Not being able to write sucks

Since my last post, I’ve made three unpublished blog post drafts. One about daily life. One about plot revisions. One about a new, creative hobby of mine. And they’re all sitting there with only a few paragraphs and nothing more. Let’s just say that it’s quite characteristic for all my writing nowadays. In other words, I haven’t written a thing. And it sucks.

Lesson learnt: If you do too much and keep that up for too long, getting back on your feet is going to be hard. It’s going to take time. A LOT of time. And things you like are going to suffer for it. If you’re in a situation where you think that you should probably slow down or do a little less soon, do it now. The longer you wait, the harder it gets.

It’s not even writer’s block. Everything’s there in my head, I’m motivated, I have everything planned out and don’t feel pressured by anything else than my own deadline, but I just can’t sit down with anything nowadays, particularly not on the computer. It’s like I can’t turn off that “oh God, I’m behind in my translations” feeling that I’ve had for half a year. For those 6 months, translating was all I ever did besides work and dance class. I’m having a hard time convincing my brain that sitting in front of a computer doesn’t necessarily mean that I have work I should do. I’m not procrastinating. I’m having the evening off, damn it! And yes, writing’s work, but it’s definitely not the same.

But apparently opening any kind of writing program or notebook triggers my brain’s “I’m so overworked, I can’t do this anymore” response. It does make sense. My brain doesn’t know that the super-intense translation marathon I had for half a year is over. It doesn’t know that everything involving computers isn’t work, or something urgent and tiresome.

Today I’ll run a little experiment. When I get home tonight there’ll be no computer, no TV, nothing. If I need sensory input I’ll read – I’m currently re-reading Harry Potter, just because reading a book I like and have read several times before seemed to be just the thing right now. I might try to draw again, or perhaps plot a little more on paper. And then there’s loads of tidying up to do. Hopefully that will do the trick.

The takeaway: Too much of a good thing is still too damn much.

There! I’m done with my complaining for now! Writing-related news:

  • I’ve realised that far from all stories on my “to write” list will ever be written, nor should they. That list is now half of what it was. The remaining stories will be background fodder or ideas that might evolve into something else, but there’s no need to insist on writing a story that you don’t feel enthusiastic or confident about.
  • I got a new idea for a story this morning. I think some of it came from a dream of mine, but I’ve had similar ideas for a while now. It wasn’t until now that all the pieces finally came somewhat together. I only have the starting point, so I have no idea what the actual plot will be, but I think it will be fun to write. Won’t say anything more yet!


Life choices, editing schedule and this blog

It’s Sunday and I’m trying to muster the initiative to get up and make some dinner. So far it’s not going particularly well, so I thought I’d procrastinate by writing a blog post instead. Because my head works so well when I’m hungry…

Life choices

Two days ago I finished my last translation gig on Fiverr. After doing far too much for far too long and ending up in a place where it’s not healthy to be, mentally, I paused my gig and decided that enough was enough. For one thing, it’s hard to be a writer without any time for writing. My life for the past 6 months have been the following: Get up. Get early to work. Translate a bit before work starts. Work. Go home, eat quick dinner (maaybe exercise first). Translate until brain stops working/you see double/you’re falling asleep at the keyboard. Fall asleep, repeat the next day.

I love languages, and I used to love translation, and it’s been a lifesaver, but when you sit down to work and feel physically ill just from opening the document… it’s not good. So now it’s DONE. I have time to write. I have time to do nothing without feeling bad about it. I can go to bed when I feel tired without pushing myself to just do another page first. I can go work out without feeling bad about the time I spend doing it. Do I need to go on? That first day, I rejected four jobs. Normally I’d feel bad after the first one, and do the remaining three. But now? Nope, I was polite but firm. Victoryyy!!! (aaaand that’s the cue for the song from Lord of the Dance to become stuck in my brain. Again.)

Editing schedule

It should not be a surprise to anyone that with a life like what I described above, I certainly did not make the editing deadline that Cicilie and I had set. By a long shot. Luckily (for me), she didn’t either, and so we postponed it. Again.

