Create / Write

Confessions of An April Platform Challenge Participant

This post is one in a series of Anniversary posts for Wordsmith Studio (WSS). Last year we joined Robert Lee Brewer’s April Platform Challenge on his blog and united to create a community of writers who support each other.

I have a confession to make. I’m doing it again, one bit at a time.

building history

I blogged on and off since 2007. My website started as a book reviewing blog (Quirky Reading Room). When I moved cross-country, I created a 2nd blog about Vancouver (My Quirky City). In 2011, I merged the 2 together under MQC, and created a professional blog (Circadian Design) dedicated to architectural and health, wanting to continue the threads of my Masters Thesis. I continued blogging on and off in these 2 blogs, without engaging any real audience.

At the same time, I tried the first drafts of several stories demanding to get out. I worked on my license, writing 7 professional designation exams, plus LEED, and working overtime on several projects.

building platform

I started following Robert Lee Brewer because of the writing advice he gave. One day last year, I saw his April Platform Challenge. I confess I signed up because I wanted to win the Writers Market 2012 guide he promised to one lucky person who completed his challenge.

I wasn’t sure how far I’d make it in the challenge. I was doing an online course, and I wasn’t sure how detailed Robert would get. I was also doing 4 weeks straight of deficiency reviews for a hospital, and the physical efforts of walking around and pointing out every single detail wore me out. Yet, the challenge gave me something to look forward to every day. I embraced the list of twitter handles and Google+ accounts, connecting with more people in ways I didn’t expect.

I learned a lot from it, from embracing myself as a brand and putting my name into my social media profiles, to scheduling my posts and trying to ask to guest post. I’m embarrassed to say I had an idea, it got approved but I never followed through. Some challenges worked better for Circadian Design, and some worked better for My Quirky City. The post I suggested, never came through because it combined my worlds in a way I wasn’t ready for, and I didn’t know which platform to put it under. In the end, I just wasn’t committed.

building myself

I joined various groups, from the fiction mystery gals, to multimedia. I joined in on twitter chats. I befriended fellow challenge members in LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads. I also joined other networking sites, like Architizer, specifically geared towards the architectural community.

image

As our group formed the Wordsmith Studio, I found myself in an awkward situation. I loved my job, I loved my writing and platform community, but I felt like I was walking a tightrope in between the two. My worlds didn’t mingle, and I felt guilty if I spent too much time in either one. Experts I read on the branding subject, like Michael Hyatt and Joanna Penn advocated making sure your platform was specific to your brand. The problem was, I had two brands: Heather the Writer, and Heather the Intern Architect. So I turned to my community, asking them what they thought of multiple sites and brands, and they turned me to Kristen Lamb’s blog post on building only one platform. Her post resonated with me, but it would still take months to believe that my writing and architecture could be part of the same platform.

Early this year, fellow WSS-er Khara House held her 1<3 my blog challenge. I wondered if it was something I could tackle, and I started the process uniting my blogs. I also turned back to Robert’s initial challenge, paying close attention to those first 2 days of the challenge, and identifying who I am, and what my goals are. The rest of the challenge is cake if you can solidify those first. What came out of the process was Write. Design. Create. a blog about my passions and what inspires me to create. It celebrates the fact that I am a writer and an Intern Architect, and that’s okay. It’s what sets me apart from other designers, and other writers.

I’m not done with my site’s redesign, and I pick one of Robert’s tasks per week to focus on, making sure that both sides of me are reflected in the site. But now, I <3 my blog, and feel open about where I’m going.

So thank you Robert, for teaching me how to put myself out there. And thank you WSS group, for being helpful and supportive as I redefine who I am.

*****

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38 thoughts on “Confessions of An April Platform Challenge Participant

  1. Great post Heather. I love that you’re a writer and an architect and I love your continued efforts to put it all together. Happy anniversary to us, won’t it be wonderful to look back next year too…think of all we’ll achieve by then. :)

  2. Great post, Heather. I think most of us struggle with finding our identities, and you’ve done a good job of it. You’ve also encouraged me to go back to Khara’s blog challenge and take it on. Maybe I can do it a little at a time. You’ve accomplished a lot in a year! Congrats and happy anniversary!

    • Thanks Gerry! I really do think that if we can figure out the “Who we are” and “What our goals are” portions of that challenge, the rest falls into place relatively easily. Khara’s challenge was great, because it looked at the blog as a product, not just a platform.

  3. Great job, Heather. I wish I’d known you were experiencing that struggle. I’ve been having it, too, as I build my business and also pursue a writing identity. Thanks for the links and for the community support.

    • Thanks Kasie! It’s tough to understand that struggle, and to feel like we’re the only ones. But I see so many people doing more than one thing in life now. I figure, if they both make me happy and I can find balance, then I can do both. Sometimes the balance changes in favour of one or the other, but so far, so good.

  4. Nice post, Heather! I’m glad that you were able to combine your different identities and realize that it makes a more interesting and unique platform! Hopefully, it’s also been helpful for balancing all the things you’re involved in.

    • Thanks Jennifer! I think it will. I think a more rounded designer makes a better designer, and a more rounded writer makes a better one too! Thanks for stopping by!

  5. I had a similar problem with my writing and photography blogs. I’ve finally combined them and feel so much better about it. I’ll have to go back to the challenge tasks and see if I missed anything with my new, combined blog. Thanks for this!

    Happy Anniversary to us all!

    • It’s so tough to know how to combine our passions. I have 6 categories, and everything I do has to fit into those. It helps me plan my posts, while still being flexible enough to develop content that inspires me.

    • Bolton, It helps to create general categories that fit what it is you like to do. I’ve changed my mind so many times with what I want to write about that it makes sense to have an online space that just lets me be me, following my various pursuits. You’ll figure it out!

    • I find it really helpful, especially as I gain new experience, it helps me frame the tasks and know where I’m going better than I did the first time.

  6. Thank you Heather for sharing your confession and your struggles- that’s one of the many benefits of WSS. When people write about their challenges with the writing life, and how they overcome them, it comforts and inspires me. Keep up the good work.

  7. Enjoyed your post, Heather. I too struggle. I work as an accountant and have basically left that entire part of me out of platform building. I admire you for combining yours. Continued success!

  8. Fantastic post, Heather :) I, personally, love your new blog and I think that in the end you are the only brand you can promote. That means all of you, in one package. Though the main thrust of Writerly Goodness is the WG ;) I blog about my job, because while I’m still spending the bulk of my time as a trainer/coordinator/instructional designer, it’s part of my package. And I find all sorts of funky things in the training world that tie right into my writing life, like story-based design.
    Thanks for sharing your journey!

  9. Write. Design. Create. Yay!
    I, too, struggle with many interests, while the internet and “gurus” tell me to build a specific brand. That’s why I like Pinterest, because I can like so many things and not just be my “professional” self.

  10. Great post, Heather! It sounds like you’ve come a long way. (Like I think we all have.) I have struggled with finding a solid branding, too, so it’s interesting to me that you are giving it another go. I like what you have come up with! Looking forward to another year of supporting each other on WSS!

  11. Hmm . . . I guess I should learn to copy my comment before attempting to post it. I lost the one I just wrote, but if it should reappear, sorry to sound redundant.
    I said that it was interesting to read about your journey as I have also struggled with finding my brand. I like what you have come up with! Looking forward to another year ahead with all of us working together!

  12. Very nice Heather! I like how your blending your once separate passions. It is very important to know ourselves as well as the things we enjoy most. It all comes together as facets of a beautiful stone. Here’s to the cutting and polishing! Happy