writing

Two Things I Learned in Ten Years of Eclectic Commons

When I began my blog Eclectic Commons in 2006, it was my intention to share my quest to learn how to write – in the proper, formal author’s definition of ‘writing’. Up until that time, the only thing I wrote was for school, usually after Labor Day, students were asked to script, How I Spent My Summer Vacation, a useless exercise and a waste of time, or an essay for an exam that tested my writing proficiency.

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What schools should have been teaching is critical thinking and creative writing, and how to use grammar to emphasize the subtitles of what was being written such as when to use a semi-colon instead of a comma and learning to be coherent in organizing thoughts – a better way to prioritize ideas and to learn to write what I meant instead of what I thought I meant. Too often, in school I got caught up in the cesspool of confusion that plagues many who sit at the desk with an empty page and, in those days, a pencil or a manual typewriter. Where do I begin? The other pitfall that plagued me was being too repetitive. Articulating my thoughts in conversation was always easy for me, but putting them on paper was agonizing and confusing at best, so I had a natural aversion to writing.

On a dare I was challenged to write a book to preserve my thought process, since many people thought I was unusually insightful, even if I didn’t agree with them. I thought I was quite the opposite, so I was hesitant. Being dyslexic, the thought of writing a book was too overwhelming for me so a blog was suggested. Short essays, several paragraphs long seemed to be less threatening, so I took the dare but set guidelines. Once I posted an essay I would not change it unless there was a glaring grammatical error. The reason for this was to illustrate the journey at the point of where I began the first essay. Where, I asked are my skills, or lack of, when I started the blog and how my thought process and ability to write them down evolved over the years. Eventually, I wrote about 700 essays. The subjects were eclectic, coming from any field my imagination could conceive. Some essays were controversial, some were spiritual, philosophical, sociological, movie reviews, obituaries and many other subjects. Some will be mentioned below.

I decided to use a pseudo name since I felt it would provide me with more freedom and less restrictions on what I would write about. This, for me, was essential as I lacked the belief that I had anything worthwhile to say. In hindsight, if I had the confidence then that I have now, I would not have used a pseudo name. However once I started to write I was determined not to change the boundaries I set from the beginning since doing so would defeat the purpose of what the blog was supposed to do – provide an example of the evolution not only of my thinking, but also how I taught myself not just to write, but to etch my thoughts in an interesting and sophisticated way.

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What I learned is to never write anything unless I had a thesaurus by my side. This reduced my repetitive use of words and made what I had to say more interesting. In the beginning, I had a friend edit the essays until I felt comfortable doing it myself. Another thing i picked up was to use images that related to the essay I was writing, and a title for the essay that caught the readers attention.

The reality is that there are millions of Blogs on the internet, all competing for attention from the reader. Some are on obscure subjects to blogs about cats and dogs pet insects to how mushrooms have sex. I felt that I wanted to write about relevant subjects from an eclectic point of view that made the reader stop and think. Most people I find jump from one blog to another in less then ten seconds, so I measured my success by how much time someone spent reading my blog. The average time spent was 30 minutes, not just on one essay, but the reader went through numerous essays on different subjects and I also found many return visitors. I therefore concluded that what I was doing was being noticed, and my writing was evolving to a level of skill I never thought possible.

Now, ten years later, I can look back and see for myself those points at which my writing went from level to (higher / better) level. If you are interested in experiencing or better understanding my own journey as a writer, i invite you to pick at random two posts from the archives published with two or more years apart and see if you can “feel” the distinct levels of authority and confidence between the two.  For those of you (like myself) don’t want to click on too many menus to find the archives, below is a sample of some of my essays/posts that I am probably most proud of:

Finally, to all my followers, THANK YOU!

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