I realized the other day I have been blogging on this site for nearly a year. My first blog was on April 26th of 2017. (there are some older posts, but they were initially on my Tumblr site, and I ported them over). It was this time last year I created this site to work on learning how to write. In the past year, I have written nearly 80 blog posts. This number does not include short musings or “Quote” posts. No, these posts are legit, all written by me. I’ve written about my travels, reviews on topics which interest me, expressed my opinion on current events and detailed my struggles with this whole writing initiative. How do I think I’m doing with my writing after 365 days of effort? Hmmm, the jury is still out I’m afraid.
Over the past year, my writing has improved. For most of my life, I had an “academic” vibe to my writing. It typically had a passive tense, with long convoluted run-on sentences. I had a problem expressing myself in a clear and succinct manner. While I can’t say I have completely gotten rid of those problems, pragmatically reviewing my recent posts, they ARE better. These improvements have also rippled out to my work. My emails are more concise. My staff tell me my documents are easier to read. From that perspective, this experiment has been successful.
Another improvement I’ve noticed is I edit better than I did a year ago. Or more accurately, I actually try to proofread what I write. Before I used to write and publish, leaving countless typos, grammatical errors and misspellings in my posts. While not foolproof, I added editing steps to catch most of the glaring issues. I also ponied up a few bucks for editing tools like ProWritingAid and Grammarly. These tools have proven to be an immense help to catch the more glaring errors.
Last, I’m writing more now than I ever have before. In the past, I confined most of my writing to emails and work documents. Now, in addition to blog posts, I journal almost every day. I also do session write-ups for my D&D campaigns, write Yelp and TripAdvisor reviews, and I even try my hand at the occasional fiction story.
Unfortunately, I still struggle with quite a few problems with my writing, even have a year of effort. I’m still looking for a voice that resonates with me and others. Few people read my posts. This doesn’t bother me as my subject matter meanders from topic to topic. It is hard to capture anyone’s attention when there are no common threads to my posts. Actually, my bigger concern is that my writing lacks “pop”. It is sterile and blase. While this has always been an issue for me, even after all the structural improvements I’ve made in the last year, my writing doesn’t seem to “read” any better. That is the difference between hacks like me and real writers. But if I ever want to get to Carnegie Hall, I know I have to “practice, practice, practice”.
I also worry that after I proofread my work, then let the editing tools offer their suggested improvements, my posts are not really mine anymore. These editing tools hate adverbs like the Hatfields hated the McCoys. What can I say; I freaking LOVE adverbs. But after running a draft post through the editing tool “word wash”, it just doesn’t sound like “me” anymore. I can’t create a writing recipe where my posts are structurally correct, SEO worthy AND sounds like something I wrote.
My last problem may be my biggest obstacle. Try as I might, I cannot write a controversial or opinionated post. I have very definitive opinions. But no matter how passionate I am about the subject, when I try to share these in a public forum, they appear banal and boring. A good writer conveys their thoughts with honesty and conviction. My writing has neither of those attributes.
So What Now?
I haven’t given up yet, but I am discouraged I have seen no real improvement in months. More than likely, this is where my disdain for followers and readers is biting me in the ass. I’m not getting any constructive feedback, so my writing is not getting better. Of course, if I don’t write anything worth a damn, I’m not sure why anyone would want to read my posts in the first place. Oh, sweet irony! Well, I’ll keep banging my head against the wall for a while longer. I have a big trip coming up; I want to document it, anyway. After that; who knows?