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Posts Tagged ‘blogging’

Photo Credit: Inju @Flickr

Photo Credit: Inju @Flickr

You’ll do what comes naturally – or not

Folks who blog are folks who want to blog. Fellow bloggers, quit wasting your breath (or blog posts) on telling people they should blog for a better career.

They won’t do it and they’ll give you dumb excuses. And, if they do blog – it’s not because you advised them to. The blog-curious only need validation of what they will (inevitably) decide to do. 

Just like a writer will try to use any outlet to showcase her creativity or a marketer that wants to highlight his insights– people with ideas will already have pursued blogging.

They’re doing it now.

Which brings me to my next point.

More blogosphere for me

The blogosphere can function in a vacuum. There are all these seperate blobs of communities that crop up around bloggers (read: personalities). There’s lot of opinions on how to engage non-bloggersor get more folks to blog or get respect for blogging blah blah blah.

I say: stop.

Granted, there are a ba-jillion crappy blogs, but there are just as many good ones as well. Your relevancy to the blogging community isn’t going to instantaneously diminish because you didn’t get more people to blog.

It only diminishes when you aren’t able to share, develop and reconstruct ideas and connections. People who don’t know how to connect with that possibility have no business blogging.

I’m not telling you to rob a liquor store

Blogging is like a dirty word to some people. If you suggest it, they start gasping like you’re trying to convince them that prostitution is merely speed dating. These notions are fine when you’ve at least tried blogging (or speed dating). 

Non-bloggers only seem to concentrate on the irrelevancies of blogging, how it has nothing to do with them (or the “real world”) and insist on questioning it’s usefulness. But value and relevancy are not always one in the same.

They intersect at different points. And, I’d be more interested in engaging people who are trying to figure that out.

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Kristina B@Flickr

Photo Credit: Kristina B@Flickr

Lately, when I talk to other professional colleagues, I mention that I have a blog.

Eyebrows raise.

When I encourage others to begin blogging – mouths twitch.

Of course, not everyone blogs. And, certainly they don’t have to if they don’t feel the need. I’m addressing those who are interested in adding a context of relevance to their current (or changing) careers.

I’m speaking to the frustrated few with loads of ideas and want ways to implement them.

Everyone blabs about how college students and professionals alike should start a blog. Start a blog to gain online presence. Start a blog to establish credibility. 

Nonetheless, that still doesn’t give much credence to would-be bloggers and the blog-curious.  They want to. They think they should. Yet, a few reasons keep them from taking that first step toward their computer: 

 It’s an online diary…

That’s fair. It can be an online diary. Yet, that’s like saying when you go outside, you can only run. When entering the blogosphere, your blog can do anything you want (and be anything you want).

There’s no over riding commandment that stipulates you must bare intimate secrets for the world to read.

Seriously. It’s your playground. Talk about something that interests you. And, if you don’t know where to start, read something that will give you food for thought.

I won’t have anything to say…

All those ideas buzzing in your 3 pound mass and yet nothing to say? If you are interested in the following:

  • Grooming your writing abilities
  • Learning
  • Conceptualizing ideas
  • Rounding out opinions

There should be plenty to say. Placing your thoughts into plain view for mass consumption is the real fear. The blog-curious worry that their ideas might not be interesting or great enough. Yet, if you want to create space and opportunity to reciprocate a flowing current of creativity– blogging will be a great tool for you.

And, just like any other tool, you can use blogging to shape your voice, hone your ideas and tune your (own) words.

It’s for geeks…

Oh, goodness. Are you kidding?! Do I have to address this one? Were you the type to beat up on the kids who got A’s on their spelling tests?

There’s no point…

If you don’t understand the meaning behind discussion or circulating your ideas – then, you are right. There is no point. Also, oddly enough, some people don’t see the validity in unfamiliar ventures if the reward isn’t inherently obvious. 

And, the risks of blogging are a little more than ambiguous on the surface (and the rewards are distinctively abstract).

You risk nothing if you melt into the background.

Truthfully, if you aren’t interested in risk , you probably have very little invested in your career (maybe, even in your life).  

Therefore, don’t blog at your own risk.

