Tag Archives: Advice

Blogging Advice: Social Media and Networking

This is the fourth instalment of the series on blogging that  Ruth Feiertag asked me to write late last year. Scroll to the bottom of this post to read about how to begin a blog, how to brainstorm ideas for it, and where to find visual images that won’t violate any copyright laws.

Now that you’ve gotten your site set up and have some posts published on it, how do you find readers?

Today I’m going to be discussing some strategies for attracting new those readers, connecting with likeminded fellow bloggers, and getting the word out about your site that I’ve found useful.

It all begins with how you behave online and what kind of reputation you’ve built up. The Internet can feel like an anonymous and impossibly large place sometimes, but it’s been my experience that word can travel very quickly about how someone behaves on it. Anything you write or share as an update could go viral at a moment’s notice, so be mindful of that when you’re deciding how to present yourself online just like you do in real life.

Play the Long Game

None of the tips I’m sharing today are going to turn you into a fabulously wealthy, world-renown blogger or writer overnight. It takes time and effort to build up a loyal following, and no one is guaranteed success in three easy steps or anything like that. Just like many other things in life, there is no shortcut here. Anyone who tells you otherwise may very well be trying to sell you something.

Be Generous

No matter what strategies you decide to use to hopefully attract new readers to your site, be generous with your time and attention when you stumble across things that resonate with you.

For example, if I read a blog post that I really love, I’m going to leave a comment on it telling the blogger how much I appreciated that post if their site allows comments. I will probably tweet or retweet it, and I might even send links to it to a few friends or relatives who are interested in the topic it discusses if they’re not on Twitter.

Not every post I like receives all of these different types of attention, of course, but I do regularly promote the things that bring me joy without any expectation of reciprocation.

In my experience, people can tell the difference between you sharing something because you feel obligated to update your feed X number of times a day (and are hoping to get similar signal boosts from others yourself) and you sharing something that you genuinely loved without attaching any strings to it.

Be the second kind of person online. Speaking of social media…

Social Media

No, you don’t have simultaneously maintain Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, Youtube, Tumblr, Reddit, and Instagram accounts. The thought of that is exhausting!

Pick one or two of them instead, and focus on getting to know those sites as well as possible. Ideally, they should be places where you and people you know already spend time.

The culture of a (generally) anonymous, teen and twenty-something site like Reddit is completely different from somewhere like Facebook where the audience tends to be older and everyone is expected to use their real name. I can’t tell you which social media site(s) to choose. So much depends on what you’re writing about and where your audience is located.

What I can tell you is that Twitter is what works best for me. The hashtags on that site make it easy to connect with potential friends who are also into underwater basket weaving (or whatever your passions are in life), and I enjoy the fast-paced conversations that happen there.

Once you’ve chosen a site or two to follow, begin sharing updates about your life. I like to see at least two-thirds of the tweets I read from any given account be non-promotional in nature. That is, don’t endlessly tweet links to your website, book, or product. Instead:

  • Tell a funny story about something that happened to you recently
  • Ask a thought-provoking question and discuss it with anyone who responds
  • Reply to other people’s status updates
  • Share a quote, picture, or meme
  • Talk about something you’re struggling with (or doing well at)

In short, treat social media like a dinner party, not a sales pitch. Of course you can and should occasionally share links to your site, but those updates should be the garnish instead of the main course. I generally tend to mute or unfollow people whose accounts feel like never-ending advertisements.

How Often to Tweet

Some of the people I follow on Twitter post new tweets multiple times an hour from morning to night. Others might pop in once a week, once a month, or less.

