New year is a good time to answer queries and set people on the right track. So here I go: The first email is from Akshay, who wants to be a writer. Which is an admirable goal Akshay, but I must warn you, not a terribly lucrative one, unless you’ve been in the business for ages. Still, blogging is a good way to begin to discipline yourself. On to the email:
Q I am Akshay, I’m 16 years old and hope to become a writer. I’ve taken my first steps by setting up a blog at http://reflectionsofpassions.blogspot.com though there are only three posts there as of now. I have many topics in mind to write about, mainly book, movie and music reviews, personal opinions and my contact details. But I don’t know how to arrange the blog without it looking too cluttered.
Since the email, the blog seems to have been updated fairly regularly, so I’m going to focus mainly on layout as the content is well written and sticks to a point. Making your blog look organised takes a bit of time, but is definitely worth it in the end.
The first thing you need to do is make a broad list of labels. For instance, instead of giving everything a new label, make a section for books, movies, nostalgia, whatever, things you write about often. The Blogger Compose page has a box for labels in the end where you can tag posts when you’re done writing them.
Then, go to the Layout page and play around a little bit with your template. I prefer the three column layout myself, with the left bar dealing with blog navigation and the right bar for external links, but you can do whatever feels best for you. Put a section for links, labels and other things — but only if you feel they’re necessary for people to know if they read your blog. No one likes a cluttered template.
Finally, a word of advice: take your phone number off your ‘about me’ section! The Internet is a strange place, full of weirdos and you don’t want that kind of information so easily accessible.
My next email posed quite an interesting quandary. What happens if you’re really interested in a subject but don’t have that much access to it? Let’s read what Zeba has to say:
QI’m an aspiring travel journalist and therefore I started writing a travel blog only a month back. However the problem is that I don’t travel often. I recently visited my hometown, Orai in Uttar Pradesh, so I’ve written about that. And then I went to Ajmer and Delhi. But after that, I don’t know what to write and how to keep updating my blog.
Travel, as I have learnt, is an expensive hobby to have. Unless you’re lucky enough to have a job that pays you to vagabond, it’s hard going getting on the road each time you have itchy feet. But as someone who suffers from an incurable case of wanderlust, I know how to keep myself amused even when I just have to stay in one place.
So Zeba, while it’s nice to get out there and see the sights and take pictures, sometimes you have to begin at home. Start writing posts about the city. After all, every place is out of town for someone else. Talk about your locality, a special food joint that you order in from all the time, the best place to play football in your neighbourhood. Talk about where you’ve seen the most spectacular sunsets, and how you got there. Talk about going round and round in circles in a rickshaw, how you got hopelessly lost in the streets of Mumbai and the things you saw along the way. Talk about things you know — and trust me, the next time you travel, it’ll be easier for you to write about things you don’t know. Hang in there, and keep blogging.