In my humble opinion
(which, typically, is a phrase that I am quick to loathe, especially in acronym form, but, well, it just seems to fit in this particular situation, as I am not actually an expert on anything—except maybe movie popcorn and anthropologie-coveting—so my opinion here? It is humble.)
the three most important things you can do to get better at this whole blogging thing are:
READ (everything—newspapers, books, blogs, articles, magazines, subway ads, the backs of cereal boxes, your toddler’s picture books. If it has words on it, read it.),
WRITE (often, often, often),
ENGAGE (comment, reply, tweet, RE-tweet, comment some more)
I often read blogs or articles written by writers and storytellers and humorists or essayists or bloggers who are better, funnier, smarter and frankly, have way more interesting lives. This used to discourage me. Nay, I used to allow it to discourage me. I would doubt myself and think that I would never be able to be that good, to be that funny, to be that smart. And, of course, I would never have a story as interesting as theirs.
This weekend, I spoke at a little conference called Blissdom Canada. I led three microsessions on Writing: Finding Your Creativity to three great groups full of writers I know in real life, writers I know by Twitter avatar only, and writers who are brand-new to me.
It seems that I’m not the only one who has had those discouraging thoughts.
But if there was one thing I was able to assure the bloggers who sat at my table it is this:
It doesn’t matter.
It doesn’t matter if you are the funniest, the most interesting, the loudest, the craziest, THE BEST. You simply don’t have to be. You can make something extraordinary out of something mundane. You can come up with at least 25 good story ideas out of one little tiny idea. You can get a great story out of that BIG controversial story that you don’t want to touch. You can get article ideas straight out of your Facebook comments or your Twitter conversations—there’s tons of material right there. Your stories are interesting and important and they should be told and they will be read and they will resonate with someone or they will make someone laugh or they will make someone think or they will make someone share.
It’s all the rage these days.
We all want to write it. It feels good when we see that little number on our Facebook shares and likes goes up. We like it when someone retweets one of our posts. It tells the world “Hey! I like this! I think you’ll like it too!” There is hardly a higher compliment out there on the interwebs.
But in the search for writing shareable content, it’s super easy to get frustrated, to give up, to stop writing altogether.
I think I have figured it out, though.
Don’t write to write shareable content.
READ. WRITE. ENGAGE.
In the semi-changed-to-fit-the-purpose-of-this-blog-post words of Ray Kinsella’s field whisperer, If you build it (your community, your writing, your reading), the good and shareable content will come. I often look back at my archives—you know, when I need a good laugh—and it helps me see how far I have come with this whole writing thing. I see how much better I have gotten, simply by exercising the ten fingers that are attached to these two hands.
I am still just sitting here telling my stories—but I’m telling them with a beginning, middle, and end. I’m telling them with the elements that make a good story a better story, a GREAT story. Without consciously thinking “How am I going to write better?” I just do. I just am.
Because it *is* possible to write good content about nothing more than a double rainbow.
I have heard it has been done before.