The Evolution of My Blogging Adventures

January 7, 2016
One of my favorite Instagram photos shows the downtown skyline of Kansas City. You can find more of my pictures and follow me at https://www.instagram.com/duanehallock/

One of my favorite Instagram photos shows the downtown skyline of Kansas City. You can find more of my pictures and follow me at https://www.instagram.com/duanehallock/

After five years of blogging, I took an extended break from posting on this site. It was not a deliberate decision. It just happened.

During this time I still blogged, but I shifted from a verbal to a visual format, migrating from this WordPress platform to Instagram.

Upon reflection, I’ve identified reasons why I found myself sharing my pictures rather than my words. Those reasons include:

  1. Better engagement. When I began blogging, I thought this would be a good way to connect and converse with others. Perhaps it was my writing style, but I found myself posting monologues rather than engaging in conversations. In retrospect, I realize that most people are like me – they are more naturally drawn to colorful pictures than to columns of gray type.
  2. Too snarky. I realized my blog posts were starting to have an edge of cynicism and sarcasm. At work, I was enduring wave after wave of reorganizations that left most of us confused and disoriented. Many of my unpublished posts were written during this time of chaos. Those unshared writings were my attempt to make sense of what was happening. While they were cathartic, they were best left confined to the pages of my private journal rather than being shared publicly in a blog.
  3. Creative expression. The seemingly-endless corporate restructuring slowly sapped much of my creative energy. In this world, we each have a unique voice that gives us something to share with others. On a personal level, I felt compelled to expand my options for doing that. Photography provided a creative outlet that gave me renewed energy and purpose. Instagram provided a much-needed platform for my creative expression.
  4. Positive optimism. As my Instagram adventure progressed, I found myself focusing on the beauty in the world surrounding me. I discovered that within the ordinary I could always find something extraordinary. I’ve long believed that whatever one focuses on will expand. I chose to focus on the beauty surrounding me, and the more I looked for it, the more of it I found.
  5. Connecting, not dividing. Photography transcends the barriers of language, geography, politics, religion and other divisive elements in our world. Words are too easily used as weapons to divide and destroy. For me, sharing photos provided a way to unite and to build bridges where fences had once been erected.

Writing and photography are not mutually exclusive. I will keep writing, and I also will keep snapping pictures. In the weeks and months ahead, I anticipate finding the appropriate balance between both.

The renowned photographer Henri Cartier-Besson once said, “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” If a picture is worth a thousand words, then, by my math, I believe that my first 10 million words will be my worst. I’ll keep plodding along, though.

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I Took a Sabbatical

September 30, 2014

I took a sabbatical from blogging. Actually, I never quit writing. I just quit posting.

My Journal

“We do not write in order to be understood; we write in order to understand.” – Cecil Day Lewis

When I began blogging more than half a decade ago, I gave myself permission to post when I had something to share, and to refrain when I did not. That has worked well for me. Now that I’ve returned to blogging, I’ll still adhere to that rule.

I often write my unedited thoughts in a private journal where they can incubate. Journaling helps me to sort things out, especially during times of transition and confusion. At least ninety percent of my writing is done only for me. I write to understand, and therefore I’m usually the exclusive audience. Although I am a professional communicator, only a small fraction of my writing is shared with others.

In a noisy, cluttered world, we sometimes need to be comfortable with our own solitude and silence. In a fast-paced society that demands immediate results and constant production, we sometimes need to stop and catch our breath.

We need sabbaticals to replenish our energy. We need downtime to incubate ideas. We need periods of silence to nourish creativity that would otherwise wither in the arid atmosphere that permeates where we live and work.

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How to Edit Your Own Writing

November 25, 2013

Every good writer needs a good editor. The skills required for each are usually contradictory, though. Writing requires creativity whereas editing demands critiquing what has already been created.

Sometimes it works well for a writer to also serve as his or her own editor, though it’s nearly impossible to do both simultaneously.

