Tag Archives: blogging

Writing Exercise… and cars!

#blogclub writing warm up

I ran Blog Club in London today with an exercise from the most awesome Lynda Barry. If you want to play too, here’s her blog post with instructions and words from the fine woman herself. I’ve done it with groups a few times and it’s really good warm up for getting into the writing space and, in my experience, getting you back into your body, memory, imagination rather than the dry analytic space I often find myself in when sitting down to blog.

Now I found myself with the word “car”. Despite never having owned a car myself, never having taken a driving test, but getting the basics bashed into me at the age of 17 and then settling for passengerhood for the next 35 years, I still have lots of stories about cars and driving in me.

The time my father brought home a new “jelly-mould” Ford Sierra; then my mother learning to drive in her little purple Mini; the time I first sat in the driving seat for real and set off with my first horrible driving instructor; the boot of our old Vauxhall that used to fly open randomly; the time I was waiting for a lift by the side of the M5 after drinking two bottles of Martini the night before and throwing up behind the crash barrier; me getting another driving lesson after I’d moved to London, the horrors of the Chelsea Embankment and the terror of crossing Albert Bridge; the time when we were driving through the Lickeys and a stone flew up and shattered the windscreen; the time the steering went on the Volvo and my first wife managed to get us over onto the hard shoulder safely; the time she wrote off the lovely Renault 16; my son at the age of five or so, in the back of the car, waking up after a long drive to see my mother and, when her face appeared at the window he shouted “Fucking Hell! It’s Granny!”

I didn’t get to write any of these today but they’re all incredibly rich and it’s astonishing that they’re all in me, just a few moments away from a random word drawn out of a bag.

Blog Club: Six things I hate about Headlines

Birmingham Evening Mail, Moonday July 21st 1969

So yeah, hate might be a bit strong but we’ve been talking this morning about titles for blog posts. You’ll remember that last week we fired off as many headlines as we could. Today we’ve talked about crafting them a bit more.

My things are:

  • It’s one of those things again that falls too quickly into conversations about SEO and “making” people read your shit.
  • I tend to be too clever about it – the post rarely lives up to the anticipation.
  • If I can’t think of anything to write, then just writing a headline can get me started.
  • Sometimes it’s just a placeholder for getting me writing. I will often come back and edit the title after I’ve finished the post.
  • If you look back, you’ll see that I often include twitter handles – this means that when it gets automatically shared the person I mention sees it in their mentions.
  • Six things I hate about… is a lazy, innacurate and more likely to make people skip over it anyway.

Blog Club: Thirty blog posts I’ll (probably) never write

Bridlington Leisure Centre.jpg
Bridlington Leisure Centre By Martin Dawes, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

At today’s Blog Club we did an exercise to kick off with. We had ten minutes to write twenty-five titles of blog posts we’d like to write. I ignored the “like to” bit and just wrote as many off the top of my head titles I could think of. I came up with thirty-five. The thing is, when you let go of actually having to do anything with them, you can come up with a lot more than you’d imagine.

The next bit of the exercise was to choose five to actually write (one of which was “Ten blog posts I’ll never write” which I’ve turned into this one).

So that leaves the other thirty, which I didn’t want to throw away, so here they are:

  1. Eating dinner with Chris Brogan
  2. How to play the violin if you’ve never done it before
  3. The hypocrisy of babies
  4. Jelly – my part in it’s downfall
  5. How to have hope
  6. Using household objects to make a movie
  7. How huge is this artichoke?
  8. The three types of people you meet at an unconference
  9. Is there anything bigger than this experience?
  10. The view from Clee Hill
  11. Eating out in Rhyl
  12. How I turned my bedroom into a cinema in 2 weeks
  13. On the bus
  14. Calamari
  15. How much coffee is too much?
  16. When caring goes bad
  17. The dark side of Jaffa cakes
  18. Dear Lazyweb, please recreate Posterous.com
  19. A man on a train in West Texas
  20. Apricots: what’s the point?
  21. Fifteen amazing people in Bridlington
  22. How corned beef saved my life
  23. Twenty-two things to do with a bottle opener
  24. Crazy golf without the crazy
  25. When did you last see your Aunty Beryl
  26. Eating shellfish: a primer
  27. If you can’t do this thing, you’ll never do anything
  28. Don’t wait, keep it moving
  29. Primary School Blues

On second thoughts, I probably will write some of these.

But what were the other five?

  1. Great tube journeys in Zone 3
  2. Ten (thirty) blog posts I’ll never write.
  3. Stop thinking!!
  4. Today I shot a gun for the first time
  5. The devil makes work for idle hands

Watch this space.

