A line from the movie, Field of Dreams predicted, “If you build it, he will come.” A corollary is–write it and they [you] will read it. Maybe… Communication occurs even if there is no feedback. So, while we are sending a mostly one-way message to you, our dear readers, we would like IndexCardCure to be a conversation-starter. Unlike yelling at the newspaper or TV news in the privacy of your own home, we would like to hear from you.
Everyone has an opinion. But as the election cycle makes clear, not everyone has a platform for expressing their viewpoints. A blog is one channel for communicating; whether to reach people about issues that make your blood boil or to promote a business. The writer deems a message important enough to spend time composing, editing and posting with hopes that it will resonate and create a space for discussion. We also know: so much information; so limited time; and unlimited ways to fill your waking hours. Thanks for those who choose to read IndexCardCure.
ICC has been “live” for two years, not counting the gestational period of discussion and planning that preceded its birth. As with most things, we started with an idea; unsure of where it would take us or how sustainable it would be. We were drawn to low-tech index cards, as a metaphor for a simpler way of life and as an antidote to the deluge of information that surrounds us. A 3×5 card creates natural limits; only so much can fit on a card.
Here are some of our lessons learned:
- Get it done first; do it better later. Done is better than perfect.
- Emotional roadblocks to writing or blogging, including procrastination, fear, or inertia, are normal. An accountability partner will help create an ongoing expectation for progress and regular posts; in our case twice a week.
- We set up IndexCardCure using the free, supported version of WordPress.com and have been happy with its features and regular upgrades. It is easy to navigate, even without an IT background. WordPress.org has more flexibility but requires more skill and oversight.
- Our ideas for blogs come from articles we read or situations we encounter. Rather than being at a loss for ideas, we are usually needing to choose JUST ONE THING, out of the many possibilities.
- Index cards are handy for jotting down ideas during morning walks. A mind-map provides a graphical outline and is useful for brainstorming and organizing information.
- Write consistently. If writing is a habit you want to develop, figure out your most creative time of day. Set a kitchen timer for a particular amount of time; perhaps just a few minutes. Promise yourself a small reward after completing your designated writing. Or, try a different tack, like holding breakfast hostage until you’ve written for 10 – 15 minutes.
- Write a crappy first draft as writing coach, Daphne Gray-Grant, calls it. [Also, see author Anne Lamott’s explanation in Bird by Bird] Most people’s ideas don’t initially flow into a legible, coherent essay. The best writing emerges from editing. And it’s helpful to remember that editing and writing are skills that use different sides of the brain.
“The best writing is rewriting.” E. B. White
- Edit ruthlessly. Take a break after writing; clear the brain buffer so you approach editing with a fresh look. Check spelling and grammar, to minimize distractions. (e.g. Am I breaking for blessings or braking for blessings?) Often misspelled words are underlined in red—pay attention. While it can be helpful to have someone else help with proofing, reserve this for special posts or college entrance essays. Reading out loud helps monitor logic, flow and rhythm. Your dog may willingly listen, but don’t trust the feedback. It wants a treat for a positive review.
- Publish and get it online. If you write your essay in advance, WordPress allows automated scheduling for the blog’s publication.
- The mechanics of optimizing blog posts is a skill all its own and a work-in-progress for us. We are developing a checklist to make the posting process easier and better by standardizing (ICC values). A list prompts remembering important elements.
Write, edit, proofread, and publish: easier said than done. While clicking the Publish button is very satisfying, a lot happens before that step. To get in touch with thoughts and feelings and communicate them with another thinking person is rewarding, but we owe you our most coherent efforts. After recording the words in whatever garbled state they appear, we commit to corraling them in an orderly fashion to facilitate discovery, persuasion or instruction.
No excuses; no certainties. We are trusting the process for now, with a focus on taking action and leaving our impact to posterity. As we tweak our way to a better outcome, we will periodically step back and take time to identify, analyze and improve our writing and posting process. Giving birth, even to an idea, doesn’t happen overnight.
© Joan S Grey, 17 Mar 2016. Happy St. Patrick’s day
IndexCardCure™: guiding aspirations to action http://www.indexcardcure.com