Lynn’s Tuesday Picture Promp(Week 25) – Reblog From Ronovanwrites

First out of the gate to tackle Week 25 and someone new to the prompt is Ronovan Hester(Ronovanwrites). Ronovanwrites is a blog that you don’t want to idly pass on by through.

It is full of wonderfully thought provoking poetry and longer form blog posts, tackling a variety issues. In addition, the site had a super depository of writing prompts and challenges by other bloggers from throughout the blogosphere.

Ronovanwrites shares with us a beautiful penned poem titled, “Holiday Train.”

A big thanks to Ronovanwrites for coming on over and taking part in “Lynn’s Tuesday Picture Prompt.” We’re blessed to have your write this week. And thanks for including the prompt as part of your site.

The next “Lynn’s Tuesday Picture Prompt” goes live Tuesday, December 8 at 7:00am EST.

Thanks again..

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

Writing Outside Your Comfort Zone

When Dr. Tanya’s next installment in the Blogging Insights series showed up on my WordPress newsfeed a few days ago, my immediate thought was “writing, for the most part, is completely outside my comfort zone.”

insightsAnd in some strange way for many, writing may be outside of our comfort zones, but we do it anyway.

Given there are millions of writers and bloggers there are out in the world, there can be as many and varied reasons we all tap away on the keyboard. With the writers and bloggers I know on a personal basis, one of the main reasons why they write is this need to get out onto paper those emotions and thoughts that are deep within their soul. It is something that has to happen.

The next installment of Dr. Tanya’s(Salted Caramel) blogging series is Blogging Insights #25 – Writing Outside Your Comfort Zone.

Dr. Tanya poses this one question.

Do you ever ‘stretch’ i. e. expand your horizons by writing outside your comfort zone? If not, why?

Since I started blogging, I have for the most part stayed within the confines of writing trip reports and “Thoughts From The Wilderness” posts. Now, having said that over the last year or so, I have ventured into writing some free-form poetry, which I find to be quite fun while at the same time challenging.

comfortWhat I do think is that over time, my writing and blogging have undertaken more of an evolution in scope. Both in genre and more specifically in the topics or material I’ve chosen to write about at any particular time.

That approach at least for myself expands my comfort zone as compared to writing outside my comfort zone. The result is the same and ends up at the identical place, but a slightly different way of coming at it or looking at it.

Like life itself, it can be easy to get content and write from the same place, simply because it is comfortable. But, being content and comfortable can be a dangerous place to reside for any length of time. In order to grow and develop as a writer, pushing out towards the edges of our own specific comfort zones is a good thing for all of us.

As always, a huge thanks to Dr. Tanya(Salted Caramel) for her neverending work on this “Blogging Insights Series” and looking at “writing outside your comfort zone” within the blogging and writing universe.

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

 

Thoughts From The Wilderness – Blogging Traffic and Growth

This may be a gigantic leap, but I assume most bloggers write and do it with such passion so that others can read what they’ve written.

insightsSure, that is just a bit obvious and somewhat of an understatement and I get that. Nevertheless, Dr. Tanya does present what is often a challenge within the blogging world and that is engaging readers to increase blog traffic and hence blog growth.

As such the next installment(Number 15!!) in Dr. Tanya’s Blogging Insights Series is Blogging Insights #15 – Traffic and Growth

Dr. Tanya gives us this short preamble from her perspective.

Blog traffic: visitors, readers, followers, likers(I know that’s not a word), is what makes your blog go. You may be posting pearls of wisdom and gems of literature on your blog, but if nobody’s reading them what’s the point?

On the other hand, you see blogs with hardly stellar content that seem to be doing so well that they are the bloggers’ primary source of income.

The difference between these two scenarios is their difference in reader engagement.

She gives us three questions to consider:

  • How often, if at all, do you check your blog statistics?
  • What methods do you use to increase reader engagement,(provided you care about this)?
  • Do you actively promote your blog on social media?

Perhaps, before getting started, there are two questions to keep in mind and which may be germane to the entire discussion.

Both are more from a holistic perspective and they are:

“Why am I blogging in the first place?” and secondly, “are blogging stats important in regards to my first answer?”

How often, if at all, do you check your blog statistics?

My guess is, far too often.

Looking at blog stats is similar to driving by a car wreck. You know you shouldn’t look or don’t need to look, but you just simply can’t help yourself from taking at least a small peep.

blogOne of the problems with viewing and obsessing over “blog stats” is that a portion of it can and is simply outside of your control. Those external factors(like algorithm search engine changes) and others as well, we just don’t have any control over, even though we may ultimately wish we did.

