To Keep Writing . . . 

I’ve been writing every day for about a week now, so far. Much of what I’ve posted up until now have been things that I wrote months or years ago and am just now publishing.  
I’ve seen a few people trickle in, leave some comments, “like” some posts. It’s good to see that there are, at least, a few people who are intersted in what I write. But unlike other blogs that I’ve tried to do in the past, my main goal with this blog is not to drive a huge amount of traffic to my blog. That would be cool if it happened, but that’s not my goal.  

In order to get traffic to my site I would need to focus very much on the content of what I write. What kinds of keywords, how my posts affect SEO (Search Engine Optimization). I would need to plan out posts, have a general strategy, maybe even advertise a little bit to drive traffic.  

The problem is, the only reasons why anyone would care about driving traffic to their blog is because they want to make some ad money, or they are convinced that what they have to say is absolutely essential for people to read, or they might be promoting a brand or image of some kind.  

I don’t have ads on my site, I don’t think that what I’m writing is essential for anyone other than me, and I am not promoting anything at this time. And that’s the truth. So I can’t really blame anyone for not reading my blog. I don’t really read theirs, so there’s no hard feelings here if this isn’t a popular blog.  

I’ve read many times that if you want to be taken seriously in the “blogosphere” that you need to be part of the blog community. You need to read posts, follow people who are like-minded, comment on the work of others, be involved in the cyber world of blogging.  

Meh. I’ll pass.  

That sounds like a lot of work to me. I didn’t take up blogging so that it could be a second (or in my case third) job. I don’t want to spend time surfing the web for blogs to follow.  

I am, perhaps selfishly, writing for myself. And I could easily, and historically have, written all of my writings in my journal. But writing to publish exacts a different kind of creative process than journal writing or writing knowing that no one will ever look at it. And writing to publish also forces me to question and analyze my writing more.  

I have noticed over the last week that a question about my writing has . . . intruded on my mind, and it’s a rather revealing and probing question about what I write.  

Is what I write important? Is it important to those who read it? Is it important to me? 

The act of publishing every day has forced me to ask myself: is what I write making a difference? Or is it just something that I do just to get into the habit of writing more? Is this blog something that I believe that people should want to read, or is it more of a public place where I share private thoughts?  

I think that at this juncture I don’t know the answer to that. And there is a very real possibility that I never will.  

I suppose that question may not even be very helpful to answer. If my work is important to people it will find its way to them, or I’ll find a way to reach them over the course of time. It’s not something to worry about. My writing is obviously somewhat important to me, otherwise I wouldn’t be subjecting myself to the potential humiliation of publishing my work. But is it truly, deeply important, or is this just an exercise in writing more? 

But that first, fundamental question raises other, more pertinent questions around what I feel is important to write about. If my writing is important to me, and I suppose that this blog proves that it is, then what things are important to write about? What kinds of topics, themes? Should I post more of my creative writing, stories, songs, and poems; or should I focus on creating new content around life, business, tech, religion? . . . I don’t know. I’m kind of making this up as I go along. 

 . . . As I think about it, I realize that this post is not likely going to be a popular one. It’s got a lot of questions and very few answers. And asking nebulous, rhetorical questions in a blog post seems . . . counterintuitive and pointless. It’s not like anyone is actually going to answer any of these personal questions for me. So what is the point of this article?  

I don’t know. And at this point, I suppose that I don’t care. I’m writing, I’m posting, and that is what I set out to do. The rest I’ll figure out later. 

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On Sharing, Art, and Personal Battles 

 It’s pitch black outside. I can see next to nothing. Just the lights from a few of my neighbors houses and the glow of the temple spire in the distance.  Mornings are so relaxed. Wake up before the hustle and bustle of kids running around, the only noises are the sounds of the house. The fridge running, the furnace turning on every-so-often, and the hum of the kitchen lights above my head.  

I keep one of the kitchen lights off in the morning so that it stays dim and relaxed in the morning. Too much light just makes it feel like the day is starting too early, that it’s time to get to work or do some chores. I like the quiet, soft, and dark feel of the morning time. I feel like I’m the only one awake and that my thoughts can just be my own. It’s almost as if being around other people makes it so my thoughts aren’t necessarily just for me, that being around someone makes my private life somehow public.  

I need time alone. It’s part of who I am, and I’m becoming more like that, introverted. I just need time to think things through, to get creative, to not have anyone around to ask what I’m doing or have to explain my actions to anyone. I need time to write without anyone around to ask what I’m writing about or why. It doesn’t matter what I’m writing about, all that matters is that I’m writing.  

Somehow even the presence of other people in the room who know me makes me self-conscious about my writing, as if somehow them being in the room gives them the ability to perceive what I’m working on, or that they’ll ask me what I’m working on and I’ll feel obligated to tell them. I like to keep my creative pursuits to myself until I feel ready to share them. It’s like crafting something special that just won’t make any sense until it’s complete. It’s my special project that I don’t want anyone to criticize until I have completed it and I know that it has passed my own scrutiny. I am harsh enough on my own work to not need anyone else’s criticism until I feel ready to take the criticism.  

I suppose part of me wants to make sure that the criticism that I get isn’t just poking holes in things that I knew already, things I was planning on fixing anyway. That’s the problem with handing out unfinished work is that people notice the things that I already knew about and was in the process of fixing instead of noticing the smaller things that I hadn’t noticed yet. They’ll notice the plot holes that I was still filling, or the section that felt a little rushed or too drawn out, when I was going to edit it and just hadn’t had time. I don’t believe an artist should need help to make his art good, but I think that almost all creatives need help to make his works great.  

