Exploring How My Writing Passions Transformed with Age

Life is full of changes. These transformations happen in every area of our life, including those of us who call ourselves writers. Aging ain’t for sissies.

How has your writing changed over the course of your life?

Personally, from recent experiences, I realize that my writing and what I am interested in writing about is far different from what it was as a kid in my twenties.

As a young writer in my twenties, I was primarily interested in reading and writing fiction. Made up stories featuring heroes and villains battling it out for the greater good. These past two years have changed what I care to write about.

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What’s caused this?

For starters, graduate school has sharpened my writing and research skills. As a graduate research student working on my Masters’ degree in Managerial Science, I spend a significant amount of time writing. Nearly every week in the last 18-20 months, I have pounded out a minimum of one 8-10 page (usually two), academic paper. Each semester, I have had to write a major research paper or create a semester ending graduate project. Often, the papers due each week are longer. Research papers run 30+ pages and require a lot of reading and demand a ton of research to boot. The projects involve learning new technologies and employing new tools.

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In the process of my studies, I have read more non-fiction books than I probably did in my entire life previously. I have fallen in love with the genre. The books I have read span a variety of topics including managing generations, ethics, leadership, organizational development, operations, teams and technology, work in the 21st century, management, and company cultures.

I have grown to love the non-fiction genre and find myself reading creative non-fiction, personal essays, and watching documentaries. Having turned the corner of age 50,  I find that what I am interested in writing has been influenced by all of these new, stimulating inputs.

Naturally, this is influenced by my pursuit and interest in theological subjects and all-things Jesus. Spiritual growth is important to me and my beloved Sweet T. So, I read a lot about faith, God, and redemption.

Having spent over 20 years in active recovery, I also have a great interest in stories demonstrating life change is not only possible, but happens every day. I find God stories are all around me, just waiting to be told.

A student of people, I love writing stories about my interaction with folks that I meet in the most ordinary places and of people who have transformed my life by their presence in it.

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Writing non-fiction is different than writing fiction, just as academic writing differs from creative non-fiction. However, like in good fiction, the creative non-fiction writer must begin with a good story. Otherwise, nobody is going to read it. As is the case in a fiction story, a creative non-fiction writer relies on compelling, vibrant characters to weave their tale. Non-fiction giants such as Ron Chernow, Walter Isaacson, and David McCullough tell good stories through the eyes of intriguing characters. Their talents rival that of any major fiction author.

In addition to these more renowned authors, I have discovered great essayists N.T. Wright, Seth Godin, John Jeremiah Sullivan, and Lee Gutkind. My journey has led me to the brilliant Haydn Shaw and in-depth, detailed writing of Peter G. Northouse.

What about you? Do you find your writing interests have changed as you have grown as a human and spent time on the road of life?

Keep writing!

Blessings.

Blogging Isn’t All PJs and Coffee

Blogging takes time and commitment. Anything you want to be good at typically does. I imagine when you meet someone new a similar conversation might ensue:

“What do you do?”

“I’m a blogger.”

Befuddlement hijacks their countenance. Some of them are thinking, “That can’t be too hard.” Others have zero idea what that means.

Don’t let the fear of what others think deter you. God only created one you. Yes, you’re sure to get some funny looks along the way, but I think you’ll find more and more people who support what you’re doing if you keep after it and they see you are serious about it.

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People picture you sitting on your favorite chair, wearing your pajamas. I’m not gonna lie. I’ve done it that way.

But, if you hope to make a living at blogging then you must treat it like a job.

You get up and get ready for work as if you are heading to the office or to the shop. Shower, shave, and…well you get the picture.

Those posts aren’t going to write themselves. Successful blogging means you have to show up to work. Your followers (readers) like it when you’re dependable and your posts appear when they expect them to be there. You can train your audience. You are either training them to trust you or you’re teaching them that you’re flakey and willy-nilly about posting on your blog. It doesn’t mean people won’t read your blog. They just won’t show up regularly because you don’t show up regularly.

