Categories–A Blogger’s Bridge

Bridge at Llyn Llech Owain

I keep publishing posts without categories. I don’t suppose it matters, really, but it’s so annoying when I realise and have to go and update. OK. It’s not that big a crisis, really. Still, if you’re as impetuous as I am, you’ll know the frustration of getting it wrong!

So why do we need categories, anyway? First, I think it’s a mark of respect for our readers. After all, who wants to trawl through dozens (hundreds?) of posts with the latest recipes until they find their article on car mechanics? Who wants to read all that poetry when there is more exciting information available about the local music scene?

So how do we go about remembering to file our articles in the correct categories? I guess it’s a matter of discipline; the discipline of proof-reading. The thing is, if I am already in the habit of proof-reading my article, surely I should include the title area, which should include the categories and tags. This takes practice, of course. After all, I would venture to suggest that the majority of bloggers are not professional journalists. Most of us have other things to do with our time. Blogging is our way of relaxing and sharing with the wider community. Therefore, spending time on proof-reading seems to be a pointless exercise.

Yet it makes sense to use categories. Think about it. How many of us keep the tea and spanners together? How many of us keep our paperwork in the freezer? Not deliberately, anyway. Surely, we want to make sure that we can find our articles, even if no one else reads them!

Categories bridge the gap between our keyboards and our memories. We work hard to bring our articles to publication. The least we can do is make it easy for people to find them.

So, from now on, I am going to try to get into the habit of assigning at least one category and one tag before I start typing. That way, I should at least have some idea where to look.

Blogging as a Beginner

New Beginning

In my last post, I commented that I wanted to change the way that I handled my blogging activity. I am trying different ways of building a website. I want to be able to keep it fresh with regular updates, but because of the intricacies of web design, these days, it’s a lot of work. I also fell that I need to work on my creativity to ensure a pleasing look. This is where WordPress helps with the pre-defined templates. So I want to create a blog-based website.

To a great extent, this started out as a practice exercise. However, I found my blogs being commented on and followed by a surprising number of people; and not just people trying to enhance the reputation of their own blog. Yes, I’ve had my fair share of offers, but there have been many more genuine readers. How do I know? Because of the obviously sincere comments that they have made. Some have commented in such a way that it is obvious that they have read some fairly lengthy posts. There have even been a few who have read through my entire collection! So, to those who have taken the time to like, follow, and especially read my blogs, thank you for your support and encouragement.

What have I learned about writing and blogging, this week?

First, you have to be regular. On those days that I have failed to publish a post, the number of views has dropped off, sometimes to nil, and I start to struggle to find something to say because of the discouragement. This has not always been for lack of ideas, though, which leads me to the next thing that I have learned.

You have to try to write something every day. You may not publish it, but putting some words together makes a big difference. Writing a few words, even those you do not post, can help to keep your mind active and clear, ready to create something of value. I have a number of draft posts in my file waiting for the inspiration to get them right. And that’s my third lesson.

Don’t post just for the sake of posting. Mediocre material will get noticed, but only for the purpose of being ignored. There’s nothing like checking your notifications for several hours only to find that not one person “liked” your post. It sends the wrong signals. You start to feel that you are useless, when, in actual fact, you made the mistake of posting second-rate material.

As part of getting it right, it’s essential to proofread your post before submission. I have read over some posts that could be really good if only they had checked the spelling. Grammar, too, is a consideration. However, remember that both spelling and grammar can be localised. Today,I considered using the colour (color, US) grey (gray, US) and realised that you cannot get it right for everyone all the time. But the basics are still there and should be observed.

I have also learned that I am more comfortable writing unplanned. This may go against the grain for many people. Yet many professional writers will tell you that the first draft should come from the heart before the head processes the corrections for the second draft. As I said, I prefer the heart first approach even though I often find myself halfway through a pathetic attempt at a post struggling to decide which direction my heart is taking me. Some things have to develop; others need to be planned.

Recent Activity

Obviously, there are some posts that need planning. Take my haiku, for example. Haiku rules a fairly restrictive. So if you don’t plan a haiku, or at least re-write it until it is satisfying, you will never get it into the correct format.

This week, I have posted two haiku, on in the Haiku group called

No Hiking Today

Pen y Fan 1 Med

. . . and another in the Photography group called

Boredom.

lion

It’s also important to keep your eyes open for useful photos. Although this shot of Rowan Berries is not brilliant, the contrasting colours are well worth a look and I decided to include a cropped version in my photography blog.

Rowan Berries

I do have one regret, this week. I failed to post anything to my blog, Sufficient for Each Day. But I worked so hard on my post, Lost, which I wrote for the Daily Post weekly challenge that I found it difficult to put together anything that would be good enough to publish. As I said, I have a number of draft simmering away in the background.

So what is my conclusion after this week’s blogging?

To be a successful blogger you have to:

  • Publish regularly
  • Write daily
  • Check it thoroughly
  • Make it worthwhile

If I have achieved all those, this week, then I am happy. If you think I have achieved them, then I am ecstatic.

Happy blogging.

Time for Change 2

So I decided that I would concentrate on just one blog and simplify my life. I decided to do this by making good use of the WordPress Categories function. However, I needed a way to show the posts on my main page without cluttering it up too much. So I spent a pleasant, productive evening looking at the customization options on WordPress.

I need not have worried. The various functions are just what I need. All I had to do was to learn how to use them. Thank you, WordPress for making blogging life so simple.

What have I achieved?

