Friday, 6 March 2020

Is it worthwhile?

I've been having a think about how I use my time and if I could make better use of it. Blogging is one aspect I've been looking at.

As well as this blog I run WomagWriter. Both take up quite a bit of time – it's not so much the writing of the posts, but the finding of free writing competitions for this one, and attempting to ensure all the information and magazine submission guidelines on the other blog are accurate and up to date.

Both blogs generally only attract a handful of comments per post. Comments are the only real way for me to know the post was read and considered interesting or useful. I do look at the stats, but as these tell me over half of you are Russian I'm not convinced they're accurate. If there really are only six or so readers it doesn't seem worth me continuing. A writer of any kind is nothing without readers!

I've found a few more free to enter writing competitions, so will post up the links over the next few days. If they don't attract many comments I'll conclude it's not worth me searching for more.

I did mention this short story competition before, but as the prize is £15,000 and there's still time to enter I thought it was worth doing so again.

The organisers of this contest want poetry, short stories and art on the theme of springtime. Any genre and word count is acceptable. I have asked if there's any reward other than publication, but haven't yet recieved a response.

What do you think – is it worth me continuing to blog about free to enter writing competitions, or am I better off using the time to write my own fiction?


Lynn Love said...

I do always read your contest shares, Patsy so sorry for not commenting more. And I've recommended your blog more than once to fellow writers. Such a fount of accumulated knowledge

Niddy said...

I suppose a lot of us are lazy when it comes to leaving a message on a blog. I confess that I do read yours, particularly your free competitions. I find it very helpful. I understand that commenting is helpful for you to see how many people do read it and to that end I will endeavour to leave a message on every post.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I always read and usually comment. I connect with you through this blog first and would hate to see you discontinue.

Carrie said...

I always find your blog useful with all the competitions, Patsy, and appreciate you taking the time to share with us all. I guess time is short these days - hoping you do continue, but understand if you don’t.

Lel said...

Thought provoking post. your Womag blog is a unique and valued resource and I am sure I am not the only one who thinks so. I enjoy your blog posts. This is only my third comment since I started dropping by. I suppose the question is - what is your blog for? You certainly do not need to improve your writing craft (my reason for blogging). You may or may not feel you need it as a promotional platform to get your work out there (I guess this is what I also want from my blog one day). You may want it to link to a network of other writers and if this is the purpose then we are being lackadaisical in understanding and valuing this! Whatever your reason for your blog I for one am glad it is there but also very glad for your post. It made me think about giving not just taking and engaging with fellow writers. Lel

Marguerite said...

My first response on a blog! Yes - please continue, Patsy. I too recommend both your blogs to my writing group. I have recently been looking at the free writing competitions and ended up winning one in the batch you did before Christmas - so thank you.
Magazine submission material is invaluable and appreciate it must be time consuming. All much appreciated.

Sharon boothroyd said...

Hi Patsy
I do read this blog and I check out the free comps, but I don't enter the majority of them for one reason or another.
I tend to avoid comps based abroad, for instance.But I highly value the womag writer blog and try to leave comments there.
Sadly, the womag writing scene isn't as buzzing as it once was, hence the low amount of comments. Mag fiction has changed a lot over the years and many writers have decided to focus on other projects.
I don't have a blog, as I feel it'd quickly become a chore, so I understand if you wanted to close this one down.

Paul Warnes said...

Hi Patsy
I have been reading your blogs and posts for a long time and I do apologise for not adding any comments. You have pointing the way to many competitions that I have entered and have enjoyed some success in. I need to sincerely thank you for that. I particularly appreciate the fact that you deal in free competitions- they are the only ones I trust and am prepared to enter. I really do empathise with many of your posts. Your site is one of my very few bookmarks. Please keep up the good work- it is appreciated. It's nice to be part of a community even if it's a largely silent's still there!

New girl on the block said...

I read both blogs, and share the information about free to enter competitions with my writing group. Your womag blog has been invaluable to me, as somebody who is just getting into the womag scene (bad timing, I know!!), but I have had some success. This is largely due to having access to the information on your blog about the various publications and how they operate. I'm wondering if there's a way you could merge the blogs, so that they become one rather than two. I've noticed that the names of those who comment seem to overlap between the two blogs. That could save you some time....

Patsy said...

@ Lynn – good to know it's useful.

@ Niddy – Thanks. I know everyone is busy, but it does make a huge difference to me when people comment on the blogs.

@ Alex – I'm always grateful for your comments.

@ Carrie – Where does all the time go?

@ Lel – Connecting with other writers, and trying to provide them with useful/interesting posts is exactly why I blog. Without a response it feels pointless.

@ Maguerite – It's fantastic that my blog helped you to win something! I always hope that one of my blog readers will win something. Many congratulations and thank you for letting me know.

@ Sharon – You're right about the lack of 'buzz'. When I first started blogging I felt as though I was part of something. Now it feels as though I'm talking to myself much of the time.

