“The only joy in the world is to begin.”- Cesare Pavese
On Deciding to Blog
I’ve entertained the idea of starting my own official blog for a some time now. I guess you could say it was an unscheduled goal, second only to my desire to write a book.
Meanwhile, I’d held off for two reasons, primarily: First, I wanted to stay out of trouble. There’s a lot of responsibility in running and writing your own blog; I prefered the freedom of posting on various forums whenever I felt I had something of value to say. Or simply on a whim. Writing on demand is much less appealing. And, secondly, as I just alluded, I’ve been “blogging”- anyway- on various sites as AIA KnowledgeNet, LinkedIn professional groups related to Architecture, Interior Design, and Writing. On looking back over the past 3 years, I suppose I’ve spent so much time on Social Media that I could have earned an MBA by now.
Getting Over My Own Hang-ups (another retro-phrase, this one from the 70′s)
Other matters needed to be resolved before I could move forward with my own blog: 1) I needed to decide why I wanted to start a blog. 2) I needed to determine who my audience would be (my gut instinct said- other architects). 3) Every blog needs a great title, a brand, a really cool identity to be memorable. So, in short, I needed to decide what specifically I wanted to write about, determine who is my target audience, and have a “big idea.” All of this points to: content. You’ve got to have content to make a successful blog. You’ve got to have something important to share.
All of this leaves me feeling blue, somewhat depressed. “Indigo blue,” you might say. And I feel that I’m in too deep to abandon the profession; even though, at times, I feel it has abandoned me. (No victim mentality here; just cold, hard facts).
Besides needing an audience for your blog, you need a support mechanism to keep you going. On that note, my husband is not really a proponent of blogging. He sees it as part of the whole social media shtick and he’s not buying it. Still, he is supportive of my desire to do this- despite the fact that he really doesn’t fully comprehend its usefulness. I guess, to him, it’s the equivalent of self-flagellation.
So, it’s frustrating.
Personal Journal Entry Dated: 03 Sept 2011
Today on Twitter, after yesterday’s “ARCHEDU” chat led by the Tabitha Ponte, A-AIA, a few of the interns who were participating in the chat indicated a strong desire to read Randy Deutsch’s new book on BIM, but felt it was out of reach due to their inability to secure jobs as architectural interns.
Having engaged in various conversations with emerging architects on Twitter, my heart went out to them. They, too, are frustrated. I’d been sub-consciously brainstorming ways to help them. In spontaneous response to their unspoken need, I Tweeted: “I’ll be gifting Randy’s book (2 copies) on my new blogsite.”
Great idea! There was only one problem, I had not yet started a blogsite. I understand that many people get up and running on their WordPress blogs in one day, maybe even one afternoon. But I feel the need to be more intentional. As they say, you only get one chance to make a first impression.
Upon reading my Tweet about Randy’s book, several folks expressed interest.
So, that was it. I needed to follow through on my promise.
This should be easy, (I had once thought- up until my broadcast announcement). Now, a flood of doubts were rushing in. Wait, I said to myself, who do I think I am? I’m no www.GoinsWriter.com all-star! Methodically, I went down the list of what I didn’t have: A) I have no blog (well, duh, I needed to simply create one), B) Suddenly, I have no new ideas about which to blog (well, that’s not entirely true…I have lots of ideas…but can they help people? Will they make a difference? Who wants to listen to a semi-dinosaur who never mastered the ‘art’ of CAD? Can I reform architecture one blog post at a time?) I thought over all my posts and blogs on AIA KnowledgeNet, and I seriously wondered.
But, now that people were anticipating my blog, I needed to get moving. Funny how all the blogs I’d been eagerly reading and enjoying, suddenly became my arch-rivals. They loomed large over my budding idea of starting my own blog. Pondering them all, I listed the ones that I read most:
- Life of An Architect- by Bob Borson, AIA, Dallas (3900 followers- wow!!!)
