So this is weird…

I just got a weird response on my most recent post. It’s weird in a weird way. Not in a spammy or trollish way. Just… Weird. Like, vibey weird.

Well, here it is. You can judge for yourself:

[embed]https://medium.com/@robomartion/did-you-ever-consider-the-possibility-youre-thinking-too-far-into-it-ca3cec21d949[/embed]

I was actually going to respond and agree with him (because it’s my job to overthink these things — it’s kinda what I do), when his profile bio caught my eye. It started with, “Waiting for society to collapse…” which made me look deeper.

Upon further inspection, I noticed the dude’s name is Robert Marsh. But I also noticed he has Benjamin P. Hardy’s photo (I noticed because, if you’re on Medium as much as I am, Hardy comes with the landscape) as an avatar and links to his site. See:

[embed]https://medium.com/@robomartion/did-you-ever-consider-the-possibility-youre-thinking-too-far-into-it-ca3cec21d949[/embed]

Here’s Ben Hardy’s site:

I write this because — what in the holy hell is going on around here?

Has Hardy built an army of clones to take over Medium? Is this guy just a Hardy superfan? I want explanations. Thanks and good day.

Milestone: Higher Thoughts reaches 50k readers

Image: Ryan Wong

Wow… I woke up to this hot little notification today…

This is a thank you. I’m humbled…

You’ve given me more of a reason to get out of bed every morning: to figure out a new way to elevate your spirit so you can better tackle your day. If it wasn’t for your love, I’d probably just press snooze. Again. And again. And… Well, you get the point.

I’m also thankful to the power of Medium. Because of this digital power tool, it’s been possible with no ‘marketing’ whatsoever. No buying traffic. No clickbait (maybe just a little). No Facebook ads. No interrupting anyone to read my stuff. No pitching to huge blogs. (Sure, that stuff might have helped, but I’m lazy.) Just relentless focus and genuine connection with humans like you who are as weird as I am... Amazing.

Alrighty… Back to your day. Thanks so much for your attention. Thanks so much for your love. And thanks so much for inspiring my work.

As Ever,
Jonas


Jonas writes short daily stories and preachments on the daily here in Higher Thoughts. Get one to enjoy with your coffee every morning by subscribing below.

https://upscri.be/0369ff/

Using photos for fodder

Where I’m writing from today: Hub Coffee, Reno NV (field trip from my usual create-space)

For my fellow bloggers out there who may be having issues coming up with ideas, here’s a little tip…

When I started blogging regularly, I started a Medium publication called ‘Photo Narratives’. I’ve since deleted the publication for some reason, but it was a fantastic idea. What I did was I’d hop on unsplash (where I get most photos for Higher Thoughts) pick a photo that looked cool, and write a short narrative about it. Here’s a couple that were fun (I kept the posts):

[embed]https://medium.com/p/602536b6cbae[/embed][embed]https://medium.com/p/602536b6cbae[/embed][embed]https://medium.com/p/602536b6cbae[/embed]

Although I’m not in the mental place of writing fictional stories much these days, you can use the gist of this idea to create really cool blog posts of your own.

Don’t forget that you have a phone in your pocket all day that you can snap a quick photo of anything with and write about it.

I’ve been doing this lately and it’s really cool. Like today, I’m writing this from a new coffee shop I’ve been meaning to check out for awhile now. When I walked in, I realized it eerily has the same layout (minus being a commercial coffee shop) as the dream house I’ve envisioned in my mind. It was really weird walking in and feeling…. at home. So I snapped a photo of it. And now I’m writing about it.

The other day, I took a quick photo of my writing area in my house and wrote about it. I asked you to respond with a photo of yours, and many of you did. It was so cool stepping into each other’s world for a bit!

Give this a shot. Snap a photo of something that you’d like to remark on and go to town. Photos make great fodder for ideas.


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How one year of daily blogging changed my life

Holy shit. One year.

A year ago from today, I was creatively dead. Frustrated. Coming off of three years as a freelance copywriter, being the father of an almost two-year-old, and the husband of a wife who was in the throes of starting her own ed consulting business — I was exhausted.

I was taking work as it came in. Hustling, squabbling over rates, and trying to collect on long past-due invoices. I can feel the knots in my stomach to this day.

I had no platform. My personal blog had 30 email subscribers, mostly composed of family and friends. I was burned out. My muchness was gone. I needed to get it back.

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=haiF5DOWwRo[/embed]

It was around this time that one of my favorite internet people — Casey Neistat — had started his daily YouTube vlog. On his first episode, he explained how he was tired and busy as ever… Which is why he needed to (wait for it…) create something every day. In his case, a vlog.

