Time to Start Writing for Me

I miss you all.

That should be said first-thing, as it seems my endeavors to blog through what has become a series of rapid-fire transitions in my life were a bit overzealous. It doesn’t mean I didn’t miss you though. On the contrary, I thought about you almost everyday, as if blogging was an old friend that went away on a dangerous journey and wouldn’t return for about four months. One of the few running themes of my old posts were that time passes and people move on, but I never had any intention of the same fate befalling my blogging career. Blogging was supposed to be my steadfast friend who follows me no matter where life takes me, like Sam from Lord of the Rings, but even I suffered from the affliction that strikes even the most prudent of democratic denizens. I got busy. Like really busy. And I make no promises that it will never happen again.

I think now that I’ve come to the point of acceptance about that, I can quit looking at blogging as my ticket to freedom to one day engage in creative art day in and day out and start looking at it at what it is, an act of passion. And if one day in the far-flung future that passion gets noticed, that’s terrific. But for right now, I simply wish to blog about what I want. No business plan, no daily schedule, no strategic guides, just posts that will be ready when they’re ready. I have no idea if that will take the form of daily short posts, weekly dissections, or month-long epics. I just know that the desire to formulate some kind of blogging get-rich plan prevents me from writing to my full potential, and I’m finally at the point where fulfilled potential is all I really want. I do enough audience planning and strategic evaluation while working in the field of public relations. I really just want a place to write, and for two, twenty, or two million people who are interested to read and comment on my posts.

At this point, it’s about minimizing. When trying to lead a life of emotional and spiritual fulfillment, complexity is your enemy.

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Five Reasons You Should Do Your Writing Outdoors

“I’m changing,” I realized the other day as I was working on blog posts. I finally understood that the quality of my posts increased proportionally to how close to the outside world I was. I used to write all of my posts cooped up in my room, the only hint of natural light being the sunbeams that filtered through the two windows near my desk. But soon after I realized I was losing a bit of inspiration; the words were flowing less like a river and more like molasses. I decided a change of venue was in order, so I moved to one of the top floors of my university’s library. There, a large window allowed me to see the entire campus with an eagle eye, and I felt like I was so close to the outside word that I could touch it. I was content there, but then I finished the program. Where would I write now, now that the library is 50 miles away and no longer a viable option.

Realization then struck while I was out running some trails. If I was so close to nature I could touch it… why not actually touch it? I found another thing happening to me, this time much more subtle. I’m far more interested in pen-to-paper contact than ever before. I found myself writing my outlines in a long-abandoned journal before transcribing them into WordPress posts, including for this very blog post you’re reading now. Perhaps I’m becoming old-fashion, and that’s always a possibility. I’ve long since been tired of people proving themselves right by spouting “Google it!” Or perhaps I’m actually, for the first time ever, really writing. Regardless, here are five reasons you need to be writing outside.

1. You’re in a less sterile environment.

Now, normally sterilization is a good thing. It keeps the germs away and keeps people safe, if not a little bored. But it’s hard to go crazy surrounded by four walls, and when it comes to writing, a little craziness doesn’t hurt. Most of your inspiration when you’re outside comes from your eyes. A trail leading to the unknown on your left brings three-dimensional thinking due to the endless creative possibilities. The bird landing in the tree to your right inspires an important plot element in the short story you’re crafting. You see, when you introduce chaos into the mix, you go from being in a controlled laboratory setting to being in real life itself. Realism in writing is more than a simulation. It’s experience, which can only come from putting yourself out there.

2. You’re fortunate that it’s easier now than ever before.

What I mean by “easier” is that you have numerous options. Whether or not that translates to superior work is up for debate. In the old days, before my generation became the first to really be able to take advantage of ideal mobile computing, the only option people had was to go outside with a notebook or journal and write down everything they thought of. But now, walk around any college campus and you’ll find more Apples than an orchard. And the one I use to type my blogs, a 13-inch MacBook Air, has a battery life of around ten hours. Combine that with the overwhelming presence of wi-fi and, oh gosh, smartphones, and you’re carrying around on your hike more technology than the entirety of Johnson Space Center when they launched the Apollo missions.

Basically, that counts for a lot, as you can easily do all of your writing, editing, and publishing (with a few tweets mixed in for good measure) without ever setting foot inside a building.

3. You’ll find the outdoor air is stimulating and good for your health.

I don’t have any qualms with indoor activities. You’ll never see me spouting doomsday prophecies about video games and texting being the detriment of society. In fact, I argue that society is more educated today than ever before. Besides, I could not live without my daily video game fix. But I still go outside (sometimes to play video games on a handheld, strangely). Consider this Harvard newsletter article, which coincidently also takes the form of a five-point list. It lists the numerous advantages of spending time outdoors, including faster healing and less environmental depression.

“But it’s hot,” you say. Perhaps, but I suggest wearing bright colored clothing, finding a shady tree, and bringing the biggest refillable bottle of water you can find. Oh, and bring sunscreen if you scald like I do. Alternately, do your writing during my favorite time of the day, early evening. The temperature drops and you can write the stories of your life to some wicked sunsets.

4. You’re one step closer to new experiences.

Sometimes when you write outside, you’ll find yourself wanting to put your computer away and just live. This world we’ve been given, despite it seeming so small sometimes when we’re in our little boxes, is filled with wonder. Suddenly it seems conceivable to hike, swim, or even just lay in the grass and look at clouds. You write about it later, but at the moment it’s important to just live. The mini-vacation you get from simply letting life take hold will make your blog post, article, essay, journal entry, or whatever you’re writing ten times better.