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Petar_C @ Flickr

Photo Credit: Petar_C @ Flickr

I had an interesting conversation with my Editor about the validity of social media sites and blogging. As a career journalist, it boggles his brain that people are so willing to famously record their lives for the sake of readership and attention (at least, that’s the motivation behind it, he thinks).

And, as a journalist, it makes no sense to him that people think their opinions and ideas matter so much that they should be read by (possible) thousands on the web-o-sphere.  

Despite  knowing that blogging is about conversation, I think some journalists see it as conversation circulating in a vacuum.

As for my own shortcomings as a blogger and journalist, I still have to decide how much of myself I want to reveal in my posts. I’m not against honesty – but I always think people can have too much of a good thing.

I even de-friended a “friend” on Facebook because she updated too much. I know, that’s terrible. I’m a horrible person with no soul. But at least I didn’t do it for a Whopper.  And, to further add to my (ridiculous) hypocrisy, I was the jerk who was updating her own FaceBook page a gazillion times a day via my links on Twitterfeed.

But, I felt like I was getting on  people’s nerves doing that, so I dismantled the connection.

At times, the social media/blogging experience is uber wonderful. You read breaking news, discuss cool topics and connect with people who are interested in the same things you are. Other times, I feel like I’m the only one wearing sweats in a nudist colony. Everyone is so in tune with themselves.

The barrier to entry on broadcasting yourself to the world is so low, everyone wants an opportunity to chronicle every (insane) mundane event in their life. From cataloging hundreds of photos on Facebook to tweeting obscene updates on Twitter. Even blogging – your opinions count in the blogosphere (but only if someone is reading them).

So, instead, soul searching  morphs to a point where it becomes self-flagellation. Instead of having the secret embarrassment of making mistakes, people blog/FB/tweet about their not-so-secret pains and upsets. What happens with the intimate connection of just keeping some revelations to yourself? What happens with having whatever clarity of thought be just for you and no one else?

There’s transparency – and then there’s unabashed nekkidness.

But, I guess that is the point. The democratization of information. But, when did that include the democratization of extreme self-awareness to be witnessed by all?

Everyone is scrambling for a voice. People want recognition. They want to be heard. People need to learn from others. But then, only the rest of the world seems to be paying attention to the same percentage of people. Was your life any more (or less) interesting before you got a blog? Do 475 people really need to see you making out with your ex-boyfriend on Facebook? How thoughtful is that post about your girlfriend dumping you on your birthday?

Particularly, I’m interested in being meaningful. Blending complexity. Creating autonomy. Building relationships. And, I’m not sure how well people are blending, creating and building when they are so narrowly focused on steering attention on themselves.

I haven’t been able to (yet) reconcile the distinct voice I can have in the chattering mass of the blogosphere. Or, justify not having my photos scattered all over the web universe. Maybe that makes me (too) intensely private. But, in a world where everyone seems to be watching (and wants to be watched) the idea of keeping it to yourself seems dead.

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Marius!!! @Flickr

Photo Credit: Marius!!! @Flickr

“Jump out of the window!” may seem like irrelevant instruction when you hear it. After all, why jump out the window when you can walk out of the door? 

Nonetheless, when you are up several floors in a burning building and a crowd of fire fighters outside below you are holding a safety net, jumping out of the window can seem like the best advice yet.

After I graduated from college, I was still in the process of finding myself. I wanted to make a ton of money, but have a fulfilling career as well.

In reality, that didn’t leave me a lot of options. I did one smart thing though, I contacted a bunch of college alumni and grilled them about their current careers. I met a filmmaker, a real estate guru and some other random, interesting people.

However, I remember meeting with one particular alum that (should have) changed my life forever.

I told him I wanted to try my luck at consulting. Never mind what kind of consulting or what consulting actually means – I decided I should pursue it.

Also, I didn’t want to seem directionless. Consulting sounded sexy (or whatever word people use to make their professions sound cool) and they made scads of money for doling out information whether anybody listened to them or not.

It sounded like a suitable venture. In hindsight, considering my personality type, it was probably just as well I didn’t go into consulting after all.

Mr. Peacock (uncanny connection, don’t you think?) told me two things. “Consulting is hard on marriages – they get divorced a lot,” and “You need to start a blog.”

Both pieces of advice seemed totally irrelevant to me. As a very young twenty something, marriage was the furthest thing from my mind (not really, but it was not nearly as close to my mind as it is now).

