Blogging: Take a Risk; Make it Yours

By: Marilyn L. Davis

Blogging, Life, and Writing Lessons

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“I have a lifetime of learning ahead of me. I apply many of the things I learned in school, but I’ve forgotten most. Random snippets of the rules come back to me, at times, but my mind will eventually eradicate them all, relearn them, and reinvent them.”  Lee Gutkind
  
 
This week, I’ll celebrate 27 years of abstinence-based recovery, so remembering and reflecting are appropriate for this time of year. Bear with me. I also intend to write something that might prompt you to remember and reflect as well. Those two processes – remembering and reflecting, can each help you with your narrative or creative nonfiction writing.
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About a year ago, Scott Biddulph asked me to write a few pieces for Two Drops of Ink. I was excited because writing about writing interested me, but I was apprehensive because I wasn’t sure if I could add anything worthwhile to the information already out there.  He encouraged me, and I started writing about creative nonfiction, planning, prompting, and processing to create better posts.
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Begin at the Beginning, Even if You Create It

 

If we stay trapped in just those components, we will end up with a flat piece that no one wants to read. I know that some of my earlier articles here fall into that category – just the facts, places and people. I wrote them like that because I was afraid to insert me into them, and I know that’s a common fear of writers.  Even without fear, we wonder how much of our feelings, impressions, and insights to interject without coming across as egotistical, boring, or too revealing.

It is the thoughts, feelings, experiences, and ideas that make creative non-fiction come alive. Even when we embellish the facts, or heighten the emotions, if it’s truthful, so what?

Facts and feelings each give our articles and blogs information that everyone can relate to, and that’s what translates into loyal readers. We can also forget that it’s creative non-fiction. It’s taking those facts, places and people and making them accessible to others, or making something interesting to a reader who didn’t know they had any interest until we inserted a story or example that made the lesson universal.
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What Do I Know? 

 

“We write what we know” seems obvious, but that is where we begin.  If you’re an expert in something, qualify it for me.

Not just with letters behind your name, but tell me your process, your struggles, and your accomplishments – and then how you felt during each stage of that process. __

I’m not talking about a blow-by-blow, long-winded narrative though.

Everyday Brings a Realization

 

For instance, think about a mechanical engineer who worked on a space shuttle mission. There’s room for a human interest story to accompany an article on advancements in space travel and how those advancements translate into everyday conveniences for the rest of us, all without once describing the function of space travel.

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What if the writer takes us back to that moment when the space shuttle exploded and we all felt a sense of sadness and dismay? We might understand why our mechanical engineer created something that we use daily.
  1. Did that calamity prompt our engineer to design something better?
  2. Was he feeling guilty, so he improved something that today makes our lives easier?
  3. Did he get angry because his cautioning words went unheard?

Expand on Your Known Facts

Now we understand his motives – perhaps it was his guilt or questioning his contribution to the project, or a firm resolve never to be in that situation again. We can all relate to those incentives for change and improving something, whether we understand mechanical engineering or not.
 
If what he’s developed has practical application for me and can make my life easier, I’m going to finish his article. He’s gotten my attention, given me a point of references, and has potentially made my life better.

Find Your Angle in Every Topic

 

I’m like many of you; I understand the computer enough to write.  I have a trusted computer expert to fix the problems, and I’ve used his services for over twenty years. Not only does he fix the problems, but he also gives me great analogies or metaphors for what happened. When I had RAM issues, he commented that my desk was always clear and organized.  I might have a cup of coffee and one or two reference books on one edge of the desk, but that my usual method of writing was organized and uncluttered.

I gave him that look that we all do when someone states the obvious – waiting anxiously for anything we don’t already know.  He asked me if I could write if my desk had:
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  1. All my references books stacked up on it
  2. My dog’s leash because she will have to go out during my writing
  3. Several snacks in case I got hungry
  4. My laundry in a pile as a reminder to start it when I take a break from writing

The ‘Aha’ Moment for You and Me 

 

I laughed and said that no, all that would be distracting, and would slow down my process for writing. He then told me that I had an overly mess, disorganized, jumbled RAM desk; I used that desk is a messy manner. Although the RAM was a big desktop, I slowed down it effectiveness with all the “might needs” that cluttered my desktop. 

