Friday, April 3, 2015

How to Write Fresh Content... Without One-Upmanship

So, I don't usually do a "How to" post...maybe once a year? ;) But, I've been really inspired by some great blogs out there, so I'm taking the plunge. I wasn't going to publish this today, but I had a bit of time for reflection before we leave for our trip, so I'm going for it. Let me know what you think in the comments.

How to write when you're exhausted.

The other day, I went for a walk, while my husband stayed home and watched the children. Exhausted from pregnancy and illness, I collapsed halfway from my starting point on a park bench, head in hands.  I felt tired, but it was more than that. I needed inspiration… even more, I needed an epiphany. I thought about clarity nonchalantly, as I watched college kids stroll by a very bad piece of graffiti art on the side of a metal generator, winding their way down the paved path. When I came home, I had a long conversation with my husband, and during that conversation, an epiphany swooped into my brain, as quickly as the moment when the soups starts to boil. If you're exhausted, have a conversation.

Do it without intimidation.

Sometimes when bloggers blog, there is an unspoken competitiveness that breeds insecurity or at its worse, strife.  A blogpost that someone else shot off perhaps quickly, or perhaps without much thought, comes off hurtful, or rude, or even worse, simply a cheap shot or imitation of something or someone else’s work. But even worse? When it's done in an intimidating spirit. I’ve written those posts; particularly eight years ago when I started blogging.  I've had my defensive-spirit moments. However, after some time writing, I soon realized it was more than a hobby, it was my passion. Once I learned that it was my passion, I found peace, and a whole lot of other skills and a better understanding of the blogging world. But that doesn’t mean that I don't have a long way to go. Nor does it mean that blogging is always fun, or has always been a walk in the park since then.

Keep Going, even when it's hard.

So that brings us to this blogpost. This is based off of the epiphany I had while talking to my husband. And this How-to is brought to you by a question I've gotten a lot over the years...

Q: Why would you continue to write online, if you know that people are going to take your ideas without giving credit... or worse, view your content with condescension, i.e. neglecting to comment or support you or retweet you, etc.?

A: I really enjoy inspiring others. It gives me joy.  However, I think the trouble with blogging - and I feel pretty strongly that I'm not alone- is not the temptation to go viral, although that's always a real thing- but is that often the people who deserve credit for their awesome, inspiring, original, or otherwise beautiful ideas, or content, end up going by the wayside....  unacknowledged or cast aside, literally.  If you expect to get more attention, or if you expect to go viral, or get linked to by big blogs (and I did, when I was a newbie blogger), and then you don't, it can be frustrating to feel that your ideas, or thoughts, or cute or random details from your own life, are going out into space and then falling flat on the floor...seemingly unnoticed. The truth is, bloggers know that that's just not true, even if you're not going viral into space, that people haven't read what you wrote. So...

Find a like-minded group of readers.

Q: So, why would you continue blogging?

A: I continue blogging because I'm excited by blogging. For many people, the goal of blogging is to reach a smaller crowd. A like-minded crowd. The people who follow your blog love your ideas.  They appreciate you, and so, they are loyal to you. However, many times in blogging, even if a bunch of comments isn't your goal, you have to turn the other cheek if you feel like others are "piggybacking" on your ideas, and then getting either financial support or an e-book idea, etc out of it. It starts to feel like a cheap shot (or even dare I say it, cheating... or at the very least, cutting corners) when you've lived something and written about it, and someone else just thought it was so cool, and so they took credit for it. What is even worse than being taken advantage of is the thought that people are exploiting your ideas (i.e. making money) without acknowledging you or being a friend to you.

The truth is, you have to recognize that if you go on a picnic, and then the next week, five bloggers go on a picnic, it is probably not because they stole your idea. It is probably because the weather just turned warm for them too, and picnics are a beautiful idea.  Sometimes because we are weary or our self-concept needs some flattery or at least encouragement. It can be easy in these times to think that we are under-appreciated, when in reality that's not true either. So keep that in mind, too.

