Tag Archives: writing

The Secret to Great Writing

One of the things that’s always been a source of my procrastination, is the idea that my writing isn’t great; therefore, I’m overly-critical of any one to three sentences I start writing. I get so caught up in crafting a masterpiece that I forget the fact that I’m writing and have the ability to revise. I think that a major turning point for a lot of people when it comes to writing or really any endeavor in life is when you realize that you have a license and a right to get it completely wrong the first time. When you think about it, how many people who try something for the first time, succeed at it for the first time? Probably not a lot. The secret to great writing is to just push through and allow yourself to write possibly complete garbage the first time. Procrastination is brought about by a series of factors, but I definitely feel like fear is at the top of that list. You realize that once you pass that mental block, procrastination isn’t as much of an issue anymore. Once you start writing, you keep writing and whether it’s good or bad, you’re acting rather than over-thinking.

For those who don’t know, one of my other blogs, Irrational Health, is actually a complement/promotional tool for a book that I’m writing by the same name. It’s a book that’s about modern psychological fallacies that stem from irrationalities and irrational thinking. That aside (shameless plug), there are days when I’m writing either a blog post or the actual book and I think to myself, this is terrible and why would anyone actually read this. It really takes passion combined with courage in order to push through and give myself the ability to fumble this for a few days to hopefully get it right later. That’s the thing. Why be so afraid to get something wrong when no one’s even aware that you’ve gotten it wrong? The several drafts that I go through are only visible to me so when all is said and done, I’ll be the one to look back at all of this work and realize that it took that courage in order to take some mediocre or good stuff and make it great. The secret to great writing is to just write. The secret to success is to just push. It’s one and the same. It’s simple and yet, you’d be surprised how often simplicity gets obfuscated.


A Milestone in My Unique Visitors

Today I’ve hit a milestone in my number of unique visitors. Since I started this blog, I’ve had 3,000 unique visitors which is really great. Entering the world of blogging for the first time, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but to see a daily stream of readers is really encouraging and I really enjoy writing about topics that I historically haven’t had a reason to write about. It’s really interesting to take a look at the impact of requirement in the academic space in comparison to openness of writing on a WordPress blog. The notion of procrastination or a lack of interest is almost non-existent because you wouldn’t write about something you weren’t interested in personally. So I just want to say thank you to my followers and visitors. Please check out some of my other material elsewhere in the links to the right for some different blogs and projects. 


The Value and Shadow of HubPages

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The bottom line is that HubPages has a great community, with great incentives, and an interesting publishing model, but is hindered by stringent guidelines, restrictions, and overall gives you a sense that you’re more of an employee then a user.

HubPages is a publishing platform that I’ve recently joined in order to get a better sense of what it’s about. On the surface, HubPages looks like a very interesting service that even seeks to rewards its members with financial compensation for their writing or posts, which on HubPages is referred to as “hubs.” For what it is worth, just from a few days of looking through user submitted content and comments, I can truly say that their is great conversation happening on HubPages. The bulk of activity on HubPages is happening with a smaller group of people then the users who view the site on a daily basis. The company claims to have slightly over a million users with over 42 million viewers a month. For what it is worth, HubPages like any other service is a great way to get your work and writing out there to a larger crowd. The accolades you can receive through the service along with the promotional prospects was enough for me to join and to start one experimental “hub.” My profile is linked on the right and can also be found on my site. I wrote a piece entitled “The Value of Linux and Open Source Software.” If interested, please go ahead and read it. There are drawbacks to HubPages. It is clearly a company that is looking to monetize the content produced by users. I think that anyone who truly intends to monetize his/her content should go about doing it independently. Aside from this, HubPages has some very strict guidelines for how hubs should be written and a fairly stringent screening process. HubPages also does not allow any links in your hubs to your personal blog or anything like that. Content also can’t be duplicated. For example, I wouldn’t be able to post this blog post on HubPages, without being subjected to a violation. The bottom line is that HubPages has a great community, with great incentives, and an interesting publishing model, but is hindered by stringent guidelines, restrictions, and overall gives you a sense that you’re more of an employee then a user. I would recommend checking it out, if you’re interested, but otherwise, it is a service that is passable. I will experiment with it a bit more, so please follow that if interested.


The Expansion and Contraction Project Method

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A tenant of good writing is brevity. If you’re like me, then this hasn’t always been mastered quality. Nonetheless, I’ve realized that there is a value to be had in putting every possible idea out there and to trim down once you have the panoramic view. I started with writing, but have realized that there is something to be said for the so called, “Expansion and Contraction Project Method,” and you’ve guessed right that this is geared towards projects rather than writing, though the idea did originate from writing. Whenever I start a new project I’ve seen a lot of value in essentially building it up as much as possible. I brainstorm every possible idea, action, or addition that can be apart of the project and even follow through with most of these despite the fact that many of the components get removed in the contraction phase. Contraction is either an ongoing process or the final stage of a project. The general idea behind the concept is build up and then shape or expand and then contract. I’m not sure if there is already a phrase coined for the idea, but I’ll coin it now and I think that for anyone seeking a more efficient way of tackling tasks take some time consider the Expansion and Contraction Project Method. 