@ Paul – It's wonderful to hear that someone has had success in a competition I've blogged about. Thank you for letting me know.

@ New Girl – I had thought of combining the blogs, but they can't just be merged. I'd have to stop one and transfer over any information I wanted to keep. You're right that there's some overlap in readership, but they are different topics so I'm not sure how well it wouId work.

Jen said...

I seem to struggle to find time to read blogs but then I could if I stopped scrolling twitter 🙈 Do what's best for you. I enjoy your blog posts. Especially when you show us what you've been up to or give us ideas then tell us a comp we can enter. I don't have anything ready to send out yet. I think yours is the only blog I still read the email updates to but I've been lax lately. Maybe I should go back to reading blogs, I don't blog myself anymore I wanted to write more and I don't miss it anymore took too much time. And was stressful when work was hectic but that's just my choice. I have other things I like to do. 🙂

Trisha McKee said...

I just discovered your blog. New reader but I will comment to let you know I am here and reading.

Marguerite said...

... and I now have the confidence to see how easy it is to make a comment! Should have done it before. :)

marialynch said...

I do read your blogs and am interested in the competitions you put up. Sorry for not commenting - sheer laziness on my part.
I suppose my problem is slightly different from the others in that I'm still building up the confidence to send entries to said competitions. (Maybe I need a kick up the *** to get me going:-) ). Would be a shame to see these disappear, but then it all boils down to priorities doesn't it?

Frank Carver said...

I read (and love) every post on this blog, and have commented on a few, but I read it via a feed reader (, so I'm not sure how that would appear on your stats.

As to whether you should continue, Only you can decide, and it is important to decide for your own reasons, not for ours. If this blog, and the research and interaction which accompany it, are feeding your soul or your bank balance, then by all means continue. If you have reached the point where you are beginning to resent it, then something needs to change. It doesn't have to be all or nothing, though - you could reduce the frequency or complexity of posts, take a break, merge with another blog, get someone to help you ...

You are providing a free service. If you change things, readers will get used to it. As I said to another person with a related question recently: "imaginary people on the internet are not the boss of you".

Best wishes for whatever you choose, Patsy.

ados123 said...

I read both this blog and your womag blog. I use both and would very much miss them if you stopped!

Jo said...

I get your blog via email, so only just realised it is a blog and the possibility of commenting! I always read the emails and appreciate the competition sharing

Lindsay said...

I hear your frustration. I always read your posts and have entered several of the free competitions you post. Was longlisted in one recently (you were shortlisted!) and was joint winner of one a couple of years back. I haven't often commented as I didn't feel I had much of interest to add to posts on this or your Womag blog. (No success with those subs unfortunately.) I appreciate it must take a vast amount of time though which detracts from your writing. If it becomes too onerous perhaps you could reduce the regularity of posting? I'd be sorry if you stopped though.

Denise said...

You are part of my day, Patsy. The ping of your email. I admit that I interact more on Facebook but I suppose I have seen your blog more as a passive read. I will change that. At this bleak time, I would miss your blog and photos.

AnnW said...

Hi, I've only been reading your blog for a month or two but it's now on my favourites list. I also didn't actually now how to make a comment but your plea has made me make the effort to find out

Jo Lamb said...

Patsy, I totally understand your feeling about getting comments, knowing that there is someone out there. I've just had some time out of blogging for the same reason. I know I have followers but they very rarely engage and I felt as though I was talking to myself. I think the world has changed and moved on, as it does in many areas of life. I use Instagram for instance much more than anything and have a much more interactive experience there. Also there are far more opportunities to find out about anything.
I think you have to think about the best thing for you. It takes time to blog on a consistent, regular and professional basis...

Bendywriter said...

Hello, Patsy. I echo comments above. A day is a finite thing and the time taken to produce the detailed content is not insignificant! Unlike the sale of a story or book, the value of the return is incalculable.

I’m ashamed at how little I give back, calculable or otherwise.

Commenting here as an introverted scribbler, I know that the blog content will be the smaller part of my enjoyment of the posts as they wait in my inbox. Yes, I click on the links and consider the competitions, but the post itself empowers me, puts me into writing mode, silences my inner critic for a while. So, I thank you for your support and your cheerleading. Even though my subsequent strike rate is small, you have set me in motion.

Judging from the comments so far, many of us are grateful for your hard work and dedication to the writing process. If you decide that this particular blog is not rewarding your time spent on it, we shall be sad yet understanding. Whatever your decision, this particular cuckoo fledgling wants you to know how much she appreciates your work and efforts to keep her growing as a writer and to get her work out there. I tweet ‘Thanks, Mum, X.’

{On the subject of metrics - she writes, ticking the little box that says ‘I am not a robot'- I read the post as an email rather than on the blog. Does this skew your statistics (Russian or otherwise)?}

Jane Bettany said...