How those external factors impact our blog growth, traffic and reader engagement is a topic that frankly can be better covered in a separate post.

You can be cranking out really good content like you always have; publishing material at your peak viewing times; doing all of the so-called right things and your views can “plummet like a rock thrown into a pond” when compared to the same time in the past.

For example, I feel that I’ve been doing exactly the same things as compared to 2019 at this time. but views for January 2020 has dropped by a whopping 30 percent. So, not sure why the dramatic change?

So generally speaking, I don’t get too wrapped up in my “blog stats.”

However, having just stated that, I do get somewhat wrapped up in my “blog stats”(see a couple of paragraphs above). Nevertheless, I might go through and see if I can find anything in terms of differences between January of this year as compared to last year.

Not sure I’ve answered the question!

But yes, I look at them far too often and get my “pantaloons” in a twist over them more times than I care to admit.

What methods do you use to increase reader engagement,(provided you care about this)?

I actually had to “Google” what “reader engagement” meant.

blog2Evidently, it appears there is much that one can learn regarding “reader engagement.”

I wonder if there are any bloggers who feel like I do in this situation? You feel stuck or caught between writing content based on some cathartic or simply personal reasons and on the opposite side of the coin feeling the need to write content your readers and potential new readers WANT to read.

I’ve read articles by blogging pro’s who indicate you need to write what your readers WANT to read. Which makes perfect sense to some degree.

But, what about the topics and passion I WANT TO WRITE ABOUT?

Right now in my own blogging journey, I work at producing content that has these components for the most part in them:

  • content that has specific and personal meaning to me
  • that the content will have the same or similar personal meaning and relevance to those reading it
  • try to include elements within each post to engage responses from the readers
  • use plenty of visuals and other tools in the post to make it engaging and easier to read

Ultimately, there is much more I can do in terms of actively engaging with readers. Time for some more research I guess.

Do you actively promote your blog on social media?

The keyword here is “actively.”

media1I find the entire promotion bit of blogging slightly overwhelming in terms of the time it can consume. If I could get someone to do it for me, that would take much of that overwhelming feeling it creates and thus heave it out the nearest window to land in the mud.

I have my WordPress site set up so that when I post something it immediately gets posted on FB and Twitter. I usually will edit the FB posting to have a short preamble describing or setting-up what the post is about.

On Twitter, I may re-tweet the post and add some hashtags to it. But, more often than not I usually forget that it was posted on Twitter and get on with whatever I’m doing.

When I first started blogging, I created both an Instagram and Pinterest accounts for the site. This was when I was more focused on writing trip report content on our outdoor adventures. I find both Instagram and Pinterest far too time-consuming(way more so than FB and Twitter) to get correct images and right text for both platforms.

But, having said that I do from time to time get my posts over into Pinterest. Instagram not so much. Working from your phone for Instagram is simply at times not worth the effort.

media3Again, much of what I’ve read indicates that using social media to promote your blog is exceedingly important. Kind of a numbers game I guess.

One way to look at it is without promotion, your blog can get somewhat lost in a sea of millions of other blogs out there. Promotion on social media helps it to rise to the surface to be at least seen.

The question becomes how much effort and expertise are needed and how much time are you willing to put forward. Assuming that we all still work full-time or have other commitments like a family and such, that also requires a significant amount of energy as well.

Final thought.

I keep coming back to these two questions.

“Why am I blogging in the first place?” and secondly, “are blogging stats important in regards to my first answer?”

Perhaps there is a need to answer those two questions first.

Once again, a huge thanks to Dr. Tanya(Salted Caramel) for her neverending work on this “Blogging Insights Series” and specifically looking at blogging traffic and growth.

I look forward to seeing what other bloggers feel and have to say, regarding the relationship between reader engagement, blog traffic and growth.

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

 

Thoughts From The Wilderness – How Long Should Blog Posts Be

insightsDebate amongst those in the blogging world, and certainly among those who write extensively on blogging tips and advice is, “how long should the ideal blog post be?”

Dr. Tanya(Salted Caramel) in the next installment Blogging Insights #13 – How Long Is The Ideal Blog Post. asks that very question.

Dr. Tanya gives us this preamble of where she was coming from in regards to this post.

