From blog post to Essay

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” Mahatma Gandhi

This blog has been in existence for eight years.

It’s been through various style changes. The one you see now has existed for around four years.

It could do with a refresh. (I like the blog of Jen Myers; and if I could afford it, I’d commission something similar.)

But for now, it will have to do.

As regards the topics, in the early days it was about effecting change in the legal sector, then social media and Brand You (see the work of Tom Peters) and more latterly — for well over four years — personal transformation.

When I say ‘personal transformation’, I mean how we move from a seat of lower learning/being to something more rarified. Or, as Thomas Merton has so eloquently written about, the difference between true and false self.

The latter, in case you hadn’t guessed it, is an admixture of our narcissistic thinking, our egoic fantasies and assuming (wrongly) that we’re the product of our circumstances as opposed (rightly) to our thinking.

For the pedants out there, this is not meant to represent what Merton said but my interpretation of his work (see in particular, “New Seeds of Contemplation”).

It’s not just the topics that have changed. So has my primary motive.

Originally it was to generate leads. And to an extent, particularly when I was writing about law and social media, it worked. Likewise, personal transformation. But of late, and certainly since I’ve started writing more frequently on Patreon, that’s not been my aim.

Instead, the raison d’etre has been to facilitate my best work; if that helps in the wider conversation about living true to who we are then so much the better.

Even allowing for the fact that I do spend time thinking about what I’m going to write, the format of the post and the timing, of late, something’s been nagging me.

In particular, if I’m to produce my best work, is a blog the best format?

I’m not sure.

I mean, with Medium and Tumblr both providing excellent platforms (and communities), it’s arguable, particularly when I’m not overtly selling anything from my site, that I could pull the plug. In the process, I’d save myself the expense and hassle.

But I’m not inclined to.

For a start, I feel an attachment to my site that I don’t have with Medium and Tumblr. Also, even allowing for the occasional hosting glitch, it’s mine. All I need do is remember to renew the domain, pay the hosting charges and install any new WordPress updates and it should be good to go for a few more years.

So, I’ll keep the site up and running.

But what about the blogging format?

Two things:

  1. I don’t feel the need to blog more than once a month, particularly now I’m writing so frequently to Patreon; and
  2. I want to develop longer pieces, which I’m minded to call Essays.

I’ve given some thought to the timing and length and I’ve not arrived at any concrete position save that I’d like to publish my Essays on the 15th of each month. It feels right to put something out in the middle of the month both to give me adequate time to produce it (and possibly share the draft with others), to promote it beyond one Tweet and to manage the expectations of those people who still find I’ve got something (useful) to say.

I’m not sure about the length. Too short and it won’t be an Essay; too long and it will be more like a manifesto. I suspect I’ll pitch for something between 1,000 – 2,500 words.

I think it also helpful if I post a link to a Pdf version. I’m never sure how my posts print, and I suspect a lot depends on your choice of browser and device.

Other than that, I need to revisit what I’ve written about to ensure that I’m not repeating myself. I know for a fact that there are several posts floating about that have the same or a very similar heading.

I’ll also refine my offering in a similar way to writing the outline of a book — at least for the remainder of 2017. Aften that, depending on whether I keep with the same theme, I’ll do something similar for 2018.

Finally, I’ve got in mind to publish the posts as a free book. It won’t be hard to do but it will ensure I’ve a legacy beyond a bushel of blog posts that will disappear once I’m dead. (I don’t expect anyone to maintain my site after my death. They’ll have better things to do with their time and money.)

In terms of my other writing, just in case you didn’t know, I currently write a daily post to Patreon. That too is going to change to weekly (mostly like to mirror Writing Wednesdays, the blog that Steven Pressfield writes). I also write a daily poem to Tumblr but that will change, and I’ll now publish only one poem a week on a Saturday. I will not be writing to LinkedIn, Medium or anywhere else. Instead, the balance of my time will be invested in writing non-fiction, fiction and poetry.

Likewise, unless I feel I’ve got something worth saying, I won’t be podcasting or doing any videos. All they do is feed the Resistance. And I want to be a writer. Simple as.

I recognise that I’ve made similar proclamations in the past which I’ve promptly broken. But this time, having had time to reflect on my creative bias, I feel very strongly that this is the right approach.

Of course, none of this goes to my paid work. And for now, whilst I’m back working as a lawyer, there’s no need. If that changes, trust me, you’ll be the first to know.