This time will be the last, however. I have made a plan over how much I need to write for the next month, and I am only a little bit behind. I have some days off now, so I’m actually confident that I’ll be able to catch up very soon. My ambitious goal is 15k today, which is doable for me, but I want at least 10k.

Our new deadline is October 1st. That’s the goal we are working towards, and which I’ve written in my new plan. We also have another deadline, October 16th, which is the absolute deadline. No matter what the draft is like and how much we have edited, it is to be handed over at that point, sort of like we did back in December. That will allow us some planning time before NaNoWriMo as well.

The actual schedule I’ve made for myself has me finishing the draft on September 24th, except if it turns out to be very much longer than anticipated. Then I will have one week, perhaps plus two more, to fix the new sections I’ve had to write. Time will tell if this is actually realistic this time.

This blog

…will not change all that much yet, though I’ve looked at new themes. However, I have a dancing/training blog that I hardly ever use, and I’ve also felt like three blogs is a bit much. I do write about dancing and health and exercise and whatever else is going on in my life here anyway, so it’s not like the change will be all that great. Any thoughts? Would you hate to see that kind of content here?

It should be said that if I do it, I’ll figure out a way to let you choose to see only blog posts from a certain category/topic. Besides, I feel like I cannot devote enough time and attention to maintain all my blogs properly, and perhaps it will be best to have one main blog in English where I do all my stuff. Seeing that it now has both writing and painting and drawing and language and photography (soon) and all that stuff anyway.

I really do wonder if I will ever be able to write more than one or two entries in a row without discussing something or other I want to change with one of my blogs…

Let’s do it all!

As most writers do, I have several projects on my to-do list. I am not sure “several” really captures it, but among my Asana projects I have six novel projects plus two short story collections (for Wattpad, probably), as well as one that I’ve forgotten to make a project for. I have two weeks to edit Rogue Sorcery before The Grand Manuscript Exchange with Cicilie (otherwise known as “oh, by the way, here’s the USB stick”). And I have allowed the worst thing possible to happen.

I have another story idea. It isn’t a “proper” idea, it doesn’t tie into any other project I have or anything like that. Quite on the contrary, the idea was conceived when reading snarky recaps of 50 Shades of Grey as well as the subsequent discussion. I realised that I had a rather intense urge to write something fun and somewhat cliché and silly.

Perhaps I just need to get it out of my system, but there are also so many things I have wanted to write for ages but have never been able to fit into a story. (Fun fact time! Did you know Rogue Sorcery initially had pirates in it? Yep, I still hold a grudge towards myself for that cut.)

What I know

The plan is that the story will be one of my NaNoWriMo novels this November. I also really want to share it as soon as possible, and will either upload it to Wattpad or simply here on the blog as the chapters are finished.

So far, the novel will have steamy romance, hot but creepy demons/creatures who look human but aren’t, sinister businessmen/weapon dealers, a sassy main character, an even more sassy sidekick, a brooding or snarky assassin, adventure, pirates, airships, technowizards (for lack of a better word – wizards who combine magic and technology in a way) and sorcerers, a mysterious library (have I ever written a story without a library in it?), dark and occult secrets, and plenty more.

In other words: Overkill.

If this was a serious project, I would probably have cut at least 2/3 of these things. But this is purely a “get it out of your system” novel that I think will be great fun to write. That’s really the entire point to this. That, and perhaps someone will like a novel that is crammed full of everything I like. Well, almost. It doesn’t have dragons, or elves. Yet.

There miiight be some problems combining all of these elements, since some needs a modern setting and some are clearly more epic fantasy. Perhaps a multi-world adventure of sorts? Actually… I already have a setting that fits, for the Hub World stories that are never finished.

I will probably post a few updates on the planning progress here, if people are interested. Hopefully it won’t fully distract me from editing… One can only hope.

