A Tale of Two Blogging Platforms Why I Write On Medium.

Where's the path?

Where’s the path?

You may have noticed a silence lately emanating from my blog. Words missing. Subscribers slipping. A blog on the verge of extinction. But, it couldn’t be the farthest from the truth.

I’ve just migrated over to the Medium blogging platform that has a wider audience than mine. Medium is a community within many communities. Topics abound from humor to politics to inspirational thinking. Whatever your interests Medium has a publication for you.

Each publication is an established platform with built-in followers.  If accepted as a writer, publications provide a much larger audience than your blog, which in many cases is just one voice among all the Internet chatter.

A Petri Dish for Ideas and Goals

Besides the huge platform that Medium offers, it’s also a petri dish for ideas and goals. By choosing to write for a particular magazine, you are narrowing your focus, embracing what topics you enjoy writing the most.

My blog has been a quandary for me lately. Stuck on the point of my focus. Many days flailing on the keyboard in the hopes of my fingers showing me the way to my goals. But growth and focus aren’t a quick fix. It’s more of a slow grind, a slothly approach toward your prime directive in writing that stands beneath the fancy trimmings on top. The prime directive being my love for writing. Everything else is wallpaper.

Once you have the desire to write, the willingness to defer to the obstacles in your way and study them instead of repelling them will nudge you closer to your goal, as long as your willing to put in the time and grind.

The Blogging/Writing Tug of War

I often question what it is that I seek for my writing. The immediate gratification from a blog post or the slow burn of desire involved in a longer piece of work. Since I started blogging in 2009, I’ve had a tug of war inside myself between blogging and writing.

For some writers, blogging becomes part of their goals of work already produced. Book writers write about the process. Others write about subjects that are geared to their books. But for a writer without a book and with many ideas on a variety of topics, the search for your blog’s identify can be more convoluted.

That’s how Medium can help. When you choose the tags that interest you while setting up your profile, you get a sense of what your interests are. My interests are humor, satire, politics, writing, and culture. Noticeably the topics on the sidebar of my blog. So, maybe I’m not as off-goal as I had thought.

But then the question: How do I synthesize my writing on Medium and my blog? Again, if you are a writer with a book, you can direct readers from Medium back to your blog to sign up for a mailing list. If you’re a writer with a book, that is.

So, how would someone like me without a book use Medium in conjunction with my blog?

One answer might be to publish new material on Medium (because new material is prime real estate there) and then repost it to your blog.

When I first started writing on Medium, I reposted articles from my blog to Medium, which is a huge advantage of writing on that platform. Although reposting writing from your blog to Medium doesn’t excite Medium’s algorithm as much as new material.

But another approach could be to use my blog as a publication unto itself. Write something different here than what I write on Medium. Another vexing predicament. There always seems to be another obstacle around the bend.

As I write this blog post, I even consider not publishing here at all and only airing my thoughts on Medium. The thought still lingers. A decision hangs with the fixtures. What to do? Where to do it? Since this is a WIP post, I’ll provide the thoughts while you provide the answers you’ve found helpful in your own journey.

If you thought you would find answers to your own writing problems here, you might be disappointed to find more questions instead. But I thought by thinking out loud about the problems I face in my own blogging/writing journey, I may collaterally help you work out your problems, too.

Your feedback would be most helpful if you’ve been able to get a grip on the blogging/writing thing.

Are we having fun yet?

Why Writers Write

Salkin -Full Sunset Through Trees

| Moment Catchers | Word Shapers |

Many of us didn’t choose to become writers. Writing became us. It is an intricate part of who we are that inspires us to become better writers and therefore better people.

Writing is therapy, a self-motivating, actualizing process that helps us understand the world and ourselves, by observing then assessing from a creative perspective. It is a way to get to the truth, to uncover things we don’t want to see, and then report our analysis with words that hold a reader’s attention.

You can’t fail when you write.

You can only learn from your mistakes and mistakes are how we evolve. You can fool yourself into thinking there is nothing more to learn. That you know everything about writing you need to know, but you’d be deluding yourself. When you stop learning, you become the opposite of what a writer is — a passionate observer, an inquisitive seeker with an insatiable lust to learn about the world and ourselves, always searching for ways to perfect our craft and crystallize our perceptions.

Writing is a gift that should be embraced, not dismissed. It allows you to observe the world from the creative platform in your head, and then describe what you see with words. If you try to turn off the creative spigot, you’ll lose an intrinsic part of you. On days you don’t write, your mind will overload to the point of dysfunction. You’ll become cranky and restless. Life will look dull, and you’ll lose your visceral connection with the world.

Fear appears in many forms: failure, insecurity, commitment, criticism.

Don’t give into the impediments of creativity. You were always meant to write, to create something from nothing, to air thoughts that intrigue you, that if you don’t express, will haunt you.

Not everyone will agree with what you say, which should be expected and accepted, but do not write for fear of others criticizing your work or your point of view, would be an injustice to yourself. If you write for acceptance, your words will hit the page with a thud, and you will disappoint yourself and distance your readers.

