What I have learned (Blog number 199 of 200)
Last year about this time, I was contemplating what could I do that was big, might be meaningful and could be useful? I decided to write 200 Blogs in one calendar year and place them on the TUDiabetes site. So on April 29, 2013 I posted a blog titled “Introducing Rick”. Its first line went like this
“I doubt anyone will want to read this or any other post I put here. I mean let’s face it, Rick is not that interesting”.
I was sincere in my belief. I really had little hope that anyone, would want to read much of what I had to say. In fact I decided to do this blogging exercise as a way to improve my writing. This past year I thought sometimes that worked (I have improved my writing), other times not so much. In deciding to do this project I took inspiration from a quote by Ray Bradbury.
You can't try to do things; you simply must do them.
With that in mind I decided I would, (must) do what I intended and try to improve my writing. So I started blogging and I was fortunate to use TUDiabetes.org as my platform. At that time my friend Kathy (she should be your friend as well if she is not yet) gave me some advice. This is her home page if you want ot meet one of the more interesting people in TUDiabestes:
What Kathy said was write what you feel and make it worth your while, assume everybody will read it, but know that very few will comment. It was good advice. But with a built in audience like www.TUDiabetes.org I had a little more of an inspiration to write as well as I could. I am grateful that TUDiabetes gave me a place to post my morning dribble.
So the central question what did I learn. Well first I learned that writing a regular blog is a difficult business. Finding topics four days a week is a tough thing to do. The pressure to write each day made me be on the lookout for topics every minute of every day. In some ways it was like being a newspaper reporter. Every day (4 days a week) I had an assignment to write something interesting. Sometimes it worked out others well not so much.
Second, I found that topics can be found everywhere. I found them in conversations, magazines, memories, or observations in the mall. It is like a daily scavenger hunt and by the end of the day on Thursday I was thrilled to be done with it for the week. But sure enough on Friday morning the search began again. Getting the idea was at least 50% of getting the article written.
Third, I found that on mornings when I did not have a clear idea about what to write, I often had to ask the question I wonder about this or that. When I decided the question than I simply started with Google Scholar and tried to answer it. Those were often the best, but least read articles I wrote.
Fourth, the most read articles were meant to be funny. Sometimes people would not understand my humor but mostly it made it through and it worked. Other times folks misunderstood that I meant my writing to be humorous and it turned out to be serious for some folks.
Fifth, I found that when humor connects more people read my article and enjoyed it. Those were actually the most fulfilling days as a writer.
Sixth, it is possible to advertise my writing using twitter. Marie taught me to do that and she was one who started placing my items on her twitter feed. Once that started, my writing was magnified several times. Getting more readers and in a few cases my writing was picked up by the Diabetic media and republished. It was fun to know I was influencing readers of that media in many different ways.
Seventh, it is important to source your information if it was not an original thought. If I took it from somewhere it was important to source it back to that source. Sourcing the data made it more creditable, more likely to be reprinted in the diabetic media and more likely to get read by people outside of the 3 or 4 who regularly commented on my articles.
I also learned how generous people can be on our site. I loved getting comments, likes, and people who said hey I read your stuff today and that was fun, or thanks for writing the article, or that was meaningful for me. Those were the best days I blogged. Those people offered enough encouragement for me to keep going and I was always so appreciative when someone gave me a kind work.
I learned that we have some wonderful bloggers on our site and I thought as I blogged this year our bloggers got better and better. If I did nothing else, I think by consistently blogging, the quality of blogging on our site went up. I am very proud of whatever small part I might have played in raising the level of blogging on our site.
At some points during the year people would ask if I intended to take some of my better blogs and republish them in a book. When asked that question I always said that if my material was to be published then other bloggers, some way more talented than me, should be included. Because we have some amazing bloggers and while I may have published more articles, others have published better material. I think Barbara especially felt we should do something with this past year’s blogging, and yes that would be very gratifying, but again only if the best blogs from all sources are considered along with my dribble.
Finally I learned the power of blogging. I had a forum to express sorrow, joy or be silly. I got to present some new ideas that were simply the best part being a blogger. It was tough to do this unpaid job and many times I thought wow, it was not the brightest idea to bite off such a big part of the apple and make the commitment to write 200 blogs. But making it a tough job made it real, and making it real made it worthwhile, so thank you if you read any of dribble this past year, because it was the ultimately the readers that kept me going.
Oh and by the way I did improve my writing a little bit, but it is still not where I want it to be. Even though I wrote a lot, I still need work on the craft of writing and the best way to improve is to keep trying. Hopefully someday I can feel it has improved to the point where, I can say hey I dove in and sure enough I got better. I know I hope so anyway.