Zero to Hero: Day 8, behind the scenes

I don’t usually like skipping around, but Day 8 is kicking my butt, and I need some feedback. Day 7 is done and ready to be posted, but I like to space things out so today is Day 8 and tomorrow can be Day 7, since it’s really Day 9 anyways. 😛


I’ve already been mucking about with my About pages, as a result of ZtH, but today’s challenge is geared towards it specifically. I want to start fresh, and then take what I do today and marry it with what I’ve already done. This may involved replacing, or meshing the two. We shall see.


The good old Copy/Paste is back, but I’d like to mention that I also leave the actual assignment pulled up in another tab. There’s a lot of good links in them, and there’s nothing more frustrating that going to click on a link in here, realizing I can’t, and then having to lose all of my flow by trying to track down the original post. So just leave it open folks, much easier.

The ramble:

I hate writing about myself.

Like, rambling on about myself is awesome, but whenever I’m confronted with “Summarize yourself in 200 words or less – and make people give a damn!”, I freeze. I suddenly realize I’m not that interesting and no one should give a damn and blah blah blah. That’s why my bios on almost every site I’m registered on are blank.

But no more! Today, I shall conquer my about page. I plan to trick myself into doing this by writing about my blog(self) instead of me. Me is boring, but I’m pretty in love with my blog, so if I just think about this blog’s author as another character…

Should work, right?

On to the assignment. So far, they haven’t let me down, doing a good job of keeping me on task and inspiring me. Let’s see what sage words of advice we have today.

Today’s assignment: create and publish your About page, and adapt it for a widget on your home page.

Ooooh, and a widget! I was playing around with widgets earlier, since I wasn’t quite ready with my header (though you’ll note my lovely “Camp NaNo” banner, yes?) so I’m pretty well comfortable in widgeting. That part should be easy.

Why do this?

  • Because an enticing About page gives your readers an idea of who you are and what your blog is about, information we all look for when figuring out whether we want to read more.
  • Because a short description of your blog right on the home page helps rushed, indecisive readers decide to stick around without requiring them to commit to reading a full post or separate “About” page.

This. This is the bit I’m not so sure about. How do I make people want to keep reading if they’re not already sold with my stellar posts?

The assignment’s advice on About pages was a little lacking, but that’s because there’s already great content out there on about pages. About 101 and About 201 were invaluable resources for today’s assignment- I definitely recommend reading them if you haven’t already.

About 101 had mini-assignments, called “Action time”, which yielded these results:

Action time! Set a timer for 90 seconds. In that 90 seconds, jot down 1-3 things you’d like your audience to feel, think, and most importantly of all, do, when they read your About page.

  1. This girl has some great ideas! I want to follow her, for more great ideas (about what? about writing tips & tricks)
  2. Wow! I’m not alone! I’m not the only one that gets lost/feels discouraged/is afraid to edit/has a hard time with X/etc.
  3. What is this Asylum business? I want to know more about what she’s actually writing – oh look! A link to click about that!

Action time! Get that timer out again. Give yourself 60 seconds this time, because you like living on the edge. Scribble down, at breakneck pace, any words that spring to mind to describe you (“book nerd,” “cat fancier,” “walrus trainer”). Take another sixty seconds and do the same for your blog (“hilarity fiesta,” “doom machine,” “cat photos”). Take on one more bout of sixty second scribbing, because, hey, what’s three minutes between friends, and do the same for important events in your life (“dog bite,” “cheese aversion,” “psychokinetic prom fire”). Now you have all of your ingredients on the page, give yourself 90 decadent seconds to draw lines between all of the above and see how you can connect them all into something greater than the sum of their parts.


A Hot Mess

Action Time! Imagine for a moment that you’re one of those poor deflated looking people on the street trying to get strangers to take fliers from you. Only, instead of fliers, you’ve got your blog. You have half a second to get their attention. What are you going to say in that half a second to make them stop in their tracks? Set a timer for, say, two minutes. Jot down as many opening lines as you can come up with.

  • Writing got you down? Check out the tips and tricks to stay on top!
  • Stuck with a difficult scene/character/plot point? Me too! Here’s what I did to -nevermind, they walked off, too long
  • Are you a writer? Me too- check out my tricks for staying sane!
  • Ever done a NaNo? Wonder how your experience compares with others? (Did that grab them? I can say more after that…)
  • So ya wanna be a writer? Me too! Come see what works for me, and what not so much, and what I do about those kinda days
  • …I hate all of these. Now even I don’t want to read my blog. 😦

Action Time! The timer’s off for this one, because being concise is challenge enough. Try to capture the essence of your About page in a single sentence, like the tagline for a movie.