Whether your goal is to publish your words or purge your thoughts, if you stop writing, that invisible appendage that’s an extension of you will always feel like it’s part of you.

Don’t let the moments slip by that others miss. You were meant to catch them.

In Search of My Blog’s Soul

ElectricityI’ve been searching for my blog’s soul that I lost over time.

-Will I find it with my car keys?

-Do blogs have a soul?

Questions, so many questions…

A nugget of curiosity rattles around in your head.

Do you have the answers? You might ask.

Yes, I might reply. I’ll tell you what I know and stop the rattle in your head, but not in your car.

DOES A BLOG HAVE A SOUL?

Yes, it does. You are the soul of your blog, the heart that connects you to your audience. When you inject your soul into your writing, it triggers an emotional response in your readers. Otherwise, they’ll be staring at meaningless words that fall off a page into the abyss.

My words slipped into oblivion when my thoughts wandered outside and hit a tree. “Temporary memory loss,” the focus doctor said.

“Do I know you?”

That was months ago. Yet, I still couldn’t find my soul.

So, I created this flyer.

Though hitting the metaphorical tree hurt a lot and sent my thoughts to the ER for a while, it put me in a self-analytical coma. During which time, I dreamed of what my blog could be and received a room full of metaphorical flowers.

Thank God, I didn’t pull the plug or incur hospital charges. Our insurance deductible is as high as the Washington Monument, where I stood, hypothetically, while my readers mingled on the plaza below.

DON’T PUT DISTANCE BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR READERS

If you stood with me at the top of the Washington Monument, you’d see that the people on the ground look like ants (and might be ants). But never treat them like ants, unless you’re in the habit of inviting ants to a picnic.

Now ride the elevator down to the plaza and look at the people up close and personal — No ants here. Just faces, smiles and hearts — the people you need to reach by staying emotionally in touch.

It took me months to realize that I was writing from a distant place. Rather than communicating with my readers up close and personal, I reached out to them from atop the Washington Monument, putting distance between us, losing the humanity in my writing — the soul of my blog.

Even though I knew where to find my soul, I still couldn’t ID it in the swath of people on the plaza. It looked like a fuzzy blob in the crowd of tourists snapping photos of my hypothetical situation.

While I squinted to see the details on my fuzzy-blob soul, two emails dropped in my inbox, asking for permission to link to older posts on my blog. Since the sites looked legit, I agreed to their proposals.

In the process of adding the links to my posts, I found the humanity and humility that linked me to my readers.

FINDING YOUR SOUL IN OLDER BLOG POSTS

I read the older blog posts that I wrote in 2013 and saw what I had lost over time — my voice and passion, glimmering like spits of waves on a moonlit night — the soul of my blog sparkled in something old, yet new because it was from the heart of me.

You can find your soul, too.

If you’ve been blogging for a while and feel stuck, go back in time and read older blog posts. It will help you reconnect with the voice that sings when you write.

If you’re just starting out, don’t be afraid to write something, anything, even if you feel it isn’t right. You might need time to find your voice. Don’t be discouraged. And never stop writing because of it.

These are the two posts that helped me find my blog’s soul:

Why Is This Dog Smiling?

Feline Cat Robot with Dog Death Ra

How did you find your blog’s soul?

A Blog In Progress

FearI’ve been blogging off and on since 2009, the year I lost my job during the not-so-great recession.

Back then I blogged to purge my thoughts and never thought about finding a niche for my blog. I considered blogging a platform for testing ideas, where I could meet other bloggers and get feedback on my posts.

But over the years as I’ve changed, so have my blogging needs and ergo my focus.

As a writer/blogger/person in progress, I’ve received lots of advice from experts on what I should write or not write about and the topics on which I should focus my blog. I agonized for months to find a focus for my blog, and my writing by association.

With my thoughts caught in a perpetual tug-of-war, my sanity stepped in and forced me to make an executive decision. “Whatcha gonna do girl?”

“I’ll focus my blog on finding my focus,” I said, with indecisive certainty, “which includes a large chunk of everything.”

“A no-no!” yelled the “they sayers” in the blogosphere who advise bloggers to narrow their audience.

Impossible for someone like me with a genre disorder. Someone who vacillates between writing and blogging, nonfiction and fiction, humor, culture, and politics. Oh, my!

Add ADHD to the mix (I’ve got attention deficit disorder.), plus a four-day work week, three days w/o a routine (dangerous for an ADDer), and I’m back in a 2010 time loop, the beginning of my underemployment status, which left me in a creative vacuum.

Lost in an ADD world where time is an anachronism, I’ve never been able to cobble together a major success in my tilted perception. Success means landing a book deal with an agent or just sticking to one project until the “end,” which isn’t permanent anyway in writing until printed in ink.

Today, at the start of another unstructured day, I kidnapped myself and duct taped my butt to the chair in front of the computer, then asked myself: what should I write about? To which I replied, I have no friggin idea.

My head is filled with lots of ideas, which end up in three or four notebooks on my desk, or a digital “note” file on my Mac. Where do I begin when I can’t see past a flock of ideas that block my view like a Sharkanado cloud?

