A Year of Writing

This is my fifty-second weekly blog post. Over the past year writing has become something more than a hobby for me. Each post takes me a few hours spread throughout the week of thinking, typing and deleting. When I click the publish button each Sunday, I get a rush of excitement from sending my tiny creation out into the world.

Looking back at my first few posts I am partially embarrassed by the vapid, generic bolony I thought would pass as relevant business advice. I started with a top five list, something you could have read a thousand times in a thousand different business publications. This past week I read a post from some other business blog titled “10 Ways to Achieve Work/Life Balance.” The first tip was to work less. Give me a break. I promise I’ll never write another top X list again.

When our baby Jack was born, I was inspired to write some posts about our new family, to write from the heart. It’s scary to write from the heart, publicizing vulnerable thoughts and feelings. What if readers ridicule these intimate reflections? But this is when I felt, for the first time, I was writing something worth reading. My favorite posts were about my family, like the one about our first vacation and another about my a childhood memory with my grandfather. After these posts, I tried making my writing more personal. Instead of an advice column, I now try writing my posts as an expression of my attempt to understand life as a twenty-first century organizational leader.

I’m trying to write like an artist, not an intellectual. It’s hard for me, because I’m generally a cold left-brained logician. But I’m learning how emotion trumps logic every time – in writing and in life. I stopped reading non-fiction business books, and started reading Literature classics like The Old Man and the Sea. We don’t have enough time in our lives to read all of the masterpieces, so why waste two weeks reading guru-garbage about the latest business trend?

Between regular writing and more serious reading, I am slowly learning how to better use the English language. In writing, as in Scrabble, using a thesaurus is cheating, so I quit cold turkey. I’m trying write in the active voice and avoid pathetic qualifiers like “very” and lame pronouns like “that”. I’m trying to use interesting words without forcing them or sounding pretentious. I also have a tendency to make the same point over and over again – I need to learn how to trust my brevity.

The best advice anyone gave me was to write for one person – me. Sometimes this feels like I’m screaming my thoughts into the empty canyon, but writing is cathartic for me. The reward for me is the expression. As much as I don’t do it for feedback, it is nice to hear an echo every now and then. Over the next year I hope to keep growing. You should probably spend your time reading Hemingway, Twain or the Russians, but if you’re so inclined, I promise to try to give you five hundred words from the heart each of the next fifty-two weeks.

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4 thoughts on “A Year of Writing

  1. Congratulations on your writing anniversary! It sounds like you learned a lot in the process. I admit I had to smile at your comments about the Top X and “How To” lists. Why are those so popular in (business) blogs?

  2. John,

    What a year this has been for you. Watching your progress has been wonderful. And to think that people such as yourself are out there to carry on the MBA tradition in a new way is near and dear to me.

    Regards,

    Jess Dods MBA (1975)

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