“Technology is anything that was invented after you were born.”
Alan Kay

WordPress – Write Now

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Your blog is about you, the things that interest you and your passion to share them with others
Your blog is about you, the things that interest you and your passion to share them with others
Your blog is about you, the things that interest you and your passion to share them with others

Once you’ve gotten past the technical hurdles of setting up WordPress (or found someone to help you through them) you are most likely going to find yourself facing two issues: (1) writing content and (2) designing the look of your blog. This post will be dedicated to writing, the next to design – and this is the order in which you should do it too. Let your content lead into your design.

You don’t need WordPress to start writing

You can start writing now even before you’ve got your WordPress installation working. Get a pen & paper, cue-cards, open your favorite text editor, take our your drawing pad – start creating your content.  Publishing your work on WordPress is the END of your writing process.

You have all the time, space and freedom to explore writing. Here are some things you can do to get started and explore:

  • If you could walk on stage and talk to a bunch of people who were curious about you and what you have to say – who do you envision sitting in the crowd? what would you like to talk to them about? You can do this exercise more then once 🙂 Your blog can make this happen for you.
  • Make a list of topics you’d like to write about. Stay close to things you know, things that are in your heart and things you are most passionate about.
  • Make a list of ideas for posts that come to mind – try to give them working titles.
  • If you have more then a working title for some of your ideas then write down your thoughts, list links to other resources (books, websites, images…).
  • Spend some time with your list – you may encounter more ideas to add, you may decide to remove some ideas you don’t wish to pursue.
  • When you feel ready, choose one idea, the one you like most, the first one, and try to write a first draft.

Look around and see how others do it

Find inspiration – look around. Search and keep your eyes open for other blogs and writers. When you read something you like: pause and take a moment to appreciate it, ask yourself what it is you liked about it, read more posts by the same writer, look for links to other posts and other writers. Exposure to things you like will inform you on conscious and subconscious levels.

Pay attention to things like length of posts, styles of writing (1st/3rd person, formal/personal, etc.), how they affect you and motivate you. See what turns you on and what turns you off, what provokes you to think, what causes you to want to comment and then to actually do it.

Practice & Explore

You are at the beginning of something new – try to approach it with curiosity and an open mind. Everything you don’t know is a creative opportunity. Claim the freedom to try & explore – seek and create the answers that are best for you. Throw them out when they don’t feel comfortable and try out new ones. You will find that WordPress is wonderful at changing with you. The first steps on this journey can shape your experience for years to come.

Your writing will change as you practice writing. Your perception of blogging will shift and change as your blogging experience accumulates. Changes in your life will change the way you blog, and changes in your blogging may change the way your life.

I strongly recommend you do not read blogs about becoming a succesfull blogger – they will narrow your perception and inhibit your imagination.

Your writing will inform your design

Designing an empty blog – is an empty design. The next articles in this series will elaborate on the visual design of your blog – but for now think of design a skin that wraps your contents and shapes how it is presented to your visitors. Without content any design is an empty shell.

Your content will create a feeling and atmosphere which can help in making design choices. Designs will also be more truthfully experienced with your content already inside. An empty page, or a page with some generic content is not the same as a page with your content in it. Having your content inserted into design ideas will help you relate to them and make better choices.

Doing the other way around can be inhibiting

Design is a creative process. It is relatively easy and tempting to “have” great design ideas, but it is something else altogether to followup on them. A recurring pattern I encounter when working with people on new WordPress blogs is long shopping lists: we want an area for articles, a contact form, a customizable news-letter, a place where people can comment and interact, a place for special announcements, collapsible menus and on and on.

Technically almost everything on the lists is possible with WordPress. But most of the work is not technical – it’s content. Each and every item on the list needs to be filled with relevant content – this means writing. Essentially your shopping list becomes a task list for things you need to write:

  • You now need to write at least one post (preferably more!) for each content category (it’s kind of silly clicking on a “category” and finding no posts or just one).
  • You now need to choose a special event you wish to advertise, author & design a graphic banner, write a page with more details about the event and upload all that into the blog.
  • You need to write every single page on the list (try writing an “about me” page – and see what happens!).

You are now flooded with work – facing a huge project, you have so many things to do before you can actually open your blog and it looks like an impossible task. 99% of the time this will block your creative energies and drain your motivation to even get started. This will prevent you from writing and you look around for something else to keep you busy and focused. There’s a good change you will end up obsessing even more about the design of your blog and find yourself immobilized in a negative feedback loop.

Focus on what you have to say now, not on what you think you may want to say in the future. WordPress is great at changing and accommodating your changing needs.

Energy and motivation are subtle elements. They thrive and prosper when there is space and playfulness, they fade and hide when crowded by demands and expectations.  Let your heart and what you have to say lead the way.

Your blog is about you, the things that interest you and your passion to share them with others

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