Hi Patsy, I will always be immensely grateful to you because I found out about the Gransnet HQ novel competition through your blog. I entered and won, and my novel will be published later this year. So thank you. I tend to read your updates through the emails you send out, rather than logging into the blog - which is probably why I haven’t left a comment before. I do try and share things on Twitter though.

Patsy said...

@ Jen – I'm sure we all have multiple calls on our time (writing related and otherwise) and as you say, we have to decide what we do and what to stop doing.

@ Trisha – Hi!

@ Marguerite – like a lot of things it's easy once you kow how, but a mystery until then.

@ Maria Lynch – consider yourself kicked! ;-)

@ Frank – Hmm, yes I suppose I have started to resent spending time doing something when those who benefit from it don't seem to value it enough to leave an occassional comment to let me know I'm not totally wasting my time.

@ Alyson – thank you. And thank you for regularly supporting both blogs with information, comments and retweets. Without you and a (very) few others I'd have stopped both blogs years ago.

@ Jo – I knew people could subscribe and get the posts by email, but didn't realise it wouldn't then be obvious that they were blogs posts. I can now see that's the case and will take it into account if I continue.

@ Lindsay – You don't need to win or get published to have something worthwhile to say – although I'm always delighted to hear from people who've been longlisted etc). It's interesting to know who is trying what where, and that knowledge could help me create more relevant posts.

@ Denise – Thank you. It's nice to know that my posts make even a tiny difference.

@ Ann W– Thank you for taking that trouble.

@ Jo Lamb – yes, I can see you really do understand.

@ Bendywriter – I don't know if going to the blog or reading via email makes any difference to the stats although it seems possible it might. How people access the blog doesn't make any difference to me personally – whatever you prefer is fine.

Patsy said...

@ Jane – congratulations on your success! Each time I put up the link to a competition I hope that one of my readers will do well in it, so it's fantastic to learn that has happened.

I would love to be able to post about people's success in competitions rather than assuming nobody even entered.

Jane Bettany said...

Thanks, Patsy. I will keep you posted on how things progress. Wishing you all the best with your writing projects. I hope you continue to blog, but I’ll understand if you decide not to. Time is a precious commodity and there never seems to be enough of it!

Jan Halstead said...


I feel very guilty. I'm a serial non-commenter, if there is such a thing, but I've been reading one or other of your blogs for years. I've also been a runner up and a shortlister in two of the free entry competitions you've listed (thank you), and I share them with my writers group. So your unselfish efforts have not been in vain. Having said that, life is short and if there are things you need to do then perhaps it's time to declutter your 'to do' list and prioritise yourself. It's only fair.

Anonymous said...

As a newbie writer, I am very appreciative of both blogs, especially the information on submission guidelines and competitions. Thank you for taking the time to do them.

Celia said...

Hi Tosh. I have your two blogs on my 'thumbnail' icons and tend to read both at least once a week but I don't always comment because quite often I've nothing to say. I reckon there may be many others who feel the same way. Perhaps I should add a comment-any comment-just to prove to you that I've 'been in'. You do a unique service and the above comments show that people do read and note and act on what you've said. So yes, if you can be bothered, please do carry on for the sake of all the newcomers and also for those of us who've 'known' you for years and years and who just like popping in.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Patsy - I usually read and sometimes take 'forever' to reply as today! I must enter some of the competitions you suggest ... I do look - but don't really write stories as such - we'll see ... but love reading what others do ... glad you're continuing - see your next post! Cheers and happy travelling ... Hilary

Patsy said...

@ Jane – No, there's not enough time for everything we'd like to do.

@ Jan – Congratulations on the shortlistings!

@ Anonymous – I'm glad they're of use.

@ Celia – I'm always pleased to hear from you, even if all you have to say is 'Hello Tosh'.

@ Hilary – I'll keep an eye out for different types of competition and see if I can tempt you into having a try.

JP said...

Hello Patsy! I've just found your blog and I am glad I have. I haven't found anything like it on the web; there's so much useful information and advice under one roof. So, please, please continue your blog. But you should do what makes you happy.
I have a question and I'm sure I'm posting it under the wrong section, but I am still reading your past posts so maybe I'd find the answer in the future...
I am shielding at the moment so I am looking for magazines that take submissions by email. My question is, in what format should the submission be? I'm wondering is it in the body of the email or as an attachment? If it is the latter, in what format? pdf? .doc? etc.
Many thanks!

Patsy said...

@ JP – Some magazines accept email submissions. You'll need to check their individual guidelines to see which do. There's a link at the top of the page explaining how to do that on this blog.

The usual method is to format the story as though printing it (and in accordance with any specific instructions in the guidelines) and attach as a 'doc.

JP said...

Thanks Patsy. And thank you for replying quickly.
1. Will check individual guidelines. So far, I have found that not everyone is accepting email submissions during this lockdown time.
2. Will complete my work, format as usual and save as .doc.

Again, got to say this is the best writing blog I have found :)

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