What’s that? My plan? No idea what you’re talking about…


Apparently there was a plan. And a schedule. And a slightly overly optimistic writer who decided that YES, august would be the perfect time to finish the third draft of Rogue Sorcery. Nevermind that I have an insanely large translation job that I am already late with, plus two smaller ones. Or the fact that, after a long day at work and 4-5 hours (minimum) of non-stop translation, my brain is just a mushy ball of exhaustion. OK, sometimes I take the time to work out right after work, but without it, this kind of schedule just wouldn’t be possible. And did I mention that I’m beta reading not one, but two manuscripts?

Definitely not complaining about the last part, though. I like being able to help out, and both writers asked very nicely and had very interesting stories.

I had planned to use this weekend to (hopefully) catching up with where I’m supposed to be, word count-wise. It didn’t happen. In fact, I haven’t written a single word all weekend. Friday I had work and translations, so no dice there. Saturday… I woke up at 6 a.m., strangely awake, but being that my apartment was a disaster area, I tried my best to fix that instead. I don’t regret it, because now I can actually look up from the computer screen without hyperventilating. Let me just tell you right now that being a naturally messy person while becoming really stressed if everything isn’t tidy around you isn’t a good combination. I don’t even like spotless homes.

The rest of Saturday was spent organizing some photos (another project of mine in which I’m behind schedule), reading blogs and playing Internet games, and going to bed early. Today I did more of the same, and I went for a step class at my gym. Guess who forgot to eat before going? Yep, I did. And breakfast was three hours before I left home. The choreography wasn’t hard, and I’m usually good at choreo, but I just couldn’t follow it at all. It was far easier last week.


Guess how far I’m behind? 28k. And that’s my small goal, if the story ends up at 100k, which it won’t. The optimistic goal of 120k is more likely, and in that case… 35k behind. Hooray. It also turns out that I’ll have no time to write next weekend, since I’m going away with my new job. I haven’t even started yet, but it will be very useful when I do start. I can get some writing done on the airport, though. Didn’t think of that…

Still, in order for this post not to become a total downer, I have vacation towards the end of the month, directly before starting my new job. I’ll try not to take on more translation work, so I can get a lot written then. I do think I’ll have to talk to my writer friend/beta reader about the draft though, because our plan to exchange manuscripts by the end of the month might be a bit optimistic. Just a tiny bit. I am able to write 100k in two weeks, but not while doing other stuff. I think. I did do 250k last November, with a work conference and stuff during the month, so maaaybe it’s still possible… At least she’ll need to get a draft where the end is actually written out instead of just being a summary (I ran out of time last time, too).


Somehow I feel I’m too disorganised and scatter-brained to ever have any hope of becoming a full-time writer. I certainly have some work to do in the “being organised” department…


The Grand Editing Adventure, Day 6

After my previous, rather jubilant update, this one is more… meh. In other words: I haven’t written a thing. And that means, people, that I need to write 10k today. I’ve been more optimistic in the past, and I’m not sure I’ll manage to catch up today.

On one hand, I do write very fast, and 10k days are usually no problem at all if I have the day off from work. Besides, I know (mostly) what I’m writing and some sections won’t need much of a rewrite this time around. On the other hand the list of reasons why it might not be possible to catch up today is a bit more extensive:

  1. I really need to clean my apartment today. It sounds like a bad excuse, but it’s gone past the scope of the word “hot mess” and moved into “catastrophic”. And when I’m already stressed out and exhausted, a messy apartment makes it ten times worse. Not a good thing.
  2. I’m a bit more than a week into my huge translation job and it’s taking a toll. Even if I try to take enough breaks, that many hours of the same type of content is very, very exhausting. I’m not actually sure my brain will cooperate today.
  3. My poor wrists. I’ve had several large translations in a row without breaks in between, and that many words for that many hours for that many days… hurt. They feel better today than yesterday, but if they start acting up I might have to stop, just in case.
  4. My neck. My posture is abysmal when I’m in front of a computer, and since I’m in front of a computer most of the day, and the bad habits have started to carry over into other situations, my neck has begun to act up too. Besides, I tense up when I’m stressed, so the muscles are really stiff. I’m working on it, but I will have to take more breaks than I usually would.
  5. “No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished” (book 3 in the Heartstriker series) by Rachel Aaron came out yesterday, and is already in my Kindle app. I’m not even sure I’ll feel bad about reading it instead of writing. Well, OK, maybe a little.

