Just Blog

Putting your work out into the world can intimidate even the most creative and confident of artists. You do that when you blog, but many fail to put it on the same scale as writing a novel or painting a landscape, for example. Why is it so hard to just blog? A number of reasons come to mind, and I’ve encountered most of them during my career as a writer and my hobby as a blogger. I wanted to share some advice to help make hitting the publish button easier.

Jellyfish

Consume What Inspires You

We all have passions that make us glow from the inside out. Gravitate toward those, and consume them in whatever way possible. They can serve as fuel for your blogging. It can be anything from reading or taking photos to cooking or building classic cars. You get the idea. Don’t feel guilty about consuming because it’s part of the creative process.

For me, in the past year, I’ve read a lot of blog posts about the open Web, accessibility, video games and parenting. That’s reflected in my content here.

A writer’s quote about this that I love:

“The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.”
– Samuel Johnson

Man overlooking canyon

Blogging Helps You Process

Writing or blogging makes you a clear thinker. It gets you to the other side of hard problems, in any part of life. It’s a creative process, so you’ll naturally find new sparks that give way to new insights. In the last year of blogging, many of my shorter posts have helped me form better, more complete posts on the same subject in the future. Even though I may have considered the shorter posts incomplete, it moved my thinking forward in a way that wouldn’t have happened without hitting “Publish”.

A writer’s thoughts on this topic:

“Writers live twice.”
– Natalie Goldberg

Curvy road with fog

Start Over Now and Then

Life is one giant work-in-progress. Every day, you wake up and iterate on the day before. Creative activities are much the same. Embrace that. I’ve deleted blogs, combined blogs, reworked categories and tags and changed my permalink structure multiple times. Sometimes a fresh start gives you a new outlook.

As a writer once said:

“The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.”
– Philip Roth

Blowfish

Be You

My favorite thing about the Internet is clicking a link and landing on someone’s personal site. Your blogs are extensions of you, let them be that. I stopped from hitting publish a lot because I felt the idea wasn’t full baked, someone else said it better, or no one cared. But in reality, when you are you, and you blog about your career, your life, your passions, amazing stuff happens. It becomes unique. It’s less about what you want people to see and more about what you see in the mirror. Unique. Real.

One of my favorite thoughts on writing:

“To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard.”
– Allen Ginsberg

I hope this helps you hit “Publish” more often. Trust the process.

Writing quotes from Reader’s Digest. Images courtesy of Unsplash.

The Slow Web

We become obsessed with tools and methods, very rarely looking at how these relate to the fundamental basics of web standards, accessibility and progressive enhancement. We obsess about a right way to do things as if there was one right way rather than looking at the goal; how things fit into the broader philosophy of what we do on the web and how what we write contributes to us being better at what we do.

Cole Henley in the The Slow Web, talking about the rhythm of the Web, and how and why we do what we do here.

It’s a great read, and one that has me thinking more deeply about what I do each day.

How Future-Safe are Your Ideas?

Will the Big Think piece you just posted to Medium be there in 2035? That may sound like it’s very far off in the future, and who could possibly care, but if there’s any value to your writing, you should care. Having good records is how knowledge builds. If we’re constantly starting over how can we pretend to be accomplishing anything other than self-promotion? Is that enough? Don’t we need more value in our thinking?

Dave Winer asks some tough questions in How future-safe are your ideas?

The Web We Have To Save

I miss when people took time to be exposed to different opinions, and bothered to read more than a paragraph or 140 characters. I miss the days when I could write something on my own blog, publish on my own domain, without taking an equal time to promote it on numerous social networks; when nobody cared about likes and reshares.

That’s the web I remember before jail. That’s the web we have to save.

Hossein Derakhshan in The Web We Have to Save. He gets to what I think is the heart of blogging – the personal nature of it. We’ve lost some of that amid all the cruft around blogging.

Google and Blogs: Uh Oh

Everyone’s spending increasingly more consumption time dicking around in apps and snacking on bite-sized social content instead of browsing websites and searching Google.

Publishers are relying more on social traffic not because Google’s squeezing them out, but because that’s where everyone went. The dominance of mobile usage, social networks, and YouTube, plus attention-competition from apps, are the real problems for web publishers and blog writers.

The social and app revolutions haven’t been purely additive — much of the time people spend on those now has come at the expense of search, RSS, and bookmarks.

Every hour we spend on Twitter or Facebook instead of reading and writing elsewhere is just making this worse — and I’m as guilty as anyone.

Marco Arment in Google and blogs: “Shit.”

What I Learned Blogging 34 Straight Days

Antique typewriter

I wrote a blog post every day during the month of November. Combine that with a handful of posts I wrote consecutively in October and I amassed a 34-day streak.

Not bad! I’ve never blogged that much before in the history of this site. Here’s what I learned from doing it.

The Process

Most of my longer drafts started in Simplenote. When I fleshed them out, I moved them into WordPress and polished from there. I had one list going, full of ideas and worked off that. At one point, I was seven days ahead. I published a few posts at 11:56 p.m. It didn’t matter so much about the how or when, but the it.

Good for Processing

Writing every day forces you to think, process and find an end to things. It turns out I had several posts floating around in my head and writing during November helped me get them out. Without putting the words down, I’m not sure some of those posts would have been written.

Easier Than You Think But Still Hard

Once I found a rhythm, generating post ideas and writing them, whether short, long, detailed or simple became easier. Finding that rhythm meant being more free with my ideas and my notion of perfection. Sometimes publishing meant I may have not liked every last word. That also meant I hit my points of burnout. Some nights, I wished I didn’t have to write, especially if I had no idea what to write about. Other nights, I wondered if what I wrote would add value to someone’s day. But I wrote.

I Missed Writing

I wrote for a living once, and blogging for 30 days straight made me remember that and miss it. What I love most about writing is the process of it. Putting the words down, moving them, deleting them, replacing them. Shaping them. I enjoyed having a chance to do that again, and even have ideas for a few writing projects I’d like to work on in the future. I feel like I found my voice again.

The End, No

In the end, I wrote a lot about accessibility, one of my passions. I also mixed in many links about the open web, plus a few personal posts and some photos. I had a blast throughout the month. Because of the experience, I know I have more writing to do. 🙂

If you want to read my month’s work, check out the archive for November, 2014.

Blogging Dreams

I’ve blogged for 26 straight days. It has reaffirmed my love for writing, and I’ve had fun watching what has happened as a result. I’m going to write more about this later, but one thing I realized a few days ago centers on impact.

As a writer, you always want to make a difference with your words – be helpful. In the last month or so I’ve had a handful of people I really respect link to my posts or call attention to them on Twitter. One teacher even used one post in a college class.

I’m writing every day and making an impact. Call me a writer. 🙂

Blogging Every Day

I believe writers aren’t born, they’re made. Word by word.

Lately, a few people I read/follow have taken 30-day blogging challenges. It’s got me thinking: Could I blog for 30 days or more? I’m about to find out. During November, I’m going to try to blog every day.

I think I can do it. I’ve blogged more recently, including 20 out of 30 days so far in October. I’m not going to do anything fancy: just use WordPress and Simplenote. Here are my rules:

  1. Posts must be to this blog.
  2. They can be scheduled ahead of time.
  3. They can take any format or length.

We’ll see if I make myself a writer. 🙂