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I truly believe everything we do and everyone we meet is put in our path for a purpose. There are no accidents; we’re all teachers (and students) – if we’re willing to pay attention to the lessons we learn, trust our positive instincts and not be afraid to take risks …
– Marla Gibbs

Until I started blogging, I had no idea how making choices was such a big part of writing.

Here are seven things I have learned.

1. I am making the choice to listen … so I can hear you. I was the listener who planned his next comment several turns out. I knew where I wanted to go, so that was where I tried to push our conversation. Now I am trying not to lead the conversation but to follow along. If I am going to tell your story, I need to listen to your story; to understand it.

2. To fully consume the moment. I am more present today; trying to take in fully each event and understand what I am consuming. Before, my mind often moved on long before the event was over. My choice now is to stay fully immersed.

3. I have found a new clearness in my mind. I am clearer about what matters to me and where I want to focus my energy – what I want to write about and what I want to think about. Before there were too many ‘apps’ open in my thinking – none of them could perform well. Now I am finding that putting aside some tasks allows more energy for the task at hand.

4. Seeing the entire story before beginning. Before blogging, I might just think, well, that’s interesting and move on. Now I play the entire story out in my mind, thinking about where else it could go and how else it could end. I look for value; sometimes the story does not have much to offer – it has no value. That is okay, I just drop it and go on to the next idea.

Other times I find a story within a story – a sidebar that is interesting and can be cut loose to grow into its own story. That provides sustainability in storytelling – a good harvest.

5. Just do the work. My choice to blog has shown me that writing is hard and takes work. Before, my writing was not careful. Now I place the burden of clarity on me as the writer. If I am clear and engaging, you will stick around. If you stop reading … well, that’s my point.

6. To write in my own voice. I grew up in the world of corporate ‘we’ speak, where writing was often used to impress even more than to convey meaning. Now I try to speak in the first person and not hide behind a plural, group voice. I want to be clear and direct, not because I am writing to impress but because I am writing to inform – to share my thoughts and experiences.

blogging-square7. To look for an image, not a snapshot. Before blogging, I did not pay attention to the power of an image to deepen a story. Now, I try to capture images that give my stories more clarity and help the story develop.

The more the image can carry the story, the fewer words necessary. That model has an appealing economy for me.

Looking back at these lessons, I wish my trip would have started sooner. But it has begun and that is good. The next phase will be sustaining the journey while I continue to look for more lessons to pile on my list.

Are these seven lessons important? Can you tell me about times in your life when these lessons appeared for you?

Has a new job, hobby or activity helped you see things you did not know? How did that help you grow?

Can you describe ways that looking back has given you a clearer path into your future?

As always, the conversation starts here.

“In the ordinary choices of every day we begin to change the direction of our lives.”
– Eknath Easwaran