Where have you been?

I’ve always liked structure in my life, and whilst that’s not to say I don’t like spontaneity, breaking a pattern which I have been maintaining for the past few years does feel a little disheartening. In the middle of April, my blog schedule fell apart and the ‘post every other day’ theme crumbled. So, what happened?

The simple and short answer is university. As the course geared up for the May deadline, every module had at least one final essay or piece of coursework to complete before the academic year was over. As a result, The Life of a Thinker had to be put on the back burner until now, when the final exam for second year is done and I have the long summer months to look forward to.

After a decline in posts, I’ll be back to my normal routine – at least until September (for I am yet to know how much time I’ll have to blog in third year). Whilst I’ve been away, I have realised is that surpassing last year’s 16.1K views this year is unlikely. At present, the blog has reached 5K views, which could mean that I end the year with 12K – a disappointing drop when The Life of a Thinker has been on the rise year after year. Now is the time to get back to writing.

As you may have seen over the past few days, since Friday I have been posting every day and for the next week, that shall continue. Each post next week – except possibly for The Friday Article – will be a music review, as there’s been a lot of good music which has come out whilst I’ve been away.

Normal scheduling will resume soon – including music reviews and more political posts.

Stay tuned…

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Vote for The Life of a Thinker in the UK Blog Awards 2016

I still remember attending my first awards ceremony, when I felt somewhat underdressed amongst other student journalists at Austin Court in Birmingham and was Highly Commended in my category. The Midlands Student Media Awards marked a significant turning point for my blogging; a few months before the event I decided my blog was to move away from boring babbling lifestyle posts and it was going to be an online portfolio of sorts, where I could practice my journalism. After I was Highly Commended for a journalistic essay (over 1,000 words long, might I add), I felt like my decision to take The Life of a Thinker in this new direction was the right decision to take.

Ever since then, I’ve pushed out more journalistic content. My Musical Discovery reviews have become more analytical, my Friday Article opinion pieces have explored new political topics, and my Sunday posts, A Fictional Reality, are allowing me to rediscover my love for creative writing – which has returned after a lengthy absence.

Since the Midlands Student Media Awards, I have been searching for other blog awards to enter. Previous attempts to find anything which I was eligible to enter or were relevant to my blogging style had failed, but one time, I found the UK Blog Awards – an awards ceremony I feel bad for only just discovering. This year, I decided to enter.

Photo: UK Blog Awards

If the Midlands Student Media Awards told me that I was right to pursue a more journalistic style, then being successful at the UK Blog Awards will mean so much more. It will show that there is such a strong community around The Life of a Thinker, that my blog is improving and it would enable me to meet and network with so many new people. It’s the biggest awards ceremony for UK bloggers, and to even be in a position where people can vote for me to win is amazing.

You can find my entry in the Individual Entrants section, under the PR, Media, Marketing and Communications category, on the UK Blog Awards website, and you can vote for me – if you like.

If you’ve already voted, then thank you so much. I really appreciate every vote I receive. Do feel free to share the above link with friends and family members who may also like to vote.

Thank you all as always for reading my posts on this little corner of the Internet. My next blog post should be up on Friday.

Intermission…

I’ve been rather busy. As a flurry of university assignments come my way until the end of this year, I fear that the time I have to put into other creative commitments will be somewhat limited. Journalism is a practical subject and so are the tasks, where I have to conduct interviews, take photos and so forth. As a result, there’s a lot more work involved as opposed to essay-writing. Of course, my academic life must come first and so unfortunately for the next month, the number of posts on my blog may dwindle. If so, I apologise.

Photo: Creativity103 on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode.
Photo: Creativity103 on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode.

Aside from being occupied with other things, it’s almost as though my creativity has taken a hit too. Of course, it hasn’t gone completely, but as I work on my radio shows, assignments and other commitments, I get a sense of confusion (perhaps even a feeling of being ‘burnt out’) when I start to think about uploading another YouTube video or blog post.

For example, I had no idea of what to write about on Wednesday this week and for my Friday Article, whilst there were big political events happening (e.g. the Autumn Statement and others), I didn’t have a specific argument to make or enough time to conduct further research.

