Friday, March 12, 2010

The Runaways Biopic - Could Be Good, Could Be a Complete (Cherry) Bomb

The trailer is now online:

In theaters March 19. I suppose I'll watch it; I'll try to keep an open mind, but these things so rarely turn out well...

Meanwhile, time to dig that legendary first Runaways album out of the archives for a few spins on the turntable. It's a great, great record - hopefully the movie will at least give it a renewed life and exposure to a new generation of kids. Here's the original clip for their first single, the still-stunning-after-all-these-years "Cherry Bomb":

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Blogging Advice for a Friend

My friend Janine has a blog, which she's not sure she wants anyone to read. Last night, she sent me an email asking for advice and seeking support.

Now, I'm no professional blogging coach. I am not to be counted among the innumerable Blogging Gurus, Social Media Mavens, Big Kahunas o' Online Interaction (yes, I actually saw one person refer to himself that way), or other supposed "experts" who have been popping up everywhere like crabgrass over the past few years, promising that by following their sage advice you, too, can become the author of the most widely read and highly monetized blog in the history of Ever!

Two points about these folks:

1. If someone has to tell you repeatedly that they are an "expert" in any field, they aren't, and...

2. Remember P.T. Barnum's famous and wise words: "There's a sucker born every minute."

With every coming technology and every coming fad, the hucksters are there ready to take your money to sell you their "Big Secret to Success" in whatever field it is, and all the secret ever turns out to be is either something anyone with an ounce of common sense and who has ever taken a basic composition course in high school already knows, or tickets to a seminar where they try to get more money out of you by selling you books filled with even more not-so-secret "secrets."

Now, before my inbox becomes inundated with the hue and cry of the converted, let me say that there ARE good folks out there with good ideas and valuable coaching to offer. The folks at Mashable, for example, are filled with good advice and ideas for anyone who wants their voice heard above the Internet throng. Chris Brogan offers great tips, as does Inkling Media. All of these work under the wider umbrella of Social Media Marketing, but their suggestions apply to promoting your own blog as well as promoting your own brand or business. As far as blog-specific advice, ProBlogger is a must-read.

Back to Janine. She's not looking to become the best blogger in the universe, or to become independently wealthy through her blog alone (not yet, anyway!). At this point, she's simply looking for a comfort zone:

"I'm working on my blog as we speak. I'm so confused by it. It's feminism, handy-person advice, product tips for a condo-owner, I don't show it to anyone.
Any advice? I'd love to promote it, but only if I can find my own focus.

I'm so hard on myself..."

Boy do I know that feeling! When I started out with this blog two Decembers ago, I was in the same place. I wanted to write; I wanted to be heard. But the worry over whether anyone would want to listen to what I have to say was, at times, paralyzing.

The great thing about the blogging community is that we all seem to be so willing to help each other out and give each other encouragement along the way, because we've all been there. I had friends who had been blogging far longer than I to offer me advice and coaching then. I am certainly willing to offer whatever words of encouragement I can now to the Janines of the blogging world.

Here, in part, is the response I sent her. It is advice I would offer, based on my personal experiences, to anyone out there who is starting out in this crazy blogosphere:

"The best advice I can give you is the same advice I got from a fellow blogger back when I started out: JUST WRITE. Don't worry about "finding a focus" or whether it's "good enough" or whatever - just throw it out there, warts and all. You'll find your voice. Actually, you've already found it, you just don't realize it yet.

My blog is all over the place. I write mostly about music, but also sometimes about baseball, sometimes about shit that happened to me that I want to rant about, sometimes about politics, sometimes about things happening here in Lancaster, sometimes about free coffee. I used to worry that being unfocused like that was a bad thing. For my 100th post, I put up a poll asking for feedback, and one of the questions I asked had to do with whether people would rather see the various topics I write about split into individual, "focused" blogs or whether they liked the mish-mash I was posting. You know what? Overwhelmingly, they said they liked the mixture.

I have a white board on the wall of my home office, and on the top of it I have one quote that has been there so long I don't think it can be erased anymore: "Write to one person." It was the best lesson I've learned: in your mind, create the person who is a representation of the audience you want to reach. Is this person male or female? Are they older, younger, or your age? Single, in a relationship, or have a family? Every detail - make this imaginary person as real and complete in your mind as you can. Then, write every post as if you are writing to that one person.

Stop worrying about pleasing an audience or pleasing yourself. Just write. Your audience will find you. Trust me, they do show up! I get frustrated because I don't always get the feedback I would like - I wish my readers would comment on every post and get into conversations and such, but they don't. My readers give me feedback in other ways - sometimes on Twitter, sometimes on Facebook, sometimes in an email.

I know what it's like to be a perfectionist - I am one, and I am my own harshest critic. I don't know what you think of my writing, for example, but I generally am not happy with most of it. But I've learned to just put it out there, and you've seen that I promote it like it's the greatest thing since sliced bread. Develop an ego! Role play as if your blog is already successful and widely-read. Promote it as if people would be crazy not to read it and love it. Be unapologetic about it, be cocky about it, be proud of it.

Most importantly, just be real in what you write. Don't try to force it or it will come off sounding phony, and that will turn people off. Write the way you talk; again, write as if you were writing to that one person. Your voice will change from day to day, and that's fine too - that's real. Go back and read several of my posts, and you'll see sometimes I write more formally and sometimes more conversationally, depending on the topic and on how I am feeling the day I happen to write it.

My last piece of advice goes against everything you've ever been taught about writing: don't keep editing and editing. Don't do a bunch of rewrites. Write your piece, spell check it, do at most ONE rewrite if you feel it necessary, then POST IT. For perfectionists like us, it's the scariest thing to do, but the most necessary. But it forces you to put it out there, and you're writing is by default more raw and more real - more you."

And now, I turn to those of you out there who are bloggers yourselves. What advice would you add? What would you suggest differently from what I have, and why? There's always more than one way to skin a cat, as they say. How did you go about getting over that initial trepidation that we all feel/felt to some extent when it comes to baring our words to the universe?