Friday, 11 May 2012

Journey of a Thousand Miles - Louise Behiel

Louise Behiel has a blog dedicated to the games our minds play which make their way into almost every form of writing. Her posts provide wonderful perspectives on the psychology of our characters and ourselves. Many of your posts deal with child psychology. Do you find your readers respond well to this information? Use it?

Mine is a fairly new blog but I am thrilled with the response I’m getting. As well as a variety of comments, readers email me privately for clarification or with questions, although I’m very clear that this material is for entertainment and education only. It’s not intended to be diagnostic in nature, but rather to whet the appetite to seek deeper, more meaningful answers to life’s issues and challenges. And sometimes I manage to provide a different insight for my readers, which results in a shifted perspective on an issue. When people share that, they make my day.

People are living with lots of challenges – some they recognize and some they don’t. My hope is that information about difficult topics, when expressed in simple, everyday language will be easy to understand and will help people either in their lives or in their writing.

Ironically, many writers have stopped by to share that they’re using this material for character development. That wasn’t my intention but it’s been fun and I’m working on a chart of the basic material to help writers decide on their character type. I use this for deciding on Goal Motivation and conflict for characters in my fiction.

Oh! As I was reading your blogs, I automatically matched components to me and then to my characters. Of course, making our characters a little more like ourselves just makes them more believable and helps us resonate with them. Do you prepare your posts in advance? How far in advance?

In a perfect world, I would prepare posts ahead of time. A few weeks sounds great. Unfortunately, my world is seldom perfect. As a result, I try to write each post a couple of days ahead of time, but I’ve been known to sit down early in the morning of my scheduled posting day to write. For some reason, once I dropped from three posts a week to two, the pressure was off and writing blogs became fun.

That makes sense, and posting even once a week will keep your audience returning (I read that somewhere...possibly this blog!). I think it's more important to plan a schedule you can maintain than to push yourself to post too often. The quality of each post will improve.

Do you have a series of topics planned, or do you let whimsy guide you?

I started this blog in October, after taking Kristen Lamb’s class “We Are Not Alone”. With the support of others in the class I started blogging, simply following whimsy, but I found that was very stressful. I took a week off at Christmas and realized I could write posts about topics I know from the work I do – family dynamics, addiction, mental health…all things self-help and psychological. It seemed a logical decision to focus my blog on the things I have studied and the issues I’ve dealt with.

Managing my time and my stress are very important for me. I have a full time day job and I also have a small private practice as a therapist. My specialty is the issues of women, but many of my clients are men. As a result I’m comfortable writing on these topics and they are stress free.

My blog seems to have evolved without much planning on my part. It has become a series of related posts, followed by a related but different series. I can’t take credit for planning it, because I don’t. Comments usually provide me with information about desired future topics/series. For example, in the future, I’ll be posting about addiction, eating disorders, resilience, and power imbalances in marriage.

Comments are manna from heaven. Psychology is something all writers can use. Botany isn't as universally useful. Which is why I don't blog about my day job. That would be nice. I see you recently posted as a guest on another blog. Would you consider hosting as well? Do you plan to appear on other blogs in the future?

I am struggling with these very questions right now. I would love to host other bloggers and guest elsewhere (like here!), but my blog seems to have taken an interesting turn and I’m not sure where it’s going. I’m working with a coach right now, so that I can dig out those answers and move into the next stage of blogging. I’m excited about the future of this medium and my small place in it.

We'll definitely keep an eye on it as it progresses. Do you prefer hosts to provide you with a topic, or do you offer to guest post with one in mind?

I’ve posted one guest blog, and it was right after the Romantic Times Convention. I suggested that as a topic and Karen was delighted. I’ve also been interviewed by Jennifer Oliver. And of course there’s this post. Like I mentioned my life is pretty boring, so unless there’s something special happening, an interview is best for me.

And this is why I blog about blogging instead of myself (or my day job, see above). Finally, how did you grow your following?

I wish I had a really intelligent answer to this question, because then I could ensure I would keep doing it. The simple answer is “I don’t have a clue”. I don’t focus on growth, but I do pay attention to the comments and who is following me. That sets the direction for blog posts.

The big change for me happened when I started drawing on my expertise and providing information for readers, rather than focusing on my life. I’m not humorous, I have a dull boring life, and there are many, many bloggers who know more about writing than I do. So I decided to stick with my strengths and material I know. It seems to be resonating with readers and is growing steadily. I’m excited to watch it grow and evolve.

I'm sure it will. You can find Louise on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads. Her novel, Family Ties, is available on Amazon. She is also included in the Bandit Creek Anthology, Fool's Gold. If you have any additional questions for Louise, please leave them in the comments!