Short-form VS Long-form Content

Before I launched my blog a couple of years ago, I read quite a few posts and articles about blogging. All of them said that the search engines preferred content to be around 2000 words. This, I learned, was called long-form content.

I paid for a plug-in called Yoast which all the articles said I must have (more about this in a later post). This plug-in which works on a traffic light kind of system would not give me a green light unless I crossed 300 words. I dispensed with Yoast since the WordPress Business Plan that plug-ins operate on was quite expensive and not really doing anything for me.

By this time I had discovered that short-form content (1200 words or less) seemed to be doing very well for many bloggers whose work I admired.

Her questions are:

How long are your blog posts on average?

blog lengthDoing a quick bit of looking at stats from 2020 to 2017, my average post length for each year is:

2020 – 905 words

2019 – 763 words

2018 – 792 words

2017 – 656 words

Which averages out over those four years to be 780 words per post.

Given the option, would you rather post long-form or short-form content?

Obviously, it appears, I post in short-form content.

I have written many that are much more than those numbers above. One constraint I have is limited time to write, so I’ve developed the habit of writing more concise and shorter pieces.

Ultimately, when it comes right down to it, I write until the post until I believe the message it contains has been delivered. If I can do it with fewer words – wonderful. If it takes 1450 words, that’s okay too.

There are a few pieces I have written, that I have broken down into two-part or three-part series. Mostly done that way to keep the word counts lower and to separate the content into more meaningful or distinct chunks.

Time is short and the attention spans of social media users are shorter still, why do you think the search engines prefer longer content?

I have no idea about the search engine stuff and that side of things.

For myself, I prefer reading posts that are smaller in length. Unfortunately, I don’t have the attention span to read a long post. I need lots of visuals and paragraph breaks, highlights, bullet points and other devices in order to keep my attention.

I did read from a blogging expert that suggests keeping posts short and engaging with graphics, bullet points, block text and highlights, etc in order to keep the reader engaged due to the very reason of short attention spans.

In the end, though, it will depend on “what you are blogging and writing about” and “why are you doing it” that will dictate how long your posts should be.

Thanks again to Dr. Tanya(Salted Caramel) for her adding to the depth of this exceedingly important issue that all bloggers, whether professional or novice has to grapple with.

For those of you out there in the blogosphere where do you fit in with all of this?

  • short-form versus long-form content
  • does it really matter?

I would love to hear what you think about this.

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

What I’ve Learned From Three Years of Blogging(and how none of it will help you)

“Old 2019” is quickly coming to an end. Christmas is just two and a half weeks away and the New Year will make a grand appearance a week after that.

There are a few bloggers I follow who have far more experience as yours truly and graciously offer up tips and insight on becoming more successful at this wacky craft called “having your own blog.”

But, that’s not to say you can’t learn something, regardless of how small “that something” might be from any bloggers out there that work diligently week after week at their craft.

This was originally posted back in March of this year. Since that time and until the end of November, we averaged now around 925 views per month and 680 visitors per month. And like I wrote in the March post, I have no clue what those numbers mean if they mean anything at all.

Having said this, there are a few things or nuggets that I can share that will have relevance to many bloggers out there, whether you’re brand new at this or have been at it for a while.

From March 2019..

First off, if you’re here reading this thinking all of your blogging worries and concerns will be magically solved and that you’ll be the next “big deal” in the blogosphere, sorry mate you’ve clicked into the wrong page.

words 2
Source: Google Images

However, having said that, why not stick through this with me.

If there is one thing that I’ve learned over the past two and a half years is this. You never know what small and seemingly insignificant nugget of information found in what may look like just another random blog post could make the world of difference.

I started this blog back in the summer of 2016. It was our way to share with others the outdoor adventures that Lynn and I were having and to inspire others regardless of the point they may currently be in, to get outdoors and experience all that nature has to offer.

Since starting though, things in regards to the blog have grown and evolved in terms of content and such.

Although I certainly was “committed and serious” from the very start back in 2016, it was during the summer last year(2018) that things got “more serious and more committed.”

I decided to join some online social media blogging groups thinking this might be the way to sky-rocket my way into the stratosphere in terms of followers and exposure across the blogging universe. They were fine in what they provided and such but found they required FAR MORE TIME THAN ANTICIPATED networking within the group.

When I couldn’t commit to the time required, I felt guilty, like I was somehow abusing the group.

Needless to say, I’ve stopped that time waster. I know it may work and be beneficial for some, but it wasn’t in the cards for me.

Some stats….

