Write What You Know

The beginning of somegosoftly was all about how everyone had a blog. So I wanted one. I wasn’t the first on myspace, blogger, facebook, or twitter, but I wasn’t the last. I was super curious about social media and what it would do, where it would go.

I dropped blogger immediately, thinking it was rather hokey looking. This wordpress site is completely free, and it offers a lot, but there are also things I can’t do. Like get rich. But come on. That’s unrealistic. I wanted to journal and share not because of some unique perspective, but just because the only way to get better at writing is to write.

Writers write.

So my struggle after a funny video was my blogging over at Ski Utah. I COULD just journal, but I wanted it to be much more than that. I wanted what Copyblogger says to gain: followers (and comments!!). Using a call to action. A great headline. Great content.

It was harder than I ever imagined. I run around telling people to check out the site, and try to provide value. My gimmicky video to win aside, I am a huge defender of Utah, skiing, and trying it if you never have.

I want people that don’t have Utah or skiing on their radar to visit/even move here and fall in love.

I want to be the reason for that.

My argument was that there are 10% phenomenal skiers, 10% beginners, and everyone else is somewhere in the middle.

I wanted to reach out and connect with those people in the middle, and I gained a platform to do so. And then the work was hard.

What to you blog to get people’s attention?

I tried to educate as someone learning everything for the first time. About gear, about the resorts.

I hit a wall when I started skiing.

That might not make sense, but the truth is good writing takes so much time.

Learning how to REALLY ski took up so much of my time, every day. Then you get home, put on sweats and turn into a zombie. Until last month, when I was finally good to ski all morning, and then go workout, work, do whatever after. No tiredness. Then I hurt my foot, and that slowed me down. I got a little depressed. I realized it is a PAIN to try and take pictures, and film on the mountain. I just wanted to ski.

I learned what I know about skiing, and what I’ll never understand. I hate making videos while skiing. You miss a lot of skiing. So despite labeling myself the wordy one, well, that’s what I am. Gotta do what I know how to do!

The good news- to me-  is I’m back to writing and have posts outlined  for over the summer and into the next ski season that I can be really proud of. It just took time. I’m so grateful for this opportunity and hope to bring my love of skiing to more and more people. With exceptional content!

Whatever Wednesday

What a week! Things have been crazy here, so today is a diary day. Got to celebrate a good friend’s birthday with a big night out. She even made us cupcakes. We are spoiled! I love all my friends here!

We went to Brighton for their beach bash, something I’ve been waiting for for THREE years! But, it was snowing! And cold! So I didn’t get to ski full bikini, maybe next year! Unreal, but hopefully some day I’ll accomplish this feat. (Like maybe next weekend at Alta).

We had a great Easter, with quite possibly the best Easter message/sermon I’ve ever heard. Main point: Easter is awesome. Like, literal meaning of the word. Our beliefs are based on the FACT Jesus rose from the dead, Easter is about how THAT HAPPENED. If that’s true, we’re good. At that’s true. Loved it.

It kept snowing and snowing – and we may even get more.

Mainly, my family is good, my health is good, my body is what I want, my house is just getting ridiculously awesome, and everything is wonderful. Nothing could be better. I’m catching up with friends – unreal KE is married and preggers, as is KP, and WB and JB are engaged – so much going on!

Counting every one of my blessings, and looking forward to keeping things going by working harder and harder.

Yoga Challenge Update

Each time I stop and restart something, I start from scratch. It’s a weird character flaw.

Anyway, I had started the first few days of that Yoga Challenge, then stopped, then restarted…and wanted to share my thoughts – as the lessons are online and it’d be cool for you to know what to check out if you wanted to give it a try!

Day One of the Yoga Challenge I’ve done now three times. The first time I thought it was dumb. The second time I couldn’t make it through it without pausing since it’d been a while. The third time was after another day that wasn’t challenging and I was fired up and ready to work it.

I don’t love squats OR circling around if I don’t know what I’m dong so by the third time it was easier, I wasn’t trying to stare at the computer monitor (sometimes I hook the laptop to the TV but mostly can just listen from the computer now). It really is a good whole body workout. For fair warning, it isn’t really any type of intro to yoga.

That came on Day Two of the Yoga Challenge. I don’t get why it was suggested as a morning thing, I like it way better late at night, before bed time. The slow breathing practice doesn’t wind me up, it winds me down. It is just breathing. Anyone could do it.

Day Three of the Yoga Challenge was even more funny to me. I think I’d have started with two, then three, then one. The core workout was just what I needed to wake my body up again and not feel like I was struggling with the ideas of yoga poses again.

So maybe try it my way? Since I’ve been doing yoga for a few months and they are the experts I’d just follow their plan. But whatever, just my feedback!

The good new is I’ve kept up with it all, doing even more than one a day if I have time to calm myself down, I’ll do the breathing more often.

I also have added a full weight lifting workout pretty much every other day. Next is getting back on the treadmill, my least favorite thing in the world.

Tuscan Chicken Stew

The stew-iness isn’t apparent, but the food was delicious. It thickened up to a point I thought it’d be better just on a plate, then I wrestled with some quinoa.

I think the problem is the high elevation – it always needs twice as much water and twice as long to cook. I added garlic butter and Parmesan, which has made it the easiest to eat as a side dish so far.

The photo was only getting brightness on the chicken chunks and so all I could do was laugh after wrestling with the food to have to wrestle with the camera as well.

When You Put It Like That…

Here’s the article that you must read, today.

Write Epic Sh*t.

Three little words. It makes it sound so easy right? You came to the internet, bought a domain, got a little space, and it was the same as a blank piece of paper and a pen in front of you.

With 1,000 people/day looking over your shoulder.

No pressure!

You’re a writer. So write. And write with an impact that will blow minds, save worlds, free countries, change lives.

Or post pictures of food you’re cooking and yoga you’re doing.

Not everyone can spend the time it takes to learn about and provide SEO tips (or explain to little people like me that SEO doesn’t even matter on a wordpress hosted blog).

But man is there a market. There are so many bloggers out there if you are looking for them, telling you tips, tricks, and ideas to grow your Twitter followers, your Facebook brand, and your website. It’s easy to get too caught up in it all.

For the most part, they have it all wrong. This article tells you to stop trying those little “tips”. No amount of strangers on Twitter are going to click a link they don’t care about. I’ve met some neat internet buddies, for example thank goodness for Gina Begin and Stephen Weiss (and HOW I MOUNTAIN!). People, internet people, who take action on your message. I just need to take that message from mediocre to epic. Got it. Working on it.

My tip would be don’t forget to return the favor! That interaction, with others who are writing and trying to make a site work, that matters! If someone reaches out to you, take the time to say thanks in the best way you can. Comment on my blog, and I’ll try to comment on yours. I’m not always coming up with something relevant, but it’s always at the back of my mind. I’ll hit refresh on your photos. I’ll forward something cute to my mom.

And you’d do the same for me. That’s a good way to grow!

UPDATED to add How I Mountain. Too funny to read her post today! 🙂

Half An Idea?

The link there is the original article. I took the whole thing cut and paste style since it’s one of the best things I’ve read in a forever or two. Wish I had come up with it 😉
It basically makes me sigh. I hate when someone calls out all the things I totally do and think and remind me they aren’t going to get me anywhere. Duh.
You might need a good kick in the pants every once in a while. So really, I don’t hate it. I’m just ready to get to the writing brilliant things part.
The challenge is learning from it, right?
Wondering when that part will start clicking for me.
Every time I think I’m on to a break through I can only formulate half an idea.
Makes me worried that’s all I am. The half an idea guy.
What’s next?
I wouldn’t be mad at you if you aren’t a writer and so you don’t read the whole article. I want to be a famous writer and I’m so far behind on  the copyblogger emails and updates and past posts I don’t think I’ll ever get through it. I love all the information, but man is it a lot. I don’t even need a story. I think Twitter is turning me in to someone that can only handle bullet points and Patterson novels. Ugh. I’m going to have to take my laptop to the gym to hide from MK and multi task!

image of broken down typewriter

Is it just me, or is the whole starving artist thing highly overrated?

Yes, there’s a certain romanticism to being a penniless vagabond, sacrificing material goods in the selfless pursuit of art.

Yes, it’s fun to fantasize about everyone suddenly realizing you’re a genius after you’re dead and auctioning your once-soiled toilet for nearly $20,000.

Yes, it’s hip to take a stand against evil capitalists and proselytize about constructing digital economies based on currencies of cool.

But eventually, it gets old.

I know, because I’ve been there. In college, I was the epitome of the starving artist, winning poetry competitions and acing English classes with ease and then bumming gas money to get home, but eventually I realized three things …

  • No matter how good your poetry is, girls think you’re lame when you take them out for a romantic dinner at Taco Bell
  • After sleeping in your car for a week, you don’t feel like writing a damn thing
  • Pretty much the only job available to English majors is to become an English teacher, and they’re some of the most underpaid, under-appreciated people on earth

Sooner or later, you begin to reconsider. I mean, no, you don’t have to be rich and famous, but would having your own apartment and being able to afford food be so bad? Hell, it might even help your writing.

So, you embark on your quest to make some money.

You try to write some articles for magazines and newspapers. You hire yourself out as a freelance copywriter (even though you probably have no idea what copywriting is). You start a blog and wait for the world to beat a path to your door.

And if you’re lucky, you survive. No, you’re not sitting by the beach drinking margaritas, but you have food and a bed and a car, and people don’t worry about catching weird diseases when they’re standing beside you in the elevator. It’s nice, but you still haven’t “made it,” and you wonder why.

In my experience?

It’s because you don’t have your mind right. You have these nasty little demons sitting on your shoulder, feeding you lies about the relationship between success and art. You probably picked up some of these ideas from your parents, others from your teachers, and still others from fellow writers and artists.

And if you let them, they’ll cripple you. You’ll go through your whole life knowing you’re talented but never quite making it and forever wondering why.

We can’t let that happen.

Below, you’ll find some of the most common beliefs that hold writers back. Take a look, and see if any of them look familiar:

Crippling Belief #1: It’s all about you

The most heinous lie to ever infect the mind of a writer is the belief that your work is all about you.

You believe your writing is a form of self-expression, an extension of your mind, a little piece of your soul imbued into the page. To write well, you just need to be authentic, and if the world doesn’t like it, the world can go to hell.

Provocative, right? And like all the best lies, it has a grain of truth to it.

Yes, authenticity matters, but only to the extent people enjoy what you do. You’ll never find me auditioning for American Idol because, the fact is, I couldn’t carry a note to save my life. Yes, my voice is authentic, but it’s authentically bad, and that means I’ll never be a singer.

Writing works the same way. To be successful, stop worrying about who you are and start thinking about what your audience wants.

What do they like? How is it done? Only after you’ve answered those two questions are you ready to ask the third one: is it right for you?

I can’t overstress how important the order is. Them first, you second, never the other way around.

Crippling Belief #2: Building a following takes time

The last bastion of hope for any struggling writer is that building a following takes time.

Sure, life sucks right now, but if you’ll just hang in there, things will snowball, and everything will be all right.

It seems reasonable. After all, no one gets famous overnight, right? Everywhere you look, there are stories of successful people persisting when there was no hope, trudging forward one weary step at a time, unwilling to quit, clinging fiercely to their dreams, manifesting success through sheer power of will.

It’s inspiring… but it’s also deceptive.

Yes, building a following often takes time, but it’s not because people are slow on the uptake, incapable of seeing your brilliance until you’ve been around for a few years.

It’s because, when you’re a newbie, you do everything wrong, and most of us get knocked around for a few years until we figure out how to do it right.

In other words, you’re not waiting on the world. The world is waiting on you.

Yes, persistence is important. Yes, learning takes time. Yes, it’ll probably be slow and painful. But the sooner you learn, the sooner it will be over. So get busy.

Crippling Belief #3: You know what you’re doing

So, let me guess:

You’ve always been a pretty good writer, right? No, you haven’t won a Pulitzer or anything, but your teachers fawned over you in school, and your friends and family are awestruck by your skill with words.

Maybe you’ve even written for a magazine or newspaper a time or two and gotten some real credentials to put on your resume.

You believe all of that makes you different. When you start a blog or write a press release or hang up your shingle as a freelance writer, you believe things will be easier for you than all of the other bumbling writers out there. Unlike them, you know what you’re doing.

Heh.

It never ceases to astonish me how many writers believe this. They honestly think being able to spell, write a grammatical sentence, and make a few aunties and uncles smile is enough to make them a good writer.

It isn’t. The difference between writing for free and writing to become recognized as a worldwide authority is like the difference between taking a jog after work and running an Olympic marathon. Like running events, each type of writing is also quite different, and even a legend might need years of training to switch.

The bottom line: if you want to make a career out of writing, you have to be serious about it.

You’ll need to commit years of your life to mastering it, and even then, you’ll have barely caught a glimpse of everything there is to know.

Also, if you’re not willing to make that commitment, that’s fine. Just hire someone who is. It’s far faster and much, much less painful.

Crippling Belief #4: Writing can only be a labor of love

It’s about the art. It’s about the fans. It’s about the ideas themselves.

If you start trying to squeeze money out of it, you’ll just pervert it, commercialize it, transform it into a cold and hollow substitution for what it could have been. Right?

Well, yes and no. Once again, this one is dangerous precisely because it’s partly true.

Yes, all the best writers love what they do. The thing that separates Stephen King from a lot of other horror writers isn’t the gore or the suspense or the characters. It’s the joy. When he’s chopping off heads or destroying the world, he doesn’t just tell you about it. He revels in it.

Also, Stephen King is far from broke. I think he made something like $50 million last year.

Granted, we can’t all be Stephen King, but one of the greatest fallacies in writing is that art and money are mutually exclusive. If you love something, you can’t make money from it, or if you want to make money, you can’t love the work.

That’s just silly. You can have both. In fact, I would even say you need both, or you’ll never have the staying power to become truly great at what you do.

Crippling Belief #5: You’re a writer (nothing more)

Many writers take enormous pride in what they do, and rightfully so.

We use nothing more than little splotches of ink to communicate with people across the globe.

We speak the unspeakable. We snatch ephemeral ideas from the air and bring them to life on the page.

It’s delightful. Amazing. Humbling.

But if you think it’s your only responsibility, you are horribly mistaken.

The best way I know to explain it is, imagine a mother carrying a child for nine months, religiously taking care of her body, doing everything a good mother does, and then the day she delivers it, she leaves the hospital and sets it on the side of the road. “Goodbye, sweet thing,” she says. “It was a pleasure, but now I have other things to do,” and then she walks away.

It’s a horrifying thought, right?

Yet, as writers, it’s something we do every day. We finish working on a piece, publish it, and then prop our feet up, praising ourselves for a job well done. “Finally, I’m finished,” we think. “On to the next project.” And then we watch from afar as it struggles to gain attention, weakens, and finally dies.

It’s a morbid metaphor, I know, but this point is absolutely essential for you to understand:

If you want to be successful, you can’t be a writer and nothing more.

You also have to be a constant caretaker, a shameless promoter, a fearless champion. You have tofight for your ideas the way a mother fights for her children.

Your job isn’t over the day you publish. On the contrary, it’s just beginning. More than likely, you’ll spend weeks, months, and years fighting to get your words the attention they deserve, and it’ll be the most tiring, nerve-racking, and yet unquestionably rewarding experience of your life.

Don’t neglect that responsibility. Don’t try to outsource it to someone else. Don’t rob yourself of the experience.

The truth is, the joy of writing isn’t the writing itself. It’s seeing your ideas spread. It’s seeing them touch other people. It’s seeing them take root within the minds of those people, where they continue to grow into something more wonderful than you could have ever imagined.

Do you want that?

If you do, then be more than just a writer. The world already has enough of those.

What we need are more warriors. What we need are more heretics. What we need are wordsmiths with the courage to change the world.

Words aren’t just words, you see. They’re the medium through which writers accomplish change.

Great writers don’t just inform you. They don’t just entertain you. They don’t just persuade you. They change you, leaving you a slightly different person than you were before you read their work.

If you ask me, change should be the standard we hold ourselves to, not merely scribbling words down upon the page.

Then again, what do I know?

I’m just a writer. Nothing more. ;-)

About the Author: Jon Morrow is Associate Editor of Copyblogger. If you’d like to learn more about what it really takes to become a popular writer, check out his free videos on guest blogging.

Cooking!

I always like cooking, I just never learned how. Or tried, I guess. MB and JB got me some cookbooks a little while back, and so this summer is my summer of making good food. We have mostly quit eating out as much as is possible when that’s all anyone can think of to go do…and I’ve already started making some great stuff.

The first recipe I followed from the cool cookbooks was for Honey Garlic Spareribs.

They came out awesome even though at first I thought it was a lost cause – I couldn’t even cut them up right.