About this time last year, I announced the start of my off-site blog, A Pencil Is Best. it's anniversary time, and I thought I'd report back. Is it still going? would be my first question in your shoes. Yes, it is, and doing pretty well. When I started out, I had no idea how I would generate enough material to keep a blog going. Although I have to say, part of that came from the idea that I had to post x number of things over a certain period for the blog to justify itself. I'm over that now, thankfully. I still post regularly, but without the edge of I have to do this. I am helped in creating content by @Parker Owens. Parker followed the blog even before it really got going, and it wasn't long before I recruited him as a 'staff member'. He adds some of his wonderful poetry into the posting mix. I am grateful and so happy that he does so.
One thing the blog does on a regular basis is to promote GA. Occasionally it's a piece that refers directly back to this site, but more often we include pointers. When I post material that was seen here first for example, there's always a link back to the site. I can't pretend it's created a noticeable flow of traffic direct from the blog, but I'm pleased to have an opportunity to promote the site which started me writing.
This brings me back to creating new content. Maintaining my writing commitments here doesn't leave a huge amount of time for other things. Fortunately, I was introduced to YeahWrite, a blog that hosts a weekly prompt challenge (amongst a whole host of other writing-related material). I started out by thinking this was fairly easy. My mistake. It isn't; it really isn't. To include two prompts within a maximum of 750 words, making a complete story out of it, and writing well, is hard work. And it has to be done in 4-5 days. What was I saying about not having much time? I don't take part every week, but it has stretched my writing in all sorts of directions: voice, genre, incorporating single words or actions into unlikely scenarios ...
The other thing that makes me grow as a writer is the feedback. We are all encouraged to give feedback on other entrants (something I still find rather daunting), but it's the crit from the volunteer YeahWrite editor that usually hits home the hardest. He always finds something good to focus on first, then he zeroes in on everything else. Some weeks there's very little wrong; others, he points out some of the holes and failings in that week's attempt. There's little hedging - he doesn't have the time. At first, I had something of a WTF reaction. Now, I accept his crits, grimacing when he highlights something I know to be weak, considering other elements which I liked and he doesn't. It makes the times when he gives out nearly unqualified praise very special. 'Very nicely done' always makes me smile.
In fact when I've posted this, I'll have to get back to the next challenge: Write a first-person story in which you use the first-person pronoun (I or me or my) only two times. And include an amulet. Ideas, anyone?