Prior to getting seriously serious in the summer of 2018, here’s where I was at:

For June 2018

  • 166 views
  • 127 visitors.

Not very impressive to say the least. The numbers were what the numbers were.

Now, as of the end of February 2019, I’m averaging 750 views and 513 visitors per month.

What does it all mean?

I haven’t a freaking clue in terms of whether the numbers are good or not.

noclue-550x413
Source: Google Images

It does show that in that eight-month period, we’ve experienced growth and that I conclude is a good thing. I think the growth can be attributed to creating good content that connects with others while at the same time cultivating relationships with those in the blogging world whom you like and respect and who like and respect your writing and content as well.

Five Things

Nevertheless, here are five things I’ve learned since starting the blogging journey.

Write From The Heart

If this doesn’t apply to you, because your blog is about the latest and greatest trends in fashion, well that’s all right. Thinking about it for a second, perhaps fashion is what gets you going. Oh well.

I write from my heart. I write and blog on those elements of life and how they intersect with the outdoors and nature. That is the thing that comes naturally to me. It’s like those emotions and experiences of life can be illustrated and written about through what nature and the great outdoors and teach us.

For me, writing from my heart; that spot that is so very deep within my soul creates at least the potential for good/great content. And isn’t that what you want for your readers and followers; great content with that emotional “right hook” that smacks them right upside their head?

If I am, and to use a well-worn cliche, “not feeling it” there is no use writing about it at that point. Everything then for me becomes a forced and painful exercise, leading to frustration and moving on to something else for the morning. That’s not to say, the draft won’t revive itself and find life published at some point in the future, but I have lots of “draft posts” sitting there and the heart just isn’t feeling it for any of them.

Writing from that “well” which is deep within my soul; the agony, pain and emotions of life, spilling out on the keyboard has been in my experience the posts that resonate and connect most deeply and profoundly with readers and followers.

Remember though, it can take time to get the courage; the nerve; to be vulnerable; to hang yourself out there for all to read about.

It did for me to get to that point to hit “publish.”

Also remember, there are many out there that are in the same boat as you and need to read what you have to say. Some are at a point in their own path or journey that what you’ve experienced and are sharing with them, can make a world of difference.

Perhaps change their destiny

Don’t be afraid to write from the heart.

Write/Post When You Can

Experts or those experts that I’ve read indicate that consistency of posting on your blog is a key element.

Excellent then.

One question that pops to mind is how consistent is consistent? Daily, weekly, bi-weekly, every 3.5 hours or some random combination.

I am not a full-time writer. And I suspect, not many of you are either. Like most, I hold down a full-time job, that requires me to up by 3:15am; out the door by 4:00am and not returning home until 6:00pm. There are some days getting home is earlier, but my four-day workweek is full. That was a choice we made to only work four days a week. Best decision we made in many years!

As such, I can only commit to writing and my blog in the early mornings on my three days off and before Lynn gets up. Once she’s up, we like to get outdoors and take on yet another adventure or we have other commitments that we need to take care of.

Do I post every week?

I try to for the most part. But, going back to the first point, if I’m “not feeling it” it is unlikely that new a post gets written and subsequently gets published. Now, having said that, I have in the recent past gone back and revised earlier posts and re-blogged those.

What’s my point then?

I don’t get all “whigged out” or too upset if nothing gets published on my days off. Life happens; things happen; sometimes the “well” isn’t pumping water that day.

I try to remember that this is my outlet. My creative “thing” that brings me joy and soothes my soul.

If you feel the need and push to publish each day or whatever the schedule is that works for you, then great – go for it.

I post when I can and when the post is ready for me to hit “publish.” Once, twice or even three a week or great. If it doesn’t happen, there is always next week.

Enjoy Yourself

Need I say more?

If this stops being fun and not enjoyable anymore, then from where I sit, it would be time to pack it in and move on to discover another outlet.

I have written before that blogging, on the subjects I do, is a cathartic exercise. Allowing me to deal with, grow and move through life’s challenges and past experiences. It is also my creative outlet. As painting, sculpture or photography may be the creative exercise for others, writing and blogging are for me.

Doing what soothes your soul at even its basic level should be enjoyable, shouldn’t it? If it wasn’t, why invest the time and heartache to do it?

Enjoy doing it – enough said.

Challenge and Push the Envelope

This can mean whatever you what it to mean.

For me, it meant several things.

First, to get to the point to challenge myself to write and blog about issues or topics that I knew were touchy or difficult issues for people and thus difficult or painful for me to write about. This always means vulnerable and hanging your emotions out there for people to get a darn could look at.

