Jeff Goins is an excellent writer and I greatly admire him.
I want to say that right up front, because my response to his blog post “A Helpful Writing Exercise to Focus Your Blog Content” might come across as snarky. But I’m not being snarky at HIM, okay?
None of my responses to the writing prompts are meant to disparage Jeff Goins or his message. My answers only reflect how fucked up I am, and in no way should be construed as any negative comment on Jeff Goins’ great character, his super-awesome blog, or his amazing writing talent.
I have nothing but the utmost respect for Jeff Goins. You really, really, really (times infinity) need to understand that.
Sign here indicating you understand such: ____________________.
Also, I’d like you to spit here for a DNA sample — because I’m JUST. THAT. SERIOUS:
I love Jeff Goins, okay? For realz!
Anyway, I was tooling around on Jeff Goins’ uber-cool website, as I often do because I am a writer and he offers great material upon which writers can and should ruminate, and I came across the aforementioned post in which he talks about bloggers being unfocused. He then goes on to offer some assistance in this, which he says will help broaden your audience:
“The more you narrow your focus,
the more you broaden your audience.”
The exercise really made me think about what I’m doing, particularly after my weekend at TribeUpNYC. My defensive responses kind of floored me. I didn’t realize I was already heading in the direction I want to head until I started to question myself. I’m both pleased and shaken by the vehemence of my answers.
Following is taken directly from the blog of Jeff Goins. My responses are in italics.
“Before you begin writing, consider your subject (what you want to write about), then boil it down to a theme (your specific angle and area of focus), then an objective (what you want to accomplish).
The subject is the broadest area of your writing. It can be stated in a word or two, probably, but most bloggers struggle to identify it. In order to find your subject, try asking yourself:
- What am I passionate about?
- In what topic do I have expertise or a desire to learn?
- What could I write about for a year without running out of ideas or energy?
Exercise: Spend 10 minutes brainstorming one-word answers to the above questions. Don’t take too long. Let intuition guide you. Then, pick one (and only one).”
I am most passionate about LIFE. I have some expertise in this, being all alive and whatnot, but I certainly am not the most well-lived person (whatever that even means), and thus am eager to learn more about living well.
Part of my life is nothing but shenanigans and hoopla, but a lot of it is merely crazy observation. Some things about life seriously piss me off, while other things surprise or delight me. I’m easily moved to emotions both high and low, and life always seems to invoke large quantities of both and all the spaces in between.
So then I’m like dental floss, in that I’m all about teeth, and help teeth, and get around teeth, and have a lot to do with teeth, but am not actually a tooth in any sense of the word. I’m a fucking piece of waxed threading.
Everything is funny. And when it’s not, it should be, anyway, and usually becomes so eventually.
Wait — I’m also passionate about PEOPLE, and my observations thereof. I have as much expertise as a person as I do about life, even though sometimes I feel as though I am an alien looking in from the outside. Which means I pretty much have zero expertise being a person. Shit-ballz. I’ve just publicly called myself out.
Humans are questionable at best. Ford Prefect had it wrong when he summarized that people are “Mostly Harmless”. They are exceptionally harmful. And they are also incredibly fabulous. I could do with a few less of them, but short of murder, which isn’t very nice, I’m stuck with the lot of you.
Subject: Life+People (I know Jeff said to pick one and only one, but I am a rule-breaker at heart. It simply cannot be helped.)
The theme is a narrower version of your subject. It’s like a subset of your main topic — a particular area of concentration. To find it, ask yourself:
- How can I break this subject down into its various components?
- What do I want to concentrate on?
- Is there a specific manner in which I want to attack this issue? What will my writing “voice” be? (e.g. Humorous, sarcastic, practical, anecdotal, etc.)
Exercise: Spend 15-30 minutes mind-mapping or listing out key phrases that describe various angles of your topic. Then, pick the one that makes the most sense and immediately inspires 10 writing ideas.
