Behind the Scenes with txa1265 – Blog Writing Process Tour

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When a force of nature like Suz comes to you with blog idea, you have a couple of choices – go with it, or … well, I really don’t know what else!?! It is not because I PH34R her … it is because she is so enthusiastic and positive and … well, she’s The Suz!

Anyway, while I was away on vacation Susie approached me to participate in a ‘Blog Writing Process Tour’ that her friend Sara at Lake Shore Runner had invited HER to join. She asked if I was up for it, and naturally I said YES!

The basic process for this post is similar to award-type posts, but the content is quite different.
– Acknowledge the blogger/blog that invited you to the Tour.
– Answer some questions about your blogging process
– Choose 3 bloggers to plug, give a short bio of the blogs and link to their sites.

The Background & My Nominations

As I said, I was nominated by Suz and she posted her Why I Blog : Blog Writing Process Tour. You should really read her post, but if you have a comment head right to the comment box before reading her mom’s comment, because if you do you’ll get distracted and forget what you were going to say … or maybe that was just me.

As for the bloggers I have asked to join the tour:

Lauren at RunSaltRun – also known as #mamaSalt, Lauren is an amazing runner and person who is really living and learning about everything right along with us. From her crazy fully-clothed treadmill runs, to injuries and face painting with her daughter, her blog is an adventure! In her words: “I’m a working mom to one feisty toddler. I love yoga, wine, art, coffee, bad reality TV, and clothes. I’m the wife of a car salesman who works insane hours. We live in Charm City with our two very obnoxious cats and my daughter’s fish, Bubble, whom she named herself. I’m also a runner and if you had told me before last April that I would fall in love with running I probably would have laughed in your face.”

Sara at LifeBetweenTheMiles – I found Sara’s blog because she commented on a blog I followed talking about the Boston area (hint: if you want my clicks, mention New England!), and found an incredible mom, wife, runner and blogger! Every day as I read her posts I am moved by her passions for family and fitness. In her words: “I am a 30-something wife and mom. I’m a Pharmaceutical Professional during the day, Group Fitness Instructor at night. I’m a die hard runner and marathoner.”

Michele at Paleo Running Momma – Michele is someone I discovered through a comment on another blog and immediately loved her stuff – she is passionate about food, family and fitness … what’s not to like?!? I was surprised that she had just started her blog, because she has a unique and strong voice and ethos. Oh, and she is super-competitive and it comes through in her writing and comments, which is normally something I would shy away from, but she is fully aware of this and also has a huge heart. In her words: “A little obsessed with running but still a whole lot of fun, I swear! ( yeah yeah eyeroll) When I’m not sporting an awesome headlamp at 5:30am you can find me in the kitchen as a short order Paleo cook for my fam of 5. Or in some corner of the house hiding from my 3 kids. All in a days work. So come on over and run, eat, and rant with me!”

Why I Blog: txa1265’s Writing Process

Here are the questions to answer:
1. What am I working on?
2. How does my work differ from others of its type/genre?
3. Why do I write what I do?
4. How does your writing process work?

I really liked how Suz took the items out of order because of how it builds a story, so I am going to be totally unoriginal and do the same thing … but with a preface:

0. Origins: What made me think anyone would care?

My education and profession (engineering and statistics) would tell you I’m not a writer – in fact I used my AP English score to get out of writing in college … yet the fact that my AP score was good enough to satisfy my entire humanities requirement means I am pretty good at this writing thing.

This blog wasn’t my first, nor was blogging my first online writing. I started writing ‘Game Opinions’ (short reviews) on USENET back in the very early 90s. In fact, I was writing online before there was a web. But it was always reviews and forum-type discussions.

I started formal reviews for online sites about a decade later, and have done that to some extend or other ever since. But around 2005-2006 I wasn’t getting everything I needed from just writing reviews. So I started blogs on Blogger (pre-Google) and then on Microsoft’s site (whatever it was back then). And I wrote them for essentially no one. They were thoughts I wanted to share, stories, personal details put into context … and it ended up being really important to me. Again, I got under 5 views for my most ‘popular’ post, and one of them was me.

For the last 5 years I have written for a site that gave me much more latitude, but again it was someone else’s site with its own focus and purpose – which strangely enough wasn’t ‘Mike talking about random crap that interests Mike’. So after more than a year of walking the boundaries … I finally launched my own blog at the end of last September.

1. Why do I write what I do?

While I had been reading and commenting on running and healthy living blogs for a year before I started my own, I was still nervous and pretty much assumed I would have no followers because it would be like before and I’d do it so sporadically that it would never gain traction.

But here I am more than 9 months later with just over 300 posts under my belt. Why? Because I have found my voice – I care about running, and eating, and my wife, and my kids, and our pets, and my job, and games, and music, and social justice, and tech, and loads of other random stuff that somehow comes together in a cohesive whole and resonates with some people. And I also love this community, who inspires me and drives me to constantly be better.

I write about all of the things I love, what pushes my buttons, what I wonder about or get confused about. I write about stuff I know, don’t know, or wish I know – try to make it slightly humorous and somewhat thought-provoking.

