Saturday, April 7, 2012

Blog challenge - Permission to blog, sir? (Final!!)

(This is the version for the challenge)

Carry on, blogger. You don't need my permission. Here are some other things you don't need to do:

1. Complete every post in a single sitting

I've shared my first five drafts, wittily titled "Blog challenge - Permission to blog, sir? Drafts 1-5" of this one to give you an idea of how you can develop a perfectly acceptable post in easy stages. This "little and often" technique is a favourite of task management guru Mark Forster. (Q: How many years of your life can you devote to ways of working through a list? A: quite a lot, it transpires. But I digress).

2. Be perfect

A perfect post can slip through the reader's brain without leaving a trace. Sometimes you need a few rough edges to get a grip on. My posts list is littered with drafts which I polished all the life out of. Unpublishable.
Ace chansonnier Leonard Cohen once said that one snatch from one of his songs, "Anthem" captured pretty much his whole philosophy of life.
There's a crack, a crack in everything 
That's how the light gets in 

3. Be clever

If only!!

But if you restrict yourself to things you are sure no-one else has said better, you'll be a while getting started. Of course, linking in your inspirations is a courtesy both to your readers and the luminaries. As well as strengthening the memes you subscribe to. Being a gateway to a selection of clever, right thinking people is often better than being clever yourself.

If you weren't born clever, you can always aspire to wisdom. But wisdom comes with practice. And practice usually means exposing your foolishness.

So just get started.

4. Write prose

Obviously, you can drop in pictures, video and music.
The post I am proudest of is a piece of doggerel verse 
Or sometimes a simple list, like this series from the excellent Nicholas Bate, can be both clear and profound.

5. Work it all out for yourself

Find some examples and bask in their genius. Even if you absorb nothing, it'll give you some perspective. There are a few hints in the verse above. 

Look to Jenson Taylor  for technical tips.

On Google+, flit around an eclectic band like Jenson's Challenged and sup on whatever inspiration you spot.

Oh, and if you want good advice from a professional, rather than my random mumblings, just spend a few minutes with Chris Brogan. This is the best and most concentrated advice I have seen anywhere. I never read him without coming away feeling stupid, inept and inspired. How stupid, inept and inspired do you want to feel today?

6. Know where the next post will take you

You can start off in one direction and end up somewhere completely different. This started off as a jolly, uplifting snap on a beautiful Spring morning and ended up positively maudlin. Still, I'm quite pleased with it.

On the other hand, the post I am cobbling together now seems to be running on rails. Which is probably a bad sign.

7. Lose track of the time

Consider a time tracker. There is no limit to the amount of time you can fritter away on this stuff. Be like MillyMollyMandy: don't forget to get out and plant potatoes and peas.

8. Be shy

Leave comments on other people's blogs. Most of us would kill for any sign that someone has actually read
a post. The most hits I ever got came from a stupid piece of nitpicking on a very fine blog, where I took issue with the way he spelled "whiskey". Got the splendid response: "Read TwistedByKnaves: he knows whisky and Kipling, and that's good enough for me".

Yes, this is a hint!

Thanks to A Jay Adler's "sad red earth" blog for the picture. This is well worth a look if you're interested in the state of the U.S. As so often happens when you find someone interesting through an image search, the page was two years old. However, he's still going strong.