6. Always Subscribe
7. Content Marketing/Content Strategy Resources
Content Strategy for the Web (a book—can’t recommend this enough!)
Content Strategy for the Web (a book—can’t recommend this enough!)
This year, I promised myself it would be different.
After years of nebulous, “I will get my life together” New Year’s Resolutions that never seemed to have potential, I decided this year—this 2015—would be my year.
So what did I do?
Well, if you know me at all—and all ye blog readers, you should know this by now—you’ll know that I did what has become my favorite part of any day.
I made a list! (A checklist, to be exact.)
1. Run 5 miles, and enjoy it.
2. Read 55 books by different authors (following the 2015 Popsugar Reading Challenge, which I found at a bookstore!)
3. Commit to writing at least 1 blog post per month that you can be proud of.
I stuck to 3 resolutions only, because 3 is a lovely number, and I wanted to commit to each resolution with my full heart. Sure, I also wanted to volunteer and learn to cook creme brulee and make friends and find more hobbies and knit all the sweaters and travel the whole darn world and shoot award-winning photos and have all the work success and speak Dutch fluently.
But I said no (what a concept!), and stuck with three: exercise, reading, and writing.
And now, with summer just around the corner (!!!) and the half year fast approaching—yes, June 30 will come sooner than you think—I’ve stopped to take stock.
Have I run 5 miles? Do I enjoy running?
Let’s be honest—no, I have not run 5 miles. And I start to lose enthusiasm after Mile 3—it’s about that time that I start wondering why people run at all, when others aren’t chasing them. Isn’t this willful torture? Are we destined to die alone? (Dark thoughts, on my “long run,” that usually go away once I have my post-run snack of Ben & Jerry’s. Oh, Ben & Jerry’s, you make my life so good.)
But it is early in the year still, and I am filled with a fire to do more and to succeed here, and to hit that 5 mile mark.
And most importantly, I have been making progress.
A bit of backstory here: I’ve wanted to run for most of my life, even though for years, I always lied to anyone who mentioned the sport. “Running? You’ve got to be kidding. No thanks; I’m much more of a swimming person.”
Was I a swimming person? No. I was more of a Netflix person.
But finally, with the encouragement of Boyfriend (who is a fabulous athlete without even trying) a few years ago, we started running. Our first run was for five minutes, and let me tell you: running is hard. And this asthmatic didn’t last the whole 5 minutes. With the help of Couch to 5K (the app!), and the goal of participating in the Ugly Sweater 5K, I made very, very slow progress.
Fast forward to now, and I’ve built up to 3.5 miles. I’m slow—and before you say it, I am very slow. Slow, as in I am always passed by walkers. But that’s okay, because it’s still running, and because I’ve seen how I’ve improved.
I’m signed up for an 8K (yes, that’s just about 5 miles!) in June, so I’ll keep you posted.
Have I read 55 books?
Nope! But I’m just about halfway through—at last count, I’ve completed 24 books from the list, plus a few others that didn’t fit on the Popsugar Challenge. Two of my best friends and I decided to do this resolution together, and we’re blogging our experience (along with our book reviews) over at bookbros.tumblr.com.Best of all, I can really say I feel more connected to reading than I ever have before. It feels so good to be able to curl up with a newly-won used bookstore trophy on an easy weekend morning. I’m relishing this challenge because I didn’t set the bar too high.
If I had asked myself to finish 100 books in a year, could I have done it? Maybe. But I’d be miserably skimming the books I did pick, and selecting them based on length, rather than interest. Would I have picked up my latest book, with its 600+ pages, if I was just counting book numbers? Probably not.
Feeling great about reading again. Could not recommend this highly enough.
Have I published posts on this blog frequently? Do I feel proud of what I post?
(Strange, to be writing about writing.)
This one is also still in the works. For a long time, I wasn’t sure what this space would even say. What good is a blog, if it doesn’t tell a story? How could I put everything I love into a blog? How could I be professional but explain issues about grief activism? How could I play around with what I do, and make it into one cohesive image of me?
For a long time, these questions kept me away from blogging.
But making this resolution was the moment where I decided having everything perfect (and having a giant backlog of posts that I could share and commit to) wasn’t going to get this blog done. I wasn’t going to start this project by making lists and by worrying.
So I just started to write what I could.
Over the past several months, this blog has become a place for me to share photos, relive experiences, explain my own feelings, and imagine and connect. It’s the space where I can be myself in numerous respects: professional and casual, excited and introspective, photographer and writer.
To be sure, it’s still got a long ways to go, but by freeing myself of the expectations of Having a Blog have been so exciting. People aren’t meant to have just one story to share.
Well, there you have it: my resolutions haven’t changed yet, but they’re changing me.
Have you made any resolutions that you’ve kept, or that you quit for any reason? Share them with me—I always love a good story!
Writers may be tough to work with. But I’ll tell you one thing about writers that I love more than anything else: their spirit of collaboration.
Currently, I run the day-to-day operations of an online publication, writing and editing articles and recruiting for/managing our team of freelance writers and designers. One of my major responsibilities is handling our editorial brainstorming meeting, held weekly.
I’ll be honest: this meeting is one of my favorite parts of this job. It’s a chance for the editorial team, fellows, and contributing writers to touch base and discuss the content strategy, and how that will play out in articles during the week and in the month to come. Although we meet during the workday in the office, writers from all across the US have joined in, both in person and via conference call/video chat. Not all writers attend, but some do—we have a healthy balance between new blood and regulars each week.
Unlike in college, where we sat down in class and tried our hardest NOT to speak up, these meetings are full of energy and life. I don’t take credit for this: the writers who we’ve found (and who have found us) are so willing to pitch in, speak up, and share ideas and thoughts as they come. It’s a collaborative process; I start the meeting with a list of topics, and we run from there. And what happens most often is that we never make it fully through the list of topics, and we’re always short on time—writers are sharing their opinions, being respectful but challenging, and keeping the conversation alive with limited required input by me or by other staffers.
All that to say, I feel tremendously lucky to be working with such a group.
As a person, I’m greedy about stories: I want to be the one to tell them.
But as a writer, I know I can never tell every story. I can’t even tell most stories: there’s someone more experienced than me who could do it, and would likely give a better performance. But I can tell some stories just the same, and there’s no problem with writing something, even if someone else’s is better.
For what I can’t write, I can encourage others to write.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m no fan of plagiarism, and I believe strongly in letting each writer have first access to the stories they bring to the table. But I also feel that an article (especially an article written from a personal lens) is often stronger with a little verbal editing, and a little group discussion.
Seth Godin said it perfectly:
“It’s one of the things I’ve always liked best about being a professional writer. The universal recognition that there’s plenty of room for more authors, and that more reading is better than less reading, even if what’s getting read isn’t ours.
It’s not a zero-sum game. It’s an infinite game, one where we each seek to help ideas spread and lives change.”
Writers share, support each other, and push each other towards goals. And that’s a near-universal fact about writers that’s wowed me since I was young.
When I was in elementary school, my mother took part in a writers’ group in our area town. I have vague recollections during that time, but I do remember going to local book festivals and having my mother know several of the authors there. I felt like she was in some sort of secret club.
My love affair with writing isn’t just about the sometimes-frustrating process of writing, editing, rewriting, and publication. I don’t write in a vacuum. I write for myself, I write for others, I write to have a place at the table, and a spot in that universal club. I feel welcome there—and you should, too.
More reading is better than less reading—and more writing is better than less writing.