Weblogs are Always Evolving

“Definitions are boundaries, and boundaries are anathema to Webloggers. Moreover, the best Weblogs are always shifting and evolving, always on their way to being something else.”  – Julia Keller of the Chicago Tribune

Found this quote on a very old webring page which I found on a very old blog of mine through the WayBack Machine.

Keep the Channel Open

This is a great quote from the book: Creating a Life Worth Living, by Carol Lloyd.

There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening which is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression in unique. If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium. It will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable it is, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.

You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive.

– Martha Graham to Agnes DeMille

Trust Your Wings

From Twitter:

@jenniegarth: A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking because her trust is not on the branch but on her own wings.

I don’t follow Jennie Garth (the US actress) so it was just chance that I read her Twitter post after watching Holidaze (an Xmas romance) on TV last night. I love the quote. I haven’t looked for it to see where it originated.

Stop Regurgitating Content – Write What YOU Know

Don’t be a bland and boring writer. Don’t pollute the Internet with regurgitated content.

Hate is a strong word, but I do (almost) hate people who blog about topics they really know nothing about. They use other sources for information; they quote other people rather than having any real knowledge or personal experience. In short, they regurgitate content.

Regurgitate is very much the right word for it. For those who aren’t sure what it means – think Mother bird bringing half eaten food for her baby birds, vomiting it up so they can eat without having to actually chew anything.

See? How appetizing is that? Why would you read something like that let alone be the one writing it and expecting people to come and read it. Readers want something to chew! Or, at least they want to do their own chewing. Reading recycled content is bland and boring, like an instruction manual, there is no life, no character, nothing personal. You could read the same stuff on half a dozen other sites or just pick up a book at the Library.

Most content regurgitaters write hoping to bring in traffic. They expect they just need to use enough keywords and the traffic will come. This doesn’t work so well. Yes, Google will pick up your keywords. But, when you write on a network like HubPages, Google will also check to see how fresh and original your content is. Google will look for duplication.

If you were writing from your own experience, your own perspective and knowledge you would not be spewing out duplicate content. Too bad you didn’t write about something YOU actually know about.

It isn’t so hard to write what you know. Take the topic you think will attract readers and find an angle that works for you. Or, write about an entirely new topic. You are more interesting than you think you are. There are simple skills you have or small experiences you have discovered which other people would like to know about.

Finding angles is kind of a game really. Take any topic, say knitting a sweater (as an example). I have never knit a sweater. I’m not even a knitting person at all. But, I can write a post about knitting a sweater if I want to. I just give it a spin and find an angle that works for me. In my case I would write about my Grandmother and my Mother who do knit sweaters. My Grandmother knit a lot and even got into using a knitting machine. My Mother wishes she knit more, she still buys patterns and does get a few projects started but they don’t all end up finished. She also tends to knit with big stitches so a hat could easily be converted to a tea cosy and a scarf she knit for my sister was so long she could wrap it around her whole body, like a mummy.

See how you find your own angle? Not so hard was it? Not so hard to read either. You can make almost any topic relevant to yourself. Not everything of course.

When you want to write about something you really don’t know about or have any experience… STOP. Think. What can you offer a reader about this topic? If you can’t come up with some original idea or a twist that can move the topic into something you do know about, you should not be writing that topic. If all you can do is regurgitate content, why bother? Why write such a boring, bland post?

Would you read a post by someone who has nothing new to say? A post that just says the same stuff another 50 posts all say? Unless you happen to be related to the writer and want to be nice… you’re not likely to read something like that. It’s not even as good as a re-run because even a re-run started out as something original when it was new. Your post will be secondhand, old new, a re-run right from the start.

If you have to write a topic you know nothing about – interview someone who does know about it. Get quotes and their experiences – but get the interview first hand. Send an email and request an interview. Most people are flattered and at least interested. Create and keep a schedule for the interview and the publish date. If they have a site they will likely give you some promotion too, telling other people to read your interview. You can interview a few people about the same topic. Give them all the same questions and write their answers in Q and A format so readers can compare how each person gave a different answer, had different thoughts and experiences to share.

The world is big. it has a lot of people on it. Somewhere there is something you can write about. First hand, new and unique and original content – something YOU know about so you can bring YOUR perspective and experience to the world.

