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Capturing Small Bits and Pieces

I’ve written a little before about how Austin Kleon inspires me.  In particular, I’ve had two attempts at a daily dispatches experiment – in July/August 2017 and again January 2018.  I managed five posts the first time and eight (across all of January) the second time.

I had trouble getting to sleep last night.  My brain was over-activated by excitement, stimulation and anticipation.  Today I end 214 days on the road, without a permanent base.  The opportunity to re-establish a permanent base has me thinking about what routines and habits I want to create in my new home.  A fresh start is a great time to resculpt daily life.

I subscribe to Kleon’s weekly newsletter where he provides 10 things he thought worth sharing from the week.  I gave myself the rare treat of actually reading it last night.  No. 6 this week included links to how and why he keeps a diary.  I especially liked his note that one of the reasons he keeps a diary is that “It helps me pay attention.”

It raised memories of two periods in my life were I felt I really did pay attention.  The first was in the late 1990s when I did a City & Guilds course on ‘Creative design for embroidery’ when I was living in England.  I started looking at the world differently as I moved through it, noticing small details, my mind wondering how I could capture a scene with stitch.  The second was when I participated in a 30 Day Brainstorm Challenge launched by Shannon Tipton.  I made 25 videos in July 2016 about something that made me go ‘aha’- in other words, something that I noticed.  Although posting a video daily felt like a lot of pressure, it also made me notice and think more about what I was doing, reading, watching and so on.  It was highly invigorating.

Before long I was deep in the glorious rabbit warren that is Austin Kleon’s blog and I came across a podcast interview that he posted with sketchnoter Mike Rodhe.  It was one of the first things I thought about this morning and I couldn’t resist listening to it as I woke up.  Two quotes that caught my attention:

I sit down every day and I try to write something interesting.”

Small bits and pieces over time turn into something big.”

Since October 2017 Kleon has been writing a daily blog post.  He focuses on frequency rather than length or quality.  He doesn’t use site analytics to see what is being read.  He just writes as a daily habit as part of his creative process.  One of the things he uses his blog posts for is to create talks and books.

Harold Jarche is another frequent blogger.  He posts several times a week.  I’ve heard him refer to his blog as his ‘offboard brain.’  He uses it to think, and it’s fascinating to watch Jarche’s thoughts and body of work evolve over time via his blog.

Last year I split my blog into two separate pages on my website.  My main blog is for better-crafted opinion pieces where my goal is to speak to an audience, present a point of view, and influence the direction of my field.  I also have my ‘Michelle Works Out Loud’ page (soon to be re-named for reasons I’ll go into in another post).  This was intended to be my online scrapbook – my space to show my work, and share small bits and pieces which, over time, may turn into something bigger.

I’m back.

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Michelle Works Out Loud

I’m back!  It’s time for me to get back into Working Out Loud on my website.  I haven’t posted much on my site since leaving my job eight months ago to resume working independently.  I’ve given myself all sorts of ‘reasons’ (excuses?) for this.  The shift to working for myself has pushed me to rethink a lot of things.  One of these was my approach to blogging.  Since starting my blog in early 2014 my primary goal has been to Work Out Loud.  Now I also want to use my website as a marketing tool.  This shift has thrown up some fears/considerations for me.

I was afraid that if I Worked Out Loud about things I am learning or processes that I am improving (aka things that aren’t going as well as I’d like), that people might think that I didn’t know what I was doing or lacked expertise. I didn’t want to look unpolished or unprofessional.

I was afraid that it might allow people to apply my approaches without engaging me to work with them.  Would I be ‘giving away’ what I know and how I work?  I have discussed this concern with others who work independently and have grappled with it, endeavouring to find a balance with how much they share about how they work.

I was also concerned about whether people might respond differently to my Working Out Loud as an independent than they did when I was an employee.  Would they perceive that my posts were all about marketing rather making a contribution?  How might they judge me?

It’s time to move on from these considerations and fears.  During the recent International Working Out Loud (WOL) Week it struck me that it’s poor form for me to be advocating WOL and not role modeling it.  It lacks integrity.  So, I’ve set up two blog pages on my website.  This post is on my ‘Michelle Works Out Loud’ page.  This is my sandpit.  My posts on this page will be about what I’m working on and learning, and how I’m doing it.  I will also write about things that are on my mind – topics that I’m thinking about.  They will generally be written in less than 30 minutes, and may not be very polished.  They may ramble a little and jump around a bit.  That’s okay when I’m working out loud.  I’ll use theses posts to reflect and learn.  I’ll share them via Twitter – but generally not on LinkedIn (where I’m more concerned with how I present myself).  It would be great to get some comments and input from others with an interest in the things I’m working on and learning, to generate conversation.

My formal blog page (the ‘Blog’ tab) is where I will publish more mature and well thought-out posts.  They will be a mix of opinion pieces and show-casing my work more coherently that the WOL posts.

Regardless of which page my posts are published on I aim to write with courage and authenticity.  I’m pushing beyond  my fears and relishing the learning and opportunities that Working Out Loud more frequently will create.


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