Tag Archives: gratitude

What Surprises Me Most After Four Years as a Blogger

Last year, I posted a blog entitled “The Ups and Downs of Blogging Statistics” in which I admitted to checking out my blog statistics and keeping an eye on trends, but not obsessing about them, given that this was “rehearsal” time for me.

Blogging was a building block for me to refine my writing creative skills in preparation for my aspirations as a creative writer. My blogging was for the fun of it, and you were more than welcome to join me along the way.

But four years into the blogging journey, there is one aspect that often surprises me: the posts that keep getting viewed weeks, months or even years after I have originally posted them, and getting fairly consistent views over the long term.

As a blogger, I don’t sit down and think to myself, “This post will get a thousand views”, it doesn’t work that way. And even after posting the link on Google, Twitter, Facebook, Flipboard and sometimes Pinterest, we are sometimes at the mercy of the algorithms for how much prominence (and page views) a post might get.

I have read a good number of articles on blog promotion, and I have definitely taken experts’ advice to try to maximize clicks whether through a well-chosen title, a sharp picture to accompany it, adherence to a consistent posting schedule, as well as seeking lessons learned by the most viewed posts.

But writing a post that resonates, that gets picked up by social media and generates a lot of clicks is not always that scientific.

Just the same, I really enjoy the creative freedom that a blogging platform like WordPress offers me, in curating my own site with topics that I find interesting, curious or funny that could be of interest to others.

It is those blog posts that seem to consistently draw interest, long after their original posting dates that have me scratching my head.

In “The Colonoscopy Countdown” I take a humourous look at the dizzying steps required to prepare for a colonoscopy, a rite of passage for me when I turned 50. I’d like to think it’s a post that can make light of a crappy situation.

50 Great Things about Turning 50” was just a reflection on the joy and gratitude I felt in turning 50. On average, this post seems to get a couple of views every week, whether I actively promote it or not. Who knew?

In trying to draw common denominators, I’d suspect that these two posts reflect on milestones in life experience, topics that affect different people on different schedules, and likely topics that elicit regular searches.

I am hoping it is the combination of life event and effective use of keyword tags that brings these posts into people’s search results, followed by that magical click of the mouse button.

How Index Cards Became My New Writing Tool” is a fairly recent post about my shift to committing my writing ideas to index cards. To me, this was the answer to my ideas flowing like a leaky faucet at random times and the many ways I was capturing them, which left me the headache of scavenging through multiple platforms to find “that thing” I wrote two weeks ago.

Posts about writing tools, tips and strategies seem to draw regular page views. When I think back to how many times I have looked up writing tools, tips and strategies, I can only deduce that other writers and bloggers must be doing the same as well. For that very reason, I love this community that shares its experiences, which helps everyone in the long term.

Is My Cat a Social Eater?” particularly surprised me, especially when there is debate as to whether this is actually fact or fiction. I can only suspect that I was not the only one asking the question, for it to keep popping up in my page views. Just the same, my posts about the joys of pet care and being a first-time pet owner receive regular visits as well.

Similarly, the collection of posts about running seem to do fairly well in late winter and throughout spring, likely as runners start thinking of escaping their winter cocoon and ramping up for upcoming races.

Blogging continues to be a source of fun and joy for me, thanks to YOU, the readers. I can’t say I envisioned I would still be at it four years later, but I am! I am so grateful for your comments, your feedback and the clicks on the topics that seem to interest you. You continue to inspire me!

For those reasons I thank you for your encouragement to stay true to myself and writing from the heart… even the quirky posts!

Did you enjoy this post? If you did, please know that there are plenty more where that came from! If you haven’t already, you can check out the rest of my blog at andrebegin.blog. From there, you can click on the “Follow” button to receive future posts directly in your inbox.
Also, don’t be shy, feel free to tell a friend or to share the link.
Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,
André

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under 50+, Cats, Humour, Inspiring, Running, Writing

My New Blogging Strategy: Banking Blog Posts

In 2015, I wrote about a weird phenomenon that was happening within my blogging processes. No sooner than I would start outlining and building a blog post, the little writer’s voice within would pitch another idea at me, and I would start working on that one.

Having a run of good ideas is certainly not a bad problem to have. I definitely counted my blessings in that regard. But in its wake, I was being left with a series of incomplete posts, a phenomenon I called The Graveyard of Blog Posts.

As summer began, I was itching to get to work on another creative writing project and wondered how I could keep the blog going for a couple of months while giving my writer’s voice a fresh challenge.

As I was browsing through my drafts folder, the list of posts that were waiting to be finalized had recently grown some more and was looking pretty impressive. I knew that some of them were just waiting for a final conclusion to nail the point I was trying to make or some “icing on the cake” wording to make it pretty.

The point is, I had several that were almost ready to be posted and patiently waiting in the wings.

Maybe that was my answer!

I made it my goal to try to finalize 8 or 9 posts over two weeks, which should give me enough completed weekly posts to put the blog on autopilot with fresh content until Labour Day, and a couple of months to let my mind wander in another creative direction. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Inspiring, Misc blogs, Writing

Inspired by the Creativity of Others

A few days ago, I attended a concert at the National Arts Centre, here in Ottawa, to see The Tenors perform with the National Arts Centre Orchestra conducted by Jack Everly.

Much like all of the Pops series concerts I have seen in recent years, the concert brought me on a roller coaster of emotions, between goose bump moments of arias and their triumphant crescendos and moments where I felt a tad verklempt, hearing favourite songs performed live in brilliant new arrangements.

Throughout great performances like that, I can’t help but ask myself, “How do they do it?” How much of it is natural aptitude and how much is hard work? How many thousands of hours each performer put into their craft over the years, to become one with their instruments and to make it look so easy? How hard did each one have to work to achieve this level of proficiency, to produce such beauty that can elicit such strong emotions from spectators?