How can I focus when lingering childhood insecurities bully their way into my conscious thoughts? I know. We’re all products of dysfunctional families. But many of us are able to escape the cycle of “almost there’s” when we grow into our adult selves.

I feel like I’ve been idling on off ramps for years, with a few successful stops along the way, one of which is my 27-year old son. He has surpassed all my expectations by overcoming the educational and social hurdles that encumber a child with Asperger’s Syndrome.

It’s a huge accomplishment and I would never minimize my contribution to his success.

Now that my son is on the path to success, I thought it was time for me to cement my own path.

I need to stop the vicious cycle of “I’m stupid” in which I’ve been stuck, leftover from the adolescent years and the stigma of growing up with a mentally challenged brother 22 months my senior.  This is my time to get unstuck and reboot my life, replace the negative inner voice, “I can’t” with the positive, “I can.”

A long time ago, I realized that when life sends you down a circuitous route, having GPS is helpful, but only the person at the wheel can drive you to your destination.

Do you feel stuck?

Writer’s Block: Blame It On Trump!

Trump 60 Minutes Interview

I had every intention of writing a blog post but that same old dread enveloped me like a noxious fog — President Trump.

Eye twitches.

I tried to calm myself by meditating: ohm, ohm… Oh, my God, President Trump.

Throat constricts.

I tried taking a walk to get inspired: Trees, birds… Trump.

Brain freezes.

I’ve got nothing, I said. Any thoughts? I asked Myself, usually a very good listener and purveyor of good advice.

But she wasn’t helpful this time. “I don’t know,” Myself said introspectively. “Maybe write something about Trump.”

“But that’s depressing,” I grumbled. “Thinking about Trump makes me grumpy, or dare I say, Trumpy. You know I haven’t written anything in months because of Trump.”

Myself just sighed. She knew that Trump’s bigoted, unhinged comments stifled my creativity and provoked me to yell at inanimate objects like the shoe I just tripped over.

“What the hell, shoe!” I yelled. “Are you trying to kill me?”

The shoe offered a laced up rebuke. “You left me here,” it said. “… abandoned me like all the ideas you’ve scribbled on torn pages in your notebook. This one is on you, missy!”

“But, but?”

But, there were no more buts. The shoe was right–literally.

I had no business yelling at anything and went on an apology tour to all the inanimate objects in the house.

I realized that being depressed and stuck is exactly what a bully would want from the ladies he’s grabbed by the pussy, metaphorically or figuratively.

It didn’t matter. If I allowed Trump to victimize me from afar, my voice would be silenced–exactly what Trump would want.

So, I’ll do my best not to get Trumped and rant in run-on sentences with protruding cartoon eyes. It only upsets my blog who stares at me blankly, sputtering nonsensical words across an anemic-looking page.

“Damn it!” I screamed. “Write something smart!”

At which point the sidearm of my chair slapped my wrist and said, “Stop choking the monitor!”

“My God. I’m a monster!” I unclenched the computer and wiped my fingerprints from the screen.

“Sorry blog. This anger thing is unconscious and scary pervasive. I need to get a grip without getting a grip. Use my hands for good, instead of evil.”

“The power of Christ compels you” to purge the beast and write.

But write about what? Puppies or politics?

I love puppies but their cuteness is wasted on words, best captured in video or pictures.

I love politics but lately just see the giant orange burrito spew guacamole on TV. It sends me on a taco spending spree to crush them in the compactor.

No, I need a Trumpectomy, to turn off the TV and get Trump out of my head. Once there’s nothing left of him, I’ll be able to write again.

Now, if I only could think of something to write about.

Has your writing been Trumped?

I Am a Danger to My Blog

 

Scream Cropped

Scream Cropped (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Danger WordPress! Lauren has entered the admin dashboard!

Over the past four years, I’ve made many blogging blunders, from blowing a deal with a content syndication service by writing a post about Polish Spam, to breaking the footer on my blog. But of all the blogging blunders I’ve made throughout the years, I think I’ve outdone myself this time.

Continue reading

Blog Armageddon

I Got Hacked – Excuse My Appearance

I’m having technical difficulty and am working on the problem.

Not me personally because I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.

Some pages on my blog may look odd or unappealing.

More odd or unappealing than usual.

Please be more patient than I am.

I’m at Defcon 4!

In addition to dealing with Blog Armageddon (which is way above my pay grade), my dog is scratching at the door because I locked him out. He didn’t get the memo that this is a no barking zone.

At the foot of the memo, in 5-point type, I’ve included a disclaimer about suffering from cognitive dissonance due to acute malnutrition.

I don’t know if I’ll ever eat again.

Perhaps my husband will spoon-feed me Jell-O.

Oh, that’s the dog and I’m hallucinating.

None of this is real.

In an hour or two, my post and I will likely not be here.

Both will have exploded.

You might even see a white screen.

It happened last week.

No need for a med adjustment or to fine-tune your display.

It’s just my effing blog!