Thoughts On Accepting Change

Do you easily accept change, or are you one of those folks who resist it until you absolutely have to accept it? Personally, I fall somewhere in between. When it comes to my work life, I’m not always fond of policy or procedural changes. When it comes to my writing or personal life, I can go either way. So, naturally, when I decided to put writing on hold, my brain wanted to give me all the new ideas. Isn’t that how it always happens? Just when I thought I’d accepted this change, and began implementing them here on this website, I began second guessing it all. That is something I’ve done my entire life: second guess. I have some inkling as to why I am the way I am, but that’s a blog post for another day.

For years I’ve tried to write. Any time a new idea came up, I’d throw myself into research, learning more about the process, and would follow more of those in the publishing industry. Then, as soon as I’d sit down to actually do work on the project itself, procrastination would take over. The thing is, I want to change. I’m just not certain if I’m disciplined enough to do so. I know exactly how I earned the reputation of “Leigh never finishes anything” in my family. I just want to break the cycle. I’m going on 36 years old. Why haven’t I broken my cycle yet?

It boils down to one word: fear. Fear of failing again. Fear of not living up to my own self-set expectations. Fear that no one would read what I write. Fear of failing before I even start. Fear of the knowledge that I’m not the only one who’s also trying to make it in the publishing industry. Fear.

I think that’s the biggest reason of all that I decided to put my pens and notebooks in a drawer. Not only that, but I’ve always had trouble getting past my initial story ideas. For me, the struggle is real. I absolutely adore the nitty gritty parts of the writing process. So much so that I often wonder if there’s a job like that out there somewhere. A writer’s assistant? Not in terms of answering phones or putting out press releases. But someone who loves the practical side of writing. Okay, so I know I’m not making much sense here. Or am I? I dunno.

In any case, I’m slowly coming to terms with the changes I’ve decided to make in my own life. “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” they say. What about a 35 year old looking to reset her involvement in the great big writing and publishing communities? Have you any thoughts on fear, publishing, and resetting life goals? I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below.


It’s Time To Bare My Soul

Let’s begin this post with this: I haven’t written a single thing in weeks. Literal weeks. Can I even still call myself a writer at this point if that’s the case?

I don’t want to call it procrastination. I can’t call it burnout either.

I suppose the full purpose of this particular blog post is to ask: am I alone in this?

It’s not yet June and I’ve already read 83/100 books this year. Yay?
It’s not yet June and I haven’t even scratched the surface of my WIP.
It’s not yet June and I don’t know if any of my efforts from the last five years will ever amount to something.

Am I alone in this?

I see Twitter acquaintances come and go as they further, or give up on, their publication journeys. I don’t branch out – I’ve found Twitter to be an exceedingly toxic place as of late. And all that “noise” has turned me into someone I don’t know anymore.

So many arguments over “the best way to be published.”
So many disagreements and “calling outs” for seemingly mundane things.

I’m not sure if I can continue on this journey.

I normally wouldn’t make a post about this, preferring to be uplifting for other folks. But every time I open my WIP, it doesn’t happen. Every time I go to blog something I thought would be a great new addition to this site, I sit on it for days, or weeks, at a time.

Again I ask, am I alone in this?

Last year was the most productive I’ve ever been. I don’t know why I feel moreso under pressure than when I’m calm.

I know I’m probably reaching, asking for any input you may have, but if you’ve the time, I’d love to have a discussion on this in the comments below. There’s something keeping me from continuing on with whatever direction this writing thing will take me and I just don’t know what it is…


Why I Don’t Write (All That Much) On Sundays

“Sunday is the golden clasp that binds together the volume of the week.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, source

“Sometimes I have loved the peacefulness of an ordinary Sunday. It is like standing in a newly planted garden after a warm rain. You can feel the silent and invisible life.”

Marilynne Robinson, source

“Happiness is a hot bath on a Sunday afternoon.”

A.D. Posey, source

“Sunday is a time when you sit back and reflect on all the blessings that you have received. Smile at all the good things that you are enjoying.”

