Early this morning I logged on to my computer and began the routine task of sifting through my emails. As I flipped past a few “deals” and deleted a few FYI-only notes, I saw a message from one of my former-coworkers-now-friends. As I read the message, I learned that a conversation I had with a third colleague earlier in the week was having a ripple effect – and my friend was writing to share with me the positive impact that the 20-minute conversation on Wednesday I had with the third party was having on her life today. She then asked about writing, stating, “Anything you have to share (even as simple as ‘you can do this!’) would be wonderful! Any tips/tricks/advise or words of wisdom would be amazing!! I hope this note made you smile a bit today and helps you realize what an impact you and your blog are making.”
These very kind words indeed made me smile (more than ‘a bit’) – but I will also confess that initially, my friend’s request for advice threw me back a bit. As I read her words, the very first thought that entered my mind was, “Who the heck am I to be giving advice about writing? I’m just some gal in her home typing words on a screen for fun; I’m not a professional journalist or novelist or anything…” But then, I caught myself. While it’s true that I don’t get paid to create my blog(s), I have been writing for a few years now, and I am pretty good at this skill. So I gave my friend’s request a bit more thought, then shared my perspective with her:
“Tip 1: Write about what you know. I find my best posts come when I am writing from a place grounded in my own personal experience. I leave speculation out of my entries. (I also try to leave it out of my life in general.)
Tip 2: Write from a space of positive intentions. I can talk about difficult topics (indeed, I have written about things like death and hurt and pain in the past), but I want to do so with the spirit/intention of compassion and healing, not causing more pain in the world. (IMO, there is enough of that already.)
Tip 3: Wait 24 hours before pressing the “Publish” button. When I write, I typically follow a three-step process: Step 1 is that I write a ‘nearly final’ draft, where my primary goal is getting all of my thoughts on paper. Usually that first draft is pretty decent. A few hours later, I go through the draft again, this time cleaning it up (fixing punctuation, making slightly different word choices, re-working a few sentences to make them flow easier or read more clearly, etc.). Then I wait 24 hours. The next day (or two days later), I read the post again. With this run-through, the dominant question I hold in my mind is, “Would my future self be okay with seeing these words a week, month, year, decade from now?” I.e., am I writing anything that is questionable, hurtful, or just plain crazy? That final read-through has spared me quite a bit of embarrassment and discomfort.
Tip 4: Have fun! If you are going to initiate writing as a hobby, then above all, it should be more fun than work. The day it stops becoming fun is the day you should either mix things up, or give it up and try something else.”
Before I pressed the “Send” button, I reflected on our two notes. As I read through both messages a final time, I felt a smile broadening on my face. I love this very simple example of the butterfly effect; and I hope that by sharing this post, my friend, our mutual colleague, and I can all support the forward movement of positive energy, and help it expand and grow even more…