I was inspired. Seeing that, combined with years of reading Seth Godin’s prodding to blog daily, I reached a point where something gave way. I had to do it. I had to stop complaining about my lot and start creating.

Every. Single. Day.

The initiation of a daily blogger

At first, it was crickets. But it was cool. Because I had no idea what to write about or who my audience was, I wrote whatever came to my mind that day. I was my audience and I wrote strictly for the process. I tried my best to divorce myself from results. Blogging became my meditation. Being in a quasi-depressed state, I used it as a daily excuse to publicly elevate my lowly thoughts to a more positive, life-affirming place.

I started to get a little traction. Recommends trickled in from strangers. Each one fueled me more and more.

After a month, I decided to write about my month-long daily creative experiment. I hit publish. Went to bed. And woke up to a vibrating phone full of tweets, recommends, and shares. The post went viral (not mega-viral, but viral enough for me).

I was getting tweets and emails from publications like The Daily Dot, The Observer, and Huffington Post.

Just like that, I’d staked my little claim on my tiny corner of the internet.

All those years of writing in notebooks, untitled Google docs, and for thankless clients had actually shown a result. My personal brand had started growing. After years of rot, something had taken hold.

And just like that, I was all-in. The momentum was too much to stop. I was a daily blogger. I decided to take my daily exercise of elevated thought and create a personal Medium publication — The Jonas Chronicles.

To date, it’s grown to almost 17,000 readers with posts having been translated in 4 languages. I’m the sole writer and editor. I did this on purpose because I wanted it to be a collection of me. A digital footprint of my evolution as a human and creative over the course of time. By doing so, I started a body of work. My body of work.

But the road over a year wasn’t all rainbows and unicorn dumplings. It damn near killed me.

The challenges of daily blogging

When I started out, little did I realize the storms ahead. Daily blogging is no sweat when you have a plethora of ideas and time to translate them into writing. At first, this was the case. I was a fertile wellspring of ideas and could articulate them with ease. I was high on daily blogging. The inertia carried me for a while. But soon, the idea of me continuing this daily activity started looking grim.

A few months into my endeavor, we took a three-month trip to Europe. My wife had gotten a research grant from the Swiss government to look into their higher education and vocational schooling model (yeah, I married the smart one). We went to New York and Philadelphia for a week to visit family before heading to a town in France just across the Swiss border. Alex drove into Basel, Switzerland most days to do her research while I hung out with the kiddo. Then, she’d come home around dinner, we’d eat, and she’d hop on Skype to meet with her US clients.

It was a cramped schedule with a lot of traveling — all with a toddler in tow.

But, on planes, trains, and in the passenger seat cruising down the autobahn, I wrote. During the windows of time that my wife and kid slept, I made it my priority to get a post out to the world. I had to get it in during the nooks and crannies. Sometimes it was easy. Often times, it wasn’t.

I remember one particular time when we went for a weekend trip with some friends to their chalet high up in the Swiss alps. It was a beautiful weekend. After a relatively rough beginning to our stay abroad (we discovered the hard way that running a new business from a different country was damn near impossible — plus, it’s real, the French generally love being assholes to Americans), it was nice to be hosted by English-speaking locals for a change.

But the problem was, there was no WiFi where we were in the Alps (silly Swiss). I didn’t even have 4G.

I wasn’t going to let this end my run. I’d gone this far, I couldn’t stop.

I woke up after our first night’s stay at sunrise before everyone else (as usual) just to be able to honestly tell my readers, once we’d returned to civilization, that I’d not missed a day — that I’d earnestly written this post, but could not share it with them. I wrote the post on my iPhone ‘note’ app. And somehow, just like that, my phone was graced by the Swiss gods above with two bars of cell reception. Just like that, a beam of telecommunication had shot over the alps and showered my cell phone in its glory. I was able to keep my obligation, stay true to my mission, and post.

Besides this, even after returning back to the US, there were the sick days, the holidays, and the days I was creatively blocked that I had to battle through. I tried to post out of sight of my family so I could fulfill my one main job as a husband/father — to be present in their presence. But some days — actually, a lot of days, looking back — I couldn’t. I had to flip open the laptop during family time and post.

But, something kept me going.

This was the most important work I’d ever done in all my life.

I was opening a vein and connecting with a real audience — something I’d wanted to do ever since I first knew it was possible. Ever since I read that first post from Seth Godin all those years before. I was establishing a true connection — albeit a digital one — with more and more people every day.

The spoils of daily blogging (and why you should do it)

So here I am. One year of daily blogging. Before I go, I want to highlight the most important takeaways from this last year. These are ways that I’ve grown in direct relation to this endeavor. Things I’ve gained that will never be taken away.