Sera Train, source

An aesthetic I created for my WIP, Project Star and Sea

Sundays. Love ’em or hate ’em, we get them once a week. Like clockwork. Sundays have never been days off for me. Throughout childhood and into adulthood, my family and I have attended church and many a family event on Sundays. I tried having half day availability for work to include Sundays, but it became just too much to handle. So I know, for sure, that I’ll always always have Sundays off work.

Even though I mentioned family events and church, Sundays truly are the one day I have to myself for whatever I want to do. Yard work? Housework? Laundry? Yes, please, to all that and more! The one thing I’ve decided, however, is that I don’t really want to write on Sundays.

Does that sound weird to you? It kind of does to me. Let me explain my logic.

While I have been known to whip out a notebook or even my laptop in the sound booth at church (I run the sound board, and there’s not much to do while the minister’s speaking), I’ve found that I really can’t form a coherent thought when it comes to my manuscript. So Sundays are now reserved for everything BUT writing.

Honestly? I’m really happy with this decision. In many more ways than one, writing is work. Don’t deny it. You know that’s true. When I’m at work, I’m pulled in twenty different directions, and my brain is constantly thinking about my WIP. The mind itself needs a day of rest, not just one’s body. What do I do on Sundays, now that I don’t work on my WIPs?

1. Clean (trash day in my neighborhood is on Tuesday)
2. Laundry (I often wash my fabric masks this day)
3. Cook/Dishes (mass prep for meals for work)
4. Research (gotta continue learning stuffs for science fantasy)
5. Spend time with family
6. Organize (declutter declutter declutter!)

And so much more!

You know how there are all these popular blogs on how to schedule your writing time, or how to prioritize your work space to prevent procrastination, etc.? Well, this is one of my ways to keep my mind productive on a “writing day off.” If I can do it, so can you.

TL;DR – It’s perfectly okay to take a “writing day off.” Trust me – your brain will thank you for it!


Burnout // It’s Real, Y’all

Online content moves at a pace akin to Star Trek’s “warp speed,” and probably even faster than that. That’s what content posting was like on this website for several months. Until it stopped cold. Today’s post is all about why that happened.

Just as with any creative outlet, blogging is its own beast. Any content creator can experience burnout (or insert-here-whatever-adjective-you’d-like-to-use to describe such a thing here), and that’s precisely what hit me a few weeks ago.

I was utterly, completely, equivalently burnt out. I saw the return – you guys really liked my voice! – and that encouraged me to compose several posts a week. Not only that, but I could barely keep up with all the random topic ideas which would crop up in the middle of the night.

My heart, however, just wasn’t in it this month. Every time I sat down to write something, anything, for this site, I’d move it to the trash bin a day later. Was I done blogging for good? Don’t get me wrong – I still love creating content!

We humans love to see things happen in real time. And it’s super satisfying watching stats, seeing the clicks and knowing I’ve somehow contributed something of value to our writing and reading communities.

However, at what point does that become selfish motivation? That, my friends, is the biggest reason I took some time for reflection. There’s no way I’ll ever win accolades with the writing presented on this forum.

Sure, it would be exciting to be featured in a NYT post, or a magazine, or on someone else’s blog. Let’s face the facts: I’m not even published yet. And that’s the second reason I took time off. I’m never going to finish any novel if all I’m doing is pumping out three blog posts a week every week.

And finally, here’s the third reason I haven’t blogged this month: I’ve found myself changing on the inside. I’m not the same person I was six months ago. I no longer love Star Trek (so, while I’m proud of the ones I’ve written, I’ll not be adding any more to that topic), I’m no longer enamored with k-pop, and I’m exploring who I am as an adult.

What do I want? Is this really how I want to live the rest of my life? How do I live more like Jesus taught us? (and I’ve never, ever said something like that in a blog post before). How do I show that love to others? How can I live it both online and at my full time job?

I suppose it wasn’t exactly burn out with JUST the blog. I burned out with life. And how I’ve been living up to this point. What does this mean for the future of this site?

It means things will slow down.
It means things will be done in a (hopefully) more thoughtful manner.
It means I’m reassessing my own writing and what I want to accomplish.

As in actually accomplish.

Not just wishfully accomplishing in my mind.

