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award-winning educator, mental health advocate, social entrepreneur, inspirational speaker, author/writer, program executive, and radio host
A tough decision was made about a year ago to release my first blog post on my website. While preparing to write this article, my belief was that the selection of a topic would be the most difficult part of becoming a blogger. However, the hardest part was to press the ‘publish’ button. The hesitation experienced while deciding to release my first blog post is interesting because the process to publish this article was a momentary act; although, my biggest challenge was the unnecessary pressure I put on myself related to worrying about others’ feedback about my work.
Writers who are concerned about others’ opinions can prevent themselves from being honest with their article(s), prevent unique work(s) from being published, and inhibit their ability to formulate thoughts (e.g., writer’s block). This last point was a concern to some of the journalism students during my guest lecture at the George Mason University (GMU).
My lecture was highly unlikely because writing wasn’t something that I planned to do, but it was something that I had to do --- even while some friends and family questioned my abilities, topics, and viability as a writer. Nevertheless, I continue to follow my dream to become a recognized and respected writer.
During my GMU visit, I detailed “My Unlikely Journey From Website to Huffington Post Blogger”, along with considerations used to develop my articles.
Major points reviewed with these students:
* Create a Vision – understand the reason(s) for an article before starting to write it;
* Take Chances – writing styles are boring; be original;
* Limit Interactions with Naysayers – avoid those who don’t appreciate the written work; filter naysayers – and others – input for usefulness and apply meaningful comments;
* Write for Yourself / Think About the Readers - topics important to a writer are easier to convey, but the readers’ interest should be kept in mind; also, writers must be honest with their readers --- otherwise, an article or worse the writer won’t be trusted;
* Write Once the Mind is Dedicated – don’t write just because time is allocated or available; instead, write once the mind is dedicated;
* Don’t Worry About Readers’ Reactions – worrying about something that can’t be controlled inhibits a writer’s ability to write for a specific purpose;
* Purpose - understand the reasons(s) for writing an article, which could be for:
* Discussion – readers will want to talk about a topic with others;
* Information – a position on a topic that is meant to educate;
* Controversy – an opinion about something that is beyond societal standards;
* Evolution – seeks to bring awareness to a new detail, direction, or discovery;
* Satisfaction – work created for personal enjoyment;
* Write Often - the more that is written, the better the writing usually becomes;
* Don’t Worry About Perfection – perfection isn’t realistic, but excellence is achievable; focus on the delivery of the best possible work;
* Writing Won’t Always Connect - readers won’t always be positive or appreciative about an article, but this doesn’t mean that a writer shouldn’t continue to explore many topics for writing consideration;
* Create Writing Opportunities – think beyond topics that are usually written or publishing options normally considered, as there are many ways to be published;
* Have Fun! - write about topics that create happiness, fulfillment, or purpose, as readers will know if there isn’t a connection to the work.
My main message to the GMU students was that writing is a personal process, but also involves conveying messages that connect with readers via the written word. By writing an article that’s meaningful to the writer, this approach can also help to develop a meaningful commentary about a topic for others, too. Furthermore, this mentality can increase a writer’s ability to develop their message(s) without any attempts to satisfy unknown readers’ perspectives versus writing to convey a particular viewpoint.
If a writer writes for themselves and to also convey a viewpoint --- even if others don’t agree with it, then an article has a better opportunity to connect with readers and have greater chances to deliver powerful, purposeful, or progressive pieces.
To the GMU journalism students: I wish each of you the best for a prosperous writing career.
No matter the length of your journey, don’t forget to be your best!