Not all of us want the world to see and read how messed up we are or messed up we were.

Doing this can be tough and a challenge for sure. Therefore, it can take some time getting to this point, if this is where you what to go and eventually end up at. Maybe some people never get to this point and that is okay too.

Challenge yourself to be provocative; push the outside of the limits of things; dare to be slightly or significantly different than those others blogging around the same issues.

The second for me was to challenge myself creatively. Up until just a week or so ago, all of my writing and blogging were long-form. Simply what most of you may do and read.

For 2019, one goal was to move in other creative directions and to try different genres of writing.

So, with that in mind, I moved into creating poetry as another way to express myself.

I can emphatically and somewhat triumphally state, I know less the zero about poetry. But, not letting that hold me back, I’ve found that writing poetry challenging, difficult, but rewarding beyond my wildest dreams.

One mantra that I often bellow out is, “that if you’re not moving forward; you’re not remaining in the same place either; you’re moving backwards.”

Challenge yourself and push the envelope of your writing and blogging

Lastly – Find and Follow The Advice of Bloggers Who Are Great at This

It seems funny at this point in the narrative, but this has been the greatest thing I’ve learned since heading off on the blogging expedition.

If you desire to be a great Doctor, you learn and are taught by great Doctors. The same principle applies here.

If you want to be a great or at least a better writer or blogger, follow and learn from someone who has and is doing well.

Read what they have to say. Study what they have done. Examine their blog sites. Pick the points they make that have the most relevance to your own situation. Then go ahead and implement them and see what happens.

Have I taken to heart each and every point these bloggers make? No, of course not. But, I have tried to work some of them into my situation.

The biggest and most important element I work at each time at the keyboard is that content is king. Having great content trumps all other elements. You can promote the crap out of your blog, but if your content sucks it is unlikely people will return for a second visit.

Here are two bloggers that I follow that are doing it well; if not great.

Cristian Mihai and Jordan Peters

Well, that’s it

All of what I’ve learned from two and a half years in this wild and wacky world of blogging.

If you managed to find a nugget here that may help you move forward in your own blogging journey, then this post is well worth the time it took to compose it. If not, that was 10 minutes in your life, you’ll never get back.

One last question though, what have you learned since you started blogging that others may find to be the one thing that could help them the most?

Thanks for reading.

 

Remember…

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Thoughts From The Wilderness – The Cost of Blogging

Every so often, you come across a post which poses questions that on the surface seem a tad inconsequential, but after pondering them for a day or two the questions have a two-fold purpose.

At least in my mind, they do.

Dr.Tanya@SaltedCaramel recently posted a series of questions in response to a post from another blogger.

After reading her responses and then mulling over the questions for a bit, I see the questions and how one answers them in this way.

First, it should cause us to step back from the blogosphere for a second and figure out if blogging and all it entails impacts life, family and relationships in ways that may not be readily apparent?

And secondly, if someone was just starting out with their own blog, would reading this help them in at all in considering the “cost” involved in blogging.

Cost of Blogging — Questions

Does it infringe upon your leisure time?

Not really.

I am a very early riser, often getting up between 4:00 and 4:30 am.

I write and blog in that time before Lynn gets out of bed. Once she gets up, which is usually between 8:00 and 8:30 am, I kind of wrap things up in terms of writing. I rarely do any blogging during the day.

early

I may check my blog for comments and such but usually, reply back the next day.

Blogging needs to fit in your life, along with the many other elements competing for time and attention. Balance is perhaps the most appropriate term here.

Worse still, does it distract you from your work/studies?

In a word no.

distraction

I may think of an idea or concept to blog about while at work, but that’s about it.

Is it taking a toll on your personal relationships?

No. Refer back to Question 1.

Has your health suffered?

I don’t think so.

I’m not sitting all day at a computer screen and not getting an exercise or moving around.

I would say, however, that many of the posts I’ve done have focussed on mental wellness and mental health issues, so these topics always have taken me back to places that have dealt with challenging moments from the past.

Have you gained weight?

I have a very low or slow metabolism, so I do need to watch what I eat as to not balloon into a huge blimp. Having said that could stand to lose 10 pounds or so.

Do you ever get writer’s block?

Yes.

For me, I seem to write in what could best be described as “cycles.” 

