Thoughts on Writing

I have tried – really tried – to publish every day. I just have too much going on (poor me). I often have nothing to write about but it just seems like I should. I do write almost every day but publishing is another thing entirely. You should see the backlog of unpublished drafts. Sometimes I don’t publish because forced writing comes across as bitter or venomous and I just keep those to myself.

Today I want to write about writing. I was speaking with someone recently and I said, “You know how you sit and write about 5,000 words then look back over it a couple of times and still miss mistakes? Drives me bananas.”

She looked at me like I was bananas. I guess writing 5,000 words is a big deal from her perspective. I try to break up lengthy essays into multiple posts on my blog because I think it’s impolite to ask you to spend all day reading my nonsense as you flip through the pretty pictures.

I have a couple of thoughts on this and since it’s my blog I’m going to write them down…even if you don’t read this. Our pastor often uses points that start with the same letter to make it seem catchy. I failed miserably at this but tried anyway. Especially since my points are Pot, Passion, Pants, Paint and Publish. Yikes. I don’t think I’ll be preaching any time soon.

A Watched Pot Never Boils
5,000 words is not a goal. It is not a destination. It’s just a part of the going there. No big whoop. I don’t know why professors and teachers in my past demanded X pages or X,000 word essays. I always found myself looking at the word count to see when I could finish typing.

You know that thing you can talk about for hours but you don’t because it’s rude? You know that thing you read every chance you get? That thing you love so much you feel like you’ll bust if you don’t let a little of it out from time to time? That thing you absolutely geek out about? If you were writing about that thing…well 5,000 would just get you started. Don’t look at the total number of words. That’s nothing. Get the ideas out of your head.


Passion is Required
You ask me a simple question about any of several topics and I’ll give you both barrels. Don’t get me started. I could corner you for hours to talk about cow poop or any of a number of topics. BTW, I expect you to be just as passionate as I am if we disagree because if I’m wrong I don’t want to remain wrong. Don’t give up on me. Convince me. Sway me with your words. You can’t succeed if you don’t care. It’s just not worth it.

But if you do care…if you love what you are writing about…there is no limit. There is no end. You’ll be upset that you have to cut out whole paragraphs to get you back to that ridiculous and arbitrary 5,000 word limit.

Put on your grown-up Pants
You know you want to do it. But something is stopping you. Why are you making excuses? You want to write? Write. Get yourself a blog and throw it out there for the world to see. Will you be rejected by some? Yes. Will some people say you’re an idiot? Yup. Will your opinions be challenged and will your best arguments be exposed as somewhat shakey? Yes. And that’s good. You will also help some of your readers to evolve their own opinions. I don’t want to continue living in ignorance. Please, enlighten and persuade me. Almost every blog post results in a conversation with dad. Sometimes it’s clarification, sometimes it’s correction, sometimes it’s just an exploration. How cool is that?

Paint (maybe Picture)
Show me the world. Use words. Use pictures if you want. Publishing costs are effectively zero so…go to town. I keep my phone with me at all times. If I see something interesting that creates a spark I snap a picture of it. Julie does the same. In fact, lots of times the pictures are the story. I just put words between pictures to chain them along. But you don’t need a phone. You have words. Write it up. Call me Ishmael. Make it happen on the page. Show me the world you see…or the world you want to see. I can’t see it if you don’t show it to me. And if a picture is worth 1,000 words…well, it’s easy.


Publish It
What aren’t you writing about? I know there is a lot of garbage out there that’s not worth reading. That should be encouragement enough to convince you that you need to start. The worst you can do is add to the pile like I do. But there is a chance, however small, that you will say something that will impact the world or even just one reader in a positive way…that you will infect someone with your passion. But if you sit and wring your hands and live in constant fear of rejection, refusing to publish what few scribbles you have made we will never hear your voice. And we may all continue to live on in ignorance because you are afraid…afraid of rejection. Afraid of the work. Afraid of 5,000 words.

My goodness! it has never been easier to get your words out there. Just start up a free blog (like this one), take some cat pictures (to build traffic from Facebook), write a few words and hit publish. That’s it. No big whoop. Just hit publish. Just do it. If it stinks (and I think most of my stuff does) try to do better tomorrow. And the next day. If you manage to publish every day or even every other day, before long you’ll have enough practice that you can sit down with a simple idea and build 5,000 words of passion and persuasion before you finish that first cup of coffee (or in this case, about 1000 words). It’s no big deal. You are writing about your favorite topic…even if it’s not cow poop.

