New writer Adam Claxton posted a couple of intelligent questions to this blog on Monday. The second of which is:
Also, do you find it disheartening when, for instance, you post to your blog and you receive no comments?
If you want your blog to have lots of responses, there are tricks for achieving this: Ask questions ("Which genre writer pens the worst sex scenes?") or make lists ("The Ten Worst Lists Any Genre Writer Has Made This Year"), for example. Use lots of flashy illustrations (see above). Make controversial statements ("Robert Heinlein was the worst thing ever to happen to science fiction"). And on and on and on. I'm sure there are hundreds of articles out there on this very subject.
But why? Phil Foglio, in a statement I gather he now rather regrets having made, once famously wrote that "Winning a Hugo for fan art is the doorway to winning more Hugos for fan art." The chief thing having a popular blog does is bring more people to your blog. If you are, like John Scalzi, also a prolific creator of fiction then, yes, this does ultimately result in more sales. But if you're at the beginning of your career, struggling to find time to write, struggling to improve your writing, struggling to sell what you write... why add another level of pain to your workload? It's not going to bring you any closer to where you need to be.
So, were I you, I wouldn't bother with social media at all, except to the degree that it gives you pleasure or that the contact eases the sense of isolation all writers face at the beginnings of their career. All your serious attention should be focused on writing and writing and writing.
The first question was (and here I paraphrase) how do I cope with the despair endemic upon being an unpublished or little-published writer? And here nobody has a good answer. You simply have to tough it out. Jack Woodford (the onetime king of soft-core porn and author of writing advice books that are half brilliant and half abhorrent) once observed that learning to write was extraordinarily hard -- but that you should be grateful for this because it weeds out the competition. Everyone wants to write. But only real writers are willing to put up with the pain. Or, rather, those who can't put up with it never do become real writers.
That's bleak, I know. But until you succeed, there's no way of knowing for sure that you will. All you can do is write, hope, and write some more.
Above: The Flame Nebula in visible and infrared light. From NASA, of course.