One of the first regular series I ran on WoM nearly 5 years ago involved interviewing WoW bloggers. It was a way to peer into their personality both in real life and in the virtual. Unrelated, I remember the Newbie Blogger Initiative that took place year. I offered my own advice for new and veteran bloggers both. This time around though, I’ll be conducting interviews with other established bloggers specifically about blogging itself. Everyone has their own style, voice, and habits.
Kurn continues to be a powerful authority in the realm of guild leadership. She has blogged about the different facets of running a guild dating back to as early as 2008. She is a prolific holy paladin and blogger who has hung up her mace and shield in favour of retirement.
In this interview, we’re going to look at her blogging side and how she breaks through the typically challenges that tend to stonewall bloggers.
So who exactly are you and what do you do?
My name is Kurn and I have a sociology background. I’m an expert in online communities and a halfway decent writer. I am a former WoW guild master, raid leader, healing lead and raider.
What do you feel are your strongest post types as a blogger? That’s a tough question. I guess my guide-type posts were always something I both really enjoyed as well as dreaded. On the one hand, I always enjoyed writing about how to play on a somewhat basic level and then graduating to more advanced techniques, but on the other hand, it’s difficult to just give out basic information without overloading people with more advanced stuff all at once.
Where can we find your work?
My blog is found here! (Or in Matt’s sidebar).
Art of Productivity
How much time do you spend on a weekly basis just reading and researching for blog posts?
That really depends on what the topic is. If I’m really familiar with it, not a lot of time at all. For the aforementioned guide posts, I could count on a solid four hours or so of researching and even more time testing certain things to ensure I know exactly what I’m talking about. Other types of posts are really just me retelling things or giving advice, so those tend to be less based on research and prior reading. In those cases, I tend to just let my thoughts spill out on to the page.
How do you prepare yourself before blogging?
I like to sit down during a time when I am not likely to be interrupted, preferably with a cup of tea, and just dive right in. Sometimes, I’ll write an outline, especially if the posts are comprehensive and long, but usually I’ll just start writing. The tea is helpful because I can sip at it while pondering how best to phrase something. (You can replace “tea” with any beverage of your choice.)
How would you advise a blogger to beat procrastination?
There’s no reason NOT to write what you’re thinking. Editing is part of the process, but worry about editing when you’re done writing. Sit down, just get the words down, then go back and see if it makes sense!
When is the best time of day for you to blog?
2 o’clock in the morning is my magic hour. I love blogging late at night. I used to be really productive in the early afternoon, but circumstances have changed such that I’m pretty busy during the afternoons these days. Late-night writing (including blogging) is great. No phone calls, no distractions.
How many hours a week do you spend actually blogging?
I blog a lot less frequently than I used to, but I probably spend about two or three hours a week dealing with my blog. By that, I mean thinking about writing blogs, responding to comments, tweeting about blogs and the like. I probably spend one or two hours a week writing specifically for my blog, unless it’s been a really busy week and I feel as though I should post more. More posts mean, of course, more hours spent writing.
How many days a week?
When it comes to writing for the blog, it’s really just one or two days a week at this point.
Who are your favorite inspirations and authors?
My inspirations generally aren’t people, but rather emotions. If something pisses me off, I’m going to write about it. If something makes me really happy, I’m going to write about it. If something happens to make me really think about things, I’m going to write about it. As to favourite authors, there are too many to name, but notable writers of late have been Chris Guillebeau, Chip & Dan Heath and Janet Evanovich (whose Stephanie Plum series of books is hilarious and great brain candy). I also really, really enjoyed Joel Rosenberg’s Guardians of the Flame series, even though it’s not great literature or anything. I think Rosenberg’s writing influenced me on a basic level because that series was the first fantasy series I’d ever read.
What quote best defines you?
That’s a tough one. I have a favourite quote, but it doesn’t really *define* me. So I’ll share this one by Mark Twain, instead:
“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”
It resonates with me because I like to look out for the underdog. I always want to make sure people are being treated fairly. In my experience, once you’re in with the “majority”, that same majority will easily forget the problems of the minorities, even if they were part of the minority recently. When you’re in with the majority, that’s when you really have to examine everything from another perspective, I think.
What type of music do you like to listen to when you write (or none at all)?
My favourite type of music to listen to at all times is 90s alternative rock. Go ahead. Judge me. I dare you.
Are there any areas you’re looking to expand into as a blogger?
I’ve spent most of the last several years blogging about intimate details about the World of Warcraft. Now that I no longer play (and haven’t, for over seven months!), I find I still have things to say about the game, but I have a much more distant view. None of the things happening in the game now affect me directly, so I have a different perspective. Due to that perspective, I find I can take a wider view of the game and gaming in general.
How do you crush writer’s block (if you believe in it)?
I definitely believe in it. Sometimes you just have to walk away from the writing and let it settle and percolate, as I’m fond of saying. I help rid myself of writer’s block by going for a run, playing silly casual iPad games or even taking a shower. Sometimes sleeping helps, too. Sometimes, just starting fresh helps. Don’t let yourself get blocked by what you’ve already written! You can *always* start fresh.
Follow up: Where do you go when you’re drawing a blank on ideas?
When I was blogging frequently, pretty much almost every day, I tried to look at everything I was doing as a story that I could then recount on my blog.
