Don’t Get Me Wrong…

Don’t get me wrong… We commonly encounter that phrase (or sentence) when reading blog posts on the web.

For example, “Cats are fabulous pets. Don’t get me wrong… dogs are adorable.”

I’ll admit I even used “Don’t get me wrong…” in my writing. But what does it exactly mean?

It could mean, “Please don’t misinterpret what I have to say…”

or maybe:

“What I’m about to tell you will most likely piss you off, but I don’t want
you to hate me for it that’s why I’m putting on a disclaimer: Don’t get me wrong.”

It’s been a year since I started blogging…

anniversary

I was just visiting my blog a while ago when I was surprised from that notification I received from wordpress.

It’s been a year….

When I first started blogging my writing wasn’t that good. I didn’t even expected that I’ll be writing a lot of posts.

But then something happened. I started to like writing….

I remembered back then I was dreaming on becoming a real writer. You know, those people that who writes books and articles.

I bought a read a lot of books about writing, honing my skills along the way by writing posts in this blog.

Back then I was writing daily. Yes daily.

I never wanted to miss a day that when I can’t write a full post I’ll just write one of those short quotes.

Ah those were the days.

So what happened? Why did I lay low in writing posts?

I’ll answer.

As I can remember I missed a day of writing a single post. I tried to make up for it by writing some more, but in my mind it’s already alright to miss a day of writing a post. Also, I wanted a break from daily writing back then.

Fast-forward for a few more months and here I am writing a blog post again. I decided that since it’s my blog’s anniversary then I shouldn’t miss the opportunity to write a post.

And oh, since I like learning new stuff. I learned this new acronym tl;dr (or TLDR) which stands for…

Too Long Didn’t Read

Whitebeltblogger is celebrating his blog’s anniversary by reminiscing the past.

Thanks for reading (even if it’s only the TLDR)!

🙂

 

Blogging has benefited me, really…

Here I am writing a post again. I haven’t blog for quite a while. But in spite of that I’m still grateful I tried blogging even just for a short while (a few months) last year.

Firstly, it improved my writing skills (as well as grammar). Before blogging I haven’t identified myself as writer. Blogging is writing.

Secondly, it gave me blogging experience. I wrote over 100 posts (although some of them are just short quotes). If ever I’m gonna start blogging again I can be confident that I can deliver.

And lastly, I never thought of this before, but the posts that I have written gives a glimpse on how I used to think. What I’ve written so far are my views, values, and ideas on those times.

I may change my outlook completely, but I can always look back on how things used to be.

Those things said, I’ll wrap this short post. Thank you for reading 🙂

 

 

Your Writing Is the Bridge — Your Message Is the Goods

Writers, and bloggers alike, sometimes argue whether a writer’s skill is more important than the message itself (content) or vice versa.

Which is more important?

The best answer is that both of them are important.

Writing skill gives you credibility and the ability to communicate your message clearly, precisely, and concisely.

Your message, on the other hand, is what the reader will remember long after they have forgotten the exact words you used to communicate your message.

Writers may favor one over the other and that’s all right. The important thing is not to become obsessed with one aspect and totally ignore the other.

The bridge and goods metaphor

If your writing skill is the bridge, your message is the goods.

In a sense, the goods are more important, but without the bridge the goods won’t be delivered to their recipient, which is the reader. Aside from that, the bridge also needs to be strong, so heavy goods can be transported through it.

Furthermore, no matter how strong the bridge is, if the goods are incomplete, spoiled, or broken, then the recipient won’t be happy. In short, the goods must be good.
 
 
Grammar Note:
In writing this post, I was pondering whether to use “… Your Message Is the Goods” or “… Your Message Are the Goods.” Fortunately, I found the answer in this page.

Just Do It

A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.

—Richard Bach


As I wrote fewer posts every week in my blog, I’ve noticed some changes in myself.

My whining — I mean observations

First, I was no longer thinking myself as a writer. Sure, I still write every day in the form of emails, blog comments, text messages, etc., but writing a blog post feels a lot different.

Second, although my life conditions was the same now as when I was writing every day, I feel less happy. In my own reflection, the closest reason that I came up is that writing itself is an act of creation, and we humans feel happy when we create something.

That said, when the act of creation is halted, it feels like some of our powers have been taken away from us. In this case, though, I’m the one who voluntarily gave that power away.

And lastly, writing words are more difficult (but not as hard as before I started writing/blogging). Now, I understand the popular advice on writers that one must write every day. Writing, like any skill needs to be practiced so that the writer will stay sharp.

The solution

The solution is easy. Like the title of the posts says, “I’ll just do it.” Meaning I’ll try to write every day again… being interrupted by….