Success is a result of effort. Be committed. Care. If you’re hacking away at the letters on your keyboard, struggling to get through, overwhelmed with the pressure of having to blog, then you might consider if blogging isn’t really for you. That’s ok. It’s a free world. No one is making you blog. It’s something you’ve chosen to do. If you’re not having fun doing it, do something else. That’s not to say that some days you won’t feel the vibe. On those days, try to push through. If all else fails—take a break.  If you’re determined to succeed, then you’ll need to be prepared to bring the necessary level of commitment required to achieve your goals. Building your following takes time and effort. Engagement doesn’t happen overnight. Commitment matters.

Growth doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Plan and prepare. Think ahead. Success always requires planning and preparation. Have a calendar that gives you deadlines and keeps you on track. It’s real easy to skip a post—which on occasion is okay—but not a habit you want cultivate. Think through what you want to blog about and take time to do the research that will help your posts stand out from the crowd. Don’t just wake up, hoping something will happen and expect the words to magically appear on the screen. Plan. Be prepared.

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Reciprocating with kindness causes good things to happen. When people take time to comment, respond back. Engage in conversations. I’ve found the more I am willing to engage on other people’s posts the more people are willing to engage on mine. Funny how that works. Blogging is a community. An online, digital universe all its own. Building community is easier when you talk to your neighbors or spend time with like-minded people doing what you are doing.

Invest in your craft. Spend time honing your writing skills and studying all things blogging. It’s what separates the wheat from the chaff. You can check out podcasts and websites focused on helping you improve your blogging, like Darren Rowse’s ProBlogger. Darren covers every facet of blogging and offers informative, inspiring content that will help you get better faster. I also spend time reading blogs written by bloggers whose blogs are more successful than my own , like BeautyBeyondBonesIn addition to being good at her craft, Caralyn sheds light on the challenges associated with eating disorders. Finally, spend time studying other bloggers and blogs creating content in your niche’. For instance, my blog focuses on matters of faith and issues centering on addiction recovery, in addition to sharing my insights and experiences on writing and blogging. While I’m no expert, these are things I know and have spent time doing.

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Those are just some thoughts on why blogging is harder work then you think it is. Blogging isn’t all PJs and coffee. No doubt, it’s fun. I get a lot of joy from engaging with readers and followers. It does my heart good when someone comes up to me and lets me know that they are reading and that somehow God is inspiring or comforting them through my words. I’m happy when people are entertained by what I write or when my blogpost brings them joy. That’s good stuff. Keep what you like, trash the rest. Be blessed.

The Wednesday Writers Pad

Rain and cold are on the weather menu today. The local area I call home is under a flash flood and winter weather watch. YIKES! The high is not expected to get out of the 30s Wednesday. The good news is that in a couple of days, we’ll see sunnier skies with temps in the 70s. That’s Texas for you. If you don’t like the weather, just wait. Winter today, Spring tomorrow.

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People look at me weird when they ask me what I do, and I respond, “I’m a blogger.” Sometimes they will be brave enough to ask me what I blog about. Their curiosity dies suddenly when I say, “Faith and recovery, mostly.”

Other times, folks will smile and utter, “Oh, I’ve always wanted to blog.” It takes me back to my restaurant days when every dog and cat thought getting into the restaurant business sounded like a good retirement plan.

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Like operating restaurants, blogging is more difficult than it looks. Blogging is hard work.

For starters, blogging demands a great deal of time. Fresh content fuels return readers and increases SEO effectiveness and follower engagement. That means maintaining the site by producing content several days per week and updating the overall look and feel of your site regularly. The blogosphere’s junkyard is littered with blogs that have been forgotten by their creators.

blog·o·sphere  [ˈbläɡəˌsfir]  NOUN 1. personal websites and blogs collectively

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If you’re going to create fresh content several times a week, then you’re going to need sources to pull ideas from or you’ll sit in front of your laptop with that blank stare accompanying writers block. Consider inviting fellow bloggers to guest post on your blog every so often. You can return the favor, of course. Blogging isn’t all words. Images and video can make posts more interesting. Maybe you simply want to post a meme or short video communicating your thoughts for the day.

Blogging requires patience. Rome wasn’t built in a day and chances are your blog audience won’t be either. Growing followers, gathering momentum, and building reader engagement take time. There’s simply no way from here to there without a willingness on your part to exercise patience, while nurturing your blog in an environment that fosters success…eventually.

Like the old saying goes…if at first you don’t succeed…keep blogging.

Andrew Peterson-The Dark Before the Dawn

 

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