I can make good stuff, I write well enough on my own to be able to write good stuff, but I know that my skills aren’t sufficient to make something spectacular on my own. I need help with a lot of different things to be able to make something turn from good to great, and that’s ok, I can accept that. I would be foolish not to accept the fact that I need help to improve my writing.  

But I guess what I’m realizing about myself is that I struggle to share my art with others. It feels like I’m giving away part of myself, and that’s a scary prospect, no matter how good you are at your craft. 

It’s something I’m working on. Hopefully it’s not always such an embarrassing prospect, to share less than perfect art in the hopes that some feedback will help me improve.

New Goals and Ambitions

So this week I’ve been thinking a lot about gifts and talents, and mostly wondering if I have any that were worth thinking about.

hidden-talent
Check out this kid playing the piano.  Kid’s got talent.

The jury is still out as to whether I have any notable talents. If I have any (apart from being able to play a mean jazz bass solo, and being excellent at tickling my kids, and being annoying) I’m not really sure what to do with them or how to recognize them.

So, being the religious guy that I am, I decided to take the matter to the Lord and ask Him if I had any talents worth developing, and if I did which one I should focus on.

I got an answer. And thus, here I am writing again. I felt very distinctly that I should focus on my writing. It’s not the first time that I’ve felt that I need to work on my writing, but this time was different. I got a very distinct feeling that I should not only write every day, and write much more than I already am, but that I should publish my writings in my blog. For what purpose I have no idea. But I’m willing to try.

So my goal is to now write every day, and publish . . . Something . . . every day.

I’m hoping that I’ll see some result from this experiment, something that will encourage me to keep on publishing and working on my writing. I suppose only time will tell what the result of this all will be.

And so, result or not, success or not, I am starting tonight on what looks to be a very long campaign of publishing something every day, and hopefully publishing something not boring every day.

To Write or Not to Write

(This is a post that I’m migrating over from my former blog on Blogspot.)

Writing in a blog is something that I’ve been wanting to do, and do more consistently for a while.

Writing that first draft is always the hardest, it’s much too easy to talk yourself out of writing at all.

I recently read an article on Fastcompany.com about this exact topic. Most of the advice was geared toward writing in business, but it was a good post.

There is one particular bit of advice that I wanted to write about. It was about overcoming the “blank page hurdle”, which is something that I’m currently working on.

The main take away that I got from the post was this quote:

“The trick to overcoming this isn’t easy, but it’s surprisingly effective: give yourself permission to write badly, and just start.”

In writing first drafts I often am too hard on myself. It doesn’t read like Tolkien or Robert Frost, so obviously it isn’t good enough. I really needed someone to tell me that’s it’s ok to suck when you’re starting out.

I think we all fall prey to the perfectionist attitude in so many aspects of our lives.  We think to ourselves that we’re not smart enough, talented enough, or whatever else we tell ourselves that convinces us not to do what we plan on doing.

The truth is that we rarely start out good at anything. The first draft is always just the beginning as we develop our ideas, just like the first practice of a sports season is just the beginning of progression; the first orchestra rehearsal of the semester is always the worst, and we shouldn’t judge how the final concert will sound based on how the first rehearsal went.

This blog is my way to “just start”. This is my way of pushing myself through the bad writing, the sometimes painful process of finding the right thing to say, and sometimes having anything to say at all. 

It is my resolution to fill this blog with great things, but first I have to begin with filling the pages with something, with anything.  I can only hope that of the many things that I plan on posting that some of it will be beneficial to whoever reads this. 

New Blog, New Life . . . OK just a new blog actually

So I’ve started a new blog.  I’ve tried this blogging thing a few different times with business ideas I had, personal blogs, and a number of different ideas.  None of them have really stuck.  I was doing pretty good with my last blog (chivsjawn.blogspot.com), but I found that I don’t really like how cumbersome Blogger is to use.  So here I am, giving WordPress a shot.

Conventional blogging wisdom says that you should pick a single topic and write on that.  This helps to gather an audience interested in hearing from an expert on that topic.  It helps with search results, and also helps to make your blog stick in people’s memories because it’s focused on one topic.

I’ve never really been big on following conventional wisdom.  I tried the “one topic” thing and found that I just really don’t care to write that frequently on one topic.  I have varied interests (as I talk about on my “My Story” page), and I rarely want to write about the same thing day in and day out.  I like to study new things, explore new horizons.  So I’ll be writing about a lot of different things on this blog.

Lest this turn into a boring travelogue of my not-so-adventurous life (I’m not much of thrill seeker) I will focus on a few different topics that interest me the most.

1. Music – I’m a musician and hope to write about music industry stuff.

2. Writing – I’m an aspiring author.  I’m working on novel #1 . . . we’ll see how long that takes me.  But I’ll write about writing and post some snippets.

3. Religion – I’m a Mormon.  Religion is a central part of my life and I’ll be sure, if not to do entire posts about Mormonism, to throw Mormon terms throughout the blog.

4. Family – I’m a family man.  I’m married with one son and another son on the way.  I love my family and love to spend time with them, so I’ll probably be writing about them as well.

This, as you have already guessed, is not an informational blog.  I am not a subject matter expert on any of the aforementioned topics.  I just like to write, and if there is something of interest in what I write then my mission has been accomplished.

So I hope you enjoy, hope you come back soon.