Blogging, Writing For Pleasure, & Nurturing Your Talent

Posted at 23:46pm on 29th April 2010

Among the issues I identified in the e-mail I received from my online friend, Lucy Cripps, were the following:

  1. Niche blogging: where are you writing from?
  2. Reading and responding to other blogs.
  3. Writing for pleasure, with your own angle on the topic.
  4. Writing what comes naturally to your personality

In my penultimate post in this series on article writing and blogging, I’m going to turn to the second and third points:

2. READ AND RESPOND TO OTHER BLOGS

In her letter to me, accompanying her guest blog on Teen Drug Abuse, Lucy wrote: I'll write a blog on writing the blog.

Every now and again I have what my husband refers to as a DT moment. The signs, he says, are gasps of dismay and outrage being emitted from me, hidden behind a copy of The Daily Telegraph.

Reading is crucial to writing. As an author, I am never without a collection of newspaper cuttings that have attracted my eye, nor a list of bookmarked blogs. The fact that I was able to ask Lucy to write a guest blog for me indicates that she had read my blog, knew what it was about, and had entered into a dialogue with me.

Her guest blog promoted not only my book, A Painful Post Mortem, but also her website and services. In addition, she got some extra mileage in that she said that she was intending to write a blog about the experience of writing the guest blog. I know that she’s now done this and that A Write Treat is the result.

  • A pump needs priming before it will work; yeast needs the addition of fermented dough before it will rise. Reading other people’s work is the yeast that primes creativity.

3. WRITING FOR PLEASURE

Lucy wrote: Writing for pleasure isn't something I get to do much these days and this really has been a pleasure.

Chicken & Egg: which comes first, being good at something and taking pleasure in it because you’re good at it? Or enjoying something and working hard at it until you become good at it?

Sometimes it can take a long time to discover what you’re good at.

I began writing for pleasure whilst at junior school, got my first rejection slip at the age of 14, but went on to achieve a Bestseller with my sixth book. Yet I left school at the age of 16 and have no qualifications in further education. So what happened in between? I wrote and read, read and wrote; attended conferences; listened to mentors; read books about writing. In short, I enjoyed writing, so I worked hard at doing what was enjoyable.

Writing – and in particular writing to provide resources to inform, inspire, encourage - is a huge part of my life! The pleasure and satisfaction I gain is immeasurable. Has it been worth all the hours of effort I’ve put in to improve my skills? You bet it has!

  • Keep on keeping on. Remember Churchill’s wartime speech to his old school, Harrow: "Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never - in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. . .”
Lucy wrote: I'm constantly trying to think of new things to write about, but I feel someone else has always done it better than me, so why bother!?!

Gosh, Lucy, I replied, that describes me, and probably a million others! That's not a put-down, but an honest declaration. In British culture, particularly, I think we tend to be far too diffident about our talents. We don’t like people who push themselves forward. It’s been said that we admired Winston Churchill and Princess Diana because of their failings – the fact that neither did well at school. And yet both went on to achieve greatness.

Years ago, my husband used to cringe when people asked me about my writing career because I found it so excruciatingly embarrassing to be put under the spotlight that I became dumbstruck. Then one day, my Minister looked me in the eye and said: This is not your talent you’re hiding. It’s God’s!

Whether you’re a believer or not, the fact is that we ALL have some talent, however small. It’s an intrinsic element of creation. A fig tree produces figs; a vine grapes; and you – well, you have the potential to produce whatever it is that’s your gift! Your potential is part of your make up. But it needs to be tended and cared for if it’s to blossom. The question is not: Do I have any talent? It’s: Am I prepared to discover it and nurture it?

Remember, whenever you feel disheartened and begin to have misgivings about yourself as a writer, that Churchill’s speech, quoted above, continues: “Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy." The force to which you should never yield is that of Doubt. Doubt, and Disbelief in yourself, are powerful enemies. Never yield to either!

  • Use it or lose it! Stop making unfavourable comparisons between yourself and others. Work with whatever you have, and keep on keeping on!

NEXT TIME

We'll be looking at why Lucy finds it easier to have someone else dictate what she writes, rather than to have to come up with something herself! And how a simple personality test can help to define your creativity and working habits.

© Mel Menzies - All Rights Reserved

Author of a number of books, one a Sunday Times No 4 Bestseller, Mel Menzies is also an experienced Speaker at live events, as well as on Radio and TV. Book her here for your event.

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Your Comments:

29th April 2010
at 7:45pm

Isn't it the greatest feeling to know one is not alone?!



Writing the Teen Abuse guest-blog was something of a watershed
for my writing business. I was spending so much time worrying about
finding clients that I stopped writing in favour of running around
after my tail!



Now I write, and am paid for it, every day! Ideas are flooding
through my head; my hand is having a hard time keeping up with the
ideas. Sadly (or not!) the paid writing is now standing in the way
of pleasure writing - a happy change in circumstance.



Last week I was accepted on a master's degree to study
professional writing. I like studying 'officially' - it
makes me, personally, feel better about my abilities. The course
starts in January and I'm really looking forward to it, if for
no other reason than to be exposed to so many different areas of
writing.



I can't thank you enough, Mel, for using my maudlin,
self-pitying e-mail for good, and for inspiring both me, and
hopefully, others too.



Do let me know if I can write anything else for you ... you seem
to be my lucky muse :D

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