Looking ahead to next week, I do have an idea for tomorrow’s post, but I have nothing in mind when it comes to Wednesday, Friday or Sunday. I don’t want to abandon posting completely until the end of the year, so I will be uploading blog posts when I can. However, my weekly schedule may not be happening for a few weeks or so. I hope you understand.

Normal scheduled posting will resume soon.

I made a mistake…

A while ago, I said that I wanted to change my schedule around a little bit. I wanted to move my Musical Discovery reviews to Fridays (as this is the day most new music is released) and push back The Friday Article to Sunday. I gave this new schedule idea a trial run last week, and it’s safe to say that I made a mistake.

As you may have seen, I missed a post last Sunday. It was meant to be a political post and a ‘pilot’ of The Sunday Article. In the end, I just didn’t have time, and the confusion that came with mixing around my schedule meant my creativity took a hit.

Granted, whilst there’s a few Sunday politics shows on TV which discuss the latest news over the past week whilst keeping it relevant, I don’t have access to these MPs to continue the conversation further. So, when I considered writing an opinion piece on scrapped A-Levels for last Sunday, it soon felt outdated without a fresh new angle. That being said, I probably will still end up publishing this post on Friday this week.

As for Musical Discovery posts on a Friday, it’s great that it fits with the day that most new music is released, it’s a bit of a rush to formulate an opinion in the morning before the post goes up at 12pm. The Monday slot gives me a weekend for a song to grow on me and for me to gather my thoughts. I like to think that I end up with a better review as a result.

Whilst the new schedule won’t be going ahead, the trial run did give me some ideas as to what I could write about on Wednesday or Sunday.

Since I’m quite protective over my poetry and works of fiction, I’m still not too sure about this, but I’d like to go back to writing regular poems on this blog, along with the occasional short story. In particular, I was thinking of doing posts where I would describe my week in a narrative style you’d hear in a book. I’m thinking about calling the series A Fictional Reality, but I don’t know if it’s going to happen yet. If I do try it out, it should add to the range of writing styles which I showcase on The Life of a Thinker.

What do you think? Should I write more poetry and fiction on this blog? Comment below!

Liam

Goodbye to Sundays

It’s a problem I’ve been trying to sort out for a while: posts on Sundays. When The Life of a Thinker was in its infancy, I’d upload my Weekly Updates, but it wasn’t long before I had weeks where I didn’t get up to much, or couldn’t think of a catchy title for the post. In the end, I said goodbye to Weekly Updates.

In its place came a style of post which doesn’t fit on my blog that well. Over the past few months, Sunday posts have become more personal – they’re articles about the blog and how it’s changing, and that gets repetitive after a while.

For example, I continue to talk about how my blog will become more professional and journalistic in tone and how I want to change my schedule, but that’s not actually happened yet.

I want to get rid of Sunday posts completely, yet at the same time, weekends are the best time to post something.

I’ve also talked about how, with music coming out on Fridays, that moving my Musical Discovery posts to that day of the week would be more appropriate. But then The Friday Article would have to move (thus making its name redundant), so I’m really not sure.

To stop me from repeating myself further, I’ll say this: I’ve decided that soon – in the future – I’ll do a ‘trial week’ where things are moved around a bit. It may stay that way, or the schedule may revert to how it was originally. It’s down to how I feel at the end of the week, and what happens to the stats.

But that doesn’t address what will happen to these Sunday posts. With music reviews, book reviews and political opinion pieces all taking place on my blog, I’m looking for a new writing form to use for another hobby.

As I write this, I already have one idea, but I shall keep you posted.

Liam

A Change of Community

I’m an outsider in the blogging community. Aside from being one of the few male bloggers, I made the mistake of deciding to talk about politics (amongst other things) on this site, which many people know as a topic which you shouldn’t really talk about. If that isn’t the reason why my blog isn’t doing too great at the moment, then it’s because we’re all fed up of hearing the aftermath of Brexit, Donald Trump’s controversial rallies, or the ridiculous in-fighting within the Labour Party.

Thankfully, my music posts offer light relief from heavy politics, where I recommend a new song every Monday. However, for a long time I’ve noticed that whilst I enjoy sharing music I love on The Life of a Thinker, I rarely get any comments on these posts. It’s easier to prompt a discussion about Instagram Stories than it is about Sigala’s new single.