What are you passionate about? I’ll never know if you don’t tell me.

Julie wrote a response already.

6 thoughts on “Thoughts on Writing

  1. Which of us is the teacher? I’m thinking about how I can change my routine to make daily writing happen. Now do one on daily exercise and then another on healthy eating. One of your best blogs. Hope your Aunt sees this.

  2. Passion, YES! Great getoutthereanddo it post, which I really appreciate seeing put out there! We all need to stop being so afraid, what’s the worst thing that can happen? At least with a blog you can always go back and edit if you need, eh?

  3. I only looked at this because of the cute cat pictures 🙂

    It was you that got me started on blogging – don’t know whether to thank you or not for that. But you’re right on every point. It has challenged me, help me clarify my thinking, taught me so much, and has linked me up with some great people globally who are like minded-ish, who sometimes question, and often uplift.

    I draft a lot more than I publish, and most of the unpublished drafts eventually get trashed. I find the process of writing cathartic in itself, and so quite often, once I’ve got the words flowing and can go back and see them, I am able to just let it go. The ability to put them in the trash is a bit like thinking before speaking, which is something I’m terrible at, so even though lots of things slip past and I wish I hadn’t said/posted them, I’m grateful that most of it is filtered.

    My husband often challenges our kids at the dinner table, asking hard questions on the various opinions and thoughts they express. He does it to make them defend themselves and to teach them to have reasons for what they say. They’re both pretty good at it now, at least compared to me, who tends to make sweeping statements like “everyone knows…”,but it has ruined more than a few good dinners. To be able to stand up to criticism and to be sure of one’s ground is an important skill for sure, but I think you’ve pointed out the flip side of that quite well – it’s important to know when you need to change ground, when your opinion needs to change, when the whole conversation has just become a learning experience for you. That’s kind of my role in the dinner conversation scenario, since I feel like I’m always learning.

  4. “Often have nothing to write about”? Nothing to write about? Well let me help you mmwwaaa ha ha! Do you ever think about a quazi schedule? Not, I repeat not to force you to post or write on a certain topic or day but some day by day ideas to act as inspiration perhaps:

    Starting with Mondays – there is Moo Mondays – updates on the cows and calves as weaning progresses, castrating, preg checking, culling, calving, take us along as you source and buy new cows. Manure Mondays for more breath taking pics, data and pop quizzes on cow manure, report cards and postcards from the chickens as they “drop” by making their way around your farm. We never hear about your dad’s horses – as a horse person I sometimes speculate what type and # he has, if he rides or drives, ditto with your kids. Your dad could sneak in a story here as I imagine you at least benefit from the horse manure? Mineral Mondays – what’s happening in your mineral box as you move from dif forage types and dif seasons? Milk Monday’s – do you really need 3 jerseys for your family alone or are you going somewhere with this? Money Mondays – budget time costs of the dif operations.

    Tuesday Talks – talk about the books – non fiction and fiction, you and your family have read good or bad, ditto DVD’s and podcasts. You have mentioned putting out a list before but I like them one at a time with a review. Tree Tuesdays – how many trees have you planted, method and tips, what type, if transplanted did they all survive, etc.

    Wing Wednesday’s updates from the Chicken tractor. Maybe we can have a special monthly guest post from a HFS JUNIOR(s) who helps with the eggs and can once a month give us an egg report for ie every first wk of the mth like 100 layers, X# days old, X # of eggs collected this wk with X # of predator losses. Really the Jr posts could start with deliver of chicks would be fun to see the whole process through their eyes. Along with a pic or two – I can’t get enough oooing and ahhing over pics of baby chicks and blue eggs. Webbed Wednesdays – I recently flipped by an old post where you talk about ducks and recall them from the 1948 stmts too. What happened to them? Do you still have some or will again and what is your market for them? Weigh in Wednesdays –amaze us with the scale free science of HFS estimating weights of your growing calves, steers and cows. Maybe one day you will add a bit more science and run them through the chute, break out the tape measure and take their heart girth and length measurements and calc out their approx weights. Would be good to know where the calves are at after winter. Work Load Wednesdays – behind the scenes through the seasons of the family farm work for you, Julie and the kids. Why Wednesdays – scare us with the outside world! For me I find that occasional news of what is happening in the conventional ag world fuels my fires for Why we need to do this differently with no antibiotics, no chemicals etc. Same thing with news of the growing numbers of people with endless health issues another Why farming needs to be done in a natural way. How-We-Wednesdays love the how-we posts you did on chickens all the way to processing with your Featherman reviews. Perhaps you can do more of those with Wiener Wednesdays – a wk by wk on raising pigs to market. Have you ever read Jenna Woginrich’s Chick Days? This is almost like a What to Expect When you are Expecting book she gives you an absolute beginners day by day play of what you need to do, housing, temp, feed, water, etc with lots of pictures of what things looks like. I love books like these that tell me like I am in kindergarten and I finish the book thinking Yes –I Can Soooo Do This! Not just thinking, well this was another piece of the puzzle that I have highlighted and made notes on, I need to get 5 more books at least and someday will have gathered enough pieces I think I can maybe do it. As you would be starting with weaned pigs, not day old pigs you could blog wkly with a sort of wk by wk/step by step program that works for YOU not a text bk this works everywhere. Starting with procurement – how do you find piglets, picking them up –materials ie crates needed, catching, lifting, housing prep etc, etc. I am always put off a bit on some of the pig data as I do not have groves of nut trees and forests for the pigs to root in but they seem to do well in pasture too as long as you keep moving them before they make major wallows. Farmer’s Wife Wednesdays – updates from Julie on her life on the farm and as School Marm as it changes from season to season.