Life is sticky. It is hilarious and grotesque. It’s a mess and it’s beautiful. It’s stupid and amazing. I don’t want to miss anything in life. I want to question everything about life. I want to know everything about life. I want to take life seriously, and I want to take life with a grain of salt. I want to know why life is so fucked up, and why life is so awesome.
People are crazy, man. And they are intense. They are boring and stupid and impulsive and filled with hate. They are exciting and intelligent and hopeful and full of love. I want to know what makes people tick. Why are they so dumb? What makes them so spectacular?
Life + People = the World 4 Realz. And I will discuss it any way I please. Usually with fucking curse words. But sometimes not so much. There may be tears, or laughter, or sarcasm, or journalist reporting.
Because Life + People = chaos the likes of which cannot be captured in one even tone of voice. I plan to use ALL THE VOICES.
Theme: The arbitrivial nature of human beings: how Life + People = the World 4 Realz.
The objective is the main takeaway; it’s the goal. If everything else fails, this is what you want your blog to do. If you’re not sure what yours might be, ask yourself these questions:
- What do I want to accomplish with my writing?
- What impression do I want to leave?
- What’s my goal? How do I measure it?
Exercise: Spend 5-10 minutes answering the above questions. Think hard about what you really want to do. Wanting visitors is not enough. What do you want to do with the traffic once you get it?
”Think about what would make the time you’re spending blogging worth it. It should be an actionable verb. Write it down.”
What I wish to accomplish is nothing short of impossible. I want to rid the world of caca-brains and/or Republicans (the two not being mutually exclusive). Or at the very least, I want all the Democrats to rise up and shush the Right into a deep red shame of silence.
Unfortunately, neither of these will happen. Because if you’re a Republican, you don’t know how to shut the fuck up. You’re also probably not reading this, because you have better things to do like rat your hair and put on Mary Kay makeup and talk about sin and other shit along those lines.
And if you’re a Democrat, you’re too polite or intelligent to throat punch anyone. You’re all timid & pussy-like in your rule-following ways. Because you’re a good guy. And good guys play nice and don’t walk on the grass.
Except for me. I’m a Democrat, and I also walk on the grass. But I’m somewhat of an anomaly because it’s not overly clear whether or not I’m even human, so my actions are questionable at best, and not representative of any proper political group, if I’m being frank.
So we’re screwed on this count.
Since my greatest wish is impossible, I hope instead to bring a bit of the ha-ha to your day, or rile you up in agreement with the latest foolishness I’ve discovered.
You know what? I’m totally fucking lying.
My goal doesn’t have anything to do with pleasing an audience. If I was really interested in bringing something practical to the table that others could use, I wouldn’t cuss so goddamn much. So WTF is my goal then?
I want to provide a place of honesty that belongs to me. I want a respite from all the tongue-biting I have to do throughout the day. I want to be allowed to voice my opinion on whatever the fuck I feel like talking about on any given day, without having to defend myself or be made to feel like shit for going against the grain.
Grain is stupid. I don’t ever look down to see which direction it’s going until it’s too late, and usually by then I find I’ve gone the complete opposite direction. So it’s not like I’m disagreeable just for the sake of argument. I apparently just fail to fall in line. I don’t fit the grooves correctly. I’m a square peg that people keep trying to shove into a round hole.
I’m a bitch stuck in a land where play-dates have become all the rage so the local mamas can sip their expensive lattes and compare purses and talk about their husbands’ jobs and their newest remodeling plans on their house with the white picket fence. Fuck play-dates, okay? I’m not doing it. I don’t give a shit what your fucking purse looks like. And also? Your kid is a bratty pain in the ass. So fuck off.
How do I measure my goal? By the depth of my satisfaction with each post I write. If I laugh in my re-read, I find I am pleased. If my hubz laughs in my read aloud, so much the better.
If people comment or say something about it on Twitter, well you know what? That’s just fucking gravy, babe.
And most likely it means you were placed on this stupid planet to be my friend. Which is pretty *sweet* since I’m a great person with whom to be friends. I bring the ice cream and the glitter.
How’s all that for focus?