For anyone who reads my blog, you know that I use writing as a way to sort things out in my brain. At first, it was a mostly self-indulgent exercise that was cheaper than seeing my therapist. Over the past few months, I have noticed a smallish but rather consistent following of readers. This comes as no surprise; I have a Facebook page for Some Kind of Clever, and whenever I publish a new entry it uploads to Twitter, my personal Facebook page, and Tumblr. I have email subscribers and WordPress followers – clearly I am putting something out that keeps people coming back.
As I realized this, I decided that I wanted to be more deliberate with my writing. Although some people are perfectly fine with reading a 3,000 word post about whatever nonsense I need to work out or share, my readers frequently share that “I started reading it…” – you can probably guess the end of that sentence! Because I know that the good stuff comes after the ridiculously long exposition, it concerns me that some people are starting to read it and then stopping.
The internet is chock full of funny lists accompanied by silly pictures – we all know we love to check up on Buzzfeed for this – but still most articles are more concise than what I put out. Journalism as a theory has always bothered me – why would I want to write with all these rules attached? The reality is that people are busy, and as such they are looking for a quick, fun, read. Not everyone has time to dive into these miniature novellas that I produce.
In addition to realizing that I have readers, I have also (re)discovered how much I love to write. I used to write all the time, and then for a few years I was busy doing other things, and looking back, I wish I had written about them when they were happening. I may have made wiser choices had I taken the time to write it all out and reflect. Perhaps a part of me just didn’t want to reflect, and instead ignore what was right in front of my face, but I feel that a year of consistent writing has been better for me than just about anything I have done.
My college professor has encouraged me to write more and more, and pretty much abandon any other hope or dream. As he put it – you need to write. That is what you need to do. This elicited a chuckle from me – not the first time I had heard that, but uninterested in where that may lead – rules and such.
Then, I considered that perhaps a few rules wouldn’t be so bad. Like… maybe I could edit my pieces of writing (gasp!) and make sure that I didn’t go off on a million tangents. Perhaps I could be a little more deliberate and concise – and say the exact same thing using half as many words. I have been watching TED talks and the speaker is given exactly 18 minutes to speak. No more, no less, it would appear. This time-constraint forces the speaker to be very deliberate in order to be effective. In a similar sense, if I know I am working with a certain number of words, I can be more purposeful with what it is I have to say. I will never succumb to a list accompanied by picture, but I could probably sum up how I feel in under 500 words. (Spoiler – I am already at six hundred in this post, and I’m just getting into my rhythm).
In addition, I have been poking around in search of other blogs. I have found that the most appealing blogs are writers that are very clear about what it is they write. Apparently there are blogging conferences – I had no idea – and there are even articles on blog business card designs. Although I love to write, I (like most people) still view blogging as a self-indulgent exercise. Boy, am I wrong. There are hundreds of people out there just like me that write on purpose, and for specific reasons. There are bloggers that write about their families, travel, food and dining, home decor, social issues, etc. The best ones, I have found, are short articles that show all the personality but have a beginning, middle, and end.
Because it interests me to help my writing and audience grow, there are some things that need to be done. First of all, I really need to get my word count down, which I’ve already described. Next, I need to decide what kind of blog I want to be. I immediately abhor the idea of finding one narrow category to live. I write about many things, but what will people know me as?
In the process of designing a business card, I thought about what I could use that would make an impression. How do I label myself? I finally decided on “self-actualizing writer”. It is brief and sums what I am trying to do. I continuously self-actualize and it is my hope that others may self-actualize through my self-actualization. That’s a dressed up way of saying – I want what I experience to help others.
I suppose I first came up with the idea from watching the HBO show Girls. The main character is my age, a hot mess, and has experiences and then writes about them. In one episode, she takes cocaine just so that she can write about taking cocaine. I considered this, and realized that rather than doing things deliberately in order to write about them, I am already writing about the things I experience. But, when I think of my long term goals and things I want to accomplish, writing about those things is already woven into my life plan. As an example, when I think of getting pregnant in the future, I can’t wait to blog about what being pregnant is like! I am not the first person to do this, naturally, but each experience is individualized and each perspective has value. Plus, it fits the self-indulgent need.
I would also love to do things that I would never do and then write about them. This winter, my SO is teaching me how to ski. Accompanying this is a range of emotions – and I plan to write about them all! I did this with the nude modeling, and it has helped other future models. An account of my experiences does help others.
In addition, I am going to take some creative writing classes next semester, in addition to another statistics class. Currently I feel torn between dedicating myself to my craft (writing) and seeing where this other passion (mathematics) leads me. Two shiny things, and I will follow them both.
In front of all of that is my relationship. If you are still reading, you get a sneak peak into my next project. A friend of mine is attending pre-engagement counseling with her SO. I vehemently wish I had done this with my ex-husband prior to getting married, because it probably would have highlighted our differences in such a way that we would have realized we were not compatible. I suggested this to him, but he was adamant about not doing it.
This time around, it is important that I do this with my SO. When you meet someone, you try to figure out who they are, but some things never occur to you. Pre-engagement counseling is a great way to highlight those differences and better understand your partner. So, I ordered two copies of the book that my friend is using, Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. The book has questionnaires and worksheets for partners to fill out separately and then talk about one another’s answers. It talks about all kinds of things – and when I discussed this with my SO he was on board. Once the books get here, we will read on our own and then talk about how the book makes us feel. In addition to that – I plan to write about it! I wish someone had emphasized the importance of this kind of thing when I was nineteen, or twenty, or twenty one. I am confident I would have made better choices.
I am excited to start this project and learn about my innocent misconceptions about relationships. It will be a 9-part series – one post prior to beginning, seven posts during (one per principle), and one post at the end summarizing the results. Hopefully other individuals in serious relationships can benefit from our experience. Maybe I can even talk the SO into writing his opinions in the posts!!
Well, I am nearing 1500 words, so I guess I better just stop. Stay tuned!
I try not to think about word limits when I write my posts. Instead, I take more of a visual approach to it. I try to keep my articles around the same visual length, and I try to keep paragraphs small.
If my article seems long (i.e. it takes me too long to scroll to the end of the article) then I go back and take out everything that needs to go.
If I feel like I just have ideas that need to be explored, but there’s just not enough space to convey my thoughts concisely, then I make it a multiple-part article series.
You can’t put out every single thought that you have about a particular topic, so you have to stick to the most important points. What I do, however, is if I have any other points that I may want to talk about, I will save it for the comments section. You would need to get your readers to comment more, however, and then you would have to engage them in the discussion.
I’ve been extremely lazy with my blog this past year, so I haven’t been posting often. I try to weigh in on the comments, but again, the whole laziness thing.