In general, I think it’s best to tweet at least one new, non-promotional thing every day if you can. For example, your tweets for a week might look something like this:

  • Monday: Post a link to your new blog post for #MondayBlogs* and retweet other participants, too.
  • Tuesday: Ask your followers an open-ended question and reply to their responses.
  • Wednesday: Tell an amusing story about your dog running around in the backyard and trying to catch falling snowflakes during that big snowstorm last night. You’ll get bonus points from all of the animal lovers if you include a picture, too!
  • Thursday: Share a thought-provoking quote.
  • Friday: Talk about one of your hobbies or interests, especially if it’s somehow related to your blog’s subject matter.
  • Saturday: Grab a post from your archives and share it on #ArchiveDay.*
  • Sunday: Start a conversation with your followers about how everyone’s weekends went. Did you or they do anything interesting during it?

*I’ll talk more about these hashtags in the next section of this post.

Any retweets you want to share can be interspersed between these snapshots of your everyday life.

This doesn’t mean that you should spend twelve hours a day on social media. I know many people who set strict limits on how long they spend on Twitter and similar sites. After their 10 or 15 (or fill-in-the-blank) minutes are up for social media time, they close those windows or apps and get back to writing and other work.

One of the downsides of social media is that individual tweets tend to only attract an audience for a short period of time. By tweeting and retweeting regularly, you’ll begin to build rapport with the other people you meet there as they see you pop up over and over again on their timelines.

How to find new people to follow on Twitter might be worthy of its own post, so I won’t say anything else about it today.

Recurring Hashtags to Follow

Some of the hashtags I use are meant to be tweeted only on specific days of the week. If you’re able to spend a bit more time on Twitter sometimes, I’d recommend checking out one or more of the following hashtags.

#MondayBlogs

Rachel Thompson created this hashtag in 2012. Use this hashtag to share links to your blog posts on Mondays. You can use a current post or something from your archives, just don’t share anything that is pornographic or a promotion for your books. Be sure to retweet other participants as well!  Click on the link above for more information about this hashtag and the woman who came up with it.

#ArchiveDay

I believe that #ArchiveDay was originally created in late 2010 or early 2011 by Rosh Sillars so that he and other bloggers could share links from their archives and attract new readers. It wasn’t associated with any particular day in the beginning so far as I’ve been able to determine, but  for the past few years it has become a Saturday tradition for many of us. This is the least well-known hashtag I’m sharing today, but I love the idea of digging through your old posts and introducing them to new audiences. I hope it will become more popular in the future.

#SundayBlogShare

This hashtag was created in 2014 by Suzie81. As of April 2018, she is no longer participating in it, but I still see people using it to share old and new posts every Sunday. To the best of my knowledge, any posts that don’t include pornographic content are welcomed to be tagged with this hashtag.

If you only have time for one of these events, I’d recommend going with #MondayBlogs due to it’s large, active, and diverse population. Definitely don’t feel obliged to participate in all three of these hashtags every week unless you truly want to.

Leave Relevant Comments on Other Sites (and Allow Comments on Your Own)

Let’s say that last week you wrote a post about how to keep sharks from getting tangled up in your underwater basket weaving supplies. Today you noticed someone on Twitter sharing a post on their struggles with the same problem. You love their writing style and really want to connect with them.

This is the perfect opportunity to comment on their post to discuss what worked for you and, if their comment system allows for it, share a link to your post on the topic.

Relevant is the key word here. I definitely don’t share links to my blog posts in the body of every single comment I leave. In fact, most of the time my responses have nothing at all to do with what’s on my site and everything to do with reacting to whatever it is the other person is blogging about that day.

Many bloggers appreciate comments, especially when they know that you’re genuinely interested in who they are and what they’re talking about. If they’re interested in learning more about who you are, they’ll click on the website link that’s included in most commenting systems.

By allowing comments on your site, you’ll give your readers a chance to do the same for you.

Linkup Parties

A Linkup Party is a special type of blog post that is created specifically for people to leave links to their sites in the bodies of their comments. Some of them have specific themes (e.g. share a link to something you wrote on the topic of history, or it might be a linkup for LGBT+ bloggers only). Others are open to all participants.

Generally, the host will ask you to give a brief summary of your site, share a link to a post, and then visit other posts in the comment section of that post. Be sure to follow any additional instructions they give you and check out the other sites, too. You might find some that are right up your alley!