I’ll get into a writing and blogging frenzy. When that happens, posts fly off the keyboard somewhat fast and furious. Then for some inexplicable reason, the frenzy slows down or may come to a bit of a standstill for a while.

block

I do overthink things both in life and when it comes to blogging. The overthinking things in terms of writing and blogging sort of is like getting stuck in the mud; spinning your tires, but not being able to get out of the predicament.

My wife Lynn says I write best when I don’t think at all. Go figure!!

She means, my best stuff occurs when I just let the writing happen. Simply start typing and then see what transpires.

More often than not she’s right on the mark about that.

Have you ever suffered from blog-related stress or blogger burn out?

Suffered from blog-related stress? I don’t think so. I think if I started to feel stressed or stress-related symptoms, I might move on to something else.

Blogging and writing have evolved over time for me. From what started as a blog summarizing our outdoor adventures, it has moved into other areas in a big way. A very large part of what I write about deals with looking at how nature and life’s issues intersect from primarily a mental-wellness perspective.

I see writing as an outlet, while at the same time, a vehicle that challenges me to stretch and grow both as a person and as a writer.

hoot

Blogger burn-out?

Not at this point. Burnout occurs when it isn’t fun anymore. And at this stage of the journey,  blogging is still a hoot.

A big thanks to Dr. Tanya for posting the questions and challenging other bloggers and writers to respond.

A great exercise to step back and take a look at where we all are along the “blogosphere path.”

 

Remember…

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Has It Really Been Three Years?

My, how the time flies by.

time-flies-fast-300x200While sipping away on a coffee or two this morning, it’s hard to believe it has been three years. Three years, since I parked myself in a lawn chair in our backyard one morning and got this crazy idea to start a blog.

Nothing more, than just sitting there reading the outdoors blog of another person and thought, “I could that.”

For me, the idea of blogging and writing was no more extensive or detailed than that.

No long dwelling and burning desire deep inside my soul that was waiting for the perfect moment; the perfect circumstances to spew forth and unleash my innermost thoughts upon an unsuspecting world.

Nope.

What was I possibly thinking?

This came as a comment or note from WordPress the other day.

Screen Shot 2019-06-29 at 6.56.46 AM

But, how things have evolved and changes throughout those three years.

From starting out with simple trip reports of our adventures. Then putting down my own take and views on life and living, and finally jumping into the deep end of the pool – writing poetry.

Having articles and poems published. To be recognized and nominated for pieces I composed on web-based publishing platforms.

Through all of this, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with so many other bloggers and writers from across the world.

people in drawing net on blackboard

That part alone has made the journey, all worthwhile.

Thanks to everyone who has read a post and left a comment or two over those three years.

Thanks to the bloggers, writers and poets who have inspired me to think, reflect and perhaps slightly alter the way I see things as they unfold in front of me.

Thanks to everyone; you’ve all played a role.

Finally

The biggest thank you of all is to Lynn! 

IMG_20190519_133631643

She has had to endure the countless ideas I babble on about when we’re in the car, either going on or coming back from one of our many outdoor adventures. The many, many re-writes she goes over and who serves as “chief editor” from time to time.

The simple truth is, the inspiration for many, if not most of my writing comes from her art and her passion she captures and shares for all to experience through her photography.

So, remember….

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

 

Thoughts From The Wilderness Poetry – She Came One Day

Although, not the post which we’re currently working on about remembering our beloved Katie, this poem captures an tiny essense of what she meant to us.

 

Four legs and fur showed up one day

Tail wagging with an inquisitive nature

A new home for her and a fresh beginning

Looking at me she thought; who are you?

 

A quirky personality started to appear

Noted for her feisty nature

Much she gave; mostly on her own terms

She marched to her own drummer it seemed

 

Heaven to her was an outdoor adventure

Our car backseat was all that was required

Arouse from deep sleep by the jingle of keys

A rush to the door; please do not leave me

 

Each day comprised of eat; sleep; repeat

Interrupted only by flashes of anticipation

An adventure; a trip; a roll of the ball

Excitement abounded as the waiting took place

 

The years shot by way too fast

A thousand photos documented her life

Then one-day cancer came knocking

Life stopped for us; we focussed on her

 

Time has now passed

Since she left us one morning

An emptiness in our hearts; a void still there

Memories abound; a treasured filled life

 

Katie

IMG_7890

June 15, 2004 – February 23, 2019

What I’ve Learned From Three Years of Blogging(and how none of it will help you)

First off, if you’re here reading this thinking all of your blogging worries and concerns will be magically solved and that you’ll be the next “big deal” in the blogosphere, sorry mate you’ve clicked into the wrong page.

words 2
Source: Google Images

However, having said that, why not stick through this with me.