- Buildling Content- by Collier Ward, AIA
- Architecture Meets Life- by Lira Luis, AIA, RIBA, NCARB, LEED-AP
- Building Blog- by
- Kelly’s Kitchen Synch (what an awesome name, by the way- it doesn’t get much more clever than that!)- by Kelly
- Simply Brinn- by Brinn, Houston
- Dear Polia- by , Houston
- Think | Architect- by Lee Calisti, AIA, Adjunct Professor at Carnegie-Mellon University
- Architects2Zebras- by Randy Deutsch, AIA, LEED-AP
- BIM+IntegratedDesign- also by Randy Deutsch, AIA, LEED-AP
- Design Intelligence www.dinet.com- by James Cramer
So, plenty of competition out there. But, plenty of encouraging people, too. Especially Collier Ward who said, in response to my question “why bring another blog into the world?” His answer: “Because your clients need to hear what you have to say about architecture.” Okay, good answer. But, I’m not going to necessarily be writing for my clients; I want to engage other like-minded professionals in discussing ways to improve architectural practice and architectural education. [Whew, too much to think about.] Okay, one step at a time…
So, on to making it happen. Now, it was time to brainstorm blog titles, topics, ideas, … or maybe I just needed to stop thinking and trying so hard to force it to happen. I need to relax, take deep breaths. And I need to stop spending so much time absorbing everything on Twitter. I did say I was burned out. Now, I’m overwhelmed and burned out. I had committed to too much, bitten off more than I can chew. I will need to pare down some of my goals.
Engaging In A Journal Braindrain
As I brooded over just what I’d blog about, I decided it might help if I did a David Allen style “braindrain” and get it all out of my system. So, I wrote the following diatribe:
///The whole world’s in a state of flux. We have McMansions for sale while the elitist LEED-AP Ivy League grads are designing straw-bale huts for sustainable environments in Africa.
It’s downright crazy!
And, the seeming disdain for the old guard in charge of firms emanating from the Gen X-ers and Gen Y-ers in the #ArchEdu Twitter chat was a tiny bit off-putting. Why does it feel as if the “generation gap” of yesteryear has suddenly been notched up by at least two whole order of magnitudes? I guess the answer is fairly obvious: technology. Somehow, I fell in the in between time. ///
Huh. That was a short braindrain.
Meanwhile, since I was going to feature the book Bim and Integrated Design, I needed to read it. So, off to the library I went. Despite interruptions and phone calls from home, I was able to read the introduction and begin a course on becoming a better blogger.
This downloadable e-book was a boon to my process. On lesson one, the author instructs you to: “write down what you want to feel like when you have your blogging Mojo going strong.”
So, I proceeded to write that down in my jounal.
Personal Journal Entry Dated: 20 Sept 2011
I want my blog- and me- to be respected. I don’t want to be mocked. I want to be seen as an authority and an expert in my field- someone whom people take seriously. I want to help people: students, clients, architects, civil engineers, politicians, educators, everyone! And, I want to entertain, enlighten, educate, inform, and engage with others- those who are like-minded as well as those who don’t see it my way.
I want to share my stories in a fun, captivating way. I want my blog to be loved by readers- have them hanging on every word. I want to touch people’s hearts with my stories. I want to bring them into the space so they can live what I’m writing.
I want to share facts, opinions, my own stance, my perspective, and I want to literally transform how we practice architecture. I want to inform the public on what is good architectural design. I want to be a trusted source- the one blog that even serious Architecture publications and think tank firms turn to for humor, optimism, and cutting edge ideas. (oh, that spot’s been filled by Bob Borson already…)
I want to bring the whole A/E/C industry together around common ideas. No more silos. Increase dialogue, collaboration, understanding and respect.
But, most of all, I want to be real. I don’t want to spend forever and a day on this. Yes, my middle name may be ‘research,’ however, unless this blog makes money, I cannot justify spending 40 hours a week on it.
I envision hot topics, unique cutting edge stories, my own journalism, as well as heart-warming stories from my own life, helpful tips and methods/strategies for success.
I want to paint a new picture of architecture. I want to remove the “esoteric” and bring JOY back into practicing architecture.
I want my blog to be the place for generosity, joy, and the sharing of top information. I want to have a clear cut strategy while simultaneously allowing myself the freedom to be me (eclectic, gregarious, spontaneous). I don’t want to be boring, redundant, hoytie toytie (how the heck do you spell that?) or ignoble. I want to establish a clear brand identity yet be able to address the ever-changing issues affecting architecture.
Maybe I’m expecting too much? We’ll see…
I want my blog to be well laid-out, elegant, intelligent, easy to navigate, user-friendly, captivating, helpful, a resource easily found and counted on by emerging architects. I want to offer discounted book rates and I want it to be a platform to support my new book.
That’s all for now…
*Please Note: this was originally written in my personal diary over a year and a three months ago in September, 2011.