YES – blogging will still happen! YES – writing will still happen! YES – author interviews will still happen! However different it may be, I hope you’ll stick around.

Have a fantastic upcoming weekend, everyone. Please don’t be afraid to leave a comment. I could really use the encouragement.


Stuck On Your Story? Here Are Fifty Things to do That Have Nothing To Do With Writing

If you’ve spent any time in the blog-o-sphere, or even in any of the online writing communities of Twitter and Reddit, then you’ll know you’re not alone in being in a “writing rut.” The majority of us can’t travel for inspiration. Or do that once planned visit to research in the largest library in the country (my derailed plans from last year – thanks ‘rona).

Here’s the cold hard truth: you have ambitions, yes. But perhaps it’s time to step away from that computer/writing space/etc. and get out of your head. Do something mindless. Do something you used to love and try doing it again. Don’t know what to do? Here’s a list of Fifty Things To Do That Have absolutely Nothing To Do With Writing:

  1. Ride a bike
  2. Go ice skating
  3. Walk the dog (or cat?)
  4. Redo that troublesome closet
  5. Buy yourself flowers
  6. Plan this year’s garden
  7. Learn a new skill
  8. Cook a favorite meal
  9. Take a hot shower/bath (seriously)
  10. Declutter your workspace
  11. Visit a local home improvement store for project inspo
  12. Fix that thing that’s needed fixing for a long time
  13. Zoom with family or friends
  14. Start a blog
  15. Go through your old stories
  16. Watch soap-making videos on YouTube
  17. Get lost in social media (but not too lost. Save your sanity!)
  18. Reread a favorite novel series
  19. Try outlining your own work-in-progress for the first time
  20. Conduct interviews for your characters
  21. Offer to edit a paper or two for students you know
  22. Support small businesses in your area
  23. Find a local charity and see what they’re volunteer needs are
  24. Try your hand at freelance writing
  25. Learn how to use a graphics design program
  26. Build “mood boards” for your characters, or theme boards for inspo
  27. Have a “binge” day – eat the food you want, watch the shows you want
  28. Snuggle with your snuggle buddy
  29. Splurge on all those teas you’ve had your eyes on
  30. Find a new genre of music to listen to
  31. Learn calligraphy
  32. Consider caring for fish. Or plants?
  33. Make a #WIPAesthetic to visualize a character’s emotions
  34. Have a movie night where the film’s themes match your own WIP
  35. Pick a random topic and research research research
  36. Learn needlepoint or knitting
  37. Join a local writer’s group
  38. Plan your spring farmers’ market trips
  39. Clean out the basement or attic (or both)
  40. If you can, offer to shop for a neighbor
  41. Redesign a space in your home
  42. Power wash your drive/walk/siding
  43. Clean out the gutters (you know it’s probably time)
  44. Make a purchase from that shop you’ve been eyeing for a long time
  45. Donate to a food pantry
  46. Pick back up an old family tradition
  47. Create a playlist for your work-in-progress
  48. Go for a run/walk
  49. Find all those things you know relax you and just RELAX
  50. Write letters (yes, old school snail mail)

Looks like SOME of the suggestions have something to do with writing. Writing doesn’t always have to be a chore: constantly drafting, especially when stuck. I used to do needlepoint but often got frustrated and never completed them. Thus, wasting money. A few weeks ago, however, I decided to try again. This time, I bought a pattern where I don’t have to count my stitches. Why do I still enjoy it? It’s really freed up my mind, doing something mindless. You don’t always have to write at warp speed. Slow down. Give yourself a break. And perhaps, perhaps, you’ll find some story inspiration along the way!


Five Question Interview Series // The 2021 Edition

It’s the most wonderful time of the year ~~ tax time! Okay, I jest. But I am glad 2021 is here, and that 2020 is finally over. Now that it’s January, it’s time to plan this year’s Five Question Interview series.

Every Wednesday from February through April, one interview a week will go up, highlighting a member of our writing community. From its inception, this interview series will always be short and sweet with a little bit of whimsy.