Do or do not… there is no try.

—Yoda (the green Jedi master from Stars Wars)


OK… I’ll stop trying — I will do it.

I’m feeling pumped again….

I’m a writer. I feel happy. And, oh boy I’ve written a blog post again. You’re awesome reader.

White Belt Blogger Is Back

The Journey Continues

Yes, I’m back. Although only few days have passed since my last post, I’m glad to be back.

Why all the excitement?

I’ve been known to blog daily in the past. Not that I won’t blog again for consecutive days, after more than two months of daily blogging, I found it unsustainable.

Well I can really force myself to blog daily no matter what, but I realized that it’s not going help my blogging in the long run.

In the past, I’ve written twin posts regarding blogging and not blogging every day. In this post I’m going to give my comments on what I written back then.

Comments on the blogging every day post

Because only a few bloggers do it, posting every day will make your blog stand out. Some of the most popular sites/blogs on the internet gives it readers fresh content every day, even if the content was written by a guest blogger.

Yep, only a few bloggers do it (I was once of them), and I admire their efforts. The thing to note about the big sites, though, is their posts are written by multiple writers or guest bloggers, so there’s no need to worry if you can’t match their output.

People read blogs on the internet either to be informed or to be entertained, or both; so give them what they want.

I agree that we should write to give service to our readers, but do you really think that your blog is the only one they read on the internet? Most probably not. So, take it lightly, most of your readers will understand if you won’t be able to post daily.

Blogging is a form of writing. That said, blogging every day improves your writing skills. However, to improve your writing, you need to learn more about the craft as well (e.g., read blogs about writing).

Yes, blogging every day will definitely improve your writing skill, but so does blogging regularly, although not a daily basis.

Having the desire to write even a short post every day, develops your self-discipline. Self-discipline leads to a higher self-esteem.

Hmmm. To think of it, my self-esteem hasn’t dropped when I stopped blogging daily. But here I am blogging, probably to maintain my self-esteem.

Before you write something, you need to think of something to write first. That being the case, blogging every day develops your creativity and thinking skills, which are invaluable in daily living.

In my experience, blogging every day improved my thinking skills. On the contrary, we can think of things to blog about without writing them at the same day; thus, providing more time for research and idea enhancement.

Comments on the not blogging everyday post

When blogging ever day, there is a possibility that you may experience burn-out and in-turn associate blogging with discomfort. That said, write posts less often when you start seeing signs of burn-out (e.g., fatigue, irritation, etc.).

Yeah, I did experience it, albeit slightly. I didn’t know that I’ll be following my own advice not long after.

If you don’t blog every day, it will not become a commonplace activity — and you’ll feel more excitement when you’re about to write a post.

It depends on the individual. On my side, though, blogging every day hasn’t decreased, in any way, the fulfillment I get after I click the publish button.

If you blog every day, there’s a chance that your readers will only be able to read your latest post. Most people don’t live on the internet, and also, there are other blogs out there that they also enjoy reading.

Similar to what I mentioned above. In my experience, however, readers still read my previous (but not so old) posts.

There are days when you might not be able to think of an idea for a blog post. In those days, you may take a break if you want, instead of feeling frustrated.

You won’t really run-out of ideas, they’re everywhere, but the question is whether your idea is already ripe enough or still needs some refinement through further research and thinking.

Blogging every day won’t really improve your writing skills, unless you make an effort to do so. That is, practicing with the goal of improving your skills. It’s called deliberate practice, by the way.

I still agree with this point. If you were new to writing, like I was before, blogging every day will greatly improve your writing skill. But there will come a time that you’ll feel your skill has plateaued. The solution: try something new.

So what now?

That said, I’ll still write post when I can. It might be on consecutive days, or it might be not — what I want now is flexibility. I haven’t mentioned yet that realizing I have the option not to blog every day made be happier person.

Before, there were days that I was forcing myself to blog even though I haven’t slept enough. I’m not saying that we should avoid challenging experience like that, after all it develops mental toughness.

Knowing that blogging every day is only an option, and not an absolute rule that might be followed rigidly makes me feel better. I feel like a white belt blogger again. 🙂

5 of My Previous Posts Summarized

Just Write

I’ve written about writing summaries before in this post (Item #2). Summaries are great in two ways:

  1. Summaries recap the main points of the post.
  2. Summaries can be of great help to busy readers who don’t have the time to read your full post.

When I started blogging, though, I haven’t gotten into the habit of writing summaries yet. In this post, I’m going to summarize five of my earlier posts that doesn’t have summaries. But first….

