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Communication | Lessons learnt | Getting feedback | Working out loud

Conversations about leadership, learning, coaching and change.

Feedback and the loneliness of the long distance blog writer

Feedback and the loneliness of the long distance blog writer

by Moyra Mackie on April 13, 2013

“You’re a good writer.  You write with personality, but I’d like to see more of YOU in your work”.

So said my tutor, as he reviewed my learning journal for my Masters’ Program last week.

And his view probably holds true for what I write here.  So I’m putting his advice into practice.

This is only the 10th week I have been publishing  – so seasoned bloggers feel free to smile knowingly here. But I thought I would talk about what I have learnt so far, how it FEELS and my thoughts on how you could help me to get better.

So what have I learnt about writing a weekly blog?

Writing a thousand words is easy

But editing those words down to under 800 and making the copy as punchy and enticing as possible is much more challenging.

Starting is the hardest part

It takes me longer to write the first 200 words than the following 600.  It’s not just the terror of the blank page but also the knowledge that keeping people reading means every word counts.

And the discipline of setting time aside to start writing and breaking through the 200 word barrier is even tougher than putting that first word down.

Choosing an image helps me find an angle

I’m a visual person so images, layout and colour matter.  Once I have decided on the topic I will then choose an image, which leads me to a headline and a start point.

Writing does not get easier with practice

At the beginning I had naïve self-confidence. As time has gone on I find I agonise more about what will interest you as readers.  What will repay your investment of time and will help you in some way?

So I re-write and edit more now than I did in my early posts.

Google Analytics is addictive

How else would I know that readers from Twitter stay on the site for bird-like amounts of time? That those from Facebook are loyal but similarly disinclined to linger?  Or that folks from LinkedIn read a LOT and love passing on my musings to others?

In the absence of more direct feedback, I find myself reading analytics like forest trackers read footprints and animal droppings.

Writing is fun

Despite all of the above, I enjoy this.  I’m learning. Not just about the writing process, but also about my area of expertise.

I’m reading more.  Sometimes re-reading parts of books I know and love or discovering new stuff on the web as I research my story ideas.

I feel all of this is helping me to be a better writer, clearer thinker and a more valuable resource for my coaching and consulting clients.

But how can I get better?

Feedback, feedback, feedback!

Experience is not the same as wisdom.  I could keep practicing at this but never know what works with readers and why.

What keeps you reading?  What encourages you to share? And what stops you reading?

As I have written before, feedback is golden.  Feedback brings wisdom.

So far I have been blessed by a small group of people who have given me open, direct and encouraging feedback about what does and does not work for them.

This support has been what has kept me going so far, because part of me strongly identifies with that hamster on that wheel.

Writing a blog can be a lonely and sometimes scary activity.  Press publish and then pray to the patron saint of the internet that people will come.

I need you to help me become wiser and more useful to you

Apparently only 1% of readers on the web leave comments.  I’ve often been in that 99%. Read something, thought about it, moved on.

I now have a completely different level of empathy for anyone writing out there and find myself moved to comment and engage with interesting writers who must feel just like me.

Don’t feel you have to write War and Peace or craft a beautiful sentence.  Just tell me what you feel.  Write like you speak.  Give me advice.  Tell me off.  Suggest alternatives.  Pat me on the back.  Tell me I’m crazy.

I know it takes time.  And time is as precious as feedback. But you’ll be a great counterpoint to all the responses I get from Russian and Chinese spammers flogging fake Oakley sunglasses and counterfeit Gucci.

Come learn with me, come and demand something useful to you.

Come join the 1%.


Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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