 

How to Keep from Getting Bored with Your Diary

diaryIf you’ve been keeping a journal. or diary, for awhile it can become a little stale just talking to yourself, the same monologue. Here are some ways to perk your journal writing back up and make it something you can look forward to again.

Start with a diary you like. Shop for a pretty or interesting blank book or make a cover (and even pages) of your own. Or, you might use an online diary and begin on a site like Open Diary, LiveJournal or Blogger.

If you really want to write every day, do it. Keeping a writing schedule is a great way to boost your creativity and discipline yourself to write.

If you don’t want to be a disciplined writer versus a creative writer then don’t push yourself to write ever day.

Whether you write daily or not, don’t always write a long post. Give yourself quick days so you don’t feel chained to your diary. Then, when you have something to say and really do want to write about your feelings, thoughts, ideas and happenings in your life, do so. Give yourself all the space you want to explore your own self.

Have fun with your journal. Draw in it, sketch, stick souvenirs or stickers inside the pages, Turn each fresh page into something uniquely you and don’t be too timid about trying something new. This is your diary, your journal, all the rules are your own to set, or even ignore when you choose to.

Be emotional. In life we are told to be nice, not to be too sensitive and not to get so angry. However, in your diary you can vent, you can pour out sadness, grief, envy, anger, bitterness, jealousy, loneliness, hopeless feelings – any and all feelings can leak out from your fingers, into your pen or your keyboard and onto the fresh white page. This is your place to be emotional and not be judged or told what you should feel.

Always remember this is your adventure on paper. Write it your way.

Don’t always write in the same place or at the same time. Take your diary on the road. Go out to the coffee shop, the mall food court, anywhere you can find a decent place to write. Don’t always look for quiet and solitude. There’s something kind of special, romantic and even mysterious about being a writer right out there where everyone can see you.

You don’t have to use your best penmanship. As long as you can understand our own grammar, spelling and punctuation, that’s all that really matters. (Maybe some day your diary will become a big, best seller) but right now it’s all just your own message in a bottle to yourself. Make mistakes, get messy and don’t go back and fix everything.

If you write with paper and pen take some time to try a few different kinds of pens. Experiment with ink colours, thick or thin nibs and different kind of grips on the pen itself. It’s really nice to have a pen that completely suits your writing style.

Write with pencil if you find yourself wanting to sketch or go back and fix your spelling.

Not everything in your diary has to come from your own brain. If you come across a quote by someone else stick it in the pages too. Write about why you like it, what was special about it for you.

Inspiration, Prompts and Articles for Diary Writers

Diary Groups and Projects

 

One Hundred Things to Help Inspire Creativity

wallflower

This was originally posted to HubPages. When it became mothballed due to their no-index policy I pulled it and brought here to rescue it from content scrapers and give it a second wind.

100 Creative Ideas

This will be my 100th post to HubPages. I actually joined years ago but didn’t start writing here until last year. Still, it took awhile to write 100 posts.

I almost went ahead and just posted one of the ideas I have been working on without thinking to make this post anything special. Then, I stopped. One hundred posts should be some kind of milestone.

So, after considering a few ideas, I decided to post 100 creative ideas to help, inspire and push others to be creative (more creative). Yes, they are slightly slanted to women. But, I’m thinking of ideas out of my own head and that’s who I am.

Enjoy the ideas. Let me know if you try a few and what kind of creative adventures and explorations you have.

