Take Pride in Your Craft

Kevin Garnett

After winning Game 5 in the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat, the Boston Celtics power forward Kevin Garnett was asked what kept him going, after 17 years in the NBA. He said that he wanted to show people that he was a true professional and that he took pride in the practice of his craft. It resonated with me, especially because today, I’m at BlogWorld Expo in New York City, where I’m giving a talk about what I’ve learned after 14 years of blogging. I would say that what I’ve learned and what I continue to do in this space has everything to do with the hard work of practicing a craft.

Time is a Choice

When I give my talk, the first point I will make is that writing is a choice. If you tell me that you can’t find time to write, I’ll tell you that you’ve made a choice. We all get 24 hours. I can teach you where to find it, if that’s the problem, but it’s a choice.

The Practice is the Reward

But that is easier for me to say because I practice a lot. I practice writing. I do it by working on my writing in several forms and fashions. I do it by reading and learning. I do it by measuring how people react to what I write. Practice is what makes you good at your craft. You’re never done learning, and you’re never done practicing.

Use Your Eyes

Writing is a lot more visual than you’d think. My eyes bring me to stories every day. I snap photos that become the seed that grows into a story line. Want an example?

Unused Candles

See those candles? They were in the waiting room of an office I was visiting. Notice anything? They’ve never been lit. But they are also the centerpiece of the table and thus, the whole space. What I ended up thinking about was all the effort people take to set a stage, but they miss a simple detail. The difference I felt was that everything in the waiting room immediately felt fake and not as inviting. There’s a blog post in that for me. Use your eyes.

You’re In Business or You’re Not

If you consider your blog an asset of your business, treat it that way. I’ve never picked up a magazine and read an article that starts with “I’m sorry it’s been so long since I last wrote this column.” Magazines can stretch their themes a bit, but they try to stay fairly close to the goal. Maybe your blog isn’t a magazine, but if you’re using content as part of your business, treat it that way. And if not, that’s fine, but just realize that’s why you’re not getting what you want from your efforts.

There Are Many Knobs to Fiddle

The other night, I watched It Might Get Loud (affiliate link), and at the very beginning, Jack White (of the so-named Stripes and other bands) creates an electric guitar with a block of wood, some nails, a Coke bottle, a string or two, and a few more bits and bobs. It works enough to make some music. His point was that you don’t need anything fancy.

By contrast, U2’s The Edge has a mountain of effects pedals and he is a student of layering in thick effects-driven sound. The stark difference between what The Edge is playing versus what comes out post-effects is amazing. In between the two, Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin was a very technical musician. All three take on their craft from different angles.

There are many knobs to fiddle in blogging. You can go stark and simple, crazy and effects-laden, or you can be a solid musician. None of these routes is bad or good. They are choices. But don’t give up just because you think you need ___ to accomplish what you’re setting out to do. Fiddle the knobs you already have.

Pride Doesn’t Replace Hard Work

If you don’t do the work, you can’t be surprised that you’re not getting the results. This is the basic law of nature experience. Watching Kevin Garnett play his winning game, I was very aware that the Boston Celtics were down for a good chunk of the game, but that they had the drive to do the work required to succeed. By contrast, the Miami Heat were excited up until the game started breaking down. At that moment, they started pointing fingers at each other instead of just working harder. Meanwhile, Garnett and the whole team just did the work.

Today, at BlogWorld, I’ll share that perspective. But I wanted you to know about it, too.

Oh, and this blog post is my speech notes. Easy cheesy, eh? Just another way I can show off what one can do if they look at their blog like part of their business. I hope it’s helpful.

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