Today’s original quota was 5k. I will definitely have to write that today, and if I can’t catch up today I’ll have to do it tomorrow. If I start next week by being behind, I’ll definitely not be optimistic.

Still, to be fair, I haven’t reached the “I hate my story” point yet, so that’s good.

Writing progress! Woohoo!

Well! It’s finally under way! As you may remember, the editing/third draft for Rogue Sorcery kept being postponed, but finally. It’s being written.

I decided to take the NaNoWriMo approach to it, since Cicilie will have to get the entire draft at the end of August anyway and that’s less than a month away. So I found my trusty statistics spreadsheets again, and customised the different goals (you can have several different goals, and you can also adjust them so that you have a small daily quota on very hectic days, but a far larger one on days when you’re not working, for example)

Technically I’m a bit behind schedule. BUT: That’s because I didn’t technically finish the plan before day 2, and day 1’s quote was written the day before. But the stats don’t capture that, unfortunately, and I can’t be bothered to change the spreadsheet. It’s not nearly important enough, and I’ll catch up soon anyway.

So far the entire story is 12k, approximately, (2k written yesterday) and I expect it will be around 100-120k. I also have a feeling I will be wrong, in which case I will be lucky if I can give Cicilie a finished draft. Even if I have changed (but not actually written) the ending since she read it last.

On the other hand, it is a third draft. There will be sections where I don’t have to rewrite very much. I always write better when things get a bit more tense. The beginning takes time, mostly because there’s a lot of things I have to add as it was a bit too rushed and choppy.

Anyway. I hope I can report being back on track very soon 🙂

Getting things done

I feel like a bit of a hypocrite, writing a post with this title. While I can be quite good (at times) at getting things done, and getting them done fast, I am even better at not getting them done. *ehem*Rogue Sorcery’s third draft*cough* I am hopeful that things are about to change, though.

As I’ve probably mentioned before, I am a huge fan of Rachel Aaron’s blog, and in a recent entry either she or her husband mentioned managing your time as a writer and/or freelancer. I cannot remember the exact topic or title, because I had an epiphany halfway through and started googling “project management for writers” and similar variations instead. And then I realised I needed a plan for getting through all my translations as well, and continued my search the day after. I plowed through websites and forum posts and software and whatnot, and here I am, with a brand new plan and a brand new strategy. Here are some of the things I realised.

First, you need to treat your writing as a job even if it technically isn’t yet. I’m not thinking about how seriously you take it, or how much time you dedicate to it, but treating it like you would a huge task at work. For example, when we host our two-day AGMs at work, we can’t just figure out what to do as we go along, or we’ll end up with the wrong amount of gifts, too little control over registration and participant lists, and so on. We need to write down every single thing that needs to be done, when it needs to be done (for example, the papers must be sent to the delegates a certain amount of days in advance), which tasks are most important/urgent and who is responsible for doing each. It’s not enough to know what week or days you’ll work on it, but I often feel like that’s what I’m doing with my writing or painting. I focus less on what I’m going to achieve, and more on just getting the quantity down. You can do a whole lot of writing without getting anywhere.

Because of that, you really need a plan. I’m not necessarily talking about outlining or knowing what you need to edit – those should be a given – but making a reasonable estimate of when you will be finished, while making sure you can fit your writing and your goal into your daily life.

For me, that has entailed making similar plans not only for my writing, but for my other projects. I’m not willing to sacrifice everything else to get my novel done, but I’m not willing to wait for years before it’s finished or to burn myself out (again) either. Since I’ve had quite a bit of translation work lately, I’ve needed to factor that in as well.

Point one on my agenda was to find project management software that could work for a freelancer/writer who is only one person. It needed to be free, it needed to be able to group tasks into different projects/groups, and preferrably have subtasks as well, the possibility to set repeating tasks, and a calendar. I ended up with Asana, which does all the above, but there were several good candidates.