  1. Write your own list of 100 things.
  2. Gather up all your pens and some paper. Have a pen testing party. Get rid of pens that don’t still work.
  3. Create a design with coffee cup rings (or tea) on a blank page.
  4. Take paper and pens – find somewhere public where you can spend an hour or longer just writing whatever comes to mind.
  5. Draw a dragon. It doesn’t matter if you can’t draw, doodle until it starts to look good.
  6. Interview someone interesting, to you. Ask them what you really want to know.
  7. Write a suggestion and send it to the right people.
  8. Go barefoot (within reason) for at least an hour.
  9. People watch.
  10. Practice calligraphy. Bonus if you can use a fountain pen too.
  11. Pick up a pebble, a leaf, a shell, something small from nature.
  12. Start an account on Twitter and use it.
  13. Try ASCII art. Images created with keyboard text.
  14. Write a haiku poem.
  15. Draw a map of your local area, add all the land features, streets, etc.
  16. Play Scrabble with someone.
  17. Leave your car at home and take the bus for one day.
  18. Read out loud.
  19. Write your favourite word on an index card (recipe card) then decorate it in any way you dream up.
  20. Try a unique flavour of tea. The best I had was caramel.
  21. Make a chain of paperdolls.
  22. Write a postcard to someone, mail it.
  23. Take a unique self-portrait photograph of yourself.
  24. Read the newspaper and clip out one idea you can write about.
  25. Try baking something: pie, cake, cheesecake.
  26. Repurpose an old T-shirt in some useful way.
  27. Try Snip.it – set up a topic you want to research there.
  28. Paint your body. If you seldom paint your nails, try that. Otherwise, face painting, a temporary tattoo…
  29. Photograph water, any kind of water: rain on a window, a puddle, water in the sink…
  30. Make thumbprints and turn them into characters.
  31. Try origami. Follow a pattern and see how it turns out.
  32. Write at least one journal (diary) entry about your day.
  33. Clean out your purse or wallet (or both). Reduce clutter in a small way.
  34. Put an ice cube in a glass of water. Start writing, keep writing until the ice has melted.
  35. Try a graphics software, Gimp is free, create a web banner for your blog, site or just your own name.
  36. Write about your ultimate vacation: where you would go, how you would get there and what you would do.
  37. Rename all the characters in whatever book you are reading now.
  38. Think of something completely unacceptable to write for a woman’s magazine. Write it anyway.
  39. Photograph an abandoned place or thing in your area.
  40. Take one photograph of anyone (not someone you know) in a public place, street photography.
  41. Watch a favourite movie you haven’t seen in a really long time.
  42. Read about night photography and give it a try.
  43. Sew on a button. If you are already a sewing diva create something with a lot of buttons.
  44. Create your own bookmark.
  45. Try freestyle embroidery. Embroider a square of fabric which you can sew on as a patch on jeans, a blanket, etc.
  46. Invite a friend over for an unbirthday party.
  47. Use crayons and draw a big picture – be a kid again.
  48. Become a cartoon artist for a day.
  49. Clip glossy photos from magazines and create a collage.
  50. Write a fictional news story. Use the newspaper writing style and all 5 Ws – who, what, where, when, why and… how.
  51. Try a crossword puzzle.
  52. Crochet a granny square.
  53. Get sticks and yarn to create a God’s Eye pattern from the 1970’s.
  54. Use paperclips or dandelions (in season) to make chains you can wear.
  55. Find out about mail art. Write a letter and use what you have learned about mail art.
  56. Start a scrapbook for something. Not for family photos, but a collection of newspaper clippings and such which you keep together in a traditional scrapbook.
  57. Write your name over and over using different fonts/ lettering each time.
  58. Make your own personal time capsule to be opened more than a year from now.
  59. Recycle newspaper by trying paper mache.
  60. Learn how to tie a sailor’s knot of some kind.
  61. In winter make a snow angel, in summer try a sand angel, or something else you can lie in and make an impression upon.
  62. Make Jello, pick a few colours, add the cubes to a large bowl and squish it all with your toes.
  63. Repurpose all those unmatched socks. Sock puppets are easy, what else can you do with them?
  64. Write out your favourite quote (or find one) and share it with someone else.
  65. Settle in somewhere nice outside and try bird watching.
  66. Turn something you like to cook or bake into an actual recipe, with measured ingredients and instructions for a beginner cook.
  67. See how far back you can go with your family tree, without peeking at anything you have already written/ printed out.
  68. Give yourself a ribbon for ‘World’s Greatest…’make it out of ribbon, paper, whatever you have on hand.
  69. Read one non-fiction book from the dust bunny collection on your bookshelves.
  70. Draw happy faces. Keep drawing them with different expressions until you run out of ideas.
  71. Go without your watch for a day. Ask other people the time or find a clock in stores, on the street, etc.
  72. Watch for little lost things in the street, sidewalk, etc. What can you find when you really look?
  73. String together different sized coloured beads and see what patterns you can make.
  74. Play with the sand, the snow, a pile of leaves, whatever is in season.
  75. Try some of the other mystery settings on your camera. You might like them.
  76. Design your own business card, even if you don’t have a business.
  77. Back up your computer files. See what you forgot you had. Save the important stuff to a DVD.
  78. Write the dedication for a book you haven’t written yet.
  79. How would you sell ice to people living in the Arctic?
  80. Get sidewalk chalk and remember the world of chalk drawings.
  81. How many different kind of shadow animals can you make?
  82. Play with an ink pad and rubber stamps.
  83. Make doll clothes. They can be for paper dolls if you don’t sew.
  84. Try to fold a better paper airplane.
  85. Bake and decorate cookies or cupcakes.
  86. Use a small mirror to write secret messages or draw backwards pictures.
  87. Draw a family of stick people, add pets, the family car and a house too.
  88. Draw or sketch or doodle something you can’t see.
  89. Get big sized paper and take crayons to the cemetery. Make cemetery stone etchings. (Don’t use stones which look fragile).
  90. Create a connect the dots game for kids.
  91. Make a meal based on one colour, try to keep every food/ dish one colour.
  92. Make a list of everything you smell.
  93. Trace your hand and then draw all the lines in your palm.
  94. Try storytelling. Or just write a complete nonsense story for fun.
  95. Collect random words and pull them together into a story.
  96. Write a story using less than 50 words, flash fiction.
  97. Paint something.
  98. Draw a flower.
  99. Cut out paper snowflakes.
  100. Plant something. Use a flower pot or container of some kind if you don’t have garden space outside.

