Blog Writing Tour – My Version of Why I Blog

Photo by Julie Millard
Photo by Julie Millard

Since I am off the running routine for a bit (one of those freak injuries), I have looked for things to blog about and after reading Mike’s blog today about the Blog Writing Tour, I decided to invite myself into the party :-).

I know, I know it probably is not good form, but…hey this seemed like fun and sometimes you just have to take the bull by the horns and do it.

I am not great at nominating others, especially if it means that they have to do anything as a result of naming them and since I am a party crasher, I don’t think it would be too cool if I asked even more people to the party, but at the same time the below bloggers are ones that I look forward to their posts and want to share that with you. 😉

Each of these blogs have a special reason to be in my daily reading list, along with Mike’s and so many others. Yeah, I know that if I was doing this correctly I am supposed to give brief write-up on why I read these blogs, but I really believe that you should actually take the time to go to their blog and take a look around yourself to see the great stuff that they write. Besides if I write about why I like these blogs so much, this will be a book, not a blog post :-).

However, if you only have time to read one blog today, I urge you to go to:

Mike’s – Running Around the Bend. Mike writes so much from his heart and is authentic about what he believes in that all of his posts are ones that I want to read. No I don’t always agree 100% with what he says, but I do agree with how he says it and believes in it.

Well here goes my party crashing to the Blog Writing Tour ;-).

  1. Why did I start writing? (slash Why do I write what I do?)
  2. What am I working on?
  3. How does my work differ from others of its type/genre?
  4. How does your writing process work?

Here are my answers to the above questions:

1. Why do I write what I do?

I have blogged since October 2007 and when I left teaching in 2011, I wanted to keep blogging, but didn’t feel staying in the EduBlog community was a the direction I wanted to go, so I looked for a new niche and started over in the running/healthy living niche.

I LOVE TO RUN!

I have run pretty consistently since high school cross-country – yeah more than 40 years ago, with time-outs for a multitude of injuries. Sometimes it seems as though I am a magnet for freak accidents and injuries that are not super serious, but enough to interrupt my running.

Also I have had a serious running shoe addiction since the early 80’s, so I have run in a LOT of different running shoes over the years.

Xcountry school photoWhen I left teaching in June 2011, I weighed over 200 pounds — yeah I was very obese, coming off knee surgery that May, had a grey pallor and my wife was afraid that I was headed for a serious medical condition (heart attack, stroke, etc.) and honestly so was I.

Blogging in the running/healthy living community seemed like a natural fit and I decided to write about my journey from being so unhealthy, back to the healthy me that I knew was still in there someplace, by using my running as the primary catalyst to find that guy.

Over the next year, I worked hard to lose the weight, got so I could run consistently, got back to having fun again and stopped worrying so much about my medical issues.

In August of 2012, I was approached to write professionally about my journey and dipped my toes into the professional runblogging/healthy living world. Along the way I met a lot of wonderful people (online and in person) and started a little social media marketing business. During the next year I learned about the “other” side of  blogging/writing and how much work running your own business really is – if you want to do it right.

I also found out that being an entrepreneur, wasn’t really what I wanted to do and left the world of social media marketing in August 2013, shut down my old running blog/business and started this blog (if you want to read more about that click here). Not so much because it was a failure, but more that I was not passionate about what I was doing and it was destroying my love for blogging – my blogging was becoming something I had to do versus something I wanted to do.

Since I started over, I am blogging for me again and not worrying about it being a way to earn money, get free stuff to review or pleasing anyone else.

I don’t have to write to somebody else’s standards, the content is much more authentic to who I am – not some ginned-up online persona, who doesn’t say boo, kiss my ass and avoids any real opinions.

Today if I choose to review a product or talk about something that goes against the tide, I do not worry about the effect on my blog stats or how a prospective client might react to my post.

In other words I have the freedom to write about whatever to hell I want on my blog, without looking over my shoulder or being told that I can’t write that or I will lose – whatever.

The other thing is that I write about more than just running, although that is my primary focus, there is much more to my life than what I do as a runner and when I think it might be interesting or pertinent, I add it to my blog.

2. What am I working on?

Presently, I do not have any particular projects or work on the burner, I am retired and enjoying it. I may go back to the world of work at some point, but for now, I am loving life.

I have become a house-husband, take care of our over-active Jack Russell Terrier – Bennie, become the handyman around the house, do things that I am interested in and yes, I run a lot. At least when I am not injured.

Streaking - Not Good for Older Runners

 

That being injured thing is unfortunately, an ongoing theme/problem with me and seems to be what I wrote way too much about over the past year – how to recover (or sometimes how not to recover) from my latest injury.

I guess based on that, I am working on being a small but positive part of the runblogging/healthy living community, becoming a better me and rehabbing myself to become the best runnah this old fart can be in spite of being an injury magnet and sharing my experiences or adventures here.

I would really love to have 12 month period without injury to just see what it is like to be able to run for that long without one.

3. How does my work differ from others of its type/genre?

IMG_20140622_082205_663Yes I am getting to be an old fart, who is closer to 60 than I am 50, with a lot of gray hair on top and I am  a guy in what is primarily a woman’s domain. When I went to the inaugural Runner’s World Half Festival as a sponsored blogger, I was the only guy with 30 women bloggers – the joke Bart Y., was it was Harold’s Harem.

So I bring a older guy’s perspective on things.

Yeah I am also one of those famous or infamous Baby Boomers – depending on your point of view.

I write and laugh at myself about the dumb shit that I do or how I am attempting to fix myself an/or get better as an older runner.

I don’t mince words and I write like I talk – you know that language that real people use, not just that artificial shit/drivel that permeates blogs or most other written works. I don’t over do it, but write like I would if I was at a BBQ, where I didn’t want to embarrass TheWife too much.

