The Secrets Behind What I Write

I have two goals in life: (1) to expose people to the idea that we are all corrupt, we all have problems, and that counseling isn’t bad, and (2) to make people think, question, and criticize the institutions that govern their everyday lives.

With the onset of technology, and standardized testing, I fear that our society is becoming too monotonous, too accustomed to responding to instructions, and unable to make our own choices because we don’t know how to think for ourselves.

I believe that, as people, we are all given specific gifts, and it is our moral responsibility to use those gifts to help other people. I could never fix anything on a car (except maybe the cabin air filter) and I would never be able to help someone gut a fish, but I do know a thing or two about how to build an impressive resume, or write a stellar research paper, or respond appropriately to an e-mail, so my hope would be that, if I help someone with writing, someone will eventually be able to help me with their skills; it’s that old-fashioned trade and barter system.

I write for three audiences: myself, those who I know read my blog, and the random, unknown viewer.

First and foremost, I write for myself. It’s kind of like quitting smoking. As my sister says, “You have to quit smoking for yourself. If you do it for someone else, you will relapse for sure”. I like it when people read and comment on my posts, but I never really care if they do. I understand that we all have busy lives, I write about a lot of things, so you can read it if you want, or don’t. Of course, there are times when I write with a particular person in mind (bonus points if you can ever solve the mystery audience), but since I write for myself, if they never read it, oh well.

Second, I write to those who I know read my blog. One of my favorite things in the world is to make people feel special, and I know that people love it when conversations we have had pop up on my blog. I love being able to give people that joy.

Third, I write for the random, unknown viewer. There are times that I feel compelled to write about certain topics, and I never refrain, because I am never sure who might be led to my page, and who might need to read something that I wrote. I absolutely love checking my blog stats, and finding out that someone read my post in Cambodia, or The Netherlands, or Canada. I love that ideas can spread to the far stretches of the world.

They say that writing is a muscle, and like any muscle, you have to exercise it if you want it to grow. I believe that, as an English teacher, if I expect my students to do certain things, I must be able to do them myself first: practice what you preach. Sometimes the things I pick to write simply stem from some kind of style I want to practice. It’s kind of like break dancing; if you want to get good at baby freezes, then you need to practice baby freezes. Sometimes, I want to practice stringing unrelated things together in a list. Sometimes, I want to practice connecting scriptures I hear in church to my everyday life. Sometimes, I want to practice descriptive writing, or how to be a better story teller. Sometimes, my posts stem from some long term pattern I am ruminating on, such as power and control, and sometimes, it’s something I spend one day contemplating. I have a storage of topics I eventually want to write about: The Starbucks Effect, Michelle Kroll, A More Updated Teaching Philosophy, Coaching Girls, Distinctly Colorado Things, and sometimes, they just sit in the warehouse until I have an event in my life or an idea that pops up and will complete the post. Sometimes, topics will never be completed.

I love experimenting with my writing, not just in the types of stuff that I write, but also the amount and kinds of audiences that I can reach. Sometimes, it comes out worse than I hoped, and other times, way better. I have learned that I get the most views if I post something late Sunday or Monday night. People like to read about relationships/dating, and usually avoid my posts about my lesson plans. The more provocative and bitingly sarcastic the post, the more of myself that I reveal, the more shares it gets. If I name my posts with familiar slogans, more people will come across my blog in search engines. If I include a picture, I can post on Pinterest and encourage more viewers as well.

My best writing occurs when I am at the gym, sitting in the steam room, or just about to fall asleep. I am working on this thing called ‘patience’, so sometimes I don’t let myself actually write it down until I have some free time (but other times, I slip, the message is so pressing that I wake up in the middle of the night and start writing). Sometimes, I know exactly what I am going to say when I sit down to write, and other times, I create as I go. Sometimes, what I write comes from 100% original thought, but most of the time, it stems from conversations I have with other people, experiences I undergo, things I read, watch, engage in.

And, I never put anything out there that I would be afraid to have a conversation in person about. Often times, I will wait months to post something, just to make sure I am in the clear, and it is something I could emotionally handle if it came up. You want to talk about my dysfunctional childhood? Perfect. You want to talk about my awkward blind date? Ask away. You think that my political views are a little too cynical? Let me know. Because, at the end of the day, all that I hope to accomplish is to spark conversation. I could careless if you agreed with what I have to say. But, the fact that you are disagreeing means that you are at least thinking about it, and that is what I write for.

I recently decided that what I really want to be in life is, indeed, a writer. I want to be that kind of intellectual that sits around with other intellectuals at coffee shops and debates philosophical issues, and then goes and reads more books and writes more papers about those issues. But, I can’t just be a stay-at-home writer, because without teaching, without going to grad school, without yoga and hanging out with my friends, interacting with people, reading books, discussing current events, I would have nothing to write about. So, I suppose I will just keep teaching, coaching, going to grad school, and practice writing on the side.

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