I really try not to blog about blogging, because there are far more interesting things to blog about. However, I’m going to ask you to indulge me today in light of the fact that I published my 100th post here on Talent Vanguard this week .
As part of my 5 week countdown, I’ve been sharing my top 5 most-read posts of all time, and some that I liked, but which failed to attract a lot of readers. Here they are:
- HR Capacity Building – January 2013 (by quite a large margin, my most read ever)
- HR’s Future: People Persons Need Not Apply – May 2013
- HR’s Sloppy Thinking on Culture – December 2012
- Utopia, Dystopia, and the Future of Work – March 2013
- HR and the Myth of Best Practices – January 2013
Less Read (but possibly worth your time)
- Stop Hacking Your Productivity – June 2017
- Organizational Plumbers – October 2013
- HR and the Art of Oppression – April 2013
- HR: Organizational Cheerleader or Agony Aunt – December 2014
- Message in a Bottle – October 2013
On Writing Talent Vanguard
I started blogging back in 2012, when it was a lot cooler to blog about HR, or blog in general. It’s taken me a while to hit 100 posts, mostly because I nearly stopped publishing for a couple of years. I started 2017 in a new role, with a goal to rededicate myself to writing as a deliberate and regular practice. To keep myself accountable, in January I publicly shared that I’d be posting something every week, on Sunday night.
I’m pleased to say that I’ve kept that commitment, missing only one week due to an unexpected emergency in February. I’d love to tell you that I treat writing like the craft it is, and have some kind of ritual or process. The truth is I have no shortage of ideas and all of them are really hard to get out my head into words that make some kind of sense to other people. I record ideas or links into Evernote (which I’ve used for years and think of as my second brain), and compose on the computer (sometimes right into WordPress). Although I have aspirations to start writing earlier in the week, I often start writing my post on Sunday, sometimes finishing moments before I hit publish in a race against the clock.
Every writer I admire says pretty much the same thing: you have to practice, a lot. Blogging this way, non-negotiably, every week has definitely improved my ability to generate ideas, and I have increased my writing speed significantly. That’s great, except that I was slow AF to begin with, so now I suspect I am only slightly slower than average. Lots of edits. Once it’s published I can’t read it again otherwise I feel compelled to keep changing it.
My early days of blogging led me to connect with many other wonderful HR people, which I am incredibly grateful for. I still connect with people through writing, but it felt more like a community back then, and I can’t tell if it’s changed, or I have.
I constantly have to fight my tendency towards ‘post creep’ (is that a thing? I maybe just made that up), where I want to connect an idea to others, or think more broadly about something…and then it becomes bigger and bigger and gets lodged in my brain because it’s too big, and I give up on it. This has led me to notice how I do this in other aspects of my work too, and I’m trying to get better at starting out with smaller components, prototyping, removing false requirements and extraneous elements, not getting stuck.
I’m still really wordy…the most common constructive feedback I hear is that my posts are too long, and while I appreciate people caring enough to share that, I decided a while ago that sometimes that’s okay. I occasionally worry I seem negative, but I just tend to be more interested in reflecting on what’s not working and why, or what we’re accepting as true without thinking critically about whether it really is. Agreeing with people all the time is not the way to advance thinking about anything.
My posts sometimes attract several hundred readers (or in a handful of cases several thousand), and sometimes they barely hit a hundred. I’ve never been able to predict what will be most popular, and I try not to think about it much, instead just writing about what is most interesting to me at the moment. I try to avoid ‘clickbait’ (which to me means sensational or buzzword-titled posts designed to get views, rather than readers). I also frequently revisit topics (because I still find them interesting or I’ve changed my mind about them).
This year I deliberately pursued more speaking opportunities because I find it really scary in comparison to writing, and I’d like it to be less so. Writing a presentation or a talk is very different than writing a blog, so that’s been good learning too. Probably like a lot of introverts, I’m much more articulate in writing than in person, but I’m hoping I can close that gap with practice.
Well, this is the fastest post I’ve ever written and I’m going to just leave it as is. Apologies for any typos. And thank you for reading, whoever and wherever you are. It’s a strange and wonderful feeling to know that someone takes the time to look at something you’ve created, even if it’s just a little HR blog 🙂