Disclaimer


I’ve linked to my previous posts through the summary headers. Reading those posts, I would say that I could have written them better. So, don’t be surprised by their quality, just in case you tried to read them. 🙂

It’s Easy to Criticize, Hard to Create


There are two types of criticism:

  1. Valid criticism
    Is when people point out at our mistakes and flaws without an agenda. They are the ones who want us to improve.
  2. Criticism for the sake of criticism
    Is baseless (illogical) and insignificant. People who get a kick out of putting others down does this type of criticism.

We remember the names of people who create things and add value to our lives, but not their critics.

FOYS – Focus on YourSelf Principle

The main idea behind the FOYS (Focus on YourSelf Principle) is we need to focus on our own lives instead of minding other’s business or personal lives.

FOYS does not mean that one must be selfish. On the contrary, if you set out to make your life better first, then you can better give back to other people.

There are three important areas in our life that deserve our attention:

  1. Health/Fitness
  2. Finance/Career/Business
  3. Relationships (family, friends, etc.)

Endure Discomfort Today to Feel Comfort Tomorrow


We must make sacrifices today for a brighter tomorrow. Reflection is needed from time to time, noting if we’re doing better or not in our lives.

From the post itself:

Remember: Doing something is better than doing nothing. Some people like to make huge plans, they even get started, but after awhile, their initial enthusiasm is gone, and they go back to their old ways. Remember the story of the tortoise and hare? Being persistent leads to success.

Two Types of Personal Change

There are two types of change that happen to people:

  1. External change
    Change that gives visible results (e.g., better/healthier body, more money in the bank, etc.).
  2. Internal change
    Emotional and mental changes that happen to us (e.g., having a more positive outlook in life, learning a new skill such as playing the guitar, etc.).

Neither is more important, for the reason that they affect each other. For instance, positive changes in our physical appearance can improve our emotional well-being (external to internal change).

Another example is when changing our outlook in life leads to better opportunities, such as meeting more people or earning more money (internal to external change).

Two Downsides of Comparing Yourself to Others


We tend to compare ourselves to other people in areas of our lives such as wealth, looks, relationships, etc. In those cases, we can either be better or worse than other people.

Being on each side has its consequences:

  1. When we are inferior to others.
    When we’re on the lesser side, we might feel jealous of the other person. In that happens, it’s better to shift our focus in making ourselves better so that we may improve our current situation.

    In short, don’t get jealous, get better.

  2. When we are superior to others.
    Our main challenge in this instance is that we may become complacent.

    And when we’re complacent there’s a possibility that we’ll stop improving ourselves. When that happens, let’s look for inspiration or be challenged by people who have achieved greater things than us.

From the post:

Remember: Even though we may deem ourselves superior to others in a particular area, there is always someone better than us, whether that person lived in the past or is yet to be born in the future.

Summary


I wonder who summarizes a post about summaries. That makes this section unnecessary. (But I’ve written it anyway.) 🙂

Photo credit: Sean MacEntee from Flickr.

How to Write a Remarkable Book (or Ebook) from Someone Who Hasn’t Written One Yet

Write Better Books (simple)Spreadsheet example (simple)

If you’re an author, or an aspiring one, you want to write books that are remarkable, of course. But how do you write a remarkable book? The answer is by knowing what the readers want and don’t want.

Remarkable books defined

A simple way to find out if a book is remarkable or not is by the review it gets on book review sites like Amazon and Goodreads. It should get a total rating of 4 out of 5 stars or more.

Readers are what matters most, period. It may be harsh, but unless they give us their honest opinion, what friends and family tells us doesn’t count.

It’s like the parents who tell their son that he’s the greatest singer in the world. He might be good, but not good enough for stardom.

I’m all for positive reinforcement. But sometimes, the problem is by telling someone that he’s good — when in fact he’s quite the opposite — is that he might stop improving himself because he was led to believe that there’s no need for that anymore.

The problem with fake reviews

There is some controversy about some books getting fake reviews in able to achieve a higher ranking in book review sites. We will only discuss the issue here because those instances are rare.

If you are an avid reader (all serious writers are), you can tell most of the time if a review is fake or not. It’s hard to explain but it’s our gut-feeling that informs us if a review looks suspicious.

In addition, a more logical approach to tell if a book has fake reviews is by viewing the reviews (and its comments) with the lowest rating first. If the criticism isn’t written in derogatory way (e.g., attacking the author personally) then perhaps there’s some weight to it.