Blog Hops

Finally, we come to blog hops. A blog hop is a weekly prompt that a group of bloggers all write posts about. The site that created the blog hop will provide a space for you to share a link to your response and click on links to the responses of other participants as well.

If you can think of a topic, there is almost certainly a blog hop for it somewhere. That directory I just linked to is just one of many out there.

Top Ten Tuesday and the Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge are the two I participate it. They’ve brought quite a few new readers to my site over the last month or so since I first began doing them.

How many of these strategies have you tried? Ruth and anyone else who would like to chime in, what other questions do you have about blogging?

Additional reading:

15 Things I’ve Learned From 15 Years of Blogging

Blogging Advice: How to Begin Blogging

Blogging Advice: Brainstorming and Idea Management

Blogging Advice: Finding and Using Visual Images for Your Site

Blogging Advice: Finding and Using Visual Images for Your Site

Welcome back to my series on blogging that Ruth Feiertag asked me to write late last year. This is the third instalment, and today we’re talking about the important of including visual images in your posts. (There are  links to the first two instalments at the bottom of this post).

I’m going to be spend the vast majority of my time talking about the two specific types of visual images that I’ve seen used most often in the blogging world: photos and videos.

If you can master these two options, you’ll go a long way in attracting and retaining new readers.

Why Including Visual Aides In Your Work Is So Important

How quickly did it take for you to notice the picture of the sliced citrus fruits I included in the beginning of this post? My attention was immediately drawn to the pink slice. I wondered if it was a dyed piece of lemon or if it was supposed to be part of a small grapefruit instead.

A  well-chosen picture or video is eye-catching. Ideally, it will encourage the reader to ask questions about what it is they’re seeing and experience your post in ways that wouldn’t be as likely if they were only staring at words on a page.

Does this mean that every single post you share must be filled with images? No, not necessarily. You might only find one picture or video that is at all relevant to your subject matter. Sometimes you might not find anything at all! There are times when the topic I’ve talked about doesn’t have many good stock image photos that match it.  This brings me to my next point…

Make Sure Your Visual Aides Are Relevant

If you’re writing a post about whipping up a batch of your top-secret chili recipe, it wouldn’t make any sense to include a photo of elephants alongside the ingredient list.

In my opinion, it’s better to publish something that doesn’t contain any pictures at all than to shoehorn in images or videos that don’t actually fit the topic of conversation. This is something I’ve been guilty of in the past, and I know it has confused at least one of my readers.

Do your best to avoid my mistake. Take as much time as you can to find pictures or videos that match the topic you’re discussing.

Obey the Copyright Laws

Honestly, this shouldn’t even need to be said, but be sure to research and obey the copyright laws for your country. I’ve heard of multiple bloggers who were sued for using photographs and other creative works without permission. If you have any doubts about whether or not you’re allowed to use a specific work, find something else to fill that space instead or leave it blank.

Where to Find Free Stock Photos

Assuming you don’t know the photographer or creator personally and haven’t received special permission to use their work, here are some of the labels you’ll want to look for when searching for photographs that you’ll be able to use for free on your site.

Look for Public Domain and Creative Commons Licenses

As a general rule of thumb, the copyright on most photos and other works will expire 70 years after the artist’s death. Do not assume that every photo published after that date is free to use, however! Each country has their own laws on this topic, and sometimes those laws vary based on when the artist died. Always double-check what the rules are in your country before using any visual aides.

It is also possible for an artist to forfeit their copyright claims if they wish. This means that you can use their work for personal or commercial reasons without needing to seek permission first or pay for the rights to use that photo.

Public domain photos can be used for commercial and personal purposes. You don’t have to credit the photographer or provide a link to the site where you found it for this type of photograph.