 

Blog Club: Creating Conditions for Productivity

#achievementunlocked

“Productivity and the conditions that we need for it” was just suggested and settled on as today’s topic at Blog Club. In the few minutes that we were talking about it, I noticed on my phone that scientologylondon had just liked this photo of mine on instagram, so I screenshot it and instagram the notification. Bam! I just created some new content and put it out into the world for my followers! I’m so productive! Take the rest of the day off, Davis.

Well yes, and…

I had, only moments before, been preaching about social media addiction, how things like pinterest and insta can swallow my time and take me to a place that’s a bit dark and definitely poor. So, my sermon continued, for me being productive is much more connected to creating engaging content that connects me more intimately with people and helps build good business relationships. Blah!

This is my problem with the P word – it assumes a whole raft of things about what I’m doing, why, and how I get things done these days. The lines between having fun, being seen to be having fun, being seen, getting to know people who might be interested in what I’m doing and making mutually valuable connections with those people are all getting waaaaay blurred.

Sometimes we need black and white rules in order to deal with the bazillion shades of grey in everyday life. So my black and white is currently no new shiny things in work hours, focusing on being real with people and building relationship here and now, really, with you to see how you can help me and I can help you – and in order to do that I have to put down (sometimes one minute at a time) the Trump stories, the Brexit saga and anything else that starts with “OMG I can’t believe they just did that” get quiet and chat with you over a coffee.

What gets me there? Self care, self care, self care. Knowing myself well and forgiving when I screw up; connecting with love and support with everyone I know, taking a good look at myself regularly, not taking myself too damn seriously, oh some self care (a walk at lunchtime, a healthy meal, a good nights sleep). You know, all that stuff.

PS ultimately, I hope for the time when I can say “my productivity is not dependent on my conditions” but, well, probably not today!

Come collaborate with me at @WorkHubs

2017-01-25_11-36-34

From this Monday, I’m going to be hanging out (as full-time as I ever do such a thing) and working in the Euston co-working space atworkhubs with the lovely Philip Dodson and Bernie Mitchell.

I’ve been to a couple of Blog Clubs on Wednesday morning and there’s also a Write Club on Thursday mornings (short planning session, get into writing for an hour and a half, quick group review). And I think Art Club too but I can’t find a link for that!

It’s a nice convenient space, right next to Euston and Euston Square stations with just the right balance of people – not too mad noisy, not too dead quiet.

They have an affordable and flexible range of membership options including day passes so if you’re looking for somewhere straight off the train at Euston, it’s a real goody.

Anyway I’ll be there and it would be good to see you too.  Ping me if you’re nearby and up for a coffee or something.

At the moment, I’m expecting to see some 1:1 clients there; run some workshops; hold some evening or breakfast events etc., but I’m open to suggestions, let me know if there’s something you think I should be using the space for.

Come Steem with me!

I’ve been playing for the last few days with a new-ish blogging, social-networking, blockchain platform called Steemit.

Go ahead, join up (you can use your FB credentials) and right now, it looks like you get $8 worth of Steem Power (and I only got $3 when I joined!)

If you do, please follow me, upvote on my pictures post and leave a comment!

It’s not the complete future of blogging and social networking.  And it’s not even the complete future of blockchain incentivised micropayments either.  But it’s interesting to see (and speculate on) how a tipping incentive associated with posting, upvoting and commenting can work – both in terms of the actual payments made (very small!) and the effect that has on you to keep going, or not.

Of course, there’s a white paper but yeah, the currency and its derivatives are complex – I’ve given up for now on completely understanding how everything relates, what the numbers actually mean and just seeing what happens if I keep playing the game.  Cos you can just use it as a blog where most of the other users are libertarian, crypto-anarchist/capitalists with a few cosplayers and furries mixed in.

See you there, Steem-mates!

Blogging about blogging, chapter 479

I don’t like it.  I don’t like writing about blogging, but sometimes it needs to be done to be cleared out of the way.  If I write on paper about writing on paper that seems OK because it’s only here on my table and it might just go in the bin or in that file of many ideas not quite finished enough.

I’m angry about it.  I’m angry about the way we, me too, I have let it slip away, have let others take the form and make it more like what they wanted to do in the first place.   And then decided that I needed to fit in with that.  We’ve made our newspapers into gigantic blog-like content machines, but none of them have much of the spirit of the people who write them, they’re just self-serving self-obsessed web-borgs.

A real person is in here, behind this screen, behind these words you’re reading.  With all the ups and downs and back and forth and painfully, oh jesus, p-a-i-n-f-u-l-l-y slow learning about life and how to do it and who I might be and how not to be who I’m not.

But even I’ve forgotten that and started to believe that what I write here needs to be a certain way, needs to deliver “my message” to “my audience”, get more hits, trigger more likes, avoid feelings, avoid criticism.  It doesn’t.  And it seems I need reminding of that every now and then.  Maybe you do too.

All right, thanks for listening, go back to what you were doing.