Archives for April 2012

Why You Don’t Need A Niche To Blog About

This is a five minute writing exercise, that is it. Five minutes to write off the cuff and share unedited thoughts/ideas about blogging.

Margie’s post about not having a thing is responsible for sending me off on this riff, but that is ok because this is useful and important.

There are a lot of people who tell you that you should focus on a niche and make yourself an expert on topic XYZ.  It is good advice and in many cases accurate- but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Write With Passion and Purpose

Good things happen to those who write with passion and purpose about the things that interest them. I am biased because this is my approach to blogging but it works. It works because eight years of blogging has proven to me that it works.

It works because I have a steady and involved readership that continues to grow. Could I grow faster by posting solely about one particular topic? Possibly. I could focus my writing on social media/doing business online. Or I could just as easily focus on being a dad blogger and write about all of those things.

Both are things that I know quite a bit about and it wouldn’t be hard to fill these pages with content, except for one thing. I have more interests than just those items. Perhaps if this were solely a business blog I would have more reason to provide a narrow focus but it is not and I don’t have to.

So I write about all of the things that fuel my fire and I do my best not to let that whisper inside my head prevent me from putting pen to paper and finger to keyboard. When you write with passion and purpose good things happen. Build your community around you and show them your inner fire- it works.

 

The Ancient Art of Blogging

I am a murderer. I am a thief. I am the worst person you have ever met. There is a reason why just being in my presence makes the hackles on the back of your neck stand up.

But most of you will ignore the soft whisper in the back of your mind that tells you to get away from me. You ignore your intuition to your detriment and to my benefit. And that is how I like it.

You’ll wait a moment and try to reconcile your thoughts with the feeling you get when you look at my face. Big warm smile, eyes that twinkle and a deep voice that rumbles just a little bit.

I can’t be those horrible things. I have to be better, different. I am not a murderer. I am not evil. I am someone warm, special and interesting. You like spending time with me because I make you laugh and you feel safe, secure.

The Ancient Art of Blogging

These words you read here and this thing that I and so many others is doing isn’t new. There is nothing new about story telling or keeping a journal of our thoughts, ideas and feelings. Go back in time and you find nothing but oodles of examples of the ancient art of blogging.

Sometimes it is nothing more than drawings on the walls of caves and sometimes it is something more sophisticated like the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. What you do when you blog is form one more link in the chain of history.

I don’t know about you but I think that is really cool. It reminds me of conversations with the children about how telling stories helps keep our dead alive. Every time I tell someone about my grandfather his spirit rises from wherever it is and for a brief time it is like he is sitting in the chair next to me.

The Ancient of Blogging is just another way of saying that we are story tellers and I love that. A good story is magical. It transports you to another place and time. It is a tool we can use to create entire worlds, build a new reality/identity.

Sometimes when I push publish I wonder what people will think of my words. Will the tales I tell be relegated to the ranks of hack writers and amateurs who never managed to do much of anything with their words or will they be placed among the masters.

Questions, so many questions.

This is the second or third time that I have chosen to use that picture. There is a point and a purpose to it. That picture makes people feel and that is what I want my words to do. Some remember other times and places and others just smile.

It sets a tone and creates a mood.

I like it so I am using it again. I am a green blogger. I recycle my old posts. Sometimes I write a thousand word post and decide that I don’t like it so I refuse to publish it. I click delete and you can hear the screams of a million pixels that will never see the light of day.

This post about the ancient art of blogging feels a bit like Frankenstein’s monster to me. There was a different post. I wrote it well after midnight and then decided that it had no flow and no feeling so I killed it.

But instead of deleting and destroying I saved it and used some of the parts and pieces.

The Ancient Art of Blogging is the kind of headline that catches my eye and makes me want to know just a little bit more about what was written.

I read those words and I can’t help but wonder if maybe the author knows something that I don’t about blogging. Have they some nugget of wisdom to share with me that I haven’t heard before. Will it be the post that teaches me how to catch lightning in a bottle or something close to it.

Some people might suggest that it is self serving to praise my own headline and I would agree with them because it is. I would also point out that I routinely tell people that this blog is about dreams. Some of those dreams are fragile. They are like holding water in the palm of your hand where you don’t dare do more than hold still because if you move or hold on tighter all that water would slip between your fingers and be lost forever.

When I say that writing isn’t the hardest part of blogging it isn’t because I am trying to make you feel badly or engaging in link bait. It is because I believe it to be so. I believe that a blog is the perfect place to chase those dreams I mentioned and to try to suss out the truth of our hearts in ways that we might not otherwise do.