If you’ve never read any of them before, I’ll link a few below. Perhaps you’ll recognize a few names, or find some new connections (click their images to read their interviews):

John Taylor | author
Assaph Mehr | author

Plus many more including KM Weiland, Maria Tureaud, Beth Overmyer, Alex Donahue, Michelle Rascon and Jeni Carll-Tong.

Jessica Lewis | author
Paulette Kennedy | author

February’s filling up fast, but I still have slots available for March (3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th, 31st) and April (7th, 14th, 21st, 28th). You also don’t have to be an author. You can be a writer working on a new project, an editor, agent, publicist, or anyone else in the writing biz. Sky’s the limit! Please ignore the use of that oh-so-cliche phrase.

If you would like to be a part of this interview series – all correspondence done via email – please email me at anotherhartmanauthor@gmail.com.


Why Maintaining a Website is Worth the Effort

Guess what? It’s a new year. Loosen up, give yourself a break, and recognize that you’re totally worth it. Not just as a person, but as an individual entity within the great big writing community. Whatever it is you’re doing – editing, mentoring, writing, publicizing, agenting, etc. – do it to the best of your ability, improve daily, and keep going!

With all those jobs come prioritization. Did you lose your focus in 2020? Don’t worry; I did too. It’s still just January. You’ve got twelve months to get back on track with whatever it is you’re working on. Okay. Now that all that’s out of my system, here’s another pep talk.

Maintaining a website is totally worth the effort. Would I lie to you? Never!

I’ve found some fantastic writing acquaintances and friends the past few years through their websites. Some found me through mine. But it wasn’t always that way. Just look at the stats from the early days of anotherhartmanauthor.com and you’ll see what I mean:

In 2016, 98 folks stopped by. Of course, in 2016 I’d just launched this site, and in late October or November. So that makes sense. If you want to read a perfectly lame first blog post, here’s the link. (Ugh; I cringe!)

In 2017, I didn’t know what to do with this platform. I was still finding my niche, my people, my footing. 2017 saw 163 visitors as a whole.

Things started to change in 2018. I grew more confident in my blogging abilities and connected with more individuals through social media. As a result, 288 fine folks stopped by to read what I had to say.

2019 exploded with 954 readers. That’s the year I began doing the Five Question Interviews, and I’m forever grateful for those individuals willing to give my little site a chance. Finally, 2020 ended with a bang: a whopping 1,697 of you read my website! I touched upon this a bit in my 2020 Stats blog post, but I still can’t get over that. Thank you all so much for making 2020 my best blogging year yet.

So, as you can see, it takes loads of time for things to happen. Okay, some folks seem to gain instant success, but I’m not one of those. All this to say, I’d like to share some things I’ve learned over the years. Also included at the end will be some links to blog posts past of a more practical nature.

Five reasons why maintaining a website
is totally worth the effort.

1. It’s a great way to learn from others.
While blogging is a very visual and immediate way to showcase your own abilities, there’s a whole lot you can learn from other bloggers as well. There are countless treasure troves out there waiting for you discover them. The first experience I ever had with a website like this is KM Weiland’s Helping Writers Become Authors. I may have mentioned that particular link on more than one occasion, but it truly is a gem of a site, full of loads of practical information for folks at any point of their writing journey.

My site – this site – originally began as a place to share historical facts I learned throughout my own writing process. Looks like I’ve deviated from that first mission, but I hope to bring back historical information sharing in 2021. Especially since I’ve got three very different manuscript ideas running around in my head.

What do you know? Do you have experiences to share? Poetry? Specific histories? What’s something that brings you so much joy that you want to share it with others?

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”

Benjamin Franklin, source

2. Exposure, exposure, exposure.
Admit it. As a writer/author/editor/etc., you want to get your name out there, right? Blogging is akin to networking in the business world, but within the writing community niche. In a recent blog post, I discuss a Social Media Conundrum I’m still thinking about. Without platforms, how does a modern creative sell or showcase their work?

This is where the problems can begin. Unless you’re the most self-disciplined individual on the face of the earth, how does one balance blogging, social media, and work? Everyone procrastinates to some degree. That’s why, in my writing goals post for 2021, I decided it’s time to set aside actual writing time. I don’t know if I’ll be able to also schedule social media time, but I’ve got a whole new year to figure that one out too.

