Experimenting with the WordPress app

Here I am, on the WordPress app for the iPhone. As this is my first post done this way I need to apologise in advance for any “quirks” I may inadvertently display. Chances are high that it’s down to something the app has done on my behalf. And that’s not including any “damn you, autocorrect” incidents!

I don’t have anything to blog about so I’m just going to experiment with some features and see what we end up with.

You initially have to log in of course and you first see your dashboard and have access to stats etc. but I’ve jumped straight to having a go at a post.

There’s a button for inserting an image so let’s try that.

If you can’t tell, that’s a teeny origami boat I came across on the bus one day. It was just sitting there as you see it and it made me smile. 🙂

Teeny origami boat

Teeny origami boat

 

That feature works pretty well. Once the image was inserted I tapped on it to access the editing options such as caption, size and alignment.

There are two basic text formatting buttons: bold and italic. Tap the button before you type to activate it, then again when you want deactivate it. Or select part of the word in the usual way for your device and toggle the formatting on or off.

Then there’s the quotation button. Not too sure about this as I’ve never used it on the main site but here goes…

Her mind is too full of books and it has turned her brain. – Little Women, Louisa May Alcott.

Type in the text, then hit the quote marks to block it out as above. Hit it again to carry on as normal. Or, hit the button first, then type, and hit the button again as with the formatting buttons.

There are two types of list available to choose from. A bullet point option or a numbered option.

  • You can hit the button then starry typing
  • Hit return to add another entry
  • To stop, hit return first, THEN turn off the feature (or hit return twice)

Same goes for numbered lists.

  1. Hit button
  2. Hit return
  3. Return twice to turn off feature

You can insert links as well: Google. It would be nice if when the popup appeared it also gave you a more link-friendly keyboard, with the dot there to hand, but that might be dependent on your device. I had to go in to symbols for it on iPhone.

The last button – <> – toggles the typing interface from WYSIWYG to HTML and back again.

Across the top there is an eye which takes you to a preview of your post, a cog which takes you into post settings (I couldn’t find an option for saving as I went along, but within the settings you can change the status to “draft” or set a post time for some point in the future. Both useful if you want to edit on a bigger screen at a more convenient moment.)

Interestingly, the “Publish” button, which is other function at the top, has become “Save” since I switched the post from Published to Draft. There is also a Pending Review option although I’m not clear what the difference is between that and Draft.

When you hit Save in draft mode, the post disappears which is rather disconcerting and you end up back in your posts page. At the top of this is a drop down menu where you can filter your posts according to their status, so in this case I filtered to Drafts and there it was. I’m guessing when I hit Update, which is now at the top, the same will happen. (It did.) From the posts page you can either tap on the post to open it and work on it further, or use the small buttons below the post thumbnail, including the More button which presents an option to Publish without opening it.

So all in all I’d say this was a good little app for basic posts. The long the post became the more sluggish the keyboard became. Or rather there developed a lag between typing and the words appearing on the screen. Anything more involved and in need of more than just the simplest formatting would be better done on a computer – or perhaps a different app.

Blogger’s Block

Whether you follow my blog (hi!) or just check in from time to time (hi!) you will notice that I’m not exactly prolific when it comes to publishing posts. In fact, the last post was in May 2014!

It’s not for lack of inclination or inspiration. It’s more that those things strike at awkward moments. Half way home on the bus, for instance, or as I’m dropping off to sleep. Self-motivation has never been my strong point and this being a personal rather than business/commercial blog there is never any pushing and shoving from an outside force either. So it doesn’t happen.

Be that as it may, here I am.

Recently, I’ve been trying to think about an interesting subject to write about and, predictably, failing to come up with anything. Then I had a lightbulb moment – why not blog about that? A blog post about a blog post? Brilliant! (Can I get away with calling it blogception, do you think, or is that taking it too far?)

There are a whole host of reasons – excuses? – for why I don’t post very often. The term “blogger’s block” covers one aspect, and although many people have done so before me – no doubt more eloquently – I thought I’d have a go at relating some of my own “barriers to blogging” (anyone else think that sounds like a training course?), and perhaps even come up with an idea or two about how to overcome them.

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One of the main issues with blogging is needing something to blog about. For those who blog in a professional capacity this isn’t an issue. They have their subject matter sorted, be it knitting, building kit cars, or good old-fashioned naked hula-hooping. But for those of us with personal blogs the likelihood is that we are just rambling on about whatever strikes us as worth blogging about, like how men on the bus always take up a seat and a half due to leg spread, or the trials and tribulations of being a short person in a tall person world. I have to admit that I’m more likely to blog a rant than something celebratory, so there’s an area to work on before we’ve even got going. But I have human nature against me there – we all love to complain, don’t we?

So let’s pretend there’s something to blog about… What next? I’m almost guaranteed to have a flash of inspiration at a time when I can’t act on it, so how do I capture the blog post, which is writing itself in my brain without much effort on my part, so that I can reproduce it later? A notebook is the obvious choice, I suppose, but I don’t think my manager would be overly impressed if I was to whip out a notebook mid-meeting and ask her to take over the minutes while I jot down a blog post idea. A Dictaphone, maybe. Or an app on my phone. Let’s get with the times, shall we? But I don’t fancy muttering away into a gadget while getting funny looks from my fellow bus passengers. See? It’s tricky. My method up to now (and it’s obviously a bad one) is to hope I remember it by the time I get back to my computer, but of course I never do and the intervening time is generally enough to put me off the idea anyway.

And let’s not underplay the element of distraction. Once I do get on the computer I develop a kind of internet Attention Deficit Disorder. Ooh look, Facebook! And what’s this article? Oh and it has a link to more info… Oh I’m on Pinterest. NETFLIX!