However, sometimes, people really are cheating. They aren't taking the high road, they're taking the easy road. What then?

Well... I think that goes into a completely different issue, and it's another question I've heard a lot, which is:

Live Life.

Q: How do you come up with fresh content, i.e. truly new ideas?

A: In order to have new ideas, you have to live it first. You can't write about natural childbirth if you've never done it. You can't write about having a midwife in DC who is an expert in natural health if you've never had a midwife in DC who was an expert in natural health. You can't be all-of-a-sudden a Dante aficionado, you have to read his stuff for a while first. It make take more time than you're willing to give it, but let life be lived first, then start writing about it.

Second, you have to have an eye for originality. You just do. If you go on Pinterest, and there are 105 recipes for peppermint bark, don't write a recipe for peppermint bark and try to sell it in a cookbook e-book or on your blog. Make up a recipe for peppermint lollipops, then, you're going to have to figure out how to make candy, and then go ahead and write a blogpost about that.... or sell it in a cookbook, or e-cookbook, or what have you.  If there are two-thousand blogposts about board books for children, why write another one? We are bored of that. ;) Instead, perhaps you could spend a few weeks writing a post about your favorite book from early childhood, and why you like it, or why you like reading it to your children. It would be more personal, more meaningful, more original, and more interesting!

Be Nice.
Q: How do you come up with creative ideas without one-upmanship?

A: This is so important. Ideas are so precious. If you do get an idea (or even just a burst of inspiration, or the energy to carry out your own idea) via another blog, or a blogger - even if you are not a blogger- give them credit. And the truth is? A little credit goes a long way. If you don't, that person and probably a whole lot of other people will know anyway. So it is better to humble yourself, and admit that in some ways, that person may be smarter, more creative, or a harder worker than you. And then do something they might appreciate. Follow them on Twitter. Or instagram. Or Facebook. Or Google Plus. Or all of them, but never none at all. Leave them a well-meaning, sincere comment. Just a fan of Twitter? That would be enough. Only have time for Facebook? Give them a thumbs up. Give them a thumbs up every time they post something unique or inspiring! If their ideas aren't something you feel you can publicly support (AKA, link to on your own blog, or even follow on social media), but you appreciate their blog, let them know in the comments, or in an email. You should never, ever feel like you are "above" certain blogs or even certain blog genres. Support the people deserving of your support, even if you care about perfection and feel they aren't quite "there," Wherever "there" is in the creative sphere. ;) Give credit to the people deserving of your credit. In this way, if you befriend them, that means you are inspired by them, rather than just being a big fat copycat. Which is, in fact, a little bit rude. ;)

Be More Than Nice.

Friendship is one of the great beauties of the blogging world. This is the thing I am most passionate about, and this is the thing that I hope all bloggers heed and take away from this post. I'm still a beginner in many ways. I still have so much to learn.  We're in this together. We all have something to learn from each other, and we all have original ideas. So, don't be a stalker or a quiet observer. Be a friend! The sooner you stop feeling like you're above other bloggers, the sooner you will grow to love blogging and appreciate it for what it is. I'm not sure if it is age, pride, experience, or the number of skills you have. There will always be competitiveness where there is creativity. If you're not a blogger, but you are a consistent blog-reader, if you're a friend to the writer, you will more fully appreciate reading blogs and the bloggers behind them. The definition of one-upmanship is "a form of creative intimidation by successively outdoing your competitor." That ain't cool, yawl. Be a friend, not a secret, envying follower without a heart! Love, instead!

Adding my link to Kelly today! Shout out to her for linking to my Conversion Story at on This Ain't The Lyceum  (same as above) today! Thanks, Kelly!


Anonymous said...

I'm a new blogger and really enjoyed your post. Lots of tips and inspiration- thank you!

Tacy said...

Thank you so much!!! That means a lot ;)

kopiluwak nya said...
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