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You Don’t Have to Be a Great Writer to Have a Great Blog

Originally a guest post on WritersOnTheMove.com on 10/30/14

3 Mindsets Bloggers Should Have and Not Have To Be Successful

writing

I’ve been thinking lately about what can help – or hurt – writers who wish to write a blog. When considering my own writing goals, I feel mixed. I have a strong desire to write about things of importance, yet also trepidation that I won’t say what’s on my heart in a way that resonates with readers. If I let myself dwell on the fear of failure, I’ve found I can effectively talk myself out of writing anything.

And that’s the real ogre standing in the way, right? Fear of failure.

Each of us writers has a calling that is different from any other writer. If we don’t write our message, no one else ever can. Yet, most writers (artists) wrestle with a fear of failure. I’ve come to believe fear may even simply be a companion that accompanies us on the journey whether we like it or not. Still, though, other writers have conquered and we can get past writing fear too, one little step at a time.

Hence, my tips for getting around the fear blockade!
3 Mindsets Bloggers Should Have and Not Have To Be Successful

DON’T…
1. Don’t think you have to be the world’s greatest writer. A good subject, some reasonable preparedness and research if needed, and a good spell checker is enough to get started.
2. Don’t give up. If you start something, commit and keep going. Don’t post an article or two and then stop. You ‘ll look like a flake for all the world to see.
3. Don’t be discouraged by the initial technicalities of the setup process. Websites, WordPress, SEO plugins, etc.. The entry into this arena is challenging at first but there is a lot of quality and generous help out there to get past this.

DO:
1. Write from your heart. Express things that are important to you that will inform, help, or entertain an audience appropriate for you. If something is important enough to you to write about, there are people out there who agree and will be interested in what you have to say. (If you’re starting from scratch as I am, finding that particular audience takes effort and patience, and is the subject of more articles). Be consistent in offering value and be generous with your thoughts and giveaways — your audience will grow in time and with effort.
2. Choose a subject you can write with passion about. This may go without saying, but if you’re deeply interested by your topic, it will show (and the flipside is if you’re not, that will show too and no one else will be interested either).
3. Read. Read. And read some more. The more you read, the more you’ll want to write and the better a writer you will become from doing both. Going back to the beginning of this blog, if you have ever been inspired by the way an author has chosen to tell a story or shown a character’s heart and courage, simply reading more and more brings tremendous benefit with no downside! It’s one of life’s major gifts. Reading is our best teacher and the beauty of it is learning comes as a byproduct!.

In closing, ponder what you’re passionate about. Commit to the journey, perhaps with a friend who feels as you do. Then, fill up your tank on the words of others and emulate the process in your own writing. When you do, it will be the start of your own beautiful story.

End.


The Power of a Story Bridges Time and Space

Kaleidoscope

How the Honoring of a 95-Year-Old Veteran During a San Jose 408K Race Shows the Beautiful Kaleidoscope of Story-Telling and Literacy

In order to show this connection, I need to first ask did you know there’s an annual
“World Read Aloud Day”?!

 

read-aloud-day

 

I didn’t….but there is and it’s today, Wednesday, March 5!

The sponsor, LitWorld, sets aside the first Wednesday of every March to call worldwide attention to the importance of reading and sharing stories. They say “Imagine a world where everyone can read….” (Read more)

What matters more than literacy? OK, a few things, but not too many.

I’m betting the most meaningful times in your life involve a story you selectively share when the time is right with those you care about. And often the stories of strangers touch us too, reaching across distance, geography, culture, and every other barrier.

What is it that makes us connect deeply even with someone we’ve never met and will never meet? It’s the piece of their story that we hear that resonates in our hearts and makes us say “Oh, I so understand that” or “Yes, that matters!”

runner-and-veteran

For example, consider this video that perhaps you’ve already seen, as it went viral in less than 2 days after the event. It’s about a 95-year-old WWII veteran watching runners in the 408K Race in San Jose, CA last Sunday (March 2). These runners, upon seeing the veteran standing and cheering them on from the sidewalk, spontaneously began detouring to shake his hand and pay him a tribute of thanks.

What makes this so moving?

With each turn, multiple stories come together like a kaleidoscope of gems re-arranging themselves continuously to reveal powerful and beautiful images (stories) in our minds. Just to name a few….