Basically, I was faced with re-blogging all my posts from the various sites. There aren’t that many, by comparison, but I was concerned that some readers would be put off. For example, who wants to look at my photos when they have come to look at my Haiku? Who wants to look at either of those if they have come here to read my essays?

Then I discovered Menus and Links. (Look on your Dashboard under Appearance, Menus.) With these tools, I can put a menu of my blogs anywhere on my page.

Also, I have added a page describing my blogs. This is a static page with further details that would clutter up the main menu.

Planning for the Future

My next exercise will be to look at the idea of creating a static first page. I believe that I will be able to link all my blogs to this. The only problem that I see with it is that it will be static. And I know how much people like to see movement on blog pages.

There is, of course, a function in WordPress where you can link the latest posts. But I don’t think it works on static pages.

So watch this space. I am going to be developing it, as time goes on.

Why Am I Telling You All This

Why would you be interested in how I am changing my blog presence? Most people are probably not bothered. Yet there may be some readers who, like me, are fairly new to customizing blogs. They may be on the verge of giving up, just because they cannot get the results they desire.

Well, if I can make these changes, and if I can bring them to the attention of someone who might benefit from the process, then so much the better. Yet, even if I only create a record for my own memory purposes, it’s time well spent. After all, I suspect that most of us have been in the position of telling ourselves, “I’m sure I looked up this information, before!”

 

Words of Gratitude

Finally, my thanks to Elizabeth for the encouraging comment on my plans. It gave me the inspiration to try.

Time for Change

I have been blogging, now, for nearly ten years. I haven’t been very regular with it; in fact, I have had long spells with no blog posts. But I have recently been looking at how to create an easily-maintained website. The idea of uploading data regularly is rather overwhelming in the midst of a busy life. So I decided to try my hand at blogging, again, and, I have to say, the concept has developed nicely, over the years, such that I can now see the value of the activity.

I tried the micro-blogging idea, where you are limited to, say, 140 characters, but I was not impressed. Even though I love the limitations of Haiku, I still want the flexibility to post a few words, or many, depending on how I feel.

With this in mind, I have tried to maintain several blogs for different purposes. For example, this was originally to be a sort of “general purpose” blog which would catch all my random musings that did not fit into a more specific page; my Haiku blog was for Haiku, obviously; and my photo blog was for photos. I also like the idea of keeping my photos and my poetry separate from the general, run-of-the-mill brain waves.

Yet, as I have developed these, over the past few weeks, I’m starting to wonder why. I can see all of my blogs overlapping. I like using photos to illustrate my Haiku, for example. Also, WordPress has the facility to split content according to the needs of the user. Categories and tags are very useful in this regard.

Therefore, I have decided to try a few weeks of writing only this blog, rather than maintaining several of them. I will still keep them open, and I may double-post, from time to time. If this irritates you, please accept my apologies. Leave me a message to say so and I will consider changing my ways.

Still, the seasons are changing; and we must change, too. We must be prepared to be flexible in our outlook and develop according to our needs and the needs of our community. The world is changing; and so are we. We need to embrace these changes and work with them. We need to use their energy to energise ourselves. And that’s what this change is all about.

I will keep the other blogs open, as I said. This will probably be useful if I decide to enter upon a long-term project. For example, I would like to develop enough of my Haiku and my photographs to provide the material for a book. Maybe I will use one blog to “store” my output whilst continuing to post the content here.

Who knows? The future is ours to write. That, after all, is the beauty of blogging.

Consequences

I’ve definitely lost my website. I think I’ve completely confused the DNS server. I’ll give it another day or so and phone the hosting company. It just goes to show that you should never try to fix what’s not broken! I was trying to add a redirection for this blog. Oh well. I’ll just have to sort it out in time.

But it does raise the question of what to do when things go wrong. It’s so easy to get frustrated. I mean, I could easily blame the hosting company; after all, it may still be their fault. But it only happened because I decided to “play” with the settings. That’s my problem. It means I have to accept the consequences of my actions.

That’s what’s missing with many people, today. They are happy to blame others for their problems without thinking about their own contribution to the problem. The result is a generation of people who think that the whole world belongs to them; who are so hung up on their “entitlement” that other people’s rights are ignored, pushed into the background, or even trampled on.

As parents, we have a responsibility to raise our children to accept the consequences of their actions rather than protecting them from the educational opportunities.

Protection versus Responsibility

Yes, we have a duty of care; and we must never leave our children in a position where they could be harmed by the consequences of their actions. Still, there’s a difference between being harmed and learning lessons. For example, if our son was caught speeding and we paid the fine, what would he learn? Yes, we might lend him the money to pay; but if we insist that he finds a way to pay it back, then he will learn the lesson rather than think he is entitled to speed.

There are lots of areas where this is so. From an early age we can, and should, teach children to apologise. We should teach them that they are not entitled to other people’s things, that taking without permission is wrong, that it’s not theirs, just because they happen to have it in their hands.

Responsibility is an attitude of mind and heart. We need to teach our children to be responsible and accept the consequences. But that will only happen if we demonstrate that attitude, ourselves.

Welcome to Harcourt 51

Image

I think I messed up the domain address for one of my websites, so I have temporarily redirected it here until the search engines sort themselves out.

Having said that, I would like to have a blog-based website, anyway. So my plan is to test this out, posting lots of bits and pieces to see if I can post something every day. This is going to be a very eclectic mix and I hope, eventually, that I will become an accomplished blogger/storyteller/adviser/whatever. Let’s see where this leads. Whatever happens, it’s going to be interesting. I don’t believe in being bored, or boring.