I found my life
Blogging every day forces you to notice the details of your life. You need fodder for the day’s post. And you’ll scour your world to get it. You become hyper-aware. You find ways to turn little subtleties into big ideas. You start writing with questions only to be faced with answers by the time you reach the end of the post. Your headspace literally becomes transformed.

My muchness has come back 
The act of making something every day — even something as small as a blog post — is huge for your idea muscle. You will transform. There really is no choice.

I found my voice.
I won’t lie. I pulled a lot from others. Especially at first. I had to find seeds of ideas in the work of other people in order for me to expand on, especially when I was running short for ideas (I credited them all, don’t worry). I played around with writing in their style. I colored my pieces with the intonation, punctuation, and wordplay I observed in the greats.

But soon enough, my voice emerged. Writing became almost effortless. My voice started flowing easier through my fingertips than through my mouth. The keyboard became an extension of my soul. Once I had the slightest idea, I found myself taking off and running with it. I could articulate with ease. It was like a dam breaking.

I found my people
Sure, there’s always the trolls (although not many at all), but I started getting emails from people from all over the world telling how my words were changing their lives. One woman told me how my posts inspired her to reconnect with her daughter. A guy emailed me saying how my posts were helping him tremendously with his PTSD.

I was blown away. Still am when I think of it.

There are the countless people who’ve digitally high-fived me, saying how my musings were motivating them to do better work that mattered. I was helping makers get past creative blocks and pulling people out of the writing closet while inspiring them to show their work to the world. These emails and notes provide a thrill that will never cease to put the wind back in my sails.

I found the power of packaging and shipping ideas
My adventures showed me the value of taking the fuzzy etherealness of my thoughts and forming concrete, digital words and passages from them that would then be transmitted to people all over the world in the click of a button. This concept blows me away. For free (FREE!), I’m able to digitally package my thoughts and send them into the homes of countless people for the chance to possibly change their world (or at least give them something to laugh at). Mind-blowing.

I found how incredible Medium is
Before this, I had a self-hosted Wordpress blog. I don’t want to knock it too hard, it was a great start, and I connected with some great people through it. But from what I’ve found…

If you don’t already have a large audience, a self-hosted blog pales in comparison to the power of Medium.

With Medium, I could write my nonsense randomness on my personal profile if I wanted. I could create publications as collections of ideas, anecdotes, and stories when I felt inspired to do so. I could find and contribute to others who’ve started publications while opening myself up to whole new audiences.

And they’re not slowing down. Medium is in a place of tremendous growth and cooking up ways to support publishers and create a community of readers and writers.

Why you should try it

I urge you to try this. Mind you, they don’t have to be big long posts. Most of mine were 200–300 words. Some are even a few sentences. Just something, every day, in public, from you. Not every post will be great. A lot will suck. You will want to quit. But when you do it, something in you changes.

If you grow an audience, awesome. But even if you don’t, you’ll have built an incredible body of work. A digital trail that chronicles your evolution as a human. You’ll have built a personal brand — a sharp investment in time, but something required in this day and age.

Many of us have daily regimens or habits. Some of us meditate or run or read, etc. I highly recommend taking up blogging. You’ll find that, by sharing your truth with others on a daily basis, not only will you be contributing to them, you’ll start to know yourself at a level deeper than you’ve ever experienced.

And then you’ll be sitting there, thinking… Damn. Should I do it again?

Hug your haters (but sometimes, you gotta handle your hecklers)

Image: Daniel Ebersole

When you put your work out there in public, you will run into haters. It’s just the way it goes. As elizabeth tobey so eloquently pointed out in this post, the internet is a breeding ground for sociopathic behavior.

Combine a virtual world where you are divorced from human interactions (voice, facial expressions, body language, the psychological effect of a crowd who is watching and listening to you) and have nearly total anonymity, and you’ll find yourself in a world that is a breeding ground of sociopathic behavior.
-Elizabeth Tobey

That said, most of the time, haters deserve nothing more than to be ignored. They’re pigs just waiting for you to get in the mud with them in your nice, clean clothes. If it’s a one-time hit from a clearly apparent obnoxious troll, block them (or not) and move on with your life. Your time is too valuable.

But then there are times when haters should be hugged (like Jay Baer wrote about in his book — which I can’t totally endorse because I haven’t read it yet, but his track record is such that I’m sure it’s awesome). Occasionally, haters have a good point. If they give you a well-thought out and articulated scathing that makes you see an opening that you want to close, it behooves you to address it, thank the hater, and use their thoughts to improve.

But then there’s the heckler.

The heckler is the super troll that shits in the pool and ruins the experience for everyone.

