This morning, I was going through my email and came across John P. Weiss’ most recent blog post, Do You Want to Improve Your Writing or Become an Algorithm Hack?
I have subscribed to his blog and read his writing for more than a few years, and quite often he makes me think (a good thing). Furthermore, at times some of his more poignant work has nudged me to remember similar occasions or situations in my life. Whether those were good or bad, but after reading his posts it forced me to look at them again. Often looking back at those memories helped me heal more than a few old wounds or bring some badly needed light back into my world.
Why write about this post?
I have been unhappy with the direction of my writing and blogging for a while, and his post tied together many of the strings that needed to come together for me to understand the source of that unhappiness.
While I know why I blog and explained it in this post. I am not in blogging for the money, boatloads of followers or notoriety, I blog because I love to write and yes, blogging is writing.
Weiss’ post this morning made me stop and think more about how I write on my blog.
I love to write
While I may not be a great or elegant writer, and the topics that I have chosen to write about will never become classics or even overly popular, they satisfy my inner muse, which is enough.
Even so, over the past couple of years, I have struggled with the idea of whether how I write is good enough?
Does my writing accurately convey my struggles with the changes to life and running, as a result of getting old?
Do I appropriately share the many lessons I learn along the way and how convoluted my thinking is as I attempt to resolve in my mind the answers to those questions that arise.
Most of my blog posts are simply a regurgitation of what happened during my daily runs or focused on the numbers that are produced during them, and reviews of stuff. In other words they are template posts.
In my heart, I know that blogging by template is like a form letter, it says what it needs to, but is boring for those who take the time to read my writing, and honestly, it is a boring way to write. Template writing ensures that you get all the facts in a certain order so that you don’t miss anything, but at the same time…
I know that each day and run have their story and when I write to the template, I often miss or the muses ignore me and my attempts to share that story. They have little regard for someone who doesn’t dare to honor the creativity and voice they offer to a writer.
Yes, I do consider myself a writer.
Figuring it out
This storytelling stuff is difficult for me to wrap my head around. I have always been more of a technical writer, and creativity wasn’t that necessary. “Just the facts…” adding in the artsy-artsy creative stuff to my technical writing wasn’t necessary or wanted.
My writing background and training are primarily as someone who drafted and maintained official Instructions or Notices of how to do things in the military, and personnel or policy-related letter writing. Where templates and the consistent ordering of information was the way it was.
When I moved on to become a History and English Language Arts teacher, teaching the basics and focusing on ensuring that the facts were presented “correctly” was more important than telling the story. I truly wish that I could have taught that the way the student told the story of what they had learned was more important. I have a feeling it would have been more useful to them in the long run.
I have attempted to become more of a storyteller since I left teaching, with varying degrees of success and multiple blogs. When I look back at my previous posts, I do okay at the detail part, but often miss the story that was staring me square in the face.
The Right Time
Since I have started Harold being Harold over — again. This is the right time to attempt some of these “other” ideas that I have about how I can become a better storyteller.
What is the worst thing that happens? I don’t like it, or I get feedback from the few readers that have endured my wandering ways, asking me what the heck I am doing this time?
If you see some stylistic changes or even a few off the wall posts every so often going forward, it will be me experimenting to see what works. The content won’t really be changing all that much, but hopefully, the way that I present the details of what happened will be more the telling of a story between friends, than a recitation of the facts or worse a form-letter interpretation of what happened that day.
The most significant change that I need to make is to stop, being afraid of attempting something a little different or bailing on ideas that have the opportunity to be fantastic, but seem to “not be me.”
Let’s face it, if I am writing it, the style is mine and might even be a better me.
I also have to get over the idea that failing is a bad thing.
You never really know what will work better until you attempt something different or new and you will have times where you fail miserably. Then you have to pick your arse back up off the ground and get ready try again, but learn how and why you failed along the way, so you can do better the next time.
Writing as a storyteller is something that doesn’t come easily for me, but the few times that I have told the story that I needed to write, I was smiling when I pressed the publish button.
This is the direction that I want, no need to go, with my writing and blogging in the future. There is an audience out there who does have an interest in what I write about, but I have to learn how to write so that my story resonates with their interests.
I am learning that continuing with the same way of doing something, even when you might put a different name on the blog, isn’t changing anything. Yeah, I am beginning to see that my unhappiness with my blogging is less about where I am writing and more about how I am sharing my story.
I think that the below quotes from Weiss’ latest post is the correct direction to go, whether I can do it remains to be seen. However, if I don’t make the attempt, I will continue to be dissatisfied with my writing and give up on blogging altogether and that is something that I don’t want to have happen.
“Going forward this year, I’ll continue to focus on my original goal of elegant storytelling. Because stories contain deep truths. They can move and inspire us far greater than any listicle or another morning routine article.”“Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can’t remember who we are or why we’re here.”-Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees— both from John P. Weiss’ post.
I have a lot of work ahead of me, and I am certain that there will be more than a few ups and downs, along with sliding along sideways at times. Now, at least, I have a better understanding of the direction I want to head, and posts like John P. Weiss’ keep reminding me of that direction when I get a bit off course.
It might even mean that there will not be a post every day and that I will be more selective about the days that I share a run on my blog.
Come with me now, the best is yet to be.
Weiss, John P. “Do You Want to Improve Your Writing or Become an Algorithm Hack?” John P. Weiss – Blog, 8 January 2022, https://johnpweiss.com/blog/174711/do-you-want-to-improve-your-writing-or-become-an-algorithm-hack. Accessed 9 January 2022.