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Is your Blog like a Hungry Printing Press, Waiting to be Fed? What to Do?

Sandcastle picture by Amerune, from Flickr, Creative Commons license

This post is about: Blogging, and writing, and what sort of education aids you in being of use to the world.
Number of words: 846
Readtime: 5 minutes

“The truth was that he’d never decided to do anything. He’d never really made that kind of decision in his whole life. One thing had just gently led to another, and then the press had to be fed. It was waiting there now. You worked hard, you fed it, and it was still just as hungry an hour later, and out in the world all your work was heading for the rubbish bin and that was only the start of its troubles. Suddenly he had a proper job, with working hours, and yet everything he did was only as real as a sand castle, on a beach where the tide forever came in.

(Why are you doing this? asked a printer)

…”I don’t know,” he admitted. “I suppose it’s because I’m no good at anything else. Now I can’t imagine doing anything else. Look, I’m useless. I was educated to be useless. What we’ve always been supposed to do is hang around until there’s a war and do something really stupidly brave and then get killed. What we’ve mainly done is hang on to things. Ideas mostly.” Pg 195, The Truth by Terry Pratchett

Is your blog like a printing press?

Sometimes my life feels like a Terry Pratchett novel. Let me explain. The above passage is from The Truth, a book about the first printing presses. In it, William de Worde, the protaganist, a slumming aristocrat, comes in between big powers in the Engraver’s guild and a plot to depose the leader of the city and he has to print the truth in the first newspaper.

This blog feels like a printing press, because it’s always hungry, and it does feel as real as a sand castle, on a beach where the tide forever comes in. You can blog and blog and blog for years, and it’s fun to do, and there’s no end to it. So you start to get help. Guest posts. And interviews. And you read books and you try to keep your press fed. But there’s always another day where you have to feed it again.

How do you deal with this, whether it’s for your nonprofit newsletter, or your nonprofit blog, or your own personal blog?

Solutions to the content question
Do you read books a lot? Can you work this into your blog? Can you make seasonal posts? Topical posts? Do you read other blogs and work a comment into a blog post?

If you’re blogging for your nonprofit, have you thought about getting guest posts from program staff? This is one of the ways that WildlifeDirect was able to go from 7 blogs to 73 blogs over the course of two years, according to Beth Kanter’s The Networked Nonprofit.

If it’s just you, and your blog is hungry, here’s a link to 100 blog post ideas if you’re getting stuck for how to begin or how to continue.

Speaking of topical posts, looking at the current flurry of 9/11 posts, it would have been easy for me to make that post. But I choose not to. Because there’s another, bigger thing to think about right now, and that is the October 2011 movement. Check it out.

Now, let’s switch gears.

Chances are, you were not educated to be a fundraiser or a blogger as an undergrad. Neither was I.

Maybe you could also relate to the second part of the quote, about being educated to be useless? When you have a degree in poetry and gender studies, you may be able to dissect a sentence with ease and tease three different meanings out of it, but that doesn’t necessarily get the food on the table.

I don’t know if anyone reading this received a “liberal arts” education, but perhaps you’ve got some idea of what it means to be “educated to be useless.” I wish John Taylor Gatto’s “A Different Kind of Teacher and “An Underground History of American Education” was given to every new graduate of teaching college.

Don’t get me wrong. I love gender studies, and I love poetry, and I’ve used both in real life. But I also could have used a class in “How to start a business” and “How to be a consultant” and even, “How to fund a nonprofit” during my 4 years at an elite college on the east coast. According to Gatto, elementary, junior high and high school should be set up into a 5 day schedule of:

  • 2 days devoted to the usual subjects,
  • 1 day job-shadowing,
  • 1 day devoted to a year-long project, and
  • 1 day of community service.

What about you? Do you feel like your college education was helpful in a very concrete way, in the job you have now? Do you think that Gatto’s idea of how to structure a school week would be useful now, or would have been useful to you?

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