It all boils down to this: how much time are you willing to spend networking? Which is a higher priority: building a platform or working on your craft? It is possible to do both. I, personally, just need more discipline to do it….

“The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity.”

Keith Ferrazzi, source

3. You’ll gain practical online experience and grow skills you already have.
“Cancel culture” is a real thing. Definitely not imagined. From JK Rowling to that one editor who suggested authors take out loans to pay for professional editing on their manuscripts, 2020 writing Twitter witnessed the rise and fall of those who expressed controversial views and practices.

Why do I bring this up?

This is where practical online experience and exposure come into play. Not only does this apply to conducting yourself online, but it includes tech skills. Let me tell you, it took me a long time to get used to my host’s interface. It also took a me a while to figure out what templates and themes worked best for this site and so on.

It’s a tall order, this number three. If you spend any time on Twitter or Instagram, you’ve seen every type of user; from the very casual to the ones who clearly spend loads of time on everything they put out. What I enjoy about my time online is every time I put out a new post/page or have a new interaction, I learn something new about myself and the subject matter at hand. Sounds like a win-win to me!

“Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it.”

Samuel Johnson, source

4. It’s a great chance to hone your nonfiction writing skills.
Speaking of practical experience, blogs and websites are also great places to hone your nonfiction writing skills. Let’s face it – as an author, or one working towards publication, you’re going to have to learn how to market yourself.

My one uncle is an actor. I’ve often heard him say, “Oh the things I’ve had to do for money.” Get your mind out of the gutter. He’s not talking about things like OnlyFans n’at! He’s talking about marketing. He hates talking about himself, but had to build a website in order to gain more gigs and showcase what he’s capable of doing.

The same goes for blogging. Whether you want a place to share your knowledge or share your art, you’re going to have to get used to marketing yourself. Heck, when I built this site back in 2016, it took several months to feel comfortable even introducing myself to the online world of writing. But I now look forward to building that next blog post.

Just as with your manuscripts, your blogging style will change with time. In 2017 I put up maybe ten blog posts, and I anguished over each word. My average word count four years ago? Less than 200. Now I’m batting a thousand and am working on efficiency with my words. In my humble opinion, nonfiction is harder to write than fiction.

“I’m open to reading almost anything – fiction, nonfiction, as long as I know from the first sentence or two this is a voice I want to listen to for a good long while. It has much to do with imagery and language, a particular perspective, the assured knowledge of the particular universe the writer has created.”

Amy Tan, source

5. Because you’re totally worth it.
Don’t you dare sell yourself short. I don’t think much else needs to be said about this particular point. Seriously – you’re totally worth it. Now go, create, and see what maintaining a website could possibly do for you and yours.

“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.”

Lucille Ball, source

Six links to help you get started.


So, what do you think?

Are you ready to get started on a website?

Remember: don’t be discouraged if whatever you create doesn’t immediately take off. Be patient with yourself, others, and stick with what works.

A final tip: you don’t need to own your domain name right away. Don’t let those fancy host sites lead you to believe otherwise. Maintaining a website isn’t easy, and they’re also not for everybody.

But don’t let me discourage you. You’ll never know unless you try. Have fun with it, be true to who you are, and everything else should fall into place.


My Writing Goals for 2021

In 2019 I gave myself seven writing goals to accomplish by this time, this year. I completed every single one of them! Ha, no. That would be a lie *insert clip of Maury reading lie detector results in front of a live audience.*

The shutdowns in early 2020 really put a damper on my earliest planned goals. Let’s revisit My Seven Writing Goals for 2020 real quick before moving on to what I’ve got planned for 2021.

1. Finish Project Firedamp

Considering the fact that Project Firedamp is now shelved and saved onto my external hard drive, it’s safe to assume I didn’t accomplish this particular goal. While I’m sad that my original project – this idea began my writing journey and encouraged me to launch this site – is a bit beyond my reach right now, it’s always an ever-present thought in the back of my mind. So, who knows? Perhaps I’ll revisit Firedamp in the future.

