#NBI – Motivation

No two ways to shake it, blogging takes commitment.  The ability to just write a sentence really is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to it.  If you want to know why the NBI is a good idea, then here are a few things I’ve found of benefit.

Blogging is a social circle

Believe it or not but most bloggers read other blogs and use them as inspiration or for dialogue.  Very few people live in silos and blogging is a non-physical way to get to know new people.  It also helps expand horizons.  Gevlon, Tobold and Syncaine are all on my list of reads because they somehow manage to play complete opposites to each other and each has a valid point of view.

Blogging is cathartic

Back when we were kids often times we were told to keep diaries or journals.  You often here of war veterans who kept them during battle, as a way to keep grounded and provide a version of the story if ever they didn’t make it.  Blogging is a way to write down, publicly, your thoughts for the internet to host forever (until it becomes sentient and enslaves us). It allows you to get those troublesome ideas out of the head and put them on (virtual) paper.  This is incredibly therapeutic and has helped me tremendously in organizing my ideas.  Plus, it’s something I can show my kids later on.

Blogging improves communication skills

The more you practice something, the better you get, simple adage.  There are two ways to go through this.  Either you type and correct before posting or you type and go “I can’t believe I wrote that” after you posted.  I aim for the latter.  My career path involves a lot of writing, either technical, executive or through briefings.  It also involves a lot of public speaking.  Over time, I’ve found that my writing voice has changed due to a combination of “practice” writing through blogging and real-world application.  Word diversity, thematic representation and overall sentence structure has improved (or evolved I suppose) over time.  While it seems fairly non-evident here, I have a profound appreciation for the semi-colon (;), the dash (-), parentheses, and the oxford comma.  Blogging has also changed the way that I speak and vice-versa.  Sentences are typically succinct, or spread out with apostrophes for dramatic pause.  There’s a cadence/rhythm to my ideas that makes them easier to digest.

Blogging is excellent for introverts

I am one.  My wife is not.  Blogging allows, by some stroke of luck, for my wife to see inside my mind and get a better appreciation for my thought process.  Because it takes longer to type a sentence than to say it, you end up putting more weight to the thought.  This is a core concept of being introverted – not wanting to say the wrong thing.  Blogging also can lead you into breaking out of the shell, either through gaming guilds or podcasts or a bunch of other social vehicles with other bloggers.  I’m not saying it’s a cure for introverts because that simply does not exist.  Instead, I am saying that it’s a great tool to compensate for some of our more social inhibitions.

Blogging can be done anytime, anywhere

Posting requires an internet connection, blogging does not.  I write posts on my phone on the bus, or on my tablet in bed, or on the laptop in front of the TV.  I have 3-4 posts going on at any one time, sometimes just to collect ideas for future posts (I have 1 app to collect those).  Sometimes it takes me a week to finish an idea, sometimes 5 minutes.  There’s nothing wrong with getting a streak of ideas, just schedule them for posting every day or so.  That way, when you think about potential updates, you have time to go back and edit. Plus, you’re not spamming the world to read 5 posts in one sitting.  It’ll give people a chance to comment on one stream, then come back for another.

For all those reasons and more, blogging is something that’s a fair amount of fun and provides a fair amount of return on investment.  Much more than is likely apparent at first.

NBI 2014 – Get Blogging

The Newbie Blogger Initiative for 2014 has begun.  This annual event is a chance for new blood to mix with the old and to help strengthen the blogging community. I wrote about last year’s event and it’s nice to have another repeat.  There’s a fair chunk of advice in that post as well.

In this day and age of Twitter and Instagram, typing more than 150 characters might seem like a chore but it is of my opinion that blogging is the framework on which all the other tools depends.  That tweet you posted or that link you put on Facebook – it’s likely that the idea was from a blog.

I read a ton of blogs.  I really should make a larger effort to link to them in posts, cross-seeding as it were.  I have the ones I frequent most on the right side of the screen but for those reading on mobile devices or RSS readers, you might not see them.  There are some real smart and funny people out there.  Who knows, you might be one of them and you haven’t even blogged yet.

The neat thing about blogging is that it’s a zero cost investment, other than the time it takes to write.  You don’t have to do it every day, though that’s certainly a good habit.  It doesn’t have to be targeted to an audience because in reality, blogging is about writing for yourself.  If you’re a perfectionist, you’re likely not going to be a having fun blogging.  I know I rarely review my text except to fix spelling mistakes.  I just get better at writing from doing it and reading other people.  Practice makes prefect right?  heh.

Give it a shot.  Get a blog from Blogger or WordPress (or something similar) and just start writing.  Link to some other blogs.  Follow other blogs.  Comment away.  In no time at all, you’ll find out that there’s an entire world of people waiting to say hello.

Newbie Blogger Initiative

If you’ve ever wondered to yourself “hey, blogging looks easy and cool”, then I want to burst your bubble.  Blogging is super easy and mega cool.

The Newbie Blogger Initiative is in year 2 (of two) to help aspiring writers debase themselves in the blogging world.  Syp started it last year and it was a decent enough success.  I think there were more than a handful that made it to 12 months.  Those that quit are quitters and we’ll never talk about them again.

All kidding aside, I’ve been hosting my own website for way too long and posting for half that much time.  It ebbs and flows, depending on a combination of my free time and my need to put words to pen (or keyboard).  For those who do read this blog (thank you) and have a desire to give blogging a shot, here are a few tips to get going.

  1. Get a decent blogging host.  I prefer WordPress but Blogspot is cool too.  Both are free, have plenty of templates and mobile options.
  2. Figure out why you want to blog.  This should be first but just by going through the process of finding a host, you’ll figure this one out too.  Is it a personal one?  It it to comment on a particular topic?  I am fascinated by game design, so most of my stuff is about that.
  3. Keep a blog roll.  Cross post to that blog roll if you find a good topic.  There’s a saying that good authors borrow, great authors steal.  Nearly all of my posts are triggered by reading something else.  Try to always have a link or two in the post.
  4. Keep a draft bucket.  I have a dozen or so ideas that just aren’t good enough yet on that list.  Sometimes I go through it and it gives me another idea.
  5. Write every day.  This doesn’t mean post every day, simply write every day.  Blogging requires a heck of a lot of motivation to get started.  Once you do, it sort of becomes habit.  Some use schedules to rigidly block out time.  Figure out what works for you.
  6. Schedule posts.  You might have 3 great posts all written in one shot.  Don’t let them all out at once.  Try to keep a solid 12 hours between them, so you can digest the other ones.
  7. Writing conveys little emotion or context.  Keep in mind that 90% of your communication skills are non-verbal and that you might have trouble getting an idea across effectively.   Don’t worry, you’re human.  It’ll get better.

I’m glad that I blog.  It keeps me sane.  It give me links to other bloggers with amazing ideas (hence the blog roll to the right).  It gives some feedback on ideas.  It gives me the ability to look back on some topics and go “right on” or “what was I thinking?”.  It can be hard but like anything else, it’s extremely rewarding.  Give it a shot!