Challenge, Discipline and Promotion

I have been participating in an online writer's challenge this week. It has consumed a lot of my time. I've been writing new blog posts and improving the overall appearance of my blog. But I have also been trying to "give back" to the writing community. I've received great feedback on my efforts and I want to reciprocate that kindness as much as I can. I love connecting with other people, both in person and online.

Yesterday's challenge was to write an "about" or "introduction" page. I previously had a small blip of a profile and nothing else. (It's still there at the top left.) I didn't try to say a lot about myself. That is actually the hardest kind of writing for me. Writing as a form of sharing comes naturally. Writing to describe or promote myself does not.

Nevertheless, as much as I did not want to complete this initial task and didn't think it absolutely necessary, I didn't want to fail at the assignment. So I went to work on my new page. I struggled to get started. I spent a good deal of time revising. And I had to make myself stick with it. But now that it's done, I am so glad I tackled this. Today I have a separate introduction page that tells new readers who I am and why I blog. But more important than that, it always feels good to meet a challenge head on.

This challenge is like going back to an honors class in college. We are being challenged to produce writing whether we feel like writing and completing assignments or not. And we are asking others to critique our work (this was an awkward part of my previous honors classes). Unlike a college course, we won't be graded and there will be no penalties for failing to do our homework. But writing is a discipline. And there is more to be gained from this challenge than improving one's blog. Discipline is an art that can be applied to any area of our lives. But practice is required.

Today's assignment was to clarify our blog's focus by responding to three questions. What is our subject matter/what are we writing about? What is our theme or specific area of focus? And what do we want to accomplish?

Some bloggers are focused on a specific subject and audience. I'm not. So, once again, I wondered if I even needed to do this exercise. And then I just did it.

I'm learning about myself as I contrast my goals with the goals of other bloggers. I realize I don't really care all that much about attracting huge numbers of readers. I have no interest in monetizing my blog or generating income with it. I have no desire to use gimmicks to attract anyone. When I write, I am hoping to connect with someone. That's all.

I like to encourage and relate to others on many levels. On a deeper level, I want other wounded souls to feel less alone. But on a lighter note, I enjoy writing glowing reviews of restaurants. Yes, I love food. But that's not the sole motivation. I love to promote anything or anyone I love.

I have written about CLL and some of my own lesser health challenges because I want to provide other patients and caregivers with emotional support, encouragement, and the information I was desperate to find at diagnosis. I try to emphasize how important it is for all of us to be our own healthcare advocate, or at least designate someone close to us for this role if we can't be our own.

In all areas of my writing, my goal is to encourage, inspire and offer hope. And every now and then, I may challenge you or even promote you. I'll express gratitude and hope you catch it from me. But I will never try to turn my blog into a promotion of myself or a business or remake it just to have big stat numbers. I would much rather have a few readers who are truly engaged by what I write. I feel the same way about my books.

So this is what I came up with for today's assignment:

What is my blog about?

Candid sharing about life's journey -- both spiritual and ordinary.

What is my area of focus?
To relate to others and form connections through shared experience and lessons learned.

What do I hope to accomplish?
To uplift and inspire gratitude: to provoke deeper thought on a variety of issues; to help others heal from emotional wounds and feel less alone.
Oh yeah, and to occasionally promote a great restaurant!