I had large files for images, drafts of pieces, sites to visit, and several browsers open. Who know when I’d need a link for a piece? I’d have eight or ten Word documents available, too. Who knew when the darling of last week would work? 

Then the fifteen tabs to game sites. Ah, I see the problem. 

 

Make a Process Relevant for All of Us

 

In other words, just too much stuff working at any given time.  My computer was messy when I wrote and I was expecting my computer to run too much at one time. I’m a woman who thinks anything beyond adding and subtracting for a checkbook is too much math, but I was overloading my computer’s ability to process, much like advanced math is for me.

He then told me the facts – do this, do that: start bookmarking sites and files, and that when I need something, it was in the file cabinet or drawers of the desk – those hard drives or history, or searches. He made sense; it wasn’t like I had to walk somewhere to retrieve them. Either search or history told me where the information was, and if I didn’t need it, then it was filed and ready for another time. Now, I’m organized at my virtual desk, too.

 

First Blog? What Do You Know?

 

Does everyone have a computer geek who’s a story-teller?  No, but that’s the power of storytelling. I learned about how computers function because I could understand the example. Not a bad day at all. I learned a valuable lesson and we stay loyal to those who teach us something.
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When we give people new and value-added information, we’ve done our job as a writer, provided the blog or article is well-written. I also write a blog about addiction and recovery, as well as writing about writing at Two Drops of Ink. Both of these represent the subjects I’m passionate about but seem totally unrelated on the surface.  
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However, if I incorporate recovery stories into my writing articles, they become intertwined topics.
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Write About Your Passions – It’s Contagious

 

If you aren’t sure whether you’re ready to give advice, suggestions or direction for your subjects of interest, but want still want to start a blog or site, then your content might be prompted by what you’re reading. So, what grabbed your attention today?
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  1. Did that information enrage or engage you?
  2. Do you share the article’s perspective?
  3. Can you write about a counter-point?
  4. Do you have more current information?
  5. Can you expand on the information?
  6. Could you write about the subject better?
  7. Is the article or blog true from your perspective?
  8. What do you know about the issue from an insider’s view?
Questions bubbling in your brain are the same ones that are percolating in a reader’s mind.
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With all of the personal blogs today, you have an opportunity to create interesting pieces that others will find enjoyable, make someone think, or start a discussion on the merits of the information. We hope that you’ll use Two Drops of Ink for specific writing topics whether it for structure, syntax, or Swan Lake sentences 
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Remember the Feelings in Everything You Write

We also believe that you’ll find encouraging articles about finding your voice, tone and working to improve as a writer. As I write this piece, I’m surprised that the majority of it is giving examples that touch on underlying emotions, thoughts and ideas and less on facts. Is it different writing than a year ago?  Yes. Is it improved writing?
In many ways, yes, because I think I’m paying more attention to the creative side of blogging. Is it helpful and interesting? I’ll leave that up to you. I expect I’ll know from shares and comments, and those always help me improve.
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And who knows, you could be this person, “He lived at a little distance from his body, regarding his own acts with doubtful side-glances. He had an odd autobiographical habit which led him to compose in his mind time to time a short sentence about himself containing a subject in the third person and a verb in the past tense.” James Joyce
 
I can tell you now that I would read your article, check out your blog, and learn from you, so consider a guest post.
 
 
 

Two Drops of Ink: The Literary Home for Collaborative Writing

 

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2 comments

  1. Thank you for this piece. I haven’t started my blog yet. I think it’s fear holding me back. I’m a little afraid that once the flood gates open I will be found out and people will find out I’ve been living two lives. In one life, I am this agreeable conformist who mumbles quietly my dissatisfaction with the world around me. In my other life, the one I only let out to play when others aren’t paying attention, I am a passionate rabble rouser in love with a bad boy. Perhaps there’s a way to marry the two and let the pieces fall where they fall.

    • Hi, Amy. thank you for reading and commenting.

      I think fear is what holds all of us back, not just from blogging, but most things in life.

      Your duality? Perhaps you should just name your blog, “The Rabble Rousing Conformist” and comingle the different sides of yourself.

      I’m sure there are others out there, in fact, I’ve been known to be a contradiction myself.

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