5. You no longer need background music.

I have chronic tinnitus. If you don’t know, that means I have a constant ringing in my ears. I honestly haven’t experienced complete silence in probably a decade. For me, the only way to fight it is to always be listening to something else, be it music or ocean sounds or white noise. I used to think that was a curse, but now I’m not so sure. When I’m inside working with a computer, I’ll always have headphones on listing to my ambient or chill music. I find, though, that when I’m outside, writing a story or running the trails, that I no longer need the familiar hug of my headphones to my ears. The sounds of the birds chirping or the frogs croaking or the cicadas, um, making whatever sound cicadas make are my life’s soundtrack. It’s one long organic song, never to be duplicated in a thousand years.

 

Five Reasons Blogging Is My Passion

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not perfect at blogging every day. Just yesterday, I missed my normal posting. That makes two Mondays in a row that I’ve failed to upload a post. And while I can make the excuse that I’ve had a couple of ginormous papers to complete for class, that excuse can only go so far. I’ve blogged for three years, but back when I had a microscopic audience, I would go for months without a single post. That’s not something I’m capable of doing now. Put simply, I’m addicted to making a post every day. If I go a couple days without doing it, such as last week, I start to go through withdrawals. There are good addictions and bad addictions. If blogging is a good addiction, that most likely makes it a passion. If blogging is a passion, that means there needs to be reasons behind that vigor. I count five of them. Continue reading

Change is Good (Session One)

Today we’re going to do something a little different. I’m going to take a post I wrote in my first six months of blogging and I’m going to analyze it from the perspective of modern Matt. This post was written on December 28, 2013, and it kind of sucks. I mean, it’s not bad, but it seems I was so adamant in my resolve to not change that it prevented me from growing up as a writer. However, since the post gets some search engine traffic, I’m leaving the original here for all to see. This is going to be a lesson in how maturing can be a good thing, and we should all be open to development. Continue reading

Three Reasons I Often Avoid the Daily Post Prompt

It has come to my attention that I have a remarkably poor track record of actually writing about the Daily Post daily prompt. For those of you who don’t know, the Daily Post prompt is a remarkable series of ideas, produced each day, to allow bloggers to write about something for that day. Remember in high school when teachers made you write an essay based on a prompt? It’s kind of like that. For example, today’s prompt is called Inside the Bubble, and it requires you consider how you would spend a month in quarantine. Continue reading

Five Reasons You Should Completely Ignore This Blog Post

You can’t help it! It’s out there. You’ve got your hand on the mouse or your finger on the phone and it sits there with an otherworldly glow. Oh no, it’s a link! Suddenly a combination of morbid curiosity and compassion for people you don’t even know intermingle and before you know it you’ve arrived. You’ve arrived in the promised land of… advertisement filled pages and underwhelming writing. You beat back all of the pop-ups to continue reading until finally there’s that one sentence that arouses your nostalgia or fiery rage enough to click the share button. And that’s the circle of life on the internet. Lies and rumors on the internet prosper, and we’re all victims of it. Continue reading

5 Rules of Blogging and Why I Break Them

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I’m not a particularly big fan of rules, which is probably dangerous because I’m a communications major with a focus on public relations. It’s possible I love this field because it helps me decipher just how far I can go to be unique and creative without falling over the edge. 

There are many understood rules among bloggers. Some of them you can find on various lists of blogging tips, but many of them are simply blanket statements that seem to stifle who you are. Let’s talk about five of them.

You Need To Stick To Your Target Audience. This is the dumbest statement I’ve ever heard in my life. You need to find a target audience. You need to find a niche. If I here the word niche on one more publication about being a successful writer, I’m going to make a petition banning the word from the English language. 

There’s only one way to gain an audience, and that is to talk to the world. If a person doesn’t like or care about what I have to say in a post, he or she can always come back tomorrow. But I should not have to limit the people reading about my life to young adults from Alabama. Life is a far more all-encompassing expierence than what can be limited to a socioeconomic group. The haters need to shut up and let me talk to whoever I want to. That’s the only way people will come to my blog in the first place.

Don’t Always Hit That Publish Button. The way I see it, there are only two reasons to not press the shiny red (umm… in my case blue) publish button. If the blog post is absolute grammatical crap, or if you’ve said something hurtful about somebody in particular. When that’s the case, fix the problem and then publish it.

I’ll give you a free pass if a house fire breaks out, but you better go back and publish it later. 

Keep Your Secrets A Secret. This could be true, but in my case it lacks one very important piece of information. You see, I have no secrets. My life is an open book, and everything there is to know about me is contained within the annals of the 65,000 words (and growing) of this blog. 

The way I see it, a life with secrets is no life at all. It’s a collection of evasions, keeping one person after another from finding out how dark you really are. Well here’s the truth, I am dark but I strive to be more and more like the savior I love every day. And by reading my blog, you are coming along for the ride. My life is an open book.

You’re Supposed to Seem Perfect. All these famous people like to put themselves out there and posture that they never mess up. People listen to them, thinking that they know far more about the secrets than they do. Well I’m not going to let you do that. 

What you get from me is my life of vulnerabilities and my joy. Everything from my deepest darkest doubts that I ponder in the dead of night to the joyousness that I try so very hard to convey to everyone daily. I know nothing more than what God allows me to know. I’m just trying to grow as a person.

There Are Taboo Topics You Should Never Write About. Yeah… no. I am fearless when confronting any topic. So you as an audience needs to be prepared for anything. I promise to handle any topic I choose tastefully and with respect to everyone. 

But I don’t run. If something needs to be written about or just won’t seem to go away, I’ll attack it head on.

So there you have it. A Link to the Matt will never follow conventional blogging wisdom. Why? Because it’s not a conventional blog. It is, in fact, a link to my soul.