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You get the idea…

For once I’ve managed to score a blogging hat-trick. I’ve got my idea, I’m actually at my computer and I want to write the post. Who am I blogging for/to? Myself, mainly. I enjoy the act of forming the sentences and using my language skills, such as they are, to express my thoughts. It’s not something I get to do very often, or not in any expansive way, so it’s nice to do that from time to time. I also enjoy typing, so it’s one of those “marriage made in Heaven” situations from that point of view.

When I first started this blogging malarkey, I told myself that I’d approach it with a “dance like no-one’s watching” philosophy. I would write what I wanted to write regardless of who might read it. But that just didn’t work out. Given that the only place I share my posts, if I share them at all, is on Facebook (ooh, look, a picture of a cute cat…), and given that I have friends and family on there who may well click through to read said post, I find I censor what I write so as to avoid causing offence. This is particularly tricky if the post has been prompted, as is often the case, by something someone has said or done. And even though I would always anonymise it and try and make it subtle, that person will always recognise themselves and, perhaps, be offended. This also goes back to my earlier point about usually posting about annoyances rather than the positives in life. No-one’s likely to get offended if I say something positive about them! For instance, if someone shares an annoying status on Facebook (I’ll just play one of my games for a bit while I’m here…) then I share a blog post about the same thing the next day, they’re going to know it’s about them. This is definitely a “barrier to blogging” but I’m aware it’s coming from me and that it’s up to me to work out how to move past it. Someone recently suggested that a gender switch might help to throw them off the scent, which is definitely worth a try!
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Then again, does anyone click through when I share a post? My viewing figures imply that they do, although it could just be a barrage of bots. Mind you, I do occasionally get a comment or two from actual human beings (hi!) which is nice. If I knew for certain I had a keen audience, of whatever size, it might spur me on to post more. As it is it rather feels like letting a hand-reared butterfly out of an open window – it just flutters off in to the ether and people either see it or they don’t.

 
The other big issue is that of time. In the last year or so I have gone from working two and a half days a week to working five days. Feeling inclined to set aside time to sit and type posts is rare… I’m only out one evening a week, but when I’m here I’m contending with the internet ADD I mentioned earlier, and frankly once I’m in from work I just want to veg out.

So what’s the way around all this? Self-motivation, I suppose, although as I said that’s never been my strong point. Maybe the notebook/app thing would work, and I’d just have to write things down at the earliest opportunity, hoping in the meantime that I managed to retain the idea/phrasing sufficiently to jot down prompts for later.

Oh, I forgot to mention another barrier. I don’t live alone so before I sit down in front of a blank “new post” page I have to be reasonably sure I won’t be interrupted. Then of course there are the noises off. The murmur of the TV downstairs, the bing of someone getting an email. I have an app on my phone called White Noise (others are available!). I use it sometimes when I can’t sleep. There are a lot of noises to choose from such as rain, crowd murmur, city traffic, etc. and I’ve tried using it while reading but it didn’t feel right somehow. But it might work well as a noise reduction strategy if there were a lot of background noise. I’ll have to try it one day and get back to you.

If there are any bloggers out there reading this (hi!), particularly if yours is a personal blog like mine, I would love to hear your feedback on how to combat these barriers.

How do you avoid self-censorship, how do you capture your ideas when you can’t put them straight in to a post?

Thanks in advance!

 

 

Viva Voluptuous by Sarah Clark

Viva Voluptuous

Click above to see the book at Amazon

It seems somewhat harsh to bring hate in to a book review, but I’m afraid it has to be done.

I hated finishing this book.

This semi-autobiographical book is so fun and positive that it seems a shame to have to return to the negativity of the real world.

Ellie’s a plus-sized blogger but is feeling like a fraud because her curvy confidence is at an all-time low having just been dumped. Reading some nasty comments on a newspaper website gets her fired up to show the world that you don’t have to be skinny to be happy. She and her friends devise a plan to change the world. Meanwhile, Ellie seeks solace in Jamie, a gorgeous younger man with commitment issues. The campaign sees the girls dealing with PR disasters, the disasters of dating sites, and flash mobs. Is it enough to change the world, and to give Ellie her confidence back?

The three main female characters are all so strong and feisty in their different ways (although they each have their own demons to deal with too) that it makes you stop and wonder why we’re not ALL like that. And as for the kickass VV campaign, well I’m hoping to see the author develop this idea further in the real world. She’s already started, you know.

I really like the use of blog posts to fill out details of key moments, too. It works well, and reinforces the fact that the main character is a writer by profession, not just a world-changing heroine!

I’m sure I’m not going to be the only one who reads this book and finds themselves willing Ellie, Zoe and Lauren to succeed. Not just in their campaign, but in their personal lives too. And I’m not ashamed to admit I got a bit teary at the end of chapter 42.

If I had to pick one negative about the book it would be what, to me, feels like an overuse of pet names. (I don’t use them myself, and find them slightly cringe worthy, if I’m honest.) In the book, everyone calls everyone else by a variety of pet names all the time. I know there are people out there who do that, but I’d have preferred to see it a little less frequently here. It felt particularly out of place when used by Paul, Ellie’s platonic straight male friend. In my experience, straight men don’t call people “sweetie”. But, as I said at the top of this review, this book is semi-autobiographical, so if the real “Paul” does talk like that then fair enough!

Yes, the book is about being big, bold and beautiful, but I feel the themes of acceptance and trying to be happy with who you are despite all the social “rules” will appeal to everyone.

All in all, I really enjoyed Sarah Clark’s book, and hope to see more from her in the future.

VIVA VOLUPTUOUS!!

Click on the pic above to find VV on Amazon (available as paperback or for Kindle).