The ‘lifestyle blog’ genre is incredibly broad – more than the beauty and fashion blog genres, in fact. With these two categories, whilst the types of posts would be relatively similar (reviews of make-up products, OOTDs and so forth), it’s the writing style of the blogger or their fashion sense which really makes them stand out. Beauty and fashion bloggers stand out through their personalities, but lifestyle bloggers have to have an interesting personality alongside talking about topics which would interest people. What do we mean by a ‘lifestyle blog’? There are no typical blog posts to expect within this blogging genre – it still remains undefined.

It wasn’t long after I started my blog that I was made aware of these Twitter chats for bloggers, and I slowly introduced myself to the community. Since then, I’ve made new blogger friends, met some of them in real life, and have witnessed my fair share of drama.

The drama isn’t why I’m taking a step back, though. Part of my reason is summed up in an old blog post entitled How Twitter both separates and unites the blogging community, but in short, I feel as though the type of community I want to involve myself in is one which revolves around my blog, rather than the wider ‘blogosphere’.

Over the past few weeks, my follow count has been increasing at a steady pace, which is exciting. As I near 1,000 combined WordPress followers and e-mail subscribers, I’ve realised that just letting people stumble upon my blog – alongside scheduling tweets – is the best way for it to grow at the moment. Of course, many Twitter chats are a great way to boost your readership and to avoid that may seem rather surprising. However, I suppose it’s a mixture of not having the time to join in as much at the moment, combined with a dislike towards where the community is at the moment.

For now, I’m going to be focussing on the community which surrounds my blog, in the hope that this will lead to a small group of readers interacting with my posts on a regular basis and sharing the content with their friends. It’s a slow method of growing your blog, however at the moment, I’m not a fan of the alternative.

I may be leaving the blogging community for a while, but you know where to find me.

Liam

Meeting PromptsbyDee

It started on Twitter, where I saw a post from Dee over at PromptsByDee about a Harry Potter-themed day out in London on the Thursday of this week. I love meeting blogger friends in real life and Dee is someone who I’ve wanted to meet for a while now, so I said I would tag along.


We agreed to meet at Platform 9 3/4 (of course) on a day when wizards and witches get the 11am train to Hogwarts. Therefore, the queue to have your photo taken in front of the Platform 9 3/4 wall was understandably long.


What was also interesting was the giant cards of the Hogwarts logo, the Hogwarts Express etc. that had been put up in Kings Cross for people to colour in. It was a promotion for the new Harry Potter colouring in book. I had to have a go and include a shameless bit of self-promotion too.

After a brief look around the Harry Potter shop, we took the tube to go and see the Palace Theatre (where The Cursed Child is showing) and visit Forbidden Planet.

I’m not a fan of comic books, yet I was wrong to assume that was all that was inside the Forbidden Planet megastore. There was a section dedicated to Sherlock products (mostly the odd poster, Pop Vinyls and figurines, which aren’t really my thing) and downstairs there was a whole section dedicated to books based on TV programmes. It was great to see TomSka’s Art is Dead on sale along with comic books about Watchmen, Batman and Deadpool. Whilst I’ll probably never read a comic or graphic novel, a lot of TV programmes or films I watch are based upon one of the two. For example, I love The Walking Dead (based on Robert Kirkman’s comics), Batman and Deadpool (which are of course based on the characters from DC Comics and Marvel respectively).

After that, we then went back to the train station and made our separate ways. I just want to say another big thank you to Dee for letting me wander around London with her for the day. It was great to finally meet you. As you could probably tell by what we got up to, Dee runs a fandom blog dedicated to Harry Potter, Sherlock and more. If that sounds like your cup of tea, why not say hello? Tell Dee that Liam sent you!

Aside from what happened on Thursday, I should also mention briefly that work on my novel has resumed. Although the progress is slow, I’m definitely excited about getting back into writing and I can’t wait to tell the story I’ve been wanting to tell for a long time. As always, I shall keep you posted.

How was your week? Have you ever visited Forbidden Planet or Platform 9 3/4? Have you met a fellow blogger in real life before? Comment below!

Liam