Secondly, what was this blogging stuff? It didn’t sound like anything a freshly minted political science major did straight out of college. All the job choruses sang that liberal arts majors went into professions teaching, becoming lawyers or consulting.

Truthfully, I didn’t know a thing about blogging. I dismissed it as a labor of love for computer geeks or an adventuresome outlet for alternative journalists. Oh, what little did I know.

The trouble with good advice is that it always seems irrelevant when you initially hear it. That’s the good thing. If you only listen to what you want to hear you won’t learn anything . Or, if you follow the same tried-and-true counsel, it won’t work for you. Why? Because great advice leads you to undiscovered pathways. 

When you get weird, seemingly irrelevant guidance: pay attention. It will challenge you to do things you may not otherwise try. Whereas old, staid, been-there-and-do-it-again advice won’t get you much of anywhere.

Good advice is not meant to be comfortable or make you feel great about what you are currently doing.

It’s meant to confront you and change your mind.

That’s the other wonderful thing about good counsel. It’s more about action than pondering. It won’t encourage you to think more about your predicament. It will inspire you to do something about it.

It provides options not questions. If you are seeking the help, you’re already asking the questions, aren’t you?

Unfortunately, I ignored Mr. Peacock. I never contacted him again.  I figured that maybe he didn’t really understand me. How could he? We’d only met for cookies and coffee. Yet, that shouldn’t have mattered, good advice can come from someone even if they’ve only known you for five minutes. 

That’s the dark side of such a process.  People sometimes mistake that only those who know them can give valuable words of wisdom. Yet, the underlying current of all advice giving is to exchange ideas. 

Understand and trust that taking and giving advice is risky at both ends. It has little to do with how well someone gets you.

When people don’t understand that, they indubitably screw up the whole point of getting advice in the first place.

And, that’s terrible. After all, Mr. Peacock was only trying to help. Yet, I’m thankful. Sometimes, you can’t recognize good help when you ask for it (or, get it) because you don’t know what it is. And, you won’t know what good advice is because you don’t know what it will sound like in the first place.

But, great advice is still good advice. It doesn’t expire. It won’t disappear. Instead, it’s timeless, universal and requires little change. So, even though I met Mr. Peacock several years ago in a River North cafe, I can’t say my idea of starting a blog was my own great idea. It wasn’t. It was Mr. Peacock’s idea. 

Therefore, taking good advice  is just as much a matter of when you do as it is what you do. What if I had not met Mr. Peacock? What if I didn’t have the blogging seed planted in my head?  Maybe, several years later, I would have never thought to blog in the first place. 

Timing is just as important when you act upon anything (good advice included).

The nicks and scratches I suffered along my professional journey to get here probably have made my posts more relevant to readers now.  Relevancy is a good thing.

Except maybe when it comes to good advice.

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Q. Hey Writerbabe, what’s up with the banner and the weird key thingies in it? And, how come you don’t have a real photo? What kind of blog is this?

Update: Obviously, if you are reading this post – you’ll notice I no longer have a typewriter key banner or silhouette avatar. Yet, just because those things have changed – the meaning behind my blogging hasn’t. In essence, I’ve only added a few more details that better visualize how I want my readers to see me. A girl with a laptop – waiting to have conversation… with you.

Hmm, interesting question, my friend. And, I’m so glad you asked. I like to think of myself as a somewhat creative person. And usually, we creative folk like to make little abstract pieces of je ne sais quoi to girltyping7illustrate certain points.

But, for the sake of not sounding like some hoity toity weirdo, I will explain a) the reason behind my typewriter key banner and b) why I use my funky little icon.

First things first, I like typewriters. I know, I know – in an uber cool world full of changing technologies, Mac books and iPhones, a typewriter just sounds…old. Clunky, noisy and ugly in more ways than one, a typewriter is not on the list of techno-must haves.

Also, at the risk of dating myself, I first learned to type on a typewriter. For me, typewriters are about origins and beginnings. You can see a message come “alive” when you use a typewriter.

Typewriters are imperfect. They are relics and predecessors at the same time. They are a lot more fallible because they are more dependant on the writer (you) to be right the first time. However, being right the first time is not always possible. The mistakes you make require that you go backwards, but you only realize the errors until you are done.