How to write a remarkable book (or at least a book that doesn’t suck)


You can probably figure out the process outlined below only by viewing the image above (titled: Spreadsheet example (simple)). Here’s the steps anyway:

  1. Prepare a spreadsheet or simple text file with two columns: Do’s and Don’ts.
  2. Know the genre of the book you’re writing: Suspense, Romance, Fantasy, etc.
  3. Go to review sites like Amazon and Goodreads, then search for books belonging to your chosen genre.
  4. Read the reviews, both good and bad.
  5. Write the reviews’ good points in the Do’s column. (e.g., memorable characters, good use of quotes, facts well-supported, etc.)
  6. Write the reviews’ bad points in the Don’ts column (e.g., confusing layout, boring and unessential characters, overuse of colors, etc.)
  7. Optional: If you encounter the same item multiple times, you may also want to put a number next to the item. For example: facts well-supported (5). Or, better yet add a separate column to make them sortable.
  8. While writing (or revising) your book, implement the Do’s and avoid the Don’ts. Also, if you have written numbers next to the Do’s and Don’ts, you can also prioritize them by frequency.

Write Better Books (detailed)Spreadsheet Example (with item frequency)

Concluding Thoughts

What I outlined above is just one way to know what readers want (and don’t want). If you have the opportunity to interview avid readers of a genre of books that may also do. Or, maybe you’re an author who has a blog, in which case you can ask your readers for feedback.

In the long run, it’s all about the readers and their opinion.

My Post Critiqued — By Me (#1)

Editing

I’ve been blogging for a while now. As time passes, I learn (and unlearn) new techniques either from the internet, books, or simply by observation. In this post, I’m going to critique (and revise) one of my post — the first one.

The original post


“Welcome to my Dojo (bows)” is relatively short, so might as well post it here:

You may ask why I refer to my blog as a dojo? In martial arts (especially japanese ones), the dojo is the place where martial artists hone their skills. Regardless of their ranks and skill level, when a person practices regularly he develops his skills and being a better blogger is what I want to be. Currently I’m still a white belt (despite of using the internet for more than a decade already). They say the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. Here we go… Get’s out of the spaceship and lands my left foot…

It’s time to become a critic


In what follows, I’ll critique that post and will revise the parts I found
“interesting.”

  1. You may ask why I refer to my blog as a dojo?
    • The sentence above is an indirect question, that’s why it doesn’t need to be concluded by a question mark (?).
    • It would be nice to put a comma after the word ask.
    • It will sound better if I put the word would before the word I.

    Revised version:

    You may ask, why would I refer to my blog as a dojo.

  2. In martial arts (especially japanese ones), the dojo is the place where martial artists hone their skills.
    • The word japanese is a proper noun, that’s why it should be capitalized.
    • From the word where, we can already infer that dojo is a place, so the phrase “the place” is redundant.

    Revised version:

    In martial arts (especially Japanese ones), the dojo is where martial artists hone their skills.

  3. Regardless of their ranks and skill level, when a person practices regularly he develops his skills and being a better blogger is what I want to be.
    • Since I’m referring to a singular subject here, which is person, their should be replaced by his (or her).
    • Similarly, ranks is changed to rank.
    • It looks like we need to pause after regularly. Let’s add a comma there.
    • Regarding: “being a better blogger …” is an independent clause preceded by the coordinating conjunction and. We should add a comma before and.

    Revised version:

    Regardless of his rank and skill level, when a person practices regularly, he develops his skills, and being a better blogger is what I want to be.

  4. Currently I’m still a white belt (despite of using the internet for more than a decade already).
    • It’s not required, but guided by my current style, I would place a comma after Currently.
    • We don’t need the word of, after the word despite.

    Revised version:

    Currently, I’m still a white belt (despite using the internet for more than a decade already).

  5. Here we go… Get’s out of the spaceship and lands my left foot…
    • “Get’s” looks like a possessive version of “Get.” What! I wrote that!
    • It would sound better if I place on before my.

    Revised version:

    Here we go… Gets out of the spaceship and lands on my left foot…

In addition, like I mentioned in a previous post, short paragraphs seems easier on the eyes. So, I would consider dividing that paragraph into shorter ones.

Welcome to my Dojo (bows) (Version 2.0)

Without further ado, here is the completed revision:

You may ask, why would I refer to my blog as a dojo. In martial arts (especially Japanese ones), the dojo is where martial artists hone their skills.

Regardless of his rank and skill level, when a person practices regularly, he develops his skills, and being a better blogger is what I want to be. Currently, I’m still a white belt (despite using the internet for more than a decade already).

They say the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. Here we go… Gets out of the spaceship and lands on my left foot…

In Conclusion

I hope you learned something from this post. Aside from some technical details about editing, let us include the idea of constant improvement as well. We all make mistakes, but the important thing is to learn from those mistakes, so we will do better next time. Good luck!

Photo credit: Dan Patterson from Flickr.