 

Who is the Big Winner in a Web Battle?

Forgotten Movable TypeThe end of Google Reader and the rush of new Feedly accounts has caused people to declare Feedly a “big winner” in the battle for picking up the sudden slack now that Google is closing Google Reader.

I think it is early to call Feedly a big winner. For one thing, it is not so hard to get a lot of new accounts when the tide turns suddenly. Keeping them is another issue. How will Feedly manage the load on their servers? Not so well that first several hours. I began setting up an account and could not complete the process. Is my half done account one of those they have counted as a new member? Likely. How many others are accounted for mistakenly this way?

Beyond that, will Feedly keep it’s new accounts with new features, will they adapt what they have for what the Google Reader crowd will be expecting? People seldom want change, even when they make a change they really want everything to be about the same. The Google Feedlies won’t want to learn how to use a new site, with different software, different buttons to mash.

Anyway, what I really got thinking about is how small this little battle is compared to past web service/ software battles.

RIP NetscapeThe first which comes to my mind  is the browser wars between Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator. At the time MSIExplorer won. Even now you could be kind and say MSIExplorer is still the winner. But, it would be a kindness. At this time Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is the web browser which has to be coddled along when it comes to web design and development. Code has to be added for it, like bottle feeding an over grown baby. Poor Netscape is gone. You may find an old version, unsupported and dusty. Isn’t there some quote about the heros of the past or the underdogs?

The other big battle was the one between the ruling blog software (not counting Blogger/ Blogspot, this was a war between the stand alones, the blogs for people who bought domains and learned how to write code, or at least manipulate and customize it).

In the beginning Ben and Mena Trott had Movable Type as the most popular, undisputed champion of the blogging world. If you had a blog, on a domain, you were most likely, proudly running Movable Type. Then, along came an upstart, WordPress. At first WordPress wasn’t even an underdog, it was just some little pretender to the throne. Movable Type was king, who needed anything else? Then… Movable Type made a change… just one change… they asked people to pay for what had been free. The utopia toppled, there were grumbling rebels and when the rubble and smoke cleared WordPress (and Matt Mullenweg) were sitting on the throne. Movable Type hung on, there were many who kept their old versions afloat, stubbornly refusing to be disloyal. But, in the end, a blog software is only as good as the community support behind it.

Now, Movable Type is a relic, still standing in some far off place, unknown to anyone but old timers. WordPress was the big winner, in that case there was a big winner. I couldn’t say the same for the battle of the web browsers. Neither of them have ended on top. Firefox and Google Chrome have a friendly rivalry, not a war, not a battle, but not quite a friendship.

What do you think were the biggest wars for turf online? There have been a lot of them, even for the people who haven’t been online for the long haul. Which one or two web battle comes to your mind and what did it change for you?