2. What am I working on?

This is a tough one, because the answer is everything and nothing …

One of the big questions I get is about how I balance things – I work as a senior engineer and statistician at Corning, Inc, have been happily married for 22 years, have two sons aged 16 and 17, two dogs and two cats, a house, a car, and so on. I am also working on ‘eating clean’, run an average of 50+ miles per week outside all year long, still do some reviews and editorials for another site and blog here pretty much daily.

To know what runs through my head as I continue my blogging journey, it is worth knowing what I’m working on in all corners of my life:

– Being the best and most attentive dad/husband possible. This is a never-ending journey …

– Re-capturing my programming skills, but mostly in the context of statistical analysis. I used to be a solid hack C++ and SAS programmer but those skills have faded. I am still decent with VB, but am doing more stuff in a statistical program called R that is very powerful but requires programming to really get somewhere.

– Re-developing all of my core music skills: guitar, bass and keyboard playing, composition & theory, and studio production. Since the kids were little I have mostly ‘noodled’. I got my studio back together and have been working on regaining my chops. It is awesome.

– Becoming a better / stronger / faster runner. But without ever losing the absolute joy I have felt every step since returning from our NYC vacation.

– Learning more about food and fuel and how it all works for me and my family!

– Balancing it all along with my blogging and sharing with this incredible community.

So you see I am focused on all of my core ‘loves’.

When I first read the question it stressed me out a bit, as if I was supposed to be working towards some larger purpose for this blog … when the truth is that by working on everything that matters to me, and balancing the interface between all of them, I remain true to myself and all of my core values and produce content that reflects what matters most to me. So that level of purity and balance … THAT is what I’m working on!

3. How does my work differ from others of its type/genre?

I’m a middle aged dude in a mostly younger female corner of the blogosphere, which gives me a unique perspective. Seriously, if you look at the commenters at Suz’s post, you’ll notice something … most of them are also bloggers, and they are nearly monolithically female. That all sounds odd, but it is true – there are fewer than a dozen male bloggers I read doing some variation of running / healthy living stuff.

I have had people say that I am a ‘male feminist’, have a ‘social justice’ mindset, and am not afraid to speak my mind and put myself out there fully. I consider all of those things high praise and say they are definitely aspirations.

I believe I am fairly unique in talking about food and diet without really having a recipe focus, talking about running every day without being too detailed about plans or summaries, and always putting a focus on my family and on the proper and respectful treatment of all people everywhere.

4. How does your writing process work?

Writing process? What the heck is THAT?!? Seriously, my ability to say ‘I am writing THIS’ is incredibly limited. Take today for example – I was supposed to finish this post, but saw a link in an email that started me on an entirely different post. Then I saw something else that I added to a draft, and so on.

Really that is more scattered-sounding than I actually am. The problem isn’t lack of ideas or attention, but engagement – my process is to find an idea, either using a rote item like a ‘Five Things Friday’ or just something that occurs to me, and then get my head focused on it and let the words flow.

For example, I saw a few posts and comments about ‘clean eating’ where I found the way it was used was not very constructive. Then I was out for my run, and the post wrote itself. Oh yeah, maybe THAT is my process! I have thoughts, then they take shape on my runs. It also happened with yesterday’s post, but that innitial idea changed drastically as I read more stuff during the day.

While I was on vacation I had three posts scheduled … and they were scheduled more than a week in advance. That is the FIRST time I havedone something like this. Generally I write the day before something posts.

One change since my brief hiatus? I would rather not post than just cobble something together to have something fresh that day!

And that’s it! Thanks to Suz for the opportunity and invite and to all of you for being so amazing as bloggers, readers and friends! As many of us say so often, it really does mean SO much!

Please check out Suz’s post … and look for the posts coming from Lauren, Sara and Michele! And Thanks again for all of the great comments this week!

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27 thoughts on “Behind the Scenes with txa1265 – Blog Writing Process Tour

  1. Wow, what a great post! I will have to work on mine today. These are all great and tough questions to think about for myself, not sure I’m even sure of most of the answers. Thanks for thinking of me, and of your description of me as well, it’s interesting to hear it from someone else.

  2. I love learning about how other bloggers go through their process–it definitely makes me think about where I’m coming from, how I work, what I’m trying to achieve… Lots of food for thought!

  3. Mike – great post and it give others a great glimpse into why you blog and what they can expect from you. I know that I enjoy your posts more than you will ever know. You have a writing process, but it is just internal.

    If you don’t mind too much, I am going to invite myself to the party. Since in I am in a no running status again and want to keep writing, I am picking topics that interest me to write about. This one intrigued me and I will be publishing it later today.

    • Just read yours – so glad you joined the party! 🙂

      And for some reason I love that on yours you make note of not agreeing with me 100% – I think because it is ‘real’, and what I like about your posts and strive for in my own, is being honest and real. Thanks again for all the support!

