (about writing) on the Internet since 1993, but in 1999 I formally committed to buying a domain and making the effort to run a successful web site. Amazingly, I succeeded. At the peak of its popularity (2005 to 2009), this site averaged over 150,000 page views a month. There were less than a half-dozen writing sites that were bigger. I was close to becoming a full-time blogger. At that point though, I made a series of decisions about life and the site that started a slow decline in traffic that was helped along by forces such as Facebook, Twitter, and hackers. There’s a lot I don’t miss about those days, but I do miss the excitement of having a successful site.

I could easily make a top ten list of things you should never do if you’re a blogger, and they would all be based on things I have actually done. I have made a lot of well-intentioned mistakes, and a few downright boneheaded moves. Nonetheless, poewar.com persists. What was 150,000 page views a month now totters between 40,000 and 50,000, which is actually up from a year ago, when I hit a low of 18,000. I have slowly but surely been rebuilding. Recently I said I was going to stop doing a lot of things on this site (put that on the list of things not to do), but with a month to reconsider I am feeling like poewar.com might have at least one good run left in her.

Bringing Things Back

I don’t know if it is possible to climb back to the top tier of sites, but I am going to try a few things. Toward that end, the jobs section is back (after a long absence) and the freelance section is back (after a much longer absence).

Beyond that, we’ll see what happens. I still plan to put in a new section for my fiction, but that is going slower than I would have hoped. As for new articles, we’ll see what I’ve got so say (and about what). One thing I can guarantee though is a lot of parenthetical statements (because that is just what I do).

What I’m Reading

Kevin Kaiser over at The Write Practice has an article about The Secret to Having the Most Productive Writing Year Ever. I could use a most productive year ever, and I like the advice about specificity and measurement.

Jamie Gold, paranormal author tells How to Place Turning Points on a Beat Sheet. Pay close attention to the four major beats and the four minor beats.

Tom Johnson at I’d Rather Be Writing asks Why do we need PDFs? I’ve been trying to move my company off of PDFs for a couple of years. In my opinion, they were once a great tool, but they lead to book-style thinking. In most technical communication cases, books are of limited use and PDFs do not age well.

Anne Wayman over at About Freelance Writing provides 10 Ways Writers Can Beat Self Promotion Fear And Market Themselves. Self-marketing is always a challenge. The balance between getting your name out there and annoying the hell out of people is a delicate one. Often, you think you are being worse than you really are. Sometimes though, you really do annoy the hell out of people.

Changing Paths at PoeWar

I wasn't quite this young when I started, but it sure feels like I was. I am definitely that old now and getting older by the second.

I wasn’t really this young when I started, but it sure feels like I was. I am definitely that old now and getting older by the second.

I wanted to let people know what direction the site is taking this year so that they can make up their own minds about whether to continue following.

I started this a long time ago. I first started posting articles about writing in 1993 at the wizened age of 25. That was over 20 years ago now. While it isn’t quite half my life ago, it is long enough that it feels like it. Over the years, my goals for this site have varied, my activity has varied, and the success has varied. At one time, this site had a heavy focus on jobs, and it was quite successful when I did that (multiples more visitors than there are today), but it was no real fun for me.

It has also been, and remains, a how-to site. There are plenty of how-to articles here, and there always will be, but I have run out of things to say about how to write. For the most part, all I know enough to talk intelligently about, when it comes to writing and poetry, is already here. I could find new ways to say the same things. Some blogs have been doing that for years, but that is not fun for me, and so… no. I don’t have time to work on projects that I don’t enjoy. I have a wife and two kids now and a demanding (but satisfying) job. I’m also trying to lose weight (again). I have a pretty full plate (of vegetables).

I have considered spending time writing about what I am doing as a technical writer. It would be a great way to further my career. But every time I start to write about it, I get distracted by other things. That is a pretty good sign that I don’t really want to spend my time writing about that, so no to that as well.

When I think about what I want to work on this year, what comes to me is that all I really want to do is is indulge in some creative writing. So, for better or worse, that is what I am going to try to do. This brings up a few concerns though.  The primary concern is audience. This site, in its current form, is all but “G” rated and aimed at information. Now, I will be adding creative works that are not “G” rated.  This can present certain problems. I will most likely lose some readers and get some angry comments. I strongly considered just starting a new site, but PoeWar is my site and it does have a following. I know that if I post here, I will get readers. Trying to build up a new site would mean starting with almost no audience, and I want readers, so I will have to accept a few issues in order to get the benefits. The alternative though, was to just stop writing here, so even if the content isn’t what you wanted, understand that the other choice was nothing.

What I plan to do here, is write a continuing story, a serial that crosses a few different genres. I might also, if my writing partner Leigh agrees, publish a novel we worked on a few years back. It isn’t quite serialized, but it’s a fun/weird story and could probably survive being broken up into chunks. It would be nice for it to see the light of day. I also have a few other pieces that may make their way in, dated as they are. I’ll also throw in some poetry prompts along the way, if interest seems high enough. I hope to post some other more personal things as well, and just have some fun.

So, if you want to come along for the ride, great! If not, thanks for the time you spent with me.