The hardest thing about writing a blog post

The hardest thing about writing a blog post is often simply recognizing what will make a great post.

Example of the day: I saw these shoes were given to a golfer in a tweet early this morning. I chuckled and moved on.

I didn’t think anything else of it until an Adidas PR rep emailed me basically the same information that was in the tweet later in the afternoon.

Usually PR people email you stuff because they want you to post it on your blog. In this case the girl didn’t but it wasn’t until she sent the email that I thought “you know, this would be a great post” (I define a great post as something a reader will see/read and immediately send to three friends).

There was nothing special about the post — nothing I had to do or say that you couldn’t do or say.

I just had to recognize what was right in front of me.

You have to be in love with the grind

People used to ask me why I started my Oklahoma State blog and ran it without getting paid pretty much every day for two straight years — and by “people” I mean 50 percent of that was friends or emails from curious folks and 50 percent was my wife.

My answer was always “because I want it to lead to a paid job someday” which it eventually did. But I think that was a bit of a front, I don’t think that was my intimate answer.

The full-fledged answer is that I love the grind of doing something every single day for a period of time longer than six months or, heck, three months. Think about that, what non-essential thing have you done every single day for the last three months?

Gone to work? Nope.
Played video games? Hope not.
Showered? Maybe.
Brushed your teeth? Hopefully.

The list is a short one and there’s a little bit of pride in that streak but I think the real joy for me now is in putting myself through the 10-posts-a-day grind every single day.

Sidebar: When I say “the grind” I mean the literal act of opening up Google Chrome, searching for news about Oklahoma State and golf and constructing blog posts that are entertaining in nature for others to consume. Then hitting publish. That’s the grind.

A lot of what I do is externally-driven — I don’t create the story, I just write about it — so it’s often easier than it seems, but it’s still a grind. It’s not always simple to connect dots and produce words. It’s tiring sometimes.

At my old job there was never a sense that the grind was to be valued above all other forms of work. It was a spreadsheet here, a lunch there, a 45-minute g-chat about muffins. Or something like that.

It wasn’t fulfilling — I never felt like I accomplished anything. My mind needs to be worn down and built back up.

Maybe that’s not the case for everyone but I love it. I also get paid for it, but I truly love it. And I have so much respect for folks who taste fame in their craft and return to the grind. It is the only path to creating something good or great. But that’s probably another post for another time.

I love the little taste of suffering through the writing and thinking and the connecting in the same way I love a good, difficult session on the treadmill.

What is life without a taste of suffering?

Not much in my book.

On ordering words

I’m reading a book right now called Daily Rituals. It’s quite good and terrific for me right now as I try to craft this liquid thing that is a work-from-home schedule.

There’s a post in the book about the Irishman James Joyce who wrote Ulysses and how he had to unlock the puzzle every day. It both challenged and encouraged me.

Once after two days of work yielded only two finished sentences, Joyce was asked if he had been seeking the right words. “No,” he repled, “I have the words already. What I am seeking is the perfect order of words in the sentences I have.”

The words have already been undone, rearrange them as you please.

Dave Pell on curation

I’m a pretty firm believer that the next decade of the Internet (its late teenage years and early 20s, if you will) will reward the elite curators. The folks who can bring the masses and say “this matter, this doesn’t, that does, that definitely doesn’t, that’s a cat.”

Dave Pell is definitely one of those and he told MailChimp last year why he likes visiting sites to build his curated list of the daily news:

“I want to benefit off the editor of each site,” he explains. “What they’re choosing to focus on on their site. I want to see how they laid out their page.”

That’s smarter than it sounds.

I use a RSS feed which makes all stories seem like they’re created equally. I can usually tell which ones are supposed to stand out but I like how Pell does it better.