2. Tour More Historical Sights

I finally managed to tour the industrial, historical city of Johnstown, Pennsylvania back in September. Before everything shut down, I had local coal mines, area farms, a blast furnace, and a local observatory on my “to tour” list in late Spring. Every Forth of July, my family and I also take a steam train trip either within Pennsylvania or somewhere close in the tri-state area. I count myself lucky that we were still able to visit Johnstown. I hope more historical sights are able to reopen in 2021.

3. Bring More Story-Themed Decor Into My Home

Shortly after writing the original post I realized something about myself. I prefer practical, vintage elegance over Victorian-esque objects that may not even work. What changes have I made this year? I no longer watch television, so my living room’s now a library. Yay!

4. Visit the Library of Congress for a Day

Okay. This one hurt more than all the others. It was to be the first trip I’d ever take by myself. I was going to get an AirBNB close to the Mall and work on a manuscript in the Library of Congress. And, perhaps, reenact that one scene from the first National Treasure film. Maybe I still can this time next year?

5. Build a Paper Organizer

I nixed this idea around June or July as I had the opposite problem with all the shut downs – I was working way too much due to my company’s status as an essential business. As a result, my DIY and crafting projects got pushed to the wayside. Instead, I now have plans to build a baking area. We’ll see how that goes…

6. Write in Tennessee (aka go on vacation)

This turned into the aforementioned Johnstown trip. I still need to go back to Tennessee

7. Hand Copy a Novel

Yeah – I didn’t complete this either. 2020 wasn’t a good year for me and I really lost momentum with my writing…

My Writing Goals for 2021

If I learned anything in 2020 it’s that life can throw us unrelenting curve balls. I spent much of these past twelve months disappointed in my sudden inability to write.

1. Work on my Self Doubt

For some reason I found myself in a state of denial for much of 2020. I thought, “Naw. I’m fiiiiiiiine. This covid thing isn’t affecting me. I’m just going about life all normal.” When August hit, and I still hadn’t written a thing, I became incredibly discouraged and almost deleted absolutely everything. While I did accidentally delete EVERY BACKUP FILE FOR THIS SITE from my hard drive with no hope of getting it back, I did safely store everything I had concerning Project Firedamp on Google Docs for future use.

In the meantime, two new ideas came to me in recent weeks. And each of them are polar opposites of them. I know many authors dabble in multiple genres; but I’ve yet to complete one project. So my first writing goal for 2021 is to tackle my self doubt head on.

2. Set Aside Actual Writing Time

This goal will be a tricky one to work out. Why? My work schedule follows the trends and rules of the retail business. It’s never consistent. I can close one night only to go back in eight hours later and do it all over again the next morning. How the heck is someone like me supposed to find a logical time to write?

Even though I pride myself on being a chameleon of sorts when it comes to varying schedules, I often wish I could become a creature of predictable habits. The other thing I need to learn to balance is how much time I spend blogging. Blog posts ≠ a completed manuscript. (Except, according to the Insights page, I’ve so far written 59,949 words for anotherhartmanauthor.com). That’s practically a novel right there!

So this goal is two fold: set aside time for novel writing, and time for blog writing.

3. Go On Those Historical Adventures

Of course this goal will all depend on what reopens in 2021, but I still want to write for a day in the Library of Congress, stare at the heavens from a local observatory’s telescope, and take that steam train trip again on the Forth of July. I still want to return to Tennessee, go spelunking in a Pennsylvanian coal mine, and tour a sight that plays an integral role in my very first novel concept.

4. Finish. That. Manuscript.


Everybody I’ve talked with recently has said they look forward to 2021. And the feeling is quite mutual. I think four writing goals is a manageable, attainable list, don’t you? Seven was definitely far too many, especially for a year like 2020.

This website’s first series will begin Wednesday, February 3rd. I love doing these writing community interviews because, not only do they give me something to look forward to during the slow crawl to Spring, but I get to meet many new faces. So while the Five Question Interview series isn’t exactly a goal, it definitely will help my ever-present self doubt. Will you try something new for yourself in 2021?

What is it?

You don’t have to tell anyone.

Just do it!