Just Write

The real point and purpose of this post is to be a part of Just Write. It is an exercise in free writing and an opportunity to not be caught up in convention. There doesn’t have to be a structure or outline to this.

It is just how I prime the pump and prepare myself to write more words. Right now I am writing more than I ever have. I am pushing harder to try to reach the next rung. I am talking to more people about my words, promoting my blogs and asking them to give me their time.

I’ll share more about this in a coming post. I am a man on a mission. Just Write is part of the process and something that I enjoy participating in every week. Thank you for reading.

Writing Is Not The Hardest Part Of Blogging

LoVE   Dot. Dot .dot .

The hardest part of blogging isn’t writing a post or coming up with ideas for what to write about. It is a common misconception that is promoted and promulgated by people like myself who say that content is king.

Those last three words are still true and still critical because content is king and it always will be. But that doesn’t change that the hardest part of blogging are these two things:

  1. Putting Pen To Paper.
  2. Sustaining your effort.

What that means is that the hardest part is moving from beyond the “I think I might write a post” stage to the “I am actually writing a post now.” Call it thought versus action.

And thought versus action is only truly meaningful when you sustain your effort over time. Consistency is critical for multiple reasons. You cannot and will not become a better writer without practice. Consistent blogging creates that practice time.

Consistent blogging helps you improve as a writer and provides you with the place in which you find your voice. And consistent blogging is what provides your readers with knowledge and faith that your words will continue to appear on a regular basis.

That is important unless you don’t care about who reads your words in which case you have to ask yourself why write a public blog.

BLOG IDEAS

BLOG IDEAS (Photo credit: owenwbrown)

Write about what you know and write with passion. Give yourself to the reader. Part of the reason that people love my Fragments of Fiction posts (yes, I am patting myself on the back) is because I take pieces of me and put them into the tales I am telling.

Read through Words Left Unwritten and tell me that you can’t find anything to identify with and I will question your sanity. Trust me, I know lots of doctors and I can get you certified as 100 percent nuts if you disagree with me. Ok, I can’t really do that but I like to pretend that I am king of the world.

But I know what I know and that is that most people identify with relationships, both good and bad. I never tell you what is real and what isn’t because I am a pain in the ass and because it brings the reader closer.

When you write what you know it makes it easier to be compelling and to write with authority. If every post is written in “I think that donkeys might be sterile” style you give the reader reason to doubt your expertise. Sometimes it is good for them to do that because unless you are a farmer/rancher or vet you probably don’t know for certain whether a donkey is sterile.

Hell, I am not really sure but I used to know a guy that claimed that he was hung like a donkey. We used to ask Dick why he wanted to be represented by an ass and not a thoroughbred but he never did give a good answer. Hell, I never did care. What difference does it make to me if god has granted you a snake that you can wear as a necktie or a worm that makes the lady ask if you are the victim of a failed circumcision.

Just write.

Donkeys

Donkeys (Photo credit: kudumomo)

I’ll say it again. Just write. Stop worrying about whether you are going to look like an ass and just write. It gets easier with practice.
I won’t say that writing can’t be hard but if you never try than you never learn how to make it easy or at least easier. Sustain your effort and keep pushing. That is not just me as a writer talking either.

Nope that is Jack the dad blogger giving you the sort of advice you might hear from others but will take better from me. Ok, maybe you won’t take it better from me because it is free which is why I should charge you for it.

And that my friends is foreshadowing about a post I am thinking about writing about why you need to charge for advice and services. But we shall save that one for later because I gave myself 15 minutes to write this and I am coming up on 12.5.

It was easy to do because I practice writing all the time and because I understand the difference between thought and action. Do you?

 

The Naked Truth Never Lies…Right

It is 2:30 in the morning and I am at the computer…again. Headphones on my ears I am listening to a mix of music and am lost in time.

That is me in the picture. Sure, my face is covered but it is really me. It is one of the pictures I used for Movember and it looks nothing like the mental image I have of myself.

You see the guy with the beard is some forty something year-old man who should be asleep now because nothing good comes from being out on the town after midnight or so they tell me. That guy in the photo doesn’t look like me because I see the 20 something who spent hours in the gym and was cut. I wasn’t this big block of blob that I see now.

There is no excuse to be made and no one to blame other than me.

Accountability- The Buck Stops Here

My children don’t know the guy I used to be. They see this old man that runs with the younger guys on the court. The same younger guys who sometimes taunt me not knowing that some of those things get through. Some of those comments sting.