I have made each story a separate project, and I also have projects for pretty much every other major thing I do that’s not related to work or just daily life. I have projects for organising my photography, revising the website, for my translation, for my conlangs, and a Project Flexibility for my dancing. Most of these have specific end goals and specific deadlines, and those that don’t, are projects I haven’t quite managed to fit in with the others yet, such as my conlang projects.

The first thing I did was to make a list over every step I needed to do to reach my goal, which was finishing the main project goal. The first goal for the Sorcery Duology project is to finish my third draft, which is broken down into one subtask per chapter. The next task is to give the draft to Cicilie, and so on. I listed every single thing I could think of, but of course there’s always something you haven’t thought of. Perhaps it will need an additional round of revision, and then I need to adjust the project for that. No biggie.

The other thing I did was to make sure that every task/subtask was manageable. It’s impossible to tackle the whole iceberg at once if you only have an icepick. Take off one piece at a time. Make sure that you don’t, when seeing the task in your calendar, dread starting it. Make it small enough that it won’t feel impossible to do; after all you can do tomorrow’s task early if you finish quickly and haven’t run out of steam.

Third, I set due dates for everything, at least for those things I know I’ll focus on now. One of the principles for good project management is apparently to work with a sense of urgency, according to a website I just read. What incentive do you have to write if you might as well do it tomorrow? I think that’s part of the reason why NaNoWriMo works so incredibly well for me. You also reduce the amount of time you spend deciding what you’ll focus on today, because you have already planned it and set due dates for it.

The only functionality I wish existed was to make one task’s due date dependant on the completion of another task. For example, that the “edit chapter 2” task’s deadline would automatically be set to the day after I ticked off “edit chapter 1”. But that’s a minor thing, I think.

Only time will tell whether or not this will work. I am optimistic, though, and I think it will work far better than the “write this much on those days” approach I used to (try to) follow. Perhaps I’ll write a second post when I’ve followed this for a while and know how well it has worked. It has certainly had one benefit: I have finally updated the blog again (yes, that’s also a project).

Not good enough may sometimes be just right 

…what on earth am I on about now? I think most people who know me would think that those words aren’t even in my vocabulary. Generally I always aim to be as good as possible at anything I do, and strongly dislike (because “hate” is such a strong word) not being where I feel I should be, skill-wise. 

As for my photography, I had an art block for the longest time because I felt I wasn’t good enough, and because of things that were said. And then I felt uninspired, like I had nothing else to photograph, nothing I had left. I knew it was far from perfect, but still the best I could do. And that was a pity, since that’s kind of what I do when travelling.

But then I started going through my photos again in order to figure out which I should upload here. 2500 became 1500 and then 1000, and I aim to cull the collection to maximum 100 before I even think about making a photography gallery here. At that point I realised that no, I hadn’t actually taken that really good photo of waves, or of the sunset. They were good, yes, but I could do better.

In other words, the hunt for a good photo of this and that is not over. And that’s a good thing. For one because I love to photograph. I may not always find the best composition or subject matter, but I’m learning, and I love just doing it. I have a purpose still, something to aim for. 

Secondly, it means that I have finally started to detach myself a bit more from my photos just since I am able to see it, and able to leave out photos I actually like (but which I like because of the memories and the idea of what the picture could have been like, not because of the actual quality).

We live and learn, and it’s good to have somewhere to go that’s not an immensely long way ahead. It’s also good to find peace with not being good enough, and to realise that this means having a perfect reason to devote time to it. If you have nothing to improve, why bother?

In a short while I’ll probably go back to being a self-critical perfectionist who would like nothing better than to be fantastically skilled at everything, but for now I’ll try to savour this feeling as long as I can. It would probably do me good to try to apply it to my other creative pursuits. After all, if you don’t like the process of doing it, why spend so much time on doing it well when there are so many other things you could do? Perhaps we (I) should try not to be so goal-oriented in everything we do.

Well, enough talk. I’m going out to photograph some waves.