Bad LFG in heroic Halls of Reflection? Time to blog about it.
Hilarious search terms in my Google Analytics? Time to blog about it.
I’d also spend a lot of time thinking about what I would want to read about. One other thing I did was to think about what others might be curious about and then pre-emptively answering those questions as best I could.
Are you a risk taker or do you play it safe when it comes to broaching potentially controversial topics?
I’m loud. I’m controversial. I’m opinionated. Frankly, I can’t be any other way. I am passionate about a lot of things and World of Warcraft is still one of them, even if I don’t play any longer. (That’s weird. I know.) I’m happy to call attention to things I disagree with and I’m happy to bring attention to things I think are great and all of that is regardless of what everyone else thinks.
Art of blogging
How would you define a truly great blogger?
A truly great blogger needs to have new content on a consistent basis. Not every day, but something consistent, probably about two or maybe three times a week. They need to write something that, most of the time, will make me think. They need to write something that inspires me one way or the other, that may spur me into action or may just rattle around my brain for a couple of weeks. A really great blogger should also be timely when it comes to news, although there should be plenty of posts that have very little to do with the news as well.
What platform do you blog on?
Which blogs do you try to keep up with the most and why?
There are quite a few blogs I read, but the one I *always* read as soon as I can is Rohan’s Blessing of Kings. Rohan has a ton of great ideas and information and, most importantly, different perspectives on things. I don’t always agree, but I’m always left thinking more on the subject.
Is there a specific program you use for blogging?
Nope, just log in to my WordPress install in Firefox, Chrome or through the iPad app.
Other than using a focus macro, how do you stay focused on your task? I just try to minimize the distractions. I also discovered, while doing my university degree, that I work best in small chunks of 45 minutes. So I’ll set a timer for 45 minutes and will force myself to take a short break after the time’s up. Focusing for 45 minutes is easy compared to “an hour” or more, at least for me!
What challenges or problems have you run into when blogging?
Lots of people are jerks.
Lots of people are sexist misogynists.
The first thing I did to help myself out was write a comments policy.
You can disagree with me all you want on my blog, but you do it with respect, or I throw out your comment and ban you from commenting. I also dealt with feeling as though I had to censor myself, or at least write differently, when I restarted my guild at the start of Cataclysm. While my blog had previously commented on “idiot guildies” (from other guilds I’d been in during Wrath of the Lich King), I had to restrain myself from venting any frustrations about my guild on my blog and my Twitter, for fear of giving the wrong impression of myself and my guildmates. Most of these frustrations were very temporary in nature (oh God, why can’t this person hit Heroic Will properly?!?!) so it wasn’t too hard to restrain myself, but it was very different from how I’d previously written.
Have any strategies on staying organized?
I plead the Canadian equivalent of the Fifth Amendment. (Section 11 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, in case you’re curious.)
How do you unwind after your day is over?
Generally, I like to watch a bit of television or Netflix or write until my eyes can’t stay open any longer.
Art of fun
What is your biggest annoyance right now (blogging or otherwise)?
People who don’t take the time to learn more about whatever it is they’re doing. There are resources out there for just about anything you could ever want to do. Go out there and LEARN MORE. Please. Pretty please.
Do you have a slogan that you adhere to?
Practice random acts of kindness. I’ve even got that printed on my cheques. (Not that I use them that often, but still.)
What has been your proudest achievement?
In Warcraft, probably getting server first Heroic Hagara, Hand of A’dal or my Rhok’delar. In real life, definitely getting my university degree. In terms of writing, succeeding at National Novel Writing Month twice. Choose a celebrity (alive or dead) that you would like to have dinner with. THEEEEEEEE Matticus! Okay, seriously, probably Anita Sarkeesian. I would LOVE to pick her brain about feminism, cyberspace, meatspace and various other things. If she’s not famous enough, let’s go with Felicia Day because I’d love to pick HER brain about writing, The Guild, WoW and how she used her WoW experience as a starting point for all the amazing things she’s had a hand in creating. Alternatively, I would love to sit across from the Stanley Cup during dinner…
What do you wish to do more of (or get started doing) this year?
Canoeing, kayaking and skiing. I love canoeing and skiing and have been doing those since I was a kid, but both of those (and kayaking, actually) tend to require my going to my parents’ cottage. So I’d like to do more of those activities, but I’m unsure if I can manage to get around the parents’ cottage requirement. Also, more writing. ALWAYS more writing.
You travel back in time to meet your younger self when you started blogging. What piece of advice would you offer?
Keep everything (addons, software, etc) up to date lest PHP injections hit your site and it takes six months for Google to remove the “This site may be compromised” tag from your listing. (Seriously.)
Where can readers find you online?
Finally, a new site is in the works and you’ll be able to find some of my current projects at Kurn’s Guides.
What else would you like readers to know?
Three friends and I had to do the old Jailbreak! quest twice in a row for our friend, Majik, who died on the first attempt and thus failed the quest. Seriously. Jailbreak. Twice. IN A ROW. At something like two in the morning. Also, Wil Wheaton (and Stand By Me) is indirectly responsible for several of the most meaningful friendships in my life. Strangely, he is also aware of this fact. (Two very long stories.)
Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper behind the scenes without an actual look at their battlestation where they work. Thanks for sharing it with us, Kurn!