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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Providing writing advice, then and now. But now what? | Garbl's Writing Center

When I created and published my first one-page version of Garbl's Writing Resources Online more than 15 years ago, I had two main purposes. First, I developed and maintained the site as a way to learn basic HTML coding and website management. And second, I wanted to do that while providing free useful information and advice about writing. Even when I linked my annotated directory to private writing consultants, their sites had to provide a significant amount of free advice and information.

And I continued to follow those purposes as the website grew, eventually becoming Garbl's Writing Center, with multiple free resources for writers and editors:
My purpose in providing free writing advice has become more focused, as I've added links and information about clear, concise writing and plain language (aka plain English). During the past couple of years, I've also added or modified pages to provide more information about me as I've developed a writing and editing practice in my semi-retirement.

And during the past year, I developed the blog you're now reading. Its focus has mostly been on writing and editing, though I've touched on other forms of communication, in broad terms--from creativity to simplicity, from philanthropy to travel photography, from peace activism to progressive politics.

But during the past two months, I've been wrestling (almost literally) with what I want to do with this blog, my Writing Center website and even my writing/editing career. 

Somehow (perhaps when using a new-to-me weight machine), I must have torn the meniscus in my left knee, and I've been suffering with its pain as I've consulted with my doctor, a physical therapist and, soon, a knee surgeon. It's been frustrating, even depressing at times, because it has limited my ability to move around and get out of the house.

It's been easier to sit at this computer or relax in my easy chair, but I haven't wanted to do that. I've continued to get out--to do volunteer work a couple of times a week, to see friends and family members, to travel with my wife. 

But during that time, I've also become less motivated to maintain this blog, which I used to add to nearly every day, spending a couple of hours on it most days. I'm also less motivated to maintain the rest of my writing website, though that loss of interest has been developing for several years as I've almost resented the "obligation" I created. 

When I was actively managing my website, I tracked the hits its pages got and   did occasional Web searches to see how it ranked and what other sites were linking to it. And I felt pretty good that I was providing a service that other people valued and used. For a while, my site featured a free service in which I'd answer submitted questions about writing. But I eventually dropped that service because it kept me too busy; it became too much of an obligation.

With this blog, I've been uncertain about its usage and thus its value to other people. The stats for visits have increased, especially as I began providing more commentary and advice about writing, using the blog less to simply report on articles at other websites and blogs.

But I still get very little interaction with readers, as direct messages to me or as comments on blog items. So I don't really don't know what's working or not, what's helping people or not.

So, I'm wondering, is my time writing this blog well spent? Or, as soon as I get my knee repaired, in early July, should I spend more time--in true retirement with occasional paid editing work--taking pictures, discovering my own city (Seattle), volunteering, reading my Kindle, working out at the Y (correctly, ahem), visiting with friends and family, and doing other projects around the house? 

I just know I gotta get off my butt more often. Now approaching my mid-60s, I need the physical exercise that comes with doing that!

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