Long-term goals

Warning: Long, rambly post ahead…

Recently I’ve been thinking a great deal about the future. In a few months I’ll be quitting my current job, which I like a great deal, and starting a new one, which pays a lot better. In time it means the end of my financial troubles, and I am 100% it was the right decision, but I was surprised at how little enthusiasm I felt. Some of it was pure shock, of course, since the job was not even one I applied for (I asked my former boss for a reference and she gave me a job instead), but nonetheless I found it strange.


Having thought a great deal about it, I think it is for the same reason that I decided not to go into the field of linguistics, even if I do have a master’s degree and did apply for a PhD once (though certain things I’ve heard about the work environment at the university wasn’t without importance, to put it that way). It’s not because I don’t like linguistics. It’s not because I don’t like what the new job entails, because I really love some parts of it, and I really like my former/new boss too.

But with regards to my dream, of what I want to be? It feels like a step back. I’ll work longer hours and have a full work week – but of course that’s not even close to true. For the past year I’ve worked two jobs, and after Christmas I’ve worked on translations every spare hour I had, in addition to dancing. Let’s just say there hasn’t been any time for writing, and whenever I had an hour to spare I was too stressed or too tired to get anything useful done. So really, considering I can finally settle in just one job and still pay all my bills, and won’t have to work in the evenings – it’s a huge step forward.

Still, it made me think about what I really want. With my writing, linguistics, painting and those things. Do I want to keep it as just a hobby, something in which I dabble every now and then? I guess it’s obvious that since I’m actually asking the question, the answer is no.

My dream wasn’t just writing books. My dream has always been to be able to have my interests as a job. Writing and illustrating my own books, if not full time then at least almost full time. Make a name for myself. Painting pictures from my books that people actually will buy. I also dream about having a video blog about language (mostly), and (this is very, very, very much at the “what if” stage) perhaps even go to linguistics conferences as myself/my own company/whatever you call it, instead of representing a university, and do the research I want to do, not what attracts the money. I even have the name.

I am 32 years old now. If there was ever a time to start making dreams into reality, it is now. And I’ve realised that I cannot treat my dreams as just dreams, or as if I need to wait for luck to come my way before going after them. I need to start acting and start making them a reality. Really, other people can make far wilder dreams come true, why should I (or you) be different? I’ve also realised that I cannot treat writing and painting and conlanging as if they exist only in their little bubble. I won’t be able to write if I’m worried sick about having enough money to put food on my table, or if I work myself into the ground to get that money. So I have made a list of things I need to do in order to make the dream a reality. Not necessarily right now, but sometime in the future; the end goals of my smaller, more specific goals. (As you probably can tell, I like goals)

  1. Become financially independent. I saw this mentioned on a “how to save money” blog I came across a few days ago, and the idea really clicked. I am horrible at saving, but the idea of saving enough money so that I won’t actually have to work… that’s tempting. And hard work. But it would allow me to not work full work weeks, and thus have more time to write. Step one is to repay all my debt. I’m not counting my student loan here, because it’s so big, but all the rest. Step two would be to save enough money to have a buffer, so that I won’t have to take on more debt if there’s any unexpected expenses, as well as for dance expenses. Step three would be to save enough money for a full year off work. That’s more than a few years into the future, and it will be hard, but there you have it. Of course the real step one is to become more frugal even if I’ll have more income.
  2. Finish the damn book. No explanation needed, I guess.
  3. Look into other, little ways of gaining extra money for writing that still allows me to write my own stories. One example is Patreon, although you need at least some fans already to make it work, or short e-books or something like that.
  4. Do point 3, only for painting. This also involves becoming good enough at painting to be able to create something people would want to pay money for. My current benchmark is getting a picture accepted to, but hopefully I’ll become good enough to raise that bar.
  5. Look into the video blog thing. A friend of mine really liked the idea, but I have to figure out how to make it work. I always envisioned it as a two-people blog, however, so I need to find someone to help me out. Hmm…
  6. Improve the website and the galleries and, well, all that. Start using Twitter more. Use my art instagram account more. Blog more. Comment more on the stuff of others. Get more active on deviantART and other art sites, as well as on Wattpad and other writing sites. You know, that magical web presence thing that everyone talks about.
  7. Never forget why I am working towards those particular dreams.