The Top TenS of 2020 // Stats Edition

It’s Monday, December 28th. Four days from the start of a New Year. Four days until I can start writing “2021” in the date line of my checkbook. I just aged myself with that checkbook line, didn’t I? And four days to wrap things up on this blog for 2020.

It’s the time of year I start looking at the analytics for my website far more closely than any other time. What pages and posts were the most popular? Where do my readers come from? Did the content intrigue anybody enough to leave a comment or two?

This year, instead of looking at just what my most popular posts were (like I did for last year’s version of this post) we’ll take a look at the Top Ten Countries, Top Ten Referrers and then the Top Ten Blog Posts and Pages.

Top Ten Countries

This list is always exciting to look at because it changes every year. Because of my geography, and the fact that my only language is English, visitors from the top four countries make the most sense. I am, however, always positively thrilled when someone visits my site from South Korea or Japan. Here are the country lists from 2020 and 2019:

2020
United States 🇺🇸
Canada 🇨🇦
United Kingdom 🇬🇧
Ireland 🇮🇪
Philippines 🇵🇭
China 🇨🇳
India 🇮🇳
Australia 🇦🇺
France 🇫🇷
Croatia 🇭🇷

2019
🇺🇸 United States
🇬🇧 United Kingdom
🇨🇦 Canada
🇮🇪 Ireland
🇦🇺 Australia
🇵🇭 Philippines
🇮🇳 India
🇫🇷 France
🇩🇪 Germany
🇿🇦 South Africa

As expected, the United States, Canada, the UK and Ireland take the top four spots – thank you all so much! And thank you to everyone kind enough to stop by my little corner of the internet. You’ve made this the best year yet for anotherhartmanauthor.com.

Top Ten Referrers

Now that we know what countries you all come from the most, let’s take a look at how you found me. These also varied greatly from 2019 to 2020, and it’s really making me think twice about completely abandoning Twitter; a decision I’d made in this recent blog post. Here are the top ten referrers for 2020 and 2019:

2020
Twitter
Google Search
Baidu
Bing
Facebook
WordPress Reader
Instagram
raedvdr.wordpress.com
ecosia
YouTube

2019
Twitter
Facebook
Google Search
Baidu
Yahoo
WordPress Reader
Instagram
en.gravatar.com
Juno webmail
linktree

Top Ten Posts & Pages

Here’s the fun part of today’s post – looking at what drew you guys here in the first place! I know this isn’t the most exciting blog post ever, but it just shows what of hard work and a little bit of patience can accomplish. If you’re just starting out in the blog-o-sphere, don’t fret! Give yourself time. Build an audience. Make friends. Learn what works best for your site, and run with it. Here’s what attracted you to anotherhartmanauthor.com in 2020 and 2019:

I think the data speaks for itself: looks like I’m doing the Five Question Interview series once again in 2021!

Do you want to blog but
you’re not sure how to get started?

Throughout 2019, along with a couple posts thereafter, I share my experiences with blogging and figuring out what worked and what didn’t. Here are five blog posts to help you get started in 2021!

  1. Why Now is A Great Time To Start A Blog
  2. Three Blog Ideas That Worked
  3. Three Blog Ideas That Failed
  4. A Beginner’s Guide to Creating Graphics in Seven Easy Steps
  5. How to Maintain a Writer’s Website
  6. Useful Tools and Tags

Think of blogging this way: if I can do it, anybody can do it. Even you! I was incredibly nervous the first few times I put up blog posts, but eventually it became second nature. Now, I can’t stop blogging! Find what works for you and, as mentioned earlier, run with it. Find your niche and what you love to write about it. And one day you’ll have your own top ten lists as well.


The Social Media Conundrum

Social media slowly came into existence in the early 2000s. The first to enter the online world was MySpace in 2003. Facebook: 2004. Reddit: 2005. Tumblr: 2007. Pinterest came about in 2009 and Instagram in 2010. Message boards predated all of those. I have fond memories of my days discussing the franchise on the Star Trek dot com message boards, and a few others whose names I can no longer remember. Just as message boards had their time and place, so does every social media platform.