I have been a runner for way too many years and have made almost every mistake that a recreational runner can make, so I can share a lot of what I have learned or how it was for a recreational runner back in the dark ages.

Unfortunately, I am still over-competitive (which contributes to my injuries), but also suffered/suffers from race anxiety (for 25 years I didn’t race much at all). So my running definitely has not been all successful according to how many measure their running, but it is a part of who I am and have been. Do I wish that I had done some things differently – the answer to that is “don’t we all”.

The other thing is that my blog is also my daily running log – yeah I know you are thinking how frigging boring that will be.

However, I see my daily runs differently than many runners and I write about my daily runs from the perspective that each run is different, has its own story to be told and that we can learn something new about ourselves from every run, even if it is a course we have run hundreds of times.

4. How does your writing process work?

I usually wait until things calm down after supper and sit down in my recliner, open my PC Laptop (nope not a Mac guy – even though one sits collecting dust on my dresser), to prep a blog post.

Depending on how many times I ran (usually Bennie and I do a run and then I do my workout), what kind of run(s) I did and what happened during those runs, it can take me anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours to write a RunBlog post.

My problem is that I tend to hit publish too quickly sometimes and when I read it immediately after publishing (part of what I do with every post), I almost always go back in and edit what I have published again. Not the best way, but it is what I actually do.

I do not use stock photos from online sources very often, due to moving target that online copyright usage can be and do not want to deal with those kind of issues, so I prefer to take my own.

The most important thing is that when I publish, is that I have written the post in my style and voice. It might not be perfect grammatically (I really don’t care, so the grammar police can ignore me now, because I ignore them), but it has to be readable and flow the way that I talk in person.

Yeah, if you are interested I do actually have a writing process, but I rarely follow it, life gets in the way and when I use that process, I feel that the posts seem rather artificial and sterile, but they do come out more polished and at a higher quality.

1. WHY ARE YOU WRITING?

A. When is it due? How much time do you have before you have to submit?

B. Define your purpose and focus

(1) Who are you writing about?
(2) What are you actually writing about?

        Be bold – say what you mean, mean what you say!

(3) Why share this, what is the benefit?
(4) How does writing this help the reader or you?

C. Identify your Audience

(1) Who are you writing this for?
(2) What writing style are you using – personal story, narrative, how to, lists, etc.

2. PRE-WRITING

A. Gather Ideas

(1) Research, Reading and taking Notes
(2) Observations
(3) Brainstorming
(4) Interviewing/Asking questions
(5) Personal Experience

B. Organize Ideas

(1) Mind Map
(2) Outline
(3) Lists

3. FIRST DRAFT

A. Go full screen, turn off notifications and TV, video or podcasts
B. Just write – do not judge or think about it – just write
C. No editing, adding photos, formatting, etc.

4. EDIT AND REVISE

A. Does the title grab the reader or is it boring?
B. Strong Introduction? What is your Hook? Does it work?
C. Is the writing focused on one idea or theme and supports what you meant to say.
D. If multiple or unrelated ideas/themes are written about, are there clear transition points?

Decide if you need a separate post for the different ideas.

Look again, if you have multiple themes/ideas, do you need separate posts for each idea?

Just do the separate post – stay focused on one thing!

E. Does what you have written communicate clearly what you intended to your audience?
F. Is what you have written well-organized?

Remember writing a blog post is different from writing a formal paper. Shorter paragraphs (get in – get out).

G. Strong Conclusion? Do you have one? Does it tie the writing together?
H. Add multi-media (think about copyright issues) – use your own stuff when possible.
I. Proofread – use Spellcheck after every revision

(1) Check for errors in grammar
(2) Check for errors in spelling
(3) Check for errors in capitalization and punctuation
(4) Meets my style requirements
(5) Meets Word Count limits

  • Is it concise! You are too wordy, too often.
  • Have links back to other posts or blogs that are related.
  • Check all links to make sure that they work correctly.

5. REPEAT STEP 4 AS MANY TIMES AS NEEDED, BUT AT LEAST TWICE

A. Do something else after each revision for at least 30 minutes (if you have time).

6. Final Copy

Read one more time!

A. Is this a response to someone or another post?

1. Were you pissed when you started this post?

(a) How long has it been since you read/talked/first found out about what you wrote about?
(b) Does it require/need an immediate response?
(c) Will you still feel this way a week from now?
(d) Does your shrilling add value to the conversation or is it simply more noise?

B. Does it meet the requirements for your editorial guidelines or the requirements for guest posting?

C. Is it controversial?

1. Are you ready for negative comments that will be made?
2. Did you know what to hell you are talking about or are you talking out of your ass?
3. Did you double-check your facts?

D. Is it in your voice or the style you have been asked to write?

E. Does it make sense?

F. Do you want your name associated with this post?

or is it a piece of shit that still needs more work – then go back and fix it.

If good to go.

HIT PUBLISH

Then go read it again on when it is live on the blog. It is amazing how many errors still get through even after all the above.

That is my official writing process, that I used when I was blogging a lot more seriously, doing a guest post and for when I am doing a series or an informational post.

When writing my daily posts I usually just wing-it: writing, quickly editing, then reading it once and hit publishing.

My daily work may not be as polished, but it is more authentic.

The reality is that

Yeah, I found that healthy guy that was hiding inside of me and now I write about my adventures as an aging runnah who is still and probably will always have a hard time actually accepting that he is getting older.

That being said, I love to share my adventures both running and in other parts of my life on my blog as I attempt to keep that healthy guy around for a lot longer and hope you enjoy some of the journey with me.