In February this year I decided to commit to one blog post a week. I have thought about blogging on and off for over ten years. I had a couple of false starts. I mostly quit out of embarrassment. Not that I ever actually was. I had to post something first for that to happen. But out of fear of embarrassment.
Nothing changed, I am still very quiet about mentioning this blog in person. I do feel embarrassed putting myself out there.
This fear is of course unfounded. I know that. I have told every story, and mentioned most articles and podcasts in passing conversation. So what is different about writing it up?
I don’t know.
What I do know is that I consume as much content as I possible can. I am not a fast reader, but I read at every available opportunity. And when I can’t read, for example when driving or walking, I listen to a podcast. This stuff is candy for my brain. I love it. At least once a day I crave learning something, or engaging my mind in a mental activity.
In the past I read articles from my Google Reader feed, emailed them to work, then shared them with colleagues if I thought them appropriate. Sometimes I would say why I shared them, and other times I would leave it for them to draw their own conclusions. I was curating content and sharing it.
As I read or listen, little fireworks of concepts or ideas go off in my head. They are all connected somehow. I know that my brain is linking them. But it is not explicit. I don’t alway know how they tie together.
I do know that writing helps me draw these threads together and see a pattern emerge. It helps me think about my thinking.
So in some ways this is a selfish exercise. It is for me. The topics interest me. If they interest you, that is a wonderful bonus.
And in some distant future I hope my kids can come back and read these entries, and learn a little about how I see the world.
What did I learn?
So what did I learn?
Finding time to write once a week is hard. You cannot sit down in one sitting and punch out a post.
Editing and preparing the images and layout takes a lot of time. And even then, with all the tools, words are missed and spelling errors remain.
I tried two formats. The first is to pick an idea or story and tell that in written form. These were generally the most popular posts.
The second, my Handpicked series, worked less well. It was a good exercise to try condense my media consumption over the last week. It certainly highlights how much I was getting through.
Those posts took so much time to write that I simple stopped writing the other type. And, as the Handpicked series focused on curated content, there was never a clear theme.
This lack of a theme shows itself in two ways. First, the audience don’t know why they should click on the link. What is this post about? Sometimes they were really long. Second, I could never find the section of a post I wanted.
If I do keep doing curated content, in that form, I need a different mechanism.
Finally, I have a better appreciation for how hard it is to get your word out on social media. I had such a naive view. Only because I had never had to do this before. But in reality getting your posts noticed is hard work. There are tools out there to make it a little easier, but it takes planning.
The Year in Stats
The image below if from the WordPress dashboard. These figures are pre-Christmas.
Looking at this I can see I had a really good run from late April though to the end of August. I was managing one post a week, hitting my goal, and in some cases two posts.
Then in September it stopped. What happened then?
Work. The project I was on hit that crunch moment and I was busy. I didn’t feel like writing in my lunch break, or in the evenings, or on the weekend.
That is where one of my goals in the new year will be to establish a writing routine. Not a publishing routine, but a writing routine. The difference is important. I have more than enough drafts to have written a post each week. What I don’t have time to do is explore that ideas and get to the gist of what interested me.
This is where story comes in. I cannot overstate how important reading and learning about the power of story telling has been on this journey. This was the catalyst. As I learnt more , I noticed more stories, and I wanted to capture them. That was the tipping point.
I mention this here, now, because these ideas in these unpublished drafts probably have a story. And the story is the meaning behind the idea. The story becomes the vehicle for me to express the underlying idea.
What I was missing 10 years ago wasn’t the idea about what to write, but how to write it.
Again, this gets back to needing a writing routine.
So that is one habit I want to establish. If I do it will manifest in more posts of a higher quality.
To close off here are a few curated posts.
Thank you for reading this blog, and have a wonderful 2017.
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