Blogging About The Stories We Don’t Tell

truewritingWhen you’re a newlywed twenty-seven year old wh0 has had the opportunity to have done some traveling and seen some things you aren’t always prepared to listen to some ancient forty-something year-old tell you that you are not asking the right question.

Especially when you are interviewing for a job you are not really sure you want because it is working with stiffs and you know that you would kill it there.

Did I mention it was selling plots?

Now the bad puns about stiffs and killing it make far more sense, don’t they.

At the time I found her comment to be irritating and offensive. “How did she know what questions I should be asking. She wasn’t the one interviewing for the position.”

She was right but I wasn’t ready to hear or see it.  I blame that upon my 20th century youth and persona, the 21st century version  is much smarter, even if he can’t wear the same jeans anymore and has a hairline that can barely be called that.

Blogging About The Stories We Don’t Tell

Flip through the pages here and you’ll find some posts about my distaste with the blogging echo chamber and comments about why I dislike the term content marketing.

This doesn’t apply to all bloggers but I don’t think we work very hard any more to come up with content. It is too easy to not fight inertia and write the same old stuff.

Too easy to give people the low hanging fruit and tell stories that aren’t particularly complex or interesting. Just give them something simple to digest, beginning, middle and end.

Don’t ask them to think.

I’d like to see us do more and do better.

I’d like to see more blogging about the stories we don’t tell.

What does that mean?

Well it depends on what you are interested in writing about and who you are. It means focus on the material you are passionate about even if you don’t think it is going to pull in the same number of eyeballs and drive the same number of pageviews.

Who Are You Writing For?

Now that all of my children are in middle or high school their teachers expect their writing to be more sophisticated than it was when they were younger.

It makes sense and it is a reasonable expectation but it doesn’t change the basic need to tell a story in a way that is easily understood.

A few days ago my daughter asked me to read an essay she wrote and was disappointed when I told her she needed to swap out some of the words she had used.

“Dad, I am trying to use some fancier words so my teacher understands I know how to use them.”

I told her it is fine to do that but you need to use those words like salt and other spices…sparingly.

And then I explained my rationale behind it.

“You need to make sure readers understand what you are saying and why otherwise any call to action you include will be lost. P.S. The second word I crossed out is a good one, but you misused it.”

She nodded her head and I told her she also needs to remember who she is writing for and that sometimes writing for a teacher requires a different approach than writing for other people.

Pretty basic and not the most insightful news to come down the pike, but useful.

Writing helps you figure out what you believe and what you want.

Writing helps you figure out what you believe and what you want.

This is part of why I keep writing and why it is so interesting me.

That 27 year-old newlywed who knew so much more than I do wouldn’t have appreciated this. He probably wouldn’t have had much interest in trying to figure out what the future could or should look like the way I do.

Some of that was because he hadn’t been to the funerals and seen as much of life as I have. He didn’t see the threads or recognize how quickly things can turn to good or bad.

I blame it again on his 20th century perspective and the feeling that time was almost unlimited. Us modern 21st century fellas are far more progressive and willing to take the time to dig around a bit and figure out what lies beneath the surface.

The stats here show that others like that too, so if my children were to ask if I take my own advice I could say yes. I know who I am writing for and write accordingly.

It is time to dig a bit deeper again and think about blogging about the stories we don’t tell because they just might provide the most interesting material.

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12 Comments

  1. Tim Bonner October 7, 2015 at 2:11 am

    I think you just read my mind!

    You are following the blogging path I’m now just starting out on. I wish I’d decided to do it sooner.

  2. Danny Brown October 5, 2015 at 5:04 am

    Preaching to the choir here, mate.

    I saw a post over on the blog of the sharing plugin we both use, dramatically complaining about Twitter removing its share count feature soon.

    That post, right there, points to all that’s wrong with the social web. We chase after so-called social proof as the catch all to our blogging goals, all while forgetting why we started blogging in the first place.

    I hope ALL networks remove the share count option. It might make people think about what they’re actually producing, versus the production of that same content.

    • Joshua October 6, 2015 at 12:05 am

      I just don’t care. I don’t believe social proof is a very useful metric for determining influence and as you mentioned it hurts content.

      It would be great if they pulled out all of the sharing count numbers from all of the networks. That would be awesome and useful.

      • Danny Brown October 6, 2015 at 4:11 am

        Ha, I said the same thing in the comments on that post. Great minds and all! 🙂

        I’m going to remove the share counts on my blog and the Pure Blogging blog, I think, and see if it does make a difference, as those complaining about the change seem to think.

        Given one blog is established, and the other is brand new, should be a good litmus test.

  3. jens October 5, 2015 at 1:56 am

    It’s the same with podcasts. I listen to many each week, and when a new book is launching, the author is on all the different podcasts, talking about more or less the same things.

    Figuring out who you are writing for, and why, is important.

    Like you. I believe that writing helps you figure out what you believe and what you want.

    • Danny Brown October 5, 2015 at 6:46 am

      Uh-oh! *shuffles off to cancel podcast Q&As for next week…* 🙂

      It’s true, though – one of the things you can pretty much guarantee is many authors have soundbites ready for just the right question, to try and sound uber-smart and offer why you should buy their book.

      Problem is, if you follow the author around on their “tours”, much of the “organic” back and forth is anything but. Hey ho…

      • jens October 6, 2015 at 1:16 am

        I didn’t see that one coming 🙂

        Lately, I have listened to Todd Henry on several podcasts talking about his latest book “louder than words” and most of the time, he’s been talking about the same stuff. But today, I just finished listening to Jonathan Fields interview him, and they started on a completely different path and talked about Todd Henry as a musician and why he didn’t write anything about this on his homepage. That was different and very interesting.

        • Danny Brown October 6, 2015 at 4:04 am

          Yep – a lot of the “magic” comes down to the interviewer as much as the interviewee. Ask the questions we want to know the answers to, as opposed to the ones we already know.

    • Joshua October 5, 2015 at 7:37 am

      I don’t listen to any podcasts but I can see how that would happen. It is just so darn easy to fall into the trap of writing/talking about the really obvious and easy stuff.

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