–The runners…We instantly admire their willingness to eclipse the race for a moment and bestow the honor of showing respect and gratitude.
–The veteran…Without knowing him, our hearts immediately have a sense of all that his story could and would hold. How we’d love to hear it! Yet, even without hearing his story, we sense and are moved by the immenseness and glory of it in an instant.
–WWII…This mini story reaches its arms around all that World War 2 entailed. Immediately, each of us old enough to remember — or who knows someone who’s shared their stories, or who has read or watched harrowing tales forever etched in history — is impacted to the core by the momentum of memories from this era.
–Goodness…This silent but oh-so present element is the biggest part of all. How welcome is the idea of something good bursting into our lives out of an ordinary day! It’s the goodness that draws us in. We long to see glimmers of good rise up and shine.

In this video of about 45 seconds, all of these intricate pieces of the kaleidoscope and many more, gently collide in beauty and color and give us so many new pictures, thoughts and reflections. We feel this response much more we “know” it or think about it. None of these runners knew this veteran and never will. He didn’t know them. We as spectators don’t know them either. But the story of spontaneous gratitude expressed by strangers to a stranger captures us and in that moment, we don’t feel like so much like strangers. Watching the exchange makes me want to reach out, shake his hand and offer thanks too! And the captured moment can live for a long time to come.

How serendipitous seeing this was today as I sat down to write about promoting reading and literacy! Being a video, perhaps at first glance this might seem different from the written word. But it’s not. In our Internet-era of communicating through all manner of “smart” media, written words are to communicating as breathing is to life. Be it words or pictures, it’s these that give voice and vision to our lives.

Being a lifelong advocate of literacy, reading, and writing (see post It’s Never Too Early –or Too Late– to Start Reading to Kids), what a welcome sight the Reading Aloud Day effort is!

Happy Reading and Story-Telling!

Michelle

The World Read Aloud movement grows every year….

These are stats from a few years ago – I’m sure it’s grown even more since! See more at World Read-Aloud Day
• Reached 35 countries and 40,000 participants
• Reached 60 countries and all 50 states and 200,000 participants
• Reached 65 countries and over a million participants as of March 2013


Absolutely nothing else matters if you don’t persevere

Definition ‘perseverance’: “steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success”

No matter how creative, ingenious or inventive you are, if you don’t persevere, you might as well not have any talent.

Steve-Jobs-Quote

Bold statement and I’m sticking to it.

A couple months ago, my doorbell rang and I opened the door to find a young girl taking a survey. She wanted to know what people thought was the most important trait for success and entrepreneurship. On the list to chose from were traits such as Creativity, Imagination, Intelligence, Skill, Wealth, and so on.

I scanned the list thinking yes, those are all important. But none leapt out at me until near the bottom I spotted the word “Perseverance.” Without even thinking about it, I knew that was my choice so I told the girl “Perseverance.” I could see her little tic marks next to the other words people had chosen, especially Creativity, but no one else had chosen this word. So now I know my neighbors will never be entrepreneurs.

As Mr. Jobs said:

“I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”

Of course, I’m a firm believer in the importance of creativity, smarts, imagination, and all that stuff. But they aren’t the defining elements. They are firmly secondary. Dr. Seuss was rejected by 27 publishers (some sources say 43), claiming he wasn’t good at writing for children. (Could there really have been that many ignorant editors in a row?)

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter was rejected so many times she had to self-publish the first 250 copies (the first Indie self publisher? Go Beatrix!) C.S. Lewis’s “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” was rejected 800 times before it was accepted! How is that even possible?!

Dr-Suess

Peter-Rabbit

Narnia

Clearly, all of these people are so high in the lofty zone of creativity and intelligence as to leave the rest of us (or at least me!) gazing up at them in awe.

But the question is, why do we even know of these amazing people and their brilliant creations? You got it. Because, and only because, they persevered in their efforts and pursuits. Can you imagine what it must have felt like to submit a manuscript and face rejection 43 times, much less 800 frigging times? Many if not most would give up long before entering triple digits. But not Mr. Lewis – he is quoted saying that his rejections made him all the more determined.

(Note: ‘Determination’ and ‘perseverance’ are close cousins in my book.)

Many years ago when people submitted children’s stories in via mail in manila envelopes to publishers in New York, I did my fair share of printing, stuffing and sending out manuscripts. I used to joke that I could wallpaper a bathroom, then a bedroom, then a house with my rejection letters.

