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

J.K Rowling and the Finality of Publishing

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First, you need to know where my loyalties lie. When I ranked Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley in the top 5 fictional relationships, I meant it. When I read the books in middle school, I fell in love with their love. In the epilogue, the fact that Harry and Ginny were married was its one redeeming virtue. 

I know I’m a little late to the party, but I have an opinion about J.K. Rowling saying Harry and Hermione should have been together. And that opinion is that she’s a big jerk. 

As an author, you can’t just go changing the story that has weaved itself into the hearts and minds of your audience. To do so is to discredit the sanctity of what you’re written. For J.K. Rowling to say that she regrets a critical part of the most infamous literary work of the twentieth century is to alter the consciousness of all the future readers of that subject. 

That’d be like Shakespeare deciding Romeo and Juliet should have lived, or John Green saying that he should have rewritten The Fault in Our Stars so Hazel died instead. You can’t just go retcon something that has already been published.

When I get to the point where I have an large audience, and trust me I will get to that point, I’m only going to write what’s in my heart. I’m not going to bend to the wills of publishers or naysayers. God gives me the words to say, and my stories are simply a representation of his message. 

But when you publish something, it is final. Regrets about what you’ve written are one of the few things in life that you should keep to yourself. 

[Thanks Megan Price for the suggestion!]

Modified Version of Myself

 

modme1

A good writer knows that in order to convey the messages, themes, and stories that he wants to, he has to wrap them in an interesting and compelling package. A reader will not stay tuned for the message if he or she has to get through awful dialog and badly conveyed story points. 

Blogging has an equivalent. A good blogger will not lie, but will pen subtle shifts in reality in order to more closely fit the preconceived notion of “real life.” The blogger will alter reality just enough to where it looks good on paper. Since this phenomenon, to my knowledge, has never been documented before, I will give it a name.

This is the “Modified Version of Myself” principle. 

I am ashamed to admit, I have done it. I haven’t done it as much as most bloggers, but I do it. Let me give you some examples from recent blogs.

From ON MY LITTLE PONY AND BRONIES
In fact, I will say that I’ve only seen one episode of Friendship is Magic in my life.”
Truth: I have actually only watched an internet review of one episode.

From THE GREAT TOILET PAPER DEBATE
“What’s even stranger is that my girlfriend prefers Type B, even though she is far more organized and strict about things being in place than me. I swear she’s even changed the orientation of the toilet paper before when she’s been in my bathroom.”
Truth: My girlfriend confirmed that sehe never once switched around my toilet paper. So either she’s lying or I am.

From GIRLS WITH BOY HAIRCUTS AND THE UNCANNY VALLEY
I admit, rarely a day passes when I don’t mistake a girl for a guy at first glance.”
Truth: This should probably be changed to “rarely a month passes.”

Now, in my defense, these are all from funny blog posts. 

But I was praying this morning, and I don’t want to be like that. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with being a modified version of yourself when you’re writing, but it leads to insincerity. What you, the audience, needs more than ever is truthful statements and human ideas.

God is not impressed when we make our lives seem more exciting for people. In real life, people who do that tend to get found out. I’m a person who is trying to be more than the sum of my parts. I’m trying to be better than the people who try to manipulate their way to the spotlight. If I’m going to be known for my writing, I’m going to be known for who I am.

So no more modified me. You’re going to get the truth, completely.