A Creative Commons License is a little more complicated. In general, photos that have this license can be used for free if you follow the rules the creator made for them. For example, they might ask you to provide a link back to their personal site, include the Creative Commons logo,  email them for permission first, and/or take some other step  to indicate that you are not the owner of this photo and you do have permission to use it.

There are many free stock photo sites out there. Pexels is my favorite site for public domain photos due to their huge selection and high-quality images.  Wikimedia Commons has a smaller and more historical selection of photos that are mixture of public domain and creative commons licenses.

Finally, anyone who writes about TV shows or films should always check the IMDB page for the program they’re reviewing or discussing. There are often set photos, film posters, and previews on them that can be used in your review!

I highly recommend all of these sites. No registration is required for any of them, and you are free to use as few or as many photos and other items from them as you wish. In all of my years of including pictures in my posts, I still haven’t run out of possibilities from these sites. They’re all updated regularly with relevant and interesting content.

Sometimes I’ve also found wonderful stock photos by googling “public domain X photos,” where X stands for whatever topic it is I’m blogging about today. Be careful about double-checking the license for pictures if you go this route, though!

Since I haven’t needed to sign up for any paid stock photo sites so far, I won’t give recommendations for or against any particular companies. I try to only give advice on topics I’m experienced in.

Where to Find Videos

The copyright for videos is both easier and more difficult than it can be for photos since so many videos out there were either intentionally created to be shared or may have been stolen from the original creator. On the positive side, I am seeing people becoming more diligent about finding the original sources for videos (and forms of art not relevant to today’s post like comic strips) than they were even a year ago.

If I can’t verify who originally created a video or if the creator’s identity is disputed, I don’t share it. I work hard on my writing, and it’s only fair to give proper credit to other authors and artists, too.

The vast majority of the time, the videos I share come from one of two sources because of how (relatively) easy it is to track down creators on them: Youtube and Vimeo. The other nice thing about them are their share buttons. If a specific video has that option disabled, it’s a sign that the creator doesn’t actually want you putting it on other sites.

To repeat myself for a third and final time, don’t take my word on whether or not you can share something. I’m not a lawyer, and I don’t have the copyright laws from every single country on Earth memorized. Always do your due diligence and err on the side of caution if you’re not sure what the rules are.

This has been a long post. To thank you for reading it, I’ll share one of my all-time favourite Youtube videos with you. As anyone who knows me has probably already guessed, it is rabbit themed!

Cute Bunny Jumping Competition 

Additional, non-rabbit-related reading:

15 Things I’ve Learned From 15 Years of Blogging

Blogging Advice: How to Begin Blogging

Blogging Advice: Brainstorming and Idea Management

Reader Question: Should I Read Science Fiction or Fantasy?

Someone recently found this blog by googling the following question:

Should I read science fiction or fantasy?

I thought it was a great prompt for today’s post. Just like apples and pears are both types of fruit, fantasy and science fiction are part of the wider speculative fiction universe that also includes sub-genres like horror, dystopian, utopian, supernatural, science fantasy, and superhero fiction. Science fiction and fantasy share a lot of similarities, but they aren’t identical by any means.

On the off chance that they ever see this post, I’d be happy to give the person who did this search some personalized reading recommendations if they’re interested in such a thing.

Since I don’t know that person or what their tastes in reading material are like, I’m going to keep my advice as general as possible. The only assumption I’ll be making is that you were interested in exploring both of these sub-genres and are wondering which one you should dive into first.

Like most children in western cultures, fairy tales were my first taste of speculative fiction in general. I quickly developed a preference for the original, and often surprisingly macabre given the age group they were marketed to, versions of classic fairy tales, so I was soon introduced to the horror and supernatural genres as well through my insatiable appetite for as many new fairy tales as I could find at our local library.

There is so much overlap between the science fiction and fantasy, though, that I quickly found myself wandering deeper into the science fiction end of the spectrum. I now have a preference for hard science fiction, but I’ll never forget my love of fantasy or many of the other sub-genres under the speculative fiction umbrella.