I won’t ever admit it in person because that is not what men do. There are many places in which I am my own guy but socialization has impacted and imprinted me. I won’t tell them if it hurts because that is a sign of weakness and we don’t do that.

One of the reasons that I don’t cry is because I learned a long time ago that men don’t do it. I know, some of you will say that it is stupid, foolish, immature and ridiculous. You are probably right, but when you are a 14 year-old boy you sometimes do what you think you need to do to be one of the boys.

And the reason it stings, these words is because I am letting myself down. It stings because my ego is involved and when ego gets involved things happen. Sometimes good and sometimes bad.

The trick is to figure out how to channel that energy in a positive way.

I Am My Own Worst Enemy & Biggest Critic

It is not the first time that I have written those words nor the first time I have thought about it. When I look at the last chunk of time I see lots of places in which I can take refuge. I don’t have to stand out in the field and let the hail rain down upon me because it is not all my fault. Much of what has happened has occurred for reasons that were outside my control.

But that ego I mentioned won’t accept that because I feel like I should have figured something out. I am not a stupid man. I have ability and I have proven many times that I can use it but sometimes it doesn’t matter because we fall short. We trip ourselves up. We do things that sabotage our success.

And sometimes the crap you encounter is flung by someone at higher pay grade. It is not a level playing field and when the shit flies sometimes you get smacked in the face with it.

But that doesn’t change my responsibility to deal with it. It doesn’t negate my role or my need to find a way to adapt, overcome and move on.

The thing that may not come across is that I am not as upset or despondent as these words might make me seem. I am frustrated and angry because I feel like I have been dumped in the mud and asked to drag two tons of useless crap through the swamp, up a hill and then back again. It is two steps forwards and one step backwards.

I am doing my best to figure out what happened and what I can do differently. Some of it is hard. I am so intense I wear people out. I wear myself out. I think that my biggest challenge now lies in having too many things going on at once. I am over extended and haven’t been able to figure out how to to rid myself of some of this stuff.

So I shrug my shoulders and figure that if I keep placing one foot in front of the other I will see daylight again and I will find myself dragging a lighter load. But in the interim I am stuck doing it the hard way.

Where Dad sometimes hides.

The naked truth is that I am not that guy any more and I have to decide to be ok with that or make some changes. The good news for me is that all this crap is good for writing. Life experience that is. Life experience provides insight, opportunity and more.

3 AM- time for me to catch a couple hours of shut eye. But before I go I want to leave you with some links:

Post Script: I don’t know why, but when I changed themes it affected some of my posts and now some sentences have strike-throughs in them even though that was not my intention.

Blogging With The Triberr Global Commenting System

Writer's Block I

Last week marked my year anniversary as a member of Triberr and I am pleased to say that I am thankful that Dan and Dino brought me on board when they did. That is not supposed to be taken sarcastically or in any sort of negative fashion because Triberr has been one of the best things that has happened to me as a result of blogging.

Rather the reason I mention it is because I am going to tell you that I am not real enamored with how the Triberr Global Commenting System works with my blog. I don’t like how it looks on my page and since it doesn’t appear to be threaded I find it a bit unwieldy.

Here is the thing, I know from experience that Batman and Robin haven’t finished tweaking it yet. They will make changes and adjustments and there is a good chance that I will turn it back on. I know these things because after a year of being part of Triberr I have seen tremendous changes take place.

Ok, let me provide some more details about what I find objectionable.

1) I don’t like the large gap between the Triberr comment box and my CommentLuv box. I am guessing that it has something to do with the padding, but I am not positive.  I like providing options and incentives to comment and I would prefer that there not be that gap.

2) The lack of threaded comments makes it look just awful on the page. I am working hard to clean things up here and I think that looks cluttered.

3)  Some of my fellow tribesmen aren’t coming to my blog but are still commenting using the system. I don’t know if they are aware that I am not using it. I don’t want them to feel like they are being ignored. I hate when bloggers ignore comments.

Wait and See

Wait and See is what I plan on doing. Dino made an offer to Skype with me to try to help me fix things. I haven’t taken him up on the offer because I am still making changes here and wanted to try to finalize things before I ask for help. I’d hate to tweak things and then discover that the changes I made on the page negated the changes we made to fix things.

There is a good chance that the changes the guys make will make my concerns moot and I won’t have to worry about any of this. I am willing to wait for a little bit and see what happens.

As I mentioned before Triberr has been a wonderful addition to the tools and resources I use for blogging.  However the best part by far has been the exposure to people I would not have otherwise met. It really has expanded my reach and changed things in a way that I am quite grateful for.

If you are looking for past thoughts on Triberr here are links to a few: