Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What I Did When I Couldn't Write

The truth is I never can’t write. I don’t want to write. I resist writing. I come up with a thousand and one other things I think are more important for me to finish than writing - even though the truth is for anyone like myself who calls themselves a writer first - before anything else - there is nothing more important than writing. It’s the fuel that drives the engine for everything else. 

Still - there are moments when I allow myself to play my game and say I can’t write. 

It happened the other week. In fact, if you follow this blog regularly you might have noticed the absence of new material. You might have even stopped following me because in the world of content marketing, not offering fresh content consistently is not a smart thing to do.  

But I digress. 

Which is pretty much why I wasn’t getting much writing done.

But I was thinking about all the things I might write if only I could.

Still intent on avoiding the situation, rather than organize my closets I decided to organize my writing.  I signed up for an online course designed to get me to once and for all really learn how to use Scrivener, a program I’ve owned for several years but can’t say I’ve ever used to its full capabilities.

That helped to get the wheels turning - but I was still spending more time with the learning modules than my keyboard.

Then I did something I have not done in a while. 

I read a book about writing - without a doubt one of the best books I’ve read on writing. 


And I’ve read a lot of books on writing. 

Ironically, it’s not just for writers like me who are writers before everything else. It’s for everybody. Because  - as it is so aptly titled, Everybody Writes - Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content.

It’s smart, it’s witty, it offers good, useful advice, a ton of great resources and it’s easy to read. All the hallmarks for creating great content in a digital world. The author, Ann Handley who is also the Chief Content Officer at Marketing Profs, shows us how it's done by walking the walk.

It’s also inspiring.

It helped me to jumpstart my writing again and remember a few of the things I seemed to have forgotten that had gotten me to that can’t write place.

Everybody Writes has earned its official spot on my recommended reading list - not quite as coveted as The New York Times - but a spot nonetheless ! 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

20 Things The Ebola Hysteria Has Me Worried About

I'm not worried about Ebola. Concerned - yes. The spread of Ebola in West Africa is serious, it deserves attention and it must be contained. 

But to worry about it - to allow myself to get caught up in the hysteria that has been marketed so effectively across every level of the media would be a waste of my energy.

My calm is not easy to maintain. Short of hiding out in a cave on a remote island with no Internet connection, it’s hard to escape the 24/7 news cycle intent on trying to convince me there is no danger greater to my life at this moment than Ebola. Valiant as their efforts might be - they have not succeeded. 

However they have brought up other concerns - that I admit do have me worrying. Not about Ebola.  But what the hysteria surrounding it says about our society. I started to keep a list of my worries - my theory being if I wrote them down they would lose some of their energy.

But instead, the list kept growing. That’s what worry can do. It can stop you from getting anything else done - especially the important stuff - for instance writing a blog. 

That’s when I decided the list was a blog. So here it is - my list of what the hysteria surrounding Ebola has me worried about:

 1. Our 24-hour newscycle, complete with headlines intentionally designed to market hysteria - all in the name of gaining audience share so they can make more money.

2. Our distorted definition of “breaking news” which used to mean something really big happened - like when a plane hit the World Trade Center.

3. The dwindling number of reporters who deserve to be called journalists. 

4. People who cite Wikipedia and Fox News as their credible source.

5. Sound bites taken out of context and used to promote stories that completely distort the truth.

6. People who believe those sound bites.

7. The speed at which inaccurate information can now spread, which is actually faster than Ebola.

8. That we have lost our ability to think for ourselves and to recognize fact from conjecture. 

9. Our lack of leaders - on both sides of the fence - top to bottom.

10. People who point fingers instead of coming up with solutions.

11. People who don’t value their right to vote and won’t turn out for the Mid-term Elections because they are too worried about catching Ebola.

12. That we have no Surgeon General. 

13. Hatred and intolerance of people different than ourselves.

14. People who think we should seal our borders to contain the problem instead of help the people who are in real danger - in West Africa.

15. The ease with which one can purchase a semi-automatic weapon in the US, which will kill many more than the Ebola virus, and the difficulty there is getting medicine to aide those who have contracted the virus.

16. A pharmaceutical industry that only researches medicine for diseases when it will make them money.

 17. Parabens, mineral oils, artificial parfums and genetically modified foods that we come in contact with every day and whose dangers never get the air time Ebola does. 

18. The disrespect allowed towards our President. (like him or not - he is still the President of the United States)

19. Being run over by an out of control bike rider in Manhattan -  which is also more likely to happen than coming into contact with the virus.

 20. That the importance of voting in the Mid-Term Elections will never be marketed as well as the hysteria around Ebola.