Answers Written By Damien Knight
Hello, I am Damien, the head blogger of our family blog The Shade of Writing. We are a home-school family of writers that love to travel. We write on various topics such as education, philosophy, poetry and history. We also have a Twitter, an Instagram and a YouTube.
I write poetry and share drafts of my novel when I am not in classes at the local university. My kids post their writing assignments from their books and papers on topics that interest them. My spouse travels for his job and most of our travel and food reviews are from him. We all are open to questions so ask away.
Our AMA Questions:
In the future where do you hope your blog will take you?
When I started the Shade of Writing it was much like other blogs I had started, a hobby venture I was likely to forget about. Then as we added posts and saw growth I saw it as more useful. It would be nice if the blog could make money. Maybe at some point it can connect me to science writers and other home-schooling families. For now, I am content that it gets my entire family interested in writing and that others are interested in reading it.
Do you have plans to publish your novel? Why or why not?
Yes, I am planning to publish my novel. I am at 40 k plus words, Inkitt wants novels in my genre to have 80 k plus words.
A family blog is a very unusual project. Can you share how the idea came to you and how did you all get involved in this family project?
It started as a summer project. I was staying the summer in Georgia with the kids and no television. My partner, our designated travel blogger suggested I start a blog. What he didn’t know is I already had 3 blogs I had abandoned. I thought about it and agreed if he and the kids also wrote with me. We got the website and our first posts were taken from where I had posted on the now failed crowd blog NIUME. Aaron sent me several travel pieces and continues to do so while he is in Korea. The best part of the venture is my kids are realising they can write. Prior my son insisted he “wasn’t a writer.” It has been a great tool in furthering all our writing talent.
Are your children home-schooled? If yes, what were the reasons for choosing this method of education?
- Shahriah H.
Yes, they are home-schooled. My eldest started out home-schooled in kindergarten due to potty training issues. Once those were straight he finished the year in public school. It was third grade that I pulled him and his sister out after discussion over how the teachers were approaching their IEPS and ADHD. Jayson stated that he always learns more at home than in class. We all are glad that we are doing it this way.
Whenever you are feeling blocked and unable to write, what things help you to get unstuck and creative?
If I have writer’s block my first go to is a writing prompt. I go to a list of prompts and start to write. If I am still stuck, I go for a walk. By the time I am back I usually have a whole story in my head.
What are some of your favorite tools for blogging and why?
I really like Crowdfire which helps add content to your social media and can promote your blog. Social Media is a great tool for promoting. I use Word for typing my pieces and use ProWritingAid to proof read my pieces. Out of all this though my favourite is Instagram to post picture and promote the blog.
What activities are you doing to promote your blog?
Why did you call your blog The Shade of Writing? Is there a story behind the name?
For many years I ran my blogs, art and other ventures under the name “The Shadow’s Lair.” We even mention being “The Shadow’s Lair Family.” In our introductory blog post. I am a fantasy writer that writes about dragons and that is where “Shadow’s Lair” is pulled from. From there it felt natural that I “The Shadow” would run a blog called “The Shade of Writing.” Ultimately we all liked the sound of it.
How do you motivate yourself to keep the blog up and running?
Honestly, some days I can’t. I have posted on the blog that I suffer chronic physical and mental health issues. I have found periods where I don’t post for a full week. I think what motivates me is when I have my kids say things like “I really want to write a paper on the origin of____.” I, in turn, go that’s a great idea let’s post it on the blog!
Do any of you have any rituals for writing?
I do not have any direct writing rituals. I do however, make my kids use the “writing process.” This means, brainstorming, Venn diagrams, writing diagrams, who, what, where and when thought process. Then they draft, and after they write a final draft. I always run their final through my ProWritingAid software after. Then they read the final. Myself though, no I just sit and write.
How do your children feel about participating in the blog?
My daughter loves it. She loves to write poetry and fan-fiction. My son is a little more hesitant about it, but it has helped his writing.
How do you structure your days in terms of teaching your children, parenting, and writing?
This is a great question! I should post up my current house schedule for the blog. The kids have a set schedule which includes us waking up at 4:30 am for meditation and going to bed at 9 pm. I also have my own class schedule. Writing is done at the end of the day.
You are writing a novel. Can you share what is it about?
- Vikas Giri
The novel is about a young female dragon and an emperor who has ordered the slaughter of all dragons. She starts out alone but by the end she forms an Army. I was writing it as a fantasy series.
From where does the inspiration come for your poems? What are your preferred subjects?
Most of my poetry stems from life. I see myself as a romantic and write a lot of love poems.
How much time do you dedicate to blogging on a weekly basis?
I used to dedicate more time to the blog when I started out, now I try to at least get 30 minutes to an hour a day to it.
Which of your posts do you consider to be your favorite one and why?
This is easily my favourite question! My favourite blog post isn’t one of my own writings but my daughters. It is a poem she wrote, and I loved it. You can read it here: A Summary Poem.
How does your family feel about being a part of your blog? Do they give you suggestions on what to post?
They all enjoy being a part of the blog. They not only give suggestions but write their own pieces for the blog.
How long does it typically take you to write a story beginning to end? What do you do when you have a creative block?
My short stories take me about 30 minutes to an hour to write. The novel took my 5 years originally to finish. I worry it might take me another to add 40 k more words. When I have creative block, I go for a walk.
What are the negative factors in home-schooling your children? What are the positives?
- Myka Tibayan
The one negative factor of home-schooling is never getting a break from the kids. We are constantly around each other. The positives outweigh this negative, no homework, can sleep in, and they can study at their pace.
What challenges have you had with keeping up with your kids and trying to keep up with your writing?
The biggest challenge to keeping kids and writing is also being a college student. I use to work a full-time job. With all that on my plate I usually have to save writing to the end of the day while they sleep.
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