This inner monologue replays in my head again and again whenever I feel deeply inspired, whether it’s at a concert, in a museum, in a theatre, reading a book or watching a great movie. It’s like a vortex of creativity, swirling around, reaching out and stirring up my own artistic momentum to keep doing what I love doing, keep practicing, work hard and don’t let go.

I sometimes pause and wonder if I will ever get to the same degree of skillfulness and versatility in writing as someone who can pick up an instrument and play a song, just like that. Then I think to myself that I have been known to pull a rabbit or two out of a hat on a few occasions.

Whether it’s a blog post that I was able to commit to paper in one sitting in under two hours (it doesn’t happen often, but it does), a blog post that successfully reached out and really struck a chord with readers, or writing a piece at work that was exactly what was requested, offering the right words at the right time, and being able to do so under crazy time constraints. I reassure myself that I am on my way. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Inspiring, photography, Theatre, TV, Writing

My First Writing Competition

In working through some of my blog posts in the last years, there have been times when I would look at a final draft of a post and then think to myself that it was pretty good, but for some reason it didn’t quite fit with the overall theme of my blog. Rather than rethink the piece, I would just put it on the shelf and maybe the right time and place to post it would find me.

A few months ago, such an opportunity presented itself when I started receiving emails about the annual Writer’s Digest Short Story Writing Competition. I thought that this might be an opportunity to pick up one of those shelved stories and fine-tune it for the purposes of the competition.

With that decision made, in the days that followed, it was with great enthusiasm that I would come home from work, speed through dinner and rush to my desk to chip away at the story, several times per week. The writing competition definitely stoked my enthusiasm for writing again.

While I have never had delusions of grandeur about my skills as a writer, confidence was running high as the themes of the story were current, relevant and would definitely resonate with certain readers. To achieve that, I dug deeply (veeeeeeryy deeeeeeeply) for the material, breaking open some old wounds. Continue reading

5 Comments

Filed under Humour, Misc blogs, Writing

How the Cat Opened My Heart

I think it would be fair to say that I have always been a sensitive guy. Some might even say that is a bit of an understatement given that I have been known to cry at previews at the movies. It might be a bit inconvenient and a tad embarrassing, but I am quite comfortable being the guy for whom sympathy, empathy, compassion and joy run close to the surface.

To me, feelings remind us that we have blood coursing through our veins and that we are part of the human experience. It’s a wonderful thing.

But is it possible to become even more sensitive than that? You bet! And I have the cat to thank.

When I was planning and preparing for the adoption of my cat Ivy, almost two years ago, no one mentioned the many ways a pet can alter one’s range of emotions. What an unexpected epiphany!

I have accepted the fact that when she is waiting for me at the door when I get home from work, it’s likely not because she missed me, it is because it is feeding time. No delusions there.

But after she has filled her belly with her favourite catch of the day and starts following me around as I prepare dinner, that’s when I start sensing that she missed me. And of course, the feeling is mutual.

On a cognitive level, I have always understood the attachment between pets and their owners. Now, as a new pet owner, I also understand it with every fibre of my being.

It’s not like my heart needed much melting to begin with, but with Miss Ivy, it melts a little more each day with everything she “says” and does. She is a ten pound bundle of cuteness. Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under 50+, Cats, Inspiring

Ten Ways I Would Explain the Feelings of Creativity

creativityHow would you explain the sensations and feelings of creativity? Here are some points of reference I would suggest:

1. When I was a kid, my parents had a multi-band radio that, in addition to AM and FM, it had “short wave” and “marine band”. I fondly remember hours spent slowly turning the tuner knob with the attention to detail of a safe cracker, listening to what distant channels I could get on a clear day when there was little interference. When I am feeling at my most creative and my instincts seem to be at their sharpest, it is like tuning in to a station and discovering a channel transmitting from hundreds of miles away and picking up a very clear signal.

2. When I am creating art and the elements of the project start coming together, for me, it’s like the rush I used to get in school, when I would be writing an exam and somehow knew all the answers off the top of my head. It is a sense of being on auto-pilot, when the words are coming but you aren’t quite sure where they are coming from, but it feels right nonetheless.

3. When trying to fall asleep and the little creative voice keep pitching ideas at me, feelings come over me ranging from frustration and irritation that the little voice won’t go to sleep, but also excitement and delight when I am able to get the ideas all transcribed and saved preciously for another day.

4. Time stands still and time flies by… at the same time. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Humour, Inspiring, photography, Top 10, Writing

The Art of Suspending Judgement during the First Draft

typewritersIf there is one thing that puts me in a writing “analysis paralysis”, it’s to be editing a first draft at the same time as I am writing it. What seems to work for me is to metaphorically send the “editor” part of my brain away to another room in the house and to let the creative writer in me just do his thing.

The first draft is that time when I feel completely free, knowing that the incompatible elements will drop off later if they are not meant to be. But the critical first step is to get those ideas on paper and to not break the flow.

Even in business, suspending judgement is a key ground rule for a great brainstorming session. In writing, I like to think that this translates to leaving the editor’s hat alone until a solid foundation of ideas is established.

Only then is it realistic to determine whether ideas are viable, to rearrange the order in which the ideas are presented and finding the best ways to articulate them.

Viability of ideas

With my blog, there have been times that I thought I had a dynamite idea for a blog topic, but after a few writing sessions, I found out that the idea lost momentum or fizzled out after 300 words. Most times, I would park it to see if other ideas might hit me later, but when they don’t, it may just end up in the graveyard of blog posts. The topic still seemed like a good idea in my head, but after trying to work through it on paper, it didn’t quite make it. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Writing