The question of whether you should read fantasy or science fiction really depends on the sorts of stories you enjoy versus the ones that you don’t find so alluring. I’m going to be making some broad generalizations here that definitely won’t apply to every book or author out there. They may be helpful in steering the original visitor and everyone else reading this towards a specific section of the library or bookstore as you decide what you want to read next.

Science Fiction tends to be:

  • Realistic.
  • Related to what is, or could be, scientifically possible. For example, the discovery of a vaccine for AIDS or a cure for cancer.
  • Set in the present or future.
  • Rational. When someone weird happens, there is generally a logical reason for it.
  • More political (in many cases).
  • Interested in exploring specific ideas, ideologies, or conflicts. These themes can often be traced back to controversial subjects that are or were hotly debated when that specific book was first published.

Fantasy tends to be:

  • Imaginative.
  • Related to things that will never be scientifically possible. For example, the existence of Hogwarts (*sob*) or a pet dog that suddenly begins speaking plain English.
  • Set in the past.
  • Supernatural and/or magical. When something weird happens, it is not generally explained rationally to the reader.
  • Less political (in many cases).
  • Interested in world-building. You stand a good chance of meeting dozens of characters and many different fictional cultures when reading fantasy, so their page counts can be dramatically bigger than a science fiction novel.

Again, there is a lot of overlap between these sub-genres and these lists shouldn’t be taken as a strict interpretation of what you’ll find in either one. There are many speculative stories out there that combine elements from both of these sub-genres together (along with many other themes), but many of them do tend to lean one way instead of the other.

This isn’t even to mention all of the other genres, from romance to mystery, that are often swirled into these tales as well. Figuring out how to label books these days is so complicated, especially for fans who don’t always enjoy seeing their favourite genre being mashed up with other styles of writing, that I think I’ll save a more detailed discussion of that aspect of it for another day.

Readers, what would you recommend to this person? is there a specific fantasy or science fiction author you think would be a nice introduction to their genre? Which types of speculative fiction do you tend to gravitate towards most often?

6 Things I Wish My Gym Teachers Had Done Differently

The other day I had a conversation with some  friends online about our experiences in gym class when we were growing up. Most of us disliked that class quite a bit growing up, and none of us came away from it with positive feelings about sports or exercise in general.

There were many different reasons for those reactions, but the biggest ones had to do with our  complete disinterest in sports and lack of athletic prowess in general.

This is a real shame. Physical Education teachers have a golden opportunity to show students how to stay fit regardless of how coordinated or athletic they might be. I empathize with how difficult it must be to get kids interested in gym class if they show up already expecting to hate it, but I’d also argue that there are a lot of changes that could be made to the way P.E. classes are run that will make them far more appealing to kids who aren’t athletic and who don’t think of exercise as a fun activity.

Today I’ll be sharing those recommendations. If there are any gym teachers reading this blog, I’d be quite interested in hearing your response to this post. These are the six things that I wish my gym teachers had done differently when I was in their classes.

Explained Why It’s Important to Exercise

My English teachers regularly explained why it was important to know how to write a grammatical sentence or be familiar with certain authors. They used examples like writing a formal letter or understanding certain literary references that the vast majority of adults know.

My math teachers told us how equations helped you save money or solve problems as an adult. They used examples like figuring out how much a sale item will cost after the 30% discount or calculating how many gallons of paint to buy when you repaint your living room.

None of my gym teachers ever made the connection between what they taught in class and what we’d need to know in order to function well as adults. We played endless rounds of basketball, football, volleyball, and other sports without hearing a single word about how exercise strengthens your heart, builds your muscles, burns calories, or reduces your risks of many different diseases.

It was like being given an equation that didn’t make sense and then never being told what the real answer should have been.

Because I said so isn’t a persuasive or helpful response in these scenarios. Kids, and especially teenagers, are smart enough to be told why they’re being expected to do something. It might be a while before they come to fully appreciate these lessons, but I think that explaining the reasons for gym class would go a long way to encouraging reluctant students to change their habits.