When at last I did get acceptance letters for a few short stories, suddenly it all became worth it! And sometimes when the editor would say something nice about my story (specific enough so I knew they really had read it), but that they were looking for something else, I counted that a success and was on cloud 9 having gotten that personal acknowledgement. How that fueled my determination to persevere!

But sometimes, all we have to move ourselves forward is us as in, me. And you. Individually. Sometimes there isn’t an encouraging voice or letter to egg us on. Sometimes even our diligent efforts disappoint and aren’t that great. More work is needed to get where we want to go. And more. And more.

No matter how creative or brilliant we may be, if we don’t keep doing the “and more” and give up on pursuing our goals and dreams, no one is ever the wiser and never will know what great thing or invention or book or painting that never hit the light of day.

And trust me, giving up is not a formal thing. It’s simply letting each day, week, and year slip by without doing anything to accomplish our creative goals. The half-finished novel draft molding in a drawer or languishing on a hard drive is meaningless in the shadows.

On the other hand, folks who may not have been blessed out of the shute w/ the level of creative genius the likes of Mr. Lewis and Mr. Jobs have gone on to be incredibly successful simply because they didn’t give up. They persevered, they improved at their craft, and it eventually paid off. Even if something doesn’t get public accolade, doing it matters!

Have you ever known someone who was incredibly talented but they did nothing with their talent? How maddening it can be to watch someone take a creative gift for granted and squander year after year never doing anything with it. This is often true even when they say they want to, they mean to, they plan to….yeah yeah yeah. Nothing ever comes of it.

Uh-oh. Here’s where I have to get out the mirror because I’m feeling a little (a lot) convicted. Not because I’m ultra creative. But because I’m letting those days/weeks/years go by. Or at least I have been till lately. I always tell myself “what you have to say doesn’t matter to anyone else.” Possibly true!

Nevertheless, I’m observant enough to recognize that I was blessed with a modicum of creativity and it’s always pushing and prodding me to be expressed somehow. I’ve had a multitude of ideas for stories over the years that I keep dreaming and imagining that one day, I will write. I have written some of them. But many more words have arisen inside that have not seen the light of the backlit screen. I don’t even want to count how many years have gone by with this condition manifesting itself!

All the more curious, this has been true despite the fact that I really am one who perseveres in many areas. In fact, I’m pretty stellar at perseverance in just about every category except for my creative pursuits! How skewed is that?! And why is that? Because creativity is hard (at least, it is for me).

It’s hard to carve out the time amidst the myriad other things (and I’m talking legitimate “must do” things, not getting stuck playing candy crush for hours) that continually demand my attention. I keep thinking life will let up some day but guess what, it’s showing no signs of doing so. If I want to pursue my creative dreams, I’m going to have to do it, not outside, but in the midst of my chaotic life.

It’s harder still because I want my creative efforts to live up to my expectations and they never do! At least not at first. I know it takes work – more so than other tasks I need to do. And since my Type A personality needs to feel like I’ve accomplished something each day, I gravitate to the tasks that I know I can do and do well and even finish in a day! Allocating precious time from other pressing demands only to agonizingly produce something mediocre at the end of the effort often isn’t a huge draw.

All of these excuses prove the point that the key to expressing these creative goals of ours – stories, books, paintings, drawings, songs, you name it – is the huge, inescapable, undeniable, unavoidable need to cultivate Perseverance. I wish I could ingest a Vitamin P that would make me ooze Perseverance!

But, at the end of the day, it’s up to me. I need to push myself to make the time and the effort. And the upside is, even if it’s not a masterpiece, having worked at it for a dedicated amount of time feels good in its own right. I know it will get better if I keep working at it. Otherwise, the other option is I may as well concede defeat, let more time pass and forget it altogether.

Sigh. I can’t accept that so I guess I need to buckle down and drink my own Koolaid and push myself more. For me, the area to push is of course writing. For you, it may be that or maybe something else on the creative list. Whatever is it that you want to have done or at least tried before dying, perseverance is the only way to get there!

We’ve acknowledged that it’s hard. Yes, indeedy. I love this quote below by Winston Churchill. I don’t think he had creative writing pursuits in mind when he said it, but it applies nonetheless!

“If you are going through hell, keep going.”  ― Winston Churchill

Excuse me, but I think have some more writing to do…..



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