So there you have it. It might seem overly ambitious, but how would you ever fulfill a dream if you didn’t work towards it? I don’t believe in that kind of luck (though I hope…). And the fact remains that a writing career isn’t very lucrative unless you’re really good. Besides, a career won’t do you any good anyway if you don’t have the skills to back it up, unless you are a couple of really well known authors whose names I won’t mention.

Well, this became too long as usual, so I’ll stop. Tomorrow I have most of the evening free, so I’m planning to re-write an old story of mine. I rather liked it, but it didn’t work then, and I wrote a new ending on the bus today. I’ll upload it to Wattpad as soon as I finish it!

Grumpy post: 4 things I hate online

Generally I try to keep this blog on topic, or it easily descends into a “woe is me” chaos. But occasionally I need to rant, and particularly after researching website stuff (how to move an entire website and all those fun fiddly things) I really need to get it out. There are some things I absolutely loathe online, and some that I just generally dislike. The funny (read: enfuriating) thing is that many of these things are done by those who teach other people how to make good blogs and websites… So to everyone out there making author websites or writing blogs or whatnot – please don’t do these things?

1. “Subscribe to me!!111!” popup boxes

Here’s a tip: Popups aren’t any less annoying when they appear in the same window, or contain an e-mail subscription box instead of ads for dubious pills or even more dubious dating sites. As far as I understand getting as many people on your mailing list as possible is a thing. I’ve seen people recommend using these popups even if they dislike those abominations themselves. Because, well, subscribers. Why??? (You even made me bring out the extra question marks!)

Subscription popups make me seethe with internal rage every time I come across them, and it’s actually not an exaggeration. Throw a huge subscription box at my face and prevent me from seeing the content I came there for, and I will click the tiny, hardly visible X, and then I will click that slightly more visible X in my browser, not seeing any of the content you’ve worked so hard to make. I don’t like being nagged, and I have only ever continued to read a blog that had those once. No, that’s not an exaggeration either, and I only did it because the content was so fantastically useful to me. It’s not like subscribing will make the popups stop appearing either! They just come back over and over and over and over again until you feel like gouging your eyes out with a spoon.

Told you it was a grumpy post.

What happened to having a visible but relatively unobtrusive subscription box in your sidebar, so that people can subscribe without being forced to or nagged every time they visit, and focusing on writing content that people will want to read? Everyone has at least one needy friend who constantly needs to validate your friendship. Is that the person you prefer to spend time with? Nope. Nothing makes me more annoyed than being disturbed in my reading by a jiggly, brightly coloured box that obscures the whole text. Seriously, I would not be surprised if they started playing music soon.

Which brings us over to my next hate object:

2. Websites with auto-playing music or ads

Oh no, the travesty.

Honestly most websites I visit are not stuck in the nineties/early 2000s and know that websites with music that play automatically are annoying. But apparently not all. As someone who almost always listens to music while browsing, it is really annoying to have your favourite song interrupted by some bad tune with bad quality playing at top volume.

In reality most of these are auto-playing ads. It does not make things better at all. As I often listen to music, I have sometimes had a moment of paranoia when trying to figure out where the talking comes from. Is someone outside my window? Has someone walked into my apartment (even though the door is always locked)? Has it become haunted? Am I hearing voices?

In fact yes, it usually turns out that I am hearing voices. The voices of annoying salesmen in even more annoying ads, as it turns out after a bit of digging. Very fun if you have gone through your bookmarks and have open perhaps twenty tabs. (Which little, easily ignored ad box in one of these thirty tabs that I am reluctant to close is the one that is playing, and how can I make it shut up? Can I really do it in time before I throw the monitor out the window of sheer annoyance?)