If there is one thing that I’ve learned over the past two and a half years is this. You never know what small and seemingly insignificant nugget of information found in what may look like just another random blog post could make the world of difference.

I started this blog back in the summer of 2016. It was our way to share with others the outdoor adventures that Lynn and I were having and to inspire others regardless of the point they may currently be in, to get outdoors and experience all that nature has to offer.

Since starting though, things in regards to the blog have grown and evolved in terms of content and such.

Although I certainly was “committed and serious” from the very start back in 2016, it was during the summer last year(2018) that things got “more serious and more committed.”

I decided to join some online social media blogging groups thinking this might be the way to sky-rocket my way into the stratosphere in terms of followers and exposure across the blogging universe. They were fine in what they provided and such but found they required FAR MORE TIME THAN ANTICIPATED networking within the group.

When I couldn’t commit to the time required, I felt guilty, like I was somehow abusing the group.

Needless to say, I’ve stopped that time waster. I know it may work and be beneficial for some, but it wasn’t in the cards for me.

Some stats….

Prior to getting seriously serious in the summer of 2018, here’s where I was at:

For June 2018

  • 166 views
  • 127 visitors.

Not very impressive to say the least. The numbers were what the numbers were.

Now, as of the end of February 2019, I’m averaging 750 views and 513 visitors per month.

What does it all mean?

I haven’t a freaking clue in terms of whether the numbers are good or not.

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Source: Google Images

It does show that in that eight-month period, we’ve experienced growth and that I conclude is a good thing. I think the growth can be attributed to creating good content that connects with others while at the same time cultivating relationships with those in the blogging world whom you like and respect and who like and respect your writing and content as well.

Five Things

Nevertheless, here are five things I’ve learned since starting the blogging journey.

Write From The Heart

If this doesn’t apply to you, because your blog is about the latest and greatest trends in fashion, well that’s all right. Thinking about it for a second, perhaps fashion is what gets you going. Oh well.

I write from my heart. I write and blog on those elements of life and how they intersect with the outdoors and nature. That is the thing that comes naturally to me. It’s like those emotions and experiences of life can be illustrated and written about through what nature and the great outdoors and teach us.

For me, writing from my heart; that spot that is so very deep within my soul creates at least the potential for good/great content. And isn’t that what you want for your readers and followers; great content with that emotional “right hook” that smacks them right upside their head?

If I am, and to use a well-worn cliche, “not feeling it” there is no use writing about it at that point. Everything then for me becomes a forced and painful exercise, leading to frustration and moving on to something else for the morning. That’s not to say, the draft won’t revive itself and find life published at some point in the future, but I have lots of “draft posts” sitting there and the heart just isn’t feeling it for any of them.

Writing from that “well” which is deep within my soul; the agony, pain and emotions of life, spilling out on the keyboard has been in my experience the posts that resonate and connect most deeply and profoundly with readers and followers.

Remember though, it can take time to get the courage; the nerve; to be vulnerable; to hang yourself out there for all to read about.

It did for me to get to that point to hit “publish.”

Also remember, there are many out there that are in the same boat as you and need to read what you have to say. Some are at a point in their own path or journey that what you’ve experienced and are sharing with them, can make a world of difference.

Perhaps change their destiny

Don’t be afraid to write from the heart.

Write/Post When You Can

Experts or those experts that I’ve read indicate that consistency of posting on your blog is a key element.

Excellent then.

One question that pops to mind is how consistent is consistent? Daily, weekly, bi-weekly, every 3.5 hours or some random combination.

I am not a full-time writer. And I suspect, not many of you are either. Like most, I hold down a full-time job, that requires me to up by 3:15am; out the door by 4:00am and not returning home until 6:00pm. There are some days getting home is earlier, but my four-day workweek is full. That was a choice we made to only work four days a week. Best decision we made in many years!

As such, I can only commit to writing and my blog in the early mornings on my three days off and before Lynn gets up. Once she’s up, we like to get outdoors and take on yet another adventure or we have other commitments that we need to take care of.

Do I post every week?

I try to for the most part. But, going back to the first point, if I’m “not feeling it” it is unlikely that new a post gets written and subsequently gets published. Now, having said that, I have in the recent past gone back and revised earlier posts and re-blogged those.

What’s my point then?