Coming to theaters this Summer-Raevenly Writes: she’s back, and this time it’s personal 😛 No so much. Maybe, Raevenly Writes: For writers, by a writer? Too cliche, and too vague. Hrmmm… Raevenly Writes: A new to the scene writer blogs about writing snags, writing successes, writing ideas, other peoples writing, what she’s writing now – it’s called Raevenly Writes, what more do you want?

I’m feel more and more like I suck at this. I didn’t even make it to the pitch this to a stranger, let alone the exercises on About 201. It is really good stuff, but I don’t feel like I have enough to tackle that yet. Like with fiction editing, getting the first crappy rough draft is the hardest part. It’s easy to take something you already have and fix it. So, without further ado:

The ramble’s ramble:

About me: I’m in my late 20’s, been writing nearly all my life but just seriously started writing about a year ago. I did my first NaNo his past November – hated the concept, but learned that I CAN write every day and not hate it. I had forgotten that somewhere along the way.

I love supernatural stories, favorite authors including Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, Kim Harrison and Laurell K. Hamilton – if you don’t know at least one of those authors, you probably shouldn’t stick around. My writing will not be your cup of tea.

I love to let my characters do the talking, often letting them speak right up in a post, or at least writing posts about them, in addition to posting snippets and outtakes from the actual fiction I’m working on.

I’m a detailed world builder, and have lots of tips and tricks for keeping that shit straight, and keeping my lazy ass on task.

I like to swear when I start relaxing. It’s a crass habit, but that’s who I am and how I talk when I start to get comfortable.

I like really gritty sex and violence scenes, but limit them to what’s narratively relevant (..after the edit. I try not to censor my characters as I go). Not all of my characters are as raw as I am, some of them prefer a tasteful fade to black, as it were. But there will be the occasional smattering of smut if you read the right people of mine (this would be a great place to plug in an Asylum link).

Ok. So that’s something. I mention who I am, mention what the blog might contain- I feel like this might be some good stuff, with some work. This has probably been the hardest ZtH assignment I’ve done yet – as you can see by ALL THE THINGS.

At this point, my brain is mush, and I’m feeling like I need to walk away for a little bit. I’ve posted in the Commons to ask for help, and I’ll come back to this later.

The wrap up:

For now, there is no wrap up. I still have the widgets part of the assignment copy/pasted below, and will get to it once I have an About I even want to distill. I’m taking a break to work on some fiction, clean some house, and see what kind of feedback I get from the Commons.

But ya know what? I don’t feel like  a failure. The About page is probably one of the most important pages on a blog, and I feel good about the fact that this is so hard for me. To me, it feels like I’m doing it right. It should be a work in progress. I have something up now, and that’s better than nothing. I’ll keep working at this, and even when I’m “done”, I’ll probably still work at it some more. Because I’m a work in progress. 🙂

Once you’re happy with your About page, distill it into one or two sentences and add them to a text widget at the top of your sidebar — shoot for the widget to have no more than 10 lines. Now, readers can learn more about you without a single click.

If you’re having trouble making it short and sweet, ask yourself: if a total stranger found my blog and only remembered one thing about it, what would I want that to be? You can also add a link to the full page at the end of your short description with some simple HTML.

For a closer look at text widgets and some “About” examples, check out this post. For the basics on creating a new page, use these instructions.

(For those who need an intro to widgets, widgets are small doohickeys — that’s a technical term — that you drag and drop to add different functions and content to your blog. For more detail on working with widgets, head here.


14 thoughts on “Zero to Hero: Day 8, behind the scenes

  1. I love the fact you’ve documented what so many of us are thinking as we go through these assignments… what a great idea!

    P.S I nominated you for a Liebster Award, here are the rules, and the link to my nomination…

    These are the rules:
    The Liebster Award is awarded to bloggers with under 200 followers to try to promote their blog a little and also bring together a community of bloggers. The rules of the competition are as follows:
    The nominated user must provide a link bank to the person who nominated them.
    Provide 11 facts about yourself.
    Answer 11 questions set by the person who nominated you.
    Choose 11 more people and ask them 11 questions.


  2. I like the way your brain works, it seems to be similar to my own process! I had a lot of trouble with my About page as well; I wanted to sound witty, talented and inspirational – it didn’t work out that way lol! I’ve changed mine a few times, still not positive that I’m happy with it though. I might reconsider saying something like “you probably shouldn’t stick around” because I’ve never heard of those authors and I am still interested in reading your work, it might turn some people off that don’t need turning off (if that makes sense). I’m looking forward to reading more!


    • Yeah, I winced when I wrote that, but I try not to edit rough drafts, if my intention is to show case them as such. I like to let people see the unpolished mess to they know they’re not the only ones. 😛

      Thanks for commenting, and stick around if you to read more of my work. I’ve got two big projects almost ready to be released!


  3. What a great post, thanks for sharing. I have trouble writing about myself too, and I think this is really going to help spruce up my About page (which really does need sprucing up :D).


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