My daughter is a strong communicator and often edits my blog posts. Recently she suggested this topic, and she even emailed me the following tips on how to edit your own writing:

  1. Give yourself time to write and then revisit it later. With fresh eyes and a new perspective, it’s usually easier to reword or rewrite the rough draft of your earlier writing.
  2. Read and then reread. Skim the draft to get your overall reaction to the coherence and flow of the writing. Once it reads the way you want, then go back and edit for spelling and grammar.
  3. Read your writing aloud. Words sound different when read out loud. Make sure your writing has a certain rhythm and melody.
  4. Read your writing from the reader’s perspective. When read through the lens of your target audience, does your idea make sense? Is it relevant? In a world full of distractions, is it even interesting?
  5. Have someone else edit your work. Two minds can collaborate and create something that neither can do as effectively on his or her own.

That’s what my daughter and I did on this post. We both wrote and we both edited. Thanks, Jennifer.

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To Be Findable, Expand Your Digital Footprint

February 1, 2012

Google your name. The search results represent your digital footprint.

Do you like what you see?

Does your online presence help someone understand 1) who you are professionally, 2) who you are personally and 3) how you see the world around you? Does your digital footprint contain enough information for a prospective employer to “know” you before he or she calls you for a first interview?

When you look at your digital footprint, ask yourself how much of it you actually created? How much it was created by others? Do you have control over your personal brand?

You can expand your digital footprint and actually shape your online image by being findable on at least three social media platforms. I recommend LinkedIn, Facebook and a blog as the basics for building your online image. You can then connect your social media platforms by linking them together. For example, you can put a link in your Twitter profile directing people to your blog. Then, in the “About Me” tab of your blog, you can include links to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

To be findable in a competitive job market, deliberately look for ways to expand your online presence. You really can create and control the size and shape of your digital footprint, so make it impressive.

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These ideas on personal branding were originally presented during two workshops I conducted for the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance. The sessions were attended by current and aspiring nonprofit leaders who came from across the nation for the annual Alliance Management/Leadership Institute, the nation’s largest leadership development and networking symposium for students, faculty and nonprofit professionals. —DH


Two Years, 124 Posts and 10 Observations

August 18, 2011

Two years ago today I launched this blog. I began much like I did when I was a kid learning to ride a bike—having no particular destination in mind but somehow trusting that the ride itself would be the ultimate reward.

Now, two years into this journey, it’s time to take a moment and 1) celebrate the distance I’ve traveled, 2) recall the scenery I’ve enjoyed along the way and 3) reflect on life’s lessons learned.

Here are a few random thoughts and observations about my blogging journey:

  1. This is actually fun. I enjoy writing and I like being a blogger. I give myself enough editorial freedom to have fun, and I’ve never seriously considered monetizing this effort, though some bloggers make good money from their writing.
  2. This is also hard work. Like riding a bike, the fun comes only with the exertion of energy. I’ve mentored several wanna-be bloggers who started and then, for a variety of reasons, never continued. Maintaining a blog for two years is a worthy accomplishment.
  3. I blog best when I follow my own rules. I’ve read countless blogs and books about blogging. They all contain rules I’ve mostly chosen to ignore. For example, they say that success comes with frequency of postings. Well, I decided long ago to publish only when I had something to say and I refuse to be bound by an arbitrary, self-imposed quota. Last year, for example, I let several guilt-free weeks slide by without posting. Read the rest of this entry »

Career Transition, Blog Posts and a Presidential Hug

July 7, 2011

Three months ago I learned that my job at the American Red Cross would likely be eliminated.

Nationally, the Red Cross has been undergoing a massive, top-to-bottom reorganization that will affect every person affiliated with the organization. The restructuring will reduce expenses and increase revenues, all with a focus on keeping the mission relevant in a rapidly-changing environment. To their credit, our national leaders have openly shared the unfolding changes via e-mails, online videos and frequent conference calls.

Anticipating that my position would be among those eliminated by the end of the summer, I shared the discomforting news with my wife and family. Then, with the clock ticking towards the start of a new fiscal year, I launched an under-the-radar job search. I first revised my resume and LinkedIn profile. With the full understanding and support of my boss, I shifted my networking into a higher gear and sent e-mails to a couple dozen strategically-placed contacts. I was encouraged by their immediate offers to help.

Prior to launching the public phase of my job search, I developed personal business cards, a career-highlights brochure and an assortment of collateral materials to use when the appropriate time came. Read the rest of this entry »


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