They say that one of the ways to be a successful, published author, one should have a super strong social media presence. While having loads of followers does help, and I’ve seen it work out quite well for many, I’m not entirely positive this absolutely has to be the case. Do your readers actually want to interact with you? Do you with them? Should having a online presence be a qualifier for publication?

That’s what this blog post will be about. I’ll either talk myself into or out of a specific platform as I reassess my involvement online for 2021. 2020 was a brutal year in the online world. It’s no longer a safe place for opinions – if it ever truly was. There’s a “herd mentality” that comes along with social media and, if one goes against the grain, they’re ostracized. Okay, that’s a strong word. If you’ve spent any length of time online, I think you get what I mean. Here are my thoughts on the top four big platforms, and if I’ll continue using them in 2021.

I don’t know about you, but throughout the course of 2020, all forms of social media have lost their charm. My feelings about the online world began to change back in February with Facebook, during the first rumblings of COVID-19. I hadn’t had an account for nearly a year and a half at that point and thought to start a page again because we didn’t know what the future would hold in terms of seeing family during Pennsylvania’s shut downs in March. When I saw just how ferociously my family argued with one another over (what felt like) every little thing, I threw caution to the wind and deactivated that newly made account. I want to keep on loving my family without the inclusion of politics.

Will I continue using Facebook? No

“An open Facebook page is simply a psychiatric dry erase board that screams, “Look at me. I am insecure. I need your reaction to what I am doing, but you’re not cool enough to be my friend. Therefore, I will just pray you see this because the approval of God is not all I need.”

― Shannon L. Alder, source

On Instagram (which is now also under Facebook), if you don’t have that “aesthetic,” or don’t have the same views as those who are also popular, their algorithm won’t favor you and you’ll be in the Tiny Account Trenches. No matter which hashtags you use. I used to think it was just because I didn’t want to take the time to type out descriptions or include something fanciful to get noticed. No. I think, once I realized Facebook bought out Instagram, that killed that app for me. Occasionally I post on IG, but it’s main use now is to keep in touch with an old school MMPORG friend from my college days.

Will I continue using Instagram? Yes

“There are many things of which a wise man might wish to be ignorant”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson, source

Pinterest is the only social media platform I’m still trying to figure out. And because I’m still learning how to use this platform, I find myself enjoying it more. Things are less instantaneous, you don’t see the politics that Twitter loves to throw at everyone, and one can curate their experience. This is how Facebook used to be, way back in the early 2000s. Back then users had more control over what they wanted to see. Now it’s “here’s what a friend of a friend of a friend” liked or posted. Because you know so-and-so, surely you know these folks as well!” Not so with Pinterest. I love that users can not only share images and links, but create “mood boards” for practically any reason. It’s a platform of more practical use.

Will I continue using Pinterest? Yes

“People who smile while they are alone used to be called insane, until we invented smartphones and social media.”

― Mokokoma Mokhonoana, source

Here’s the platform I struggle with the most: Twitter. Many times this year I’ve wanted to “rage quit” Twitter. The platform thinks every topic is political. And people are just angry in general. While I love the fact that it can connect you with other writers and individuals in the industry, and what it’s done for my website this past year, I find myself lonely more often than not. I see everyone else chatting with each other and, even though I try adding something to the conversation, I feel oft ignored. Not only that, but the constant online contests stress me out (I’m a slow writer, what can I say?). As such, I’ll be following as many blogs as I can in January 2021, and I’m permanently deleting my account the first week in February. It’s all become just a little too much.

Will I continue using Twitter? Maybe

“Social media not only snatches your time, but it also teaches you attention deficiency.”

― Neeraj Agnihotri, Procrasdemon – The Artist’s Guide to Liberation From Procrastination, source

Huh – so it looks like the decision to leave Twitter was a lot easier than I thought it’d be. I’m one of those “all or nothing” individuals, and I’ve found myself a little too into Twitter and not so much into my writing. I very strongly feel that if I can remove one of the last modern barriers that continuously distracts me from my goal of being a published author one day, then I’m going to do it. Heck, if I can get rid of all streaming services AND not even have a tv plugged in for nearly a year, then I think I can detox from social media. It’s time to focus on the art of writing once again, and step away from social media in 2021.

*This post was updated December 31st, 2020