  4. I agree that your writting is so much different than others… and not just because you are a “middle aged man.” You have strong voice and I love hearing your opinions. You really think things through, have insight, show no fear in your writing, and are humble yet honest. You don’t sugar coat stuff- which is an attribute several other bloggers who rule this area could stand to adopt!

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  6. I really enjoyed reading this! I like knowing stuff like this because it helps me know the blogger a little better, which lets me understand where they’re coming from when they post different stuff. I like that you write a lot of your posts when you run and jump around to different ideas based on what you read/see/think about. That’s something I would like to do a little more, but I’m always worried that I’ll offend somebody if I do that, which is not what I would want.

    • I love reading your stuff – it is always fun and positive, even if you are stressed out … so I don’t really see you as offending people! 🙂

      Thanks so much for the kind words!

  7. I had to laugh at the “middle aged dude” comment. I also often wondered why there weren’t as many male bloggers out there, I only read 2 right now (you are one of them!) I actually like that you are outspoken and are opinionated, its one of the qualities in people I admire (when it’s done in a respectful way, which you always do!!)

    Thank you again for sharing a bit more about yourself through this “tour” I love learning new things about you and thank you again for asking me to be a part of it!!!!

    • Thanks so much for all of that Sara! I had to use the word ‘dude’ because, well, I just am NOT a ‘dude’, but as I was kicking this post around in my head, a friend from the Europe trip last year stopped by on his way through town and the concentration of the word ‘dude’ was qiute heavy! haha So yeah, ironic 🙂 Now I can’t wait to read yours!

  8. ^^ I agree with Sara. There should be more strong male voices like yours in the blog world!! I actually did laugh at your comment on your writing process because that sounds very much like mine! 🙂

    This is great. 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing your life with us and thank you so much for including me and your kind words!! I’m excited to write my post!!

    • ‘Crazy Runner Blog-Writing’ … hmmm, maybe it should be a class! haha

      Thanks again and looking forward to the #mamaSalt edition!

      And I like that there are a few guys out there, but agree it would be cool if there were more!

  9. Well, of course this is one of my favorite posts ever. Not just because you plugged me like a bazillion time 😉 but that helps. I think that part of the reason that you and I get along so well is that we are so similar in our approaches to what we do–we know our voice, we know what we want to say (usually, but not always), we know how we want to say it, and we know our general audience. But what I love about your blog is that sometimes, you just get up there and shout to the heavens about what interests you, and screw others if they don’t think it is interesting, or if they don’t think that they might think it is interesting (but then they realize that they really, actually… might!). Your background in tech and music gives you an incredibly analytic mind but also you have that incredible creativity, that ear for hearing and seeing things that others might miss. This is a quality that I LOVE, because I am that person, too, though less trained as you are. You and I are both crafters–we create stories with our posts, whether we initially intend to or not. Maybe we just do it innately/subconsciously. But we also notice the “pathos”–I still will NEVER forget you using this in your first comment on my blog, for the Sunshine award post–that is hidden in there. It is the moment in the music where the tension builds until it breaks.
    The fact that you are a guy is neither, but at the same time both, here nor there–I love when you post on topics, like the catcalling, that incense you as a man. It helps when sometimes we might let things slide that really are not ok, or we start to think that maybe we are over-reacting.
    On the subject of my readers, I too have noticed especially of late that my readership is nearly 100% bloggers. I used to have more non-blogger readers, and I kind of miss them. I’m trying to think of a way to grow that again. As I’ve said, I want everyone to feel included.

    • Love this comment – thanks so much for all of it, and it was as exhausting to read as I know it was to write! And I agree with everything, and again thank Laura and #mamaSalt for basically threatenig physical violence if I didn’t become addicted to your site … which took all of one visit.

      • Well, I looked at the charter for our little group and there is a clause about insanity* is in there – not sure if it is required for entry or gifted upon inclusion … but we are all good and insane and like it that way!

        * and don’t you DARE tell me there is no insanity clause! haha

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  11. Completely agree with all the commenters here, that your writing style, quality of information, genuine self-exploration, and great mix of self-deprecation and self-confidence (which is really all about knowing yourself truly and being proud of who you are) are all why I keep coming back. I appreciate your ‘male feminism’ and how you always make me think. I just have no idea how you put out so MUCH content without putting junk out there. Keep it up!!

  12. This was a cool post — what a neat idea.

    I also took a walk down memory lane… once upon a time I knew how to do SAS programming. It was so fun! I probably couldn’t do even the most rudimentary analysis anymore 😦

    I really like what you put into your blog. I tend to save your posts for last because I know I will want to take my time reading them. I can’t believe you’ve only been doing this one for 9 months. Impressive!

    • Thanks – for whatever reason I have no desire to go back to SAS or RS/1 days … but the stuff you can manage when cobbling together JMP, Excel and R is pretty amazing … and I want to fully exploit it!

      Thanks so much for the kind words! And while THIS blog is only 9 months … I was just looking at some old Blogger stuff from ~2003 …

  13. Pingback: A little sneak peek behind the scenes with ME – A Blog Writing Process Tour |

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