It was my turn at the WLS blog post helm this week. I spent hours and hours on a post that I could not finish. There was a reason for that; it lacked focus, flow, conclusion, and zip. The only passion I had was to get out of having to write it.
I was stuck in the blogging doldrums. I emailed Lisa that my blog post was delayed for yet another day, and then another day. She remained stoic and supportive as always.
I did not want to open a gap in our weekly publishing calendar. James Clear’s Next Avenue article referring to Jerry Seinfeld’s strategy for creating when the muse has left us brought this point home to me. A young comic asked Seinfeld for tips to improve his craft. Seinfeld advised that the very best way “to create better jokes … was to write every day.” The young comic recalled:
“[Seinfeld] told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red Magic Marker. He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day,” Isaac recalled.
Seinfeld continued: “After a few days, you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job is to not break the chain.”
Clear emphasizes that whenever a commitment has flat-stopped you, “It’s not about how you feel, how inspired you are or how brilliant your work is that day. Instead, it’s just about “not breaking the chain.” In other words, just do it.
I wondered: why do we publish a weekly blog post at the Studio? What is the value of blogging for us and our readers? I did some quick research to see what others had to say and found many reasons for individuals and businesses to blog, far too many to cite here. I organized my new insights into six reasons to blog even when you don’t want to.
Habit and Skill Development
Our blogging on a regular schedule is a “healthy life habit” that “requires time, devotion, commitment, and
discipline” according to Joshua Becker at Becomingminimalist. It is certainly part of the infotention and mindfulness that we have advocated in our blog posts here and here for knowledge workers to develop. Blogging regularly also clarifies your thinking and helps you become a better communicator. Becker says “Blogging will not force you to become a better writer, it’ll just happen as you do it. And becoming a better writer holds important benefits for the rest of your life” including employment, relationships, and creativity.
Our blogs may inform and inspire others to take action that they would otherwise not do. Susan Genelius at about tech points out that “Many blogs are issue-based … the blogger is trying to provide information to sway people’s thinking in a certain direction.”
Part of our motivation here at WLS is to encourage people to learn digital literacies and participate as full-fledged digital citizens. This end-goal does not mean staying in a virtual reality but to use our digital knowledge and skills to make life better for everyone in terms of what we do, where and how we work, live, celebrate, parent, take care of elders, engage in communities, feel, and derive joy from living.
Lisa and I love to read and recognize the work of other bloggers; we wish to reciprocate their generosity as much as we can. Blogging has a permanence. Long after we have published, a post could still inform or entertain someone somewhere.
Your Blog is Your Brand
A blog is “your new resume” according to Dan Reich writing for Forbes that may attract headhunters and potential employers. It is also a look into “the worldview behind the decisions you make.” Becker’s very popular post elaborates further:
Whether you have 1 reader or 10,000, the blogging process opens up your life to those on the outside. It is a good exercise in human-existence to be known by others. Over time, you’ll reveal more and more of yourself to the outside world… and you’ll be excited to find a world that relates to you and enjoys hearing your story.
Our blog posts give currency to the WLS website. The blog is what we link to most often on social media such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. In face-to-face workshops, we encourage participants to visit our blog to learn more about the topics we and they care about.
Blogs bring people together. Our blog coupled with promotion on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, has helped us grow relationships with college professors, social learning theorists and practitioners, leadership coaches, instructional designers, foundation leaders, encore seekers, and consultants in this country, Great Britain, Canada, Austria, New Zealand, and elsewhere.
Writing a blog is the closing verb in the PKM (Personal Knowledge Management) trilogy of Seek-Sense-Share offered by Harold Jarche. Blog posts express the results of our sense-making and lead to reactions that can further enrich our understanding. Dan Reich observes that
It’s very easy to get caught up with media consumption. There are many days where I feel as if I’ve achieved nothing because I spent my entire day consuming other people’s content. This is a very dangerous road. I believe that by asserting yourself as a contributor instead of a consumer, you will realize huge payoffs down the road. Be a builder. Be a producer.
Reich also notes that over time, blogs serve as personal journals that document our evolution as thinkers and contributors to the intellectual commons. Lisa Endlich writing for Next Avenue (published in Huffington Post 50+) brings up another gem: “Because they are far more than 140 characters, blog posts are true contemplations of our lives and our thoughts.” Endlich also believes that the length of blog posts presents a bigger intellectual payoff for the author and readers because it encourages more “subtlety and detail” than the flash-and-dash of social media will permit.
Finally, one effective way to keep a youthful outlook is to keep learning. Blogging sharpens and reifies our learning and may be the best vehicle to stay in the present. Richard Friedman, an Op-Ed writer for the New York Times concluded his Fast Time and the Aging Mind article with this recommendation:
It’s simple: if you want time to slow down, become a student again. Learn something that requires sustained effort; do something novel. Put down the thriller when you’re sitting on the beach and break out a book on evolutionary theory or Spanish for beginners or a how-to book on something you’ve always wanted to do. Take a new route to work; vacation at an unknown spot.
All I know is that time slowed down for me today as I assembled this blog post. I feel engaged, accomplished, and maybe a little younger! [smile]
Remember: our thoughts are free. Consider blogging to learn and stay young.
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