    Turkey Thursday’s – You had turkeys before did you have any in 2014 or if you quit why? Did you try Joel’s buddy system with a chick showing them the ropes? Thrifty Thursdays. Savings finds, composting. Thankful Thursdays – anything you are thankful for like Julie, the kids, rain on a hot dry day, pigs doing work for you etc I don’t have much for Thursdays maybe it is your day off haha!

    Freebie Fridays – like the fruit, berries and nuts you got for free from mother nature and the chickens the coyotes and mink got for free from you! Fertilizer Fridays – maybe some before and after shots of your pastures when you first took over the farm and now with a few yrs of natural fertilizing. Feely Fridays for the touchy feely stories maybe another HFS Junior can post once in a while with the cute kitten pictures that – yup we all like! Forage Fridays – updates on what’s happening with the winter-feeding, how much hay/pasture is left as winter wears on, what’s up with your Tall Fescue? Fish Fridays – Do you have catfish still? I think they were your son’s? and maybe he could guest post about them or what is happening down at your pond that has fish in them? Freshwater Fridays – stories of your new pond dvlpmt, existing hose method – where does that water come from a hydrant in the yard? Are you using actual garden hose of the rolls of black PVC pipe? Buried or surface? Do you use a trough float valve so they auto fill when appropriate seasonally? etc

    Saturday Sales – you have mentioned before you will tell us about how you market I still don’t know if you have a drop in farm gate store open 7 days a wk for eggs and broilers … and veggies? or just open on wknds or certain/processing wknds only? Do you take a sales cooler to work with you? Posts on developing your beef market – will it be sides and ¼’s only or cuts? Besides adding a new product for your existing customer base will you list with online places like Eat Wild, Local Harvest, Farmer Maps, a co-op, an add on for a successful veggie CSA in your area or are you going after the restaurant trade, etc? How do you choose your path? Take us along as you source a butcher for your upcoming grass fed beef sales and determine your packaging, labeling and freezer storage requirements. Seasonal Saturdays – keep us posted on what’s happening with your seasonal changes and weather – heat wave, rain, flood snow etc.

    Sunday Stroll thru the Pastures -love those they keep us up to date on your part of the world. Shelter Sundays – infrastructure posts of repairs and maintenance to your buildings and healing your land (like the zipper) updates to your chicken tractor, will you design a more portable (for Julie and the kids) hybrid of this for the broilers? Portable shade structure plans, ideas, and dvlpmt and use if it happens this yr. Thoughts from you and your dad would be good– could be a Dad guest post here! Yes that is way cool you and your dad talk everyday about the blog! How many people nowadays talk to their dad everyday and work together on projects? We let him off too easy on not guest posting on the C-Tractor 😉 Sweet Sundays – Do you have bees for your alfalfa? Grabbing the coveted nap on the porch hammock?

    I am passionate about the return of the small family farm and natural health for people, animals and the land so I really enjoy your writing, voice and content and can someday see this all pieced together to form a book! Aim for a release date at the latest by the farms 200th anniversary in 20 yrs from now and hopefully it happens much sooner, as you become a rich and famous small farmer! 🙂

    • I do kinda shoot from the hip. Not totally. I try to stroll through the pasture on the 15th each month. Book reviews on Sunday. Otherwise, I write what I can when I can. As long as I write something…

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