I guess it should be a lesson that having twenty tabs open simultaneously is a bad idea. But sometimes you need it. Research, people, research! (And news about the latest k-pop scandal *ehem*)

3. it’s a seeecret

You promised to teach me to do <thing>, damnit! And only now, when I’ve read past countless reviews and you telling me how fantastic this thing is, you say that I can’t learn it unless I pay you or subscribe to you or something like that? Ugh, no thanks. I’ve just spent ten minutes or more reading all about why I should learn it, the benefits of learning it, who else is learning it, what people say about learning it, the history of teaching this thing, shameless praise of yourself disguised as objective facts, and so much rubbish fluff writing that my brain feels like dying. You think I want to give you money in addition to that? Yeah, I get it, you are selling a thing (or the knowledge of how to do a thing) and you want to make sure that people think they need it and that people want to buy. But could you do it in less words?

The same goes for blog posts or websites that go on forever before they even get close to the point. Seriously, why should I care? I don’t want to know why, I want to know what.

Tiny little tip: Personally I subscribe to other people because I like their content (shock!) and would hate to miss any. Not because I want free gifts, or something the non-subscribers cannot get. If you write good content, I will subscribe. If you try to bribe or confuse me into subscribing? Nooooo. I refuse to believe I’m the only one who thinks like this.

Seriously, some of those blogs feel like telemarketers in blog form.

4. You have to promote yourself!

This one is partially inspired by this blog entry on the blog whimsydark. It writes about the particular kind of “shouty” promotion, where authors promote and promote and promote online, trying desperately to build a fanbase and a social media platform, and it doesn’t help. Because they come off as desperate and annoying, and the potential reader still has no valid reason why they should read the person’s book.

The same problem goes for some art blogs and photo blogs and whatnot. Yes, I’ve bought the books of people because of their social media presence (though I hate that expression). But do you know what? None of them shoved their books down my throat, none of them talked relentlessly about why I should like their book, none of them kept trying to sell things to me. Informing me about their books or art and where I can buy them? Fine, absolutely fine. Constantly shoving this information in my face whenever I even consider visiting their website or blog or twitter or facebook site? Oh hell no. (So what did these authors whose books I bought do right? Well, they were generally awesome people. They gave advice, for free, they talked about their interests and their writing process and their life and their pets and their pet peeves and whatnot, and while they also talked about their books, they were real people. Don’t be pushy cardboard cutouts, people. Be a real and non-annoying person.)

The bottom line is this: I want to decide for myself whether or not I will buy something, or what I like. You wrote/made/invented the thing, of course you like it. You have no way of knowing if I will like it, so stop pushing. Yes, I will buy your book, thank you for telling me about it. IF it looks like a book I would like. But not if you keep shoving it in my face. That’s in fact the best way to ensure that I will neither by that book nor future books by you. Petty? Perhaps.


Here are some short guidelines to stop being intensely annoying online:

  1. Don’t nag me more than my mother does. Seriously.
  2. Don’t be pushy. Let me decide for myself whether or not I like your book/website/whatever the heck you sell.
  3. Don’t interfere with my browsing experience. Don’t make me hunt for a tiny little ad with plenty of sound. Don’t throw huge popups in my face that prevent me from seeing the content I came for. Don’t make me waste my precious time hunting for a tiny, little, near-invisible X to read your article.
  4. Don’t be a tease. If you promise to teach me about doing X or Y, then do it, instead of throwing a “oh wait, haha, you have to pay for it” at me aaaaall the way at the bottom of a far-too-long page. Especially after forcing me to read all those empty fluff sentences.
  5. Don’t be desperate. Nobody likes to buy stuff/spend time on stuff/read stuff out of pity. Show me why I will like it. No, no, don’t tell me, show me. I’m not a difficult person, except if people try to guilt trip me into something. Then you’ll see difficult.
  6. Don’t follow advice blindly. Even mine. If someone tells you that you need to have subscription popups, but you actually hate them, why would you still have them? It genuinely baffles me.

Ah, it feels good to vent, even if the people who need to see these italics-riddled complaints probably never will. Do you have something to add to the list?