Taught Us the Proper Form

I wasn’t the most coordinated kid in the world, so I’m definitely not going to lay all of the blame on the  injuries I regularly received in gym class on the teachers.

There were multiple times when I sprained fingers or got bruised up in gym class.

Yes, some of them were true accidents that could have happened to any child.

With that being said, I do think I would have been injured much less often if we’d all been taught the proper posture for the sports we were playing and if someone had corrected my posture if it still wasn’t right.

This never happened once in all of my years of attending public school. As an adult, I sympathize with my teachers for being responsible for the physical education of so many kids. I don’t think we should expect perfection from teachers in this area, but I do think they should have the support and resources to prevent as many injuries as possible.

Eliminated Dodgeball and Picking Teams

Dodgeball is the only sport I can think of where the purpose of it is to throw balls at people and purposefully hit them. I don’t know about you, but I remember feeling pain when those dodgeballs smacked me. This was not a pleasant experience in any way.

It’s one thing if a small group of friends decide to play this game at recess, but school isn’t an appropriate place to make kids to throw objects at each other.

If it happened in any other context, the kid who threw the object would be sent to the principal’s office and possibly even suspended or expelled for assault.

Picking teams is unnecessary, ripe for bullying behaviours, and a waste of time. It would be so much faster to divide the students by preassigning groups or having them count off (e.g. 1 through 4) so they could quickly be divided into four equal sections.

Spent 1/3 of the School Year on Non-Competitive Sports

Yes, I know that many schools have limited budgets for their physical education departments and therefore can only offer certain types of workouts to their students.

The schools I attended didn’t have anything fancy like swimming pools or tennis courts. We had gyms that always smell faintly of perspiration, plenty of old sports equipment, and far more wrestling mats than we knew what to do with.

With that being said, there are plenty of inexpensive and even free types of exercise out there that don’t require any competition at all.

For example, there would be little to no equipment needed at all for a P.E. teacher to teach martial arts or several different units on various types of dancing. The music for the dance classes could be piped in over the loudspeakers or played on an old boombox. Many types of martial arts don’t require any equipment at all.

Spent 1/3 of the School Year on Individual Sports

One of the reasons why I hated gym class so much growing up is that 95% of the units we did were team sports.

Basketball, volleyball, baseball, football, and hockey might be good workouts, but they didn’t appeal to me in the least. The more I played them, the less open I became to exercising at all.

While I do think it was a good idea to expose kids to team sports, I’d also argue that it’s just as important to show students the many ways they can work out that have nothing at all to do with competition or teams.

There are so many other ways to strengthen your heart and body that could easily be taught to students depending on their ages and what types of equipment are already available at the school: yoga, weightlifting, jogging, bodyweight exercises, and gymnastics to name a few.

The final third of the year could be dedicated to various team sports. Some kids honestly do enjoy those forms of exercise, so I’d be fine with keeping them as a small part of the curriculum.

Occasionally Given the Students a Say

This is by far the biggest change I’d recommend making to the way physical education classes are currently run.

My high school Spanish class was allowed to vote on which pre-approved Disney movie we wanted to watch after we’d studied that language for a while and were reading to start practicing our listening skills in real time.

One of my elementary school teachers regularly let us vote on which pre-approved book to read as a class next. This would be a little trickier to do in high school since certain authors are often required to be taught, but I could see a secondary English teacher narrowing down the choices to two or three Shakespeare plays and then seeing which one their class was most interested in studying over the next month.

Being able to have a say in those classes made me much more interested in reading those books and watching those movies.

There’s no reason why gym teachers can’t offer their students the same choice. Why not let them decide whether they’ll spend the next few weeks playing basketball or learning how to square dance? They’ll be exercising either way, and the fact that the teacher listened to them will mean a lot.

What were your experiences with gym class growing up? What could your P.E. teacher have done differently to get you more involved in that class?