S/He is usually a repeat-offender. They write long, personal, anger-fueled, non-productive diatribes with the sole purpose of tearing you down. They pay no regard to the destruction they cause.

These lower life-forms deserve a public flogging. I’m no expert in this area, so I’ll take this chance to hand it over to the experts. To further study how to do this, look no further than the world of stand up comedy. Here’s a few to study right off the bat.

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wU7gKwfRaqs[/embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=quoO6dgDzRU[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nK-ycyJCIhs[/embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKZn7ZK_qVo

I hope you never have to take things this far. It’s ugly. And engaging a heckler at this level takes quite a commitment of mental fortitude, wit, and time. If you have to hop in the mud with one of these pigs, you must finish the job. You can’t just wrestle around with them a bit and hope they stop. You have to hit them with everything you’ve got.

I’m not sure if this is my style. So far, I’ve done fine not negotiating with terrorists. I’ve never been a big conflict guy. I’d rather block ’em and forget ’em.

But there you have it. A few different classifications of haters. Ignore ’em, hug ’em, or handle ’em. Pretty simple.


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I can’t listen to you anymore

Image: Sebastian Pichler

Hey, you. Yeah, you. The one who left me a response that one time. Yes, the one that was kinda trollish, and your name seemed a bit made-up, but who knows, maybe you’re a real person who thought you were helping me.

Either way, doesn’t matter...

You threw out some serious criticism. It wasn’t even that bad. The really bad ones are easy to ignore. But yours, it was subtle. I forget exactly what you said, but the essence of your note was that you like some posts but really can’t stand some of the other ones. Then you went into detail about the ones you hate. It threw me a curve because I really enjoy those ‘other ones’. But now, when I sit down, all I can think of is that one… damn… response.

Yours. I’m obsessing about it. All the other responses — words of support, love, hilarity, curiosity, and gratitude — those are long gone from my mind right now. Why can’t I think of THOSE?

It’s stupid, I know. I should just put you out of my mind and move on. Well, it’s proving extremely difficult to do.

Here’s the deal, dear responder… I’m breaking up with you. When I sit down to write, I have to shut you off. I can’t listen to you anymore. I’ve got to feel that hesitancy well up — the feeling that clamps down on my hand as I type and tries to censor me — and I gotta write in the face of it. I know I might lose you as a reader. And this kills — seriously, I’ve worked so hard for your attention…

But I gotta let you go, responder. I gotta be free.


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Why I’m in love with Medium

http://oldpeopleholdinghands.tumblr.com/


A love story

by Jonas Ellison

have to come clean. I’m in love with Medium.

Medium and I have been dating, off-and-on, for two years now. I have to say, when I first saw her, my jaw dropped to the floor. Her crazy sexy layout and clean, sleek, and sophisticated typography. Damn…

I’d visit her for a day or so every few months. It was always amazing, but for some reason, I felt obligated to go back to the old ball and chain — my blog. Yep, she needed me. She had plugins that needed updating and bugs to fix. I was the man in the relationship, so I gladly took to those chores.

But I always found myself thinking about Medium. That sweet, syrupy Medium. Dayamn.


It’s all come to a head lately.

My blog and I haven’t been getting along. It’s mutual. She threw a dustpan at me the other day. I kicked the trashcan as I ran out of the house bleeding profusely. The cops came.

I didn’t press charges though. I love that woman.

I’ve been feeling it lately. She’s cold. Unwelcoming. That Wordpress editor just isn’t as, I don’t know, provocative, as I’d like it to be.

I’m a man, damn it. I have needs. After all these years, can’t she dress it up or something?

So, just this morning, I told my blog I needed some space. A lot of space.

I spilled my guts. I told my blog that Medium just… just does it for me. It’s where my heart is, even when I’m with her.

My blog deserves better. She needs someone more, I don’t know, attentive to her needs. I haven’t washed dishes or updated her plugins in months. It’s bad.

We’ve tried therapy at HostGator, but it’s always awkward when we’re sitting there on hold together. The awkward elevator music just makes it worse. She usually gets mad and hangs up first.

So, just now, I packed up and left.

It’s a scary feeling, to be honest. I was just so secure with my blog. We’d knit and watch Three’s Company together. When we made love, it was always in html. Never anything different.

Consistent. Lifeless. Boring. But safe.


But when I’m with Medium, I feel young again. I feel free. Like I could take a big bite out of life.

With her sleek, barely noticeable notes feature and crazy flexibility with images (oh, what I can do with those images), I’m done. I’m all-in. Head-over-heels. She has me wrapped around her finger.

This is why I’m committing to Medium. I’ve dabbled with her for too long. We’re perfect together. I just need to stop denying it. As scared as I am, I feel like I’m coming home.

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