Learn to Write Better by Typing on Your Smartphone

It’s time to use the principles behind instant messaging and Twitter in order to improve our writing. Any English professor will tell you that the best writing is concise and my realization is that people are most concise when it comes to smartphone just because of it’s limited nature. I’ve been typing my most recent blog posts on my Android phone and it honestly forces me to be concise because it’s an inferior input device when compared to a keyboard. The result is more concise, content driven writing. It’s something I think everyone should try out. The same principle works with a lot of things, such as e-mail and honestly whenever possible we know that it is essential to keep e-mail to the point. The takeaway is to write better by writing on your smartphone.


Top 5 Things I’ve Come to Realize About Blogging

1. Give Your Readers Something with Every Post

The number one realization shouldn’t really be all that surprising. It’s sort of human history to be drawn to free things for one, but more than this if we draw something positive from a piece of writing then we’re much more likely to see it as having been of value. The key isn’t to always tailor your writing to your audience (unless your looking for max clickthroughs), but rather to make sure that there’s a message or a takeaway with every post. From a writer’s perspective, keeping your sight on this can also help to focus your writing and give it purpose. If you what you’ve written lacks a message, then why did you write it? It’s an obvious concept. Give your readers something to try, something to look into, a different way of thinking or anything that they can use to potentially make a positive change in their life.

2. Be Authentic

We all have role models whether we’re aware of it or not and our role models influence our aspirations. I think that one of the worst things you can do is to write about something that you either don’t have a background in or lack a passion for. In general, people, I believe, are good at piecing out when someone is being sincere or insincere. If your writing is forced, than that will show. From the other side of the coin, why would you write about something that you felt indifferent towards? Writing is fueled by opinion and desire. If I’m ever writing about something and not enjoying myself as I type, then I know I lack interest in that particular subject and that usually ends up as an unfinished draft post on my dashboard. This still happens all of the time and I take it as a learning experience. The second this starts to taper off, then I’ll know what I’m most motivated about. In the meanwhile, as I find things I’m motivated about, I’ll continue to create new blogs or as is the case, I’ll create new blogs for the purpose of feeling out a particular interest. You’d likely be surprised to discover certain interests that you’ve never really given much attention to. Above all else make sure that your writing is authentic.

3. Never Reblog Without Adding Something to the Original Writing

I’m assuming that the re-blog feature of WordPress is relatively new and a response to features found in other micro-blogging, blogging, and social networking sites. I think that this feature itself is positive, but can be misused. If you’re constantly re-blogging then you’re likely using a blog as link bait. This really defeats the purpose of blogging. If this what you want to do, then by all means utilize a service like Pinterest or Twitter in order to share content of interest. If your blogging, then your intention should be to create original content. You start a blog because you have something to share. That being said the desire to reblog does come up. In this case, when you re-blog be sure to add something the content you want to share. It gives credit to the original author (and yes I know that still happens) and demonstrates why you’re singling out a certain blog post.

4. Blogging is a Great Way to Organize Your Thoughts

One of the things I’ve enjoyed about blogging, thus far, is that it really forces me to think about my beliefs and call into question certain things. It’s a great way to challenge my own thoughts and organize my thinking even before anyone has the opportunity to challenge what I have to say. If you’re looking for a way to focus in your thinking about a particular topic then you might actually want to consider blogging it. During the course of my college courses, I came across a handful of courses that required me to blog and I will say in these instances it wasn’t that effective, but only because it was a requirement. In that case, the blogging wasn’t authentic and was more of a chore than an actual exercise I could use to focus in my knowledge and thinking. It didn’t work because it wasn’t authentic, but if their is a class that’s challenging you, blogging may help. This is just one instance of many others.

5. It’s Really Interesting to Look at WordPress (or any blogging plaform) Statistics

One of the things that I find really interesting is seeing which posts are popular, where the hits are coming from, and the diversity of people who share an interest in any particular topic. It’s really fascinating and it’s a great feeling to know that your writing not only benefited you, but another person. Even just looking through all of the blogs on WordPress, you come to realize that there’s a lot of great content out there aside from the mainstream. Sure, blogs like Lifehacker and Gizmodo are really great. I check them regularly, but you never know which blogger our there might hold much more knowledge and a stronger viewpoint on a particular topic. Mainstream blogs cover a wide breadth of topics, but smaller blogs have the luxury of being able to specialize on a certain topic. Take the time to wander around WordPress.


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