NYT: The Whistle-Blower Knows How to Write

Jane Rosenzweig writing in the New York Times about how well written the whistleblower report is:

Every semester, I encounter students who tell me variously that they hate writing, that they’d rather not write, that for the careers they aspire to they won’t need to write. I explain that no matter what careers they choose, they will have to write — reports, strategic plans, proposals and, if nothing else, many, many emails.

But I also tell them that learning to write matters because some day they may have something to say that really matters to them and possibly to the world — and they will want to convey it when the moment arrives in writing that’s clear and concise.

I really wished I would have paid more attention to writing in school. I was a spitting image of a student she describes and I never could understand why I would need to write. Now, I write all the time and wished I would have paid attention in those classes and challenged myself.

If nothing else it’s a good reminder to myself that when kids say a class or a subject is worthless I can remind them that there are reasons for it, even if you don’t see them today.

It’s NaNoWriMo Time Again

It’s November which means it is time for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and it’s one of those projects I’ve never participated in, but it has always intrigued me.

The premise is you write a 50,000-word novel from November 1st to November 30. 1,667 words a day! That is insane to me because as I honestly struggle to write even just 1,000-word posts.

What is also great is that some people use this month to do other goals that are fairly related. I’ve seen some use the 50,000-word goal and use it to write blog posts during the month. Then others just try to blog every day no matter how many words.

This year I forgot it was coming so I haven’t planned anything but since I’m on a blogging kick I’m going to try to continue my everyday blogging. I will say coming up with content every day has been a struggle at times so I’m hoping I get some inspiration.

If there is anything you’d like me to cover let me know in the comments or shoot me an email. Anything from tutorials, to ideas, or anything that I have some knowledge on.

Good luck to all those participating!

Host your own content

On a typical day when I see a link to an article with Medium in the URL, I tend to skip it and think the reason for this is subconsciously I don’t like how hostile Medium has been.

A great example is this morning. I was checking my Twitter stream and seen someone I respect share a link to a Medium article. I read it, then went into the comments, and then went back to authors bio and thought I’d check out some of their other work. That’s when I got hit with this.

Does the author know Medium is doing this? Do they care? I have no idea but as a content creator, it offends me Medium would do this.

I know many people use Medium because it’s easier to gain readers but I’m not sure I believe that. Even today search engine traffic dwarfs social, so don’t let the focus on the short-term cloud your judgment.

You are free to put your content wherever you wish, but I’d recommend buying a domain and host it your self. Most of my readers are developers so this is easy for them, and those of you that aren’t you can buy a domain and use an existing paid service. WordPress, Squarespace, Ghost, etc.

All this mirrors what the news media is going through with Facebook. They’ve come to be so reliant on a service they don’t pay for and they don’t own. The old business adage fits perfectly here. Don’t build your business on someone else’s product.

My Annoyance with WordPress.com Themes

Late last year I switched this domain from self-hosted WordPress back to wordpress.com that way I didn’t have to deal with updates, running a server, paying for hosting, and everything else.

The ease of use is superb and having it as a SAAS is wonderful for me. I can just write and share things when the inspiration hits and I don’t have to worry about anything.

However, one of the downsides is the themes available on WordPress.com. It currently shows 310 available and I’ve literally been through every single and not been happy with any and its always minor stuff.

For example, I found one that was perfect. It had a standard blog layout, my content looked great, but then it didn’t support featured images on the post details page. Then I’ll find an awesome grid theme, only to see my content look like crap in its demo. Then others where I think it’s going to work based on the theme screenshot only to find out it actually looks nothing like that.

Tonight I’ve spent so much time trying to find one that would work for me that I eventually just gave up and went back to twenty-fourteen.

I really do wish WordPress would normalize themes further or at least explain what is expected. Take the featured image. What is it for? Only for the archive lists, or for post details too? The answer seems to be whatever the theme designer decides. Another one is what is the home page? Some preview images show what I believe is a portfolio, but then when you try to just a standard blog home page it looks like crap.

Honestly, I think the crux of the issue for me is I want an old school simple blog where every theme now feels overly designed and the designers are expecting you to​ be able to add awesome images to every post.

Rands: How to Write a Blog Post

Rands on how to write a blog post

Randomly think of a thing. Let it bump around your head a bit. If the bumping gets too loud, start writing the words with the nearest writing device. See how far you get. The more words usually mean a higher degree of personal interest. Stop when it suits you.

Wait for time to pass and see if the bumping sound returns. Reread what you’ve written so far and find if it inspires you. Yes? Write as much as you can. No? Stop writing and wait for more bumping.

I can never wait for the second part, let time pass, reread, edit, and then publish. I’m more of a find inspiration, write it, and publish, all in one sitting. I know that’s bad but otherwise, ​I’ll never publish. It’ll sit in my drafts for years, collect dust, and then be forgotten.

This blog is a way I can do my current publishing style and not feel bad about. Hitting publish is all that matters. If something gets some traction I can always edit or refine later.

Beginning Blogger: Ignore your stats

I’ve had this site for many years and I’ve never really had a posting schedule. I would wait for inspiration to hit, write a post, hit publish and then get a little bummed out seeing that all the time I put in was only seen by 12 people. You would do well, especially in the beginning, to just ignore stats altogether​ and press on. Keep publishing, keep practicing, and little by little grow your audience.

By ignoring the stats it’ll keep your focus on what matters, the content, and not on doubting yourself. I know seeing thousands of people viewing an article is exciting, but at the start, ​you have the advantage of obscurity and can use that to hone your skills.

Really the only thing that matters is showing up, day after day after day, and pushing out your content, sharing your ideas, and making a community. If you can do it, it’s possible to make friends all over the world and honestly change your life.

Ulysses for iPhone is here

The Soulmen group today announced the official release of Ulysses for iPhone. Ulysses is a writing app for all your Apple devices and is my favorite one.

I took part in the beta of the iPhone release and I must say I’ve not really had any problems. Even from the early releases.

If you are looking for a professional writing app check out Ulysses Mobile