I don’t get all “whigged out” or too upset if nothing gets published on my days off. Life happens; things happen; sometimes the “well” isn’t pumping water that day.

I try to remember that this is my outlet. My creative “thing” that brings me joy and soothes my soul.

If you feel the need and push to publish each day or whatever the schedule is that works for you, then great – go for it.

I post when I can and when the post is ready for me to hit “publish.” Once, twice or even three a week or great. If it doesn’t happen, there is always next week.

Enjoy Yourself

Need I say more?

If this stops being fun and not enjoyable anymore, then from where I sit, it would be time to pack it in and move on to discover another outlet.

I have written before that blogging, on the subjects I do, is a cathartic exercise. Allowing me to deal with, grow and move through life’s challenges and past experiences. It is also my creative outlet. As painting, sculpture or photography may be the creative exercise for others, writing and blogging are for me.

Doing what soothes your soul at even its basic level should be enjoyable, shouldn’t it? If it wasn’t, why invest the time and heartache to do it?

Enjoy doing it – enough said.

Challenge and Push the Envelope

This can mean whatever you what it to mean.

For me, it meant several things.

First, to get to the point to challenge myself to write and blog about issues or topics that I knew were touchy or difficult issues for people and thus difficult or painful for me to write about. This always means vulnerable and hanging your emotions out there for people to get a darn could look at.

Not all of us want the world to see and read how messed up we are or messed up we were.

Doing this can be tough and a challenge for sure. Therefore, it can take some time getting to this point, if this is where you what to go and eventually end up at. Maybe some people never get to this point and that is okay too.

Challenge yourself to be provocative; push the outside of the limits of things; dare to be slightly or significantly different than those others blogging around the same issues.

The second for me was to challenge myself creatively. Up until just a week or so ago, all of my writing and blogging were long-form. Simply what most of you may do and read.

For 2019, one goal was to move in other creative directions and to try different genres of writing.

So, with that in mind, I moved into creating poetry as another way to express myself.

I can emphatically and somewhat triumphally state, I know less the zero about poetry. But, not letting that hold me back, I’ve found that writing poetry challenging, difficult, but rewarding beyond my wildest dreams.

One mantra that I often bellow out is, “that if you’re not moving forward; you’re not remaining in the same place either; you’re moving backwards.”

Challenge yourself and push the envelope of your writing and blogging

Lastly – Find and Follow The Advice of Bloggers Who Are Great at This

It seems funny at this point in the narrative, but this has been the greatest thing I’ve learned since heading off on the blogging expedition.

If you desire to be a great Doctor, you learn and are taught by great Doctors. The same principle applies here.

If you want to be a great or at least a better writer or blogger, follow and learn from someone who has and is doing well.

Read what they have to say. Study what they have done. Examine their blog sites. Pick the points they make that have the most relevance to your own situation. Then go ahead and implement them and see what happens.

Have I taken to heart each and every point these bloggers make? No, of course not. But, I have tried to work some of them into my situation.

The biggest and most important element I work at each time at the keyboard is that content is king. Having great content trumps all other elements. You can promote the crap out of your blog, but if your content sucks it is unlikely people will return for a second visit.

Here are two bloggers that I follow that are doing it well; if not great.

Cristian Mihai and Jordan Peters

Well, that’s it

All of what I’ve learned from two and a half years in this wild and wacky world of blogging.

If you managed to find a nugget here that may help you move forward in your own blogging journey, then this post is well worth the time it took to compose it. If not, that was 10 minutes in your life, you’ll never get back.

One last question though, what have you learned since you started blogging that others may find to be the one thing that could help them the most?

Thanks for reading.

 

Remember…

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

“Author of The Month” – Nomination

Given all that has happened in the past few days with our beloved Katie, an email in my inbox on Sunday came as shocking, albeit delightful and humbling surprise.

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The words shocked, humbled and delighted hardly begin to describe the feeling when opening and reading that email. It came at that perfect time to help soothe a hurting and mournful soul.

So, I would really appreciate it if you’ve liked what you read here at our blog “justabitfurther” to head on over to “Spillwords Press” and cast a vote in my direction.

Voting is open until February 27, 2019.

Here is the link that will take you right there – Spillwords – Author of The Month(VOTE)

Again, it is simply an amazing honoured just to be included with a group of such amazing writers.

Thanks for the support you’ve shown here on this blog over the years. Now, before you click out of here, click on over and cast a vote for this fella.

Thanks again!

 

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —