In 2012 while working with my mentor Anne Witkavitch in my pursuit of an MFA in Creative and Professional Writing at WCSU, I wrote a review of Little Bets by Peter Sims, a book I quite enjoyed. Little Bets looks at how creativity is applied successfully in various types of business ventures through creative risk-taking. Anne graciously offered to post my review on her professional consultancy blog – the link is below.
by Ron Samul
Sometimes, the things that keep me up at night aren’t the monsters and zombies, but rather a subtle fear that comes from dark corners and empty spaces. I didn’t know what to call this kind of fear. I didn’t know where this article was going to take me, but I did know that I was probably going to write about the creepy state of nothing. And I had a few examples. My two favorite examples of creeping me out is The Color Out of Space by H. P. Lovecraft which takes the horror of nothing into a series of gruesome events described as something terrible happening, with no clear purpose. The second example is the dense and complex House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski. This visual adventure is scary, disturbing, and mind twisting. And then it hit me. I had discovered existential horror.
So, what is existential…
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Long blogs are the equivalent of an overtime baseball game ending well after midnight. The audience arrived interested in the outcome, but they are tired and ready to move on after the first 500 words. Likewise, readers will disappear quickly as they discover a blog is nothing more than a self-serving meandering stream of thought.
Avoid the “TL;DR” Declaration
You might have seen the comment “TL;DR” on social media posts regarding a shared blog article. Readers who deem a linked blog much too long to spend their time on, typically more than six minutes, will label it with the kiss of death: “TL;DR” or “Too Long; Don’t Read.” It’s easy to get carried away on a subject, particularly when you are passionate. The good news is you can do it thoughtfully and with brevity.
Spare Us Your Rants
Countless blogs are filled with rants about politics, religion, and product failures among other polarizing topics. People anger easily and feel the need to express their frustrations to the world. Meanwhile, other people are not likely to read an angry rant unless they share the same passion for the same topic. Yes, writing out frustrations can be cathartic to the benefit of one’s mental health, but there are better ways to accomplish this.
Know Your Intentions
When you set out to write your blog know what you want to achieve. What are you paying forward? A successful blog offers insight, advice, information, education, or entertainment – or some mix thereof. You can absolutely gain catharsis in writing a blog that helps another learn from your experiences while releasing your pent-up energy.
Know Your Audience
If you are a writer your audience may include newcomers looking for writing advice or readers interested in the genre in which you work. A video game fan may be sharing tips and tricks with other like-minded fans. A chef might be writing to someone who searching for cooking methods. It’s not rocket science. Write about your unique expertise or perspective for an audience that is most likely to be receptive to your knowledge. Just don’t make the mistake of telling them what they already know.
Good Writing Matters
You were once educated in your writing language, but you may have allowed some rules to lapse. Grammatical rules exist to keep writing clear and concise. Stumbling across multiple errors in an article is quite discouraging to readers; they strike as unprofessional and sometimes just plain lazy. Do yourself a favor – proofread before you publish. There is no shame in referring to a dictionary or thesaurus when you need, or following a set of guidelines on best grammar practices.
Offer A Resolution
Now that you have established your subject matter, goals, and audience, you need a conclusion that entices your readers to take action. You may want them to share the article, engage in conversation in the comments section, or apply key points in their own lives. You are now bringing your intentions full circle.
So go forth and write well. Keep your blogs short and concise. And share this advice with your friends and network.
[Editor’s Note: this post also appeared on LinkedIn Pulse on July 8, 2015 posted by D.T. Griffith.]
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Motivation has been on my mind lately, due in large part to reading Daniel Pink’s Drive, which I recommend everyone to check out. So I’m looking at how it relates to what I do as a writer and how I can write about its existence in a professional setting. And I continue to wrestle with it.
Then I had the brainstorm when fear motivates us. What could possibly be good about a negative motivator? Are there exceptions to the rules of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation? As I felt the need for my bones to rip out of my skin in pondering this, an epiphany struck me – I’m fighting through motivational issues right now as I type these words. Feeling unmotivated to write about motivation. Not good.
Returning to my earlier question about fear motivating us in a positive way – sure, in that no one wants to…
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Since the early 1990s, I have occasionally stumbled across the notion that reading fiction is a waste of time. I remember seeing a hair metal rocker in an MTV interview back then proclaiming this frivolous statement. You would think this concept was profound by the attention it was given during the “news” segment. I can’t even recall who the musician was, guess it wasn’t all that big a deal.
More recently, however, Noel Gallagher of Oasis echoed a similar time-wasting sentiment in an interview for GQ’s Icon of the Year. You can see an article about this in The Guardian here. Is it trendy for some celebrities to make this unnecessarily stupid statement? I have yet to see a legitimate reason to defend this point. At best, it promotes his pompous arrogance. It begs the question why GQ deemed Gallagher worthy of such a prestigious title; he’s certainly on track to…
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Consider your workplace. Do you feel confident in your ability to speak honestly with your boss or coworkers? Are you forced to walk barefoot on a wide plank wood floor covered in eggshells without making a sound? Because, if your boss should hear the slightest crunch you will be sentenced to hard time in his sweatshop dungeon churning out handmade plastic jewelry to sell to vending machine distributors.
An open coal-fired furnace occupies half the room, providing both intense heat and the only light source. No indoor plumbing so you’re forced to use a five gallon pail. You have no choice but to endure your boss’s martini-soaked screams and rants whenever he feels…
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