Typewriters are little metaphorical (to me) about life.

But, that’s why I like them. Each bang, clank and click of a typewriter is hearing written work transform into productive sound. You cannot get that on your ultra-quiet keyboard.

Oh, and the keys.

On my banner, they appear as a disassembled array. But, you know they belong to something much larger. Each key has a purpose, a letter or some function when fused together create a message.

That’s what my banner means for me and my blog. It represents how the tiny parts work together to spell out a story – my message. On their own, they may appear to be a jumbly mess with no other purpose than to just be, but it’s all so much bigger than that.

My icon. You think I should have my mug shot on my blog don’t you? Go on, say it. All the teasing blogophiles will say,”Blogs are about conversation, Writerbabe – why do you have a silly little icon of a girl typing on a computer in silhouette?”

Easy. I think it’s perfectly fine to have a picture of yourself on your blog – after all, it’s your space to do whatever you want.

Nevertheless, I take bad pictures and I don’t want to subject my poor readers to blurry, self-taken photos. Besides, the silhouette girl shows me just as I am. And, although the blogosphere can feel like a totally devoid space full of voices chattering, talking and blabbing points across all boards – it can also feel like no one is really listening, absorbing and tuning in to what’s being spoken (…written, actually).

Well, maybe with the exception of the silent lurkers.

But, all that aside, I’m tuned in to you because I’m sitting at my computer. I’m sharing my thoughts (while getting yours) on life’s infinite conundrums. You are connected to me because you are reading this post.  Right now. I am connected to you because I’m writing for you, to you and about you. This very minute.

We are communicating via the mysterious vastness of cyberspace. We’re all girls and boys typing at a computer initiating dialogue with the world. We send our messages wanting to be heard and (hoping to) learn in the process, too.

That’s what we are doing. Period. When bloggers create real, live communities outside of the blogosphere – it’s an amazing experience. The realness of what happens inside the blogosphere is the same realness that happens outside of it.

I am a person who has issues to worry about, bills to pay and a life to figure out – but I am also a writer looking to connect with others about the same things as well.

My girl icon is mysterious. Blogging is a little mysterious. If it were totally transparent, I don’t think many people would do it. If the answers about everything were so readily available, then no one would need to blog.

If there was no desire to ask anything – nothing would be questionable. The mysteriousness comes from the need to scrape at the surface – to get to the transparency.

That’s me, my icon – my girl in silhouette – someone looking to scratch the mysterious surface.

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Hi Readers,
You can also catch new segments of TWS on Alltop under the Work/Career Section.  If you are a blogger looking for fresh content (or want to find new, interesting blogs) and want to be featured – click here. It takes a bit of time to get your blog listed. So, don’t be like me and apply twice in a row (and have your blog listed twice! I’m sure they have that fixed now, of course).

If you need a reason to join Alltop – Chris Brogan can tell you better than I can.

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shakespeare-bloggingAriana Huffington was on the Daily Show promoting her newest book, The Huffington Post Guide to Blogging.

Huffington remarked that blogging was about the following: intimacy, transparency, immediacy and sharing.

Blogging is about taking imperfect thoughts and opinions and engaging others in the most transparent conversation one can have – it’s a first draft of history.

And, even though blogging can be about a niche, Huffington encourages would-be bloggers to write about their passions – especially their secret passions.

I’d like to think that gives me permission to blog not only about professional cluelessness, but other topics as well.

In usual comedic fashion, Stewart responds, “I could blog about cheese.”
Not missing a beat, Huffington replies, “I love cheese.”

And then, she ticks off a few facts about Italian cheeses (and how 9 out 10 Italian cheeses are really fake and mostly made in Wisconsin – who knew?)

As a personal fan of Ariana Huffington, it’s great to see blogging get some cool promotion via the Daily Show.

Blogging is a lot of work and requires that you tap an almost infinite reserve of brain power. Yet, because (most) bloggers aren’t getting paid to write, you can tell that the blogging community is full of passionate individuals who write for the mere fact that they love it.

“50,000 new blogs are created everyday,” Huffington claims.

Stewart replies, “You make it sound like a sexual disease.”

“Oh, but it’s a lot more fun,” Huffington says, grinning slyly.

And I have to agree.

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