Why Unsolicited Advice Is a Terrible Idea

Yes, I appreciate the irony in writing a blog post about unsolicited advice that could be read as unsolicited advice.

I’ve been playing around with the idea of never giving anyone any advice that they haven’t asked me for, though, and I thought it would make a great topic for a post here while I’m adjusting to the idea of keeping my mouth shut until or unless I’m asked for my opinion.

Perhaps someday I’ll revisit this topic once I have more to say about it? For now, let’s talk about why giving people advice they haven’t asked for is a terrible idea.

 You Don’t Have All of the Facts

Everyone has private parts of their lives that are only shared with very few people or maybe even no one else at all. It could be as simple as a soothing bedtime ritual or as complex as an uncommon hobby that they only discuss with others who have also devoted their free time to perfecting the art of underwater basket weaving.

The parts of someone’s life that others see  almost certainly don’t give a full picture of who they are or how complex their problems – or their perceived problems –  really are.

Sometimes what looks like a banana isn’t actually a banana after all. (Also, I love this picture in and of itself. Isn’t it interesting?)

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

I’ve seen this happen multiple times with various friends of mine who are living with serious, longterm mental or physical health problems.

No sooner do they mention having a particularly bad day or dealing with a troublesome, new symptom than someone else will jump in with a half-dozen suggestions for how they should fix their disease once and for all.

Yes, they’ve tried all of those cures already. No, that random Internet article isn’t going to magically fix deep-seated health problems that have been bothering them for decades and that have been treated by multiple doctors and other healthcare professions over the years.

I’ve only ever had this happen to me briefly once or twice, and even that made me irrationally angry. I can’t imagine what my friends who must deal with possibly well-meaning but ultimately wrong and judgemental assumptions about their bodies over and over again go through.

What works for one person can fail miserably for another even if they’re both dealing with similar circumstances or diseases.

 It Doesn’t Work

Advice is only useful when the person receiving it is open to the idea of changing. It’s not like a vaccine that will protect someone from dangerous diseases regardless of what thoughts flutter through their minds while their immune systems are learning how to recognize and destroy inactivated polio germs.

One has to be ready to accept what the advice-giver is saying in order for it to have any hope at all of working. Changing your personality, habits, and/or current situation is such a difficult task that there’s no other way of going about it. Anyone who isn’t motivated to keep going even if they don’t see any results right away is almost certainly going to give up long before any of the work they might have put into their current personal project has had any chance at all to fix things.

Unwanted advice also doesn’t work well for adult relationships in general. When someone who isn’t in an official place of authority over me tries to control what I do or how I live, I feel annoyed and confused. If they continue to do it over a long period of time despite being asked to stop, I slowly begin to share less about my life with them.

Not only does unsolicited advice not work in the short term, it makes me much less willing to listen six months or a year from now if they have something else to say to me.

Rather than prompting me to change whatever it is they think I’m doing wrong, what this kind of interaction teaches me is that they’re not a safe person to confide in. I will often start spending less time with them and guarding myself when I do see them. Their intentions may have been noble, but the results of their poor boundaries are going to be the exact opposite of what they might have hoped for.

Some Lessons Have to be Learned the Hard Way

Not everyone is willing to take the experiences of others as the ultimate truth.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have the urge to warn other people about certain types of mistakes I’ve made in the past, but you can’t live someone else’s life for them.

Sometimes they have to find out for themselves that something is a terrible idea regardless of whether it takes thirty seconds or thirty years between their decision and reaping the consequence of it.

The only thing the rest of us can do in the meantime is to respect their boundaries and hope that they’ll learn their lesson as quickly and easily as possible.

The 7 Deadly Sins of Writing

1. Not Explaining How Things Work One of my favourite books when I was a preteen was Lois Lowry’s “The Giver.” It’s an excellent example of what happens when authors don’t explain how their worlds work. The idea of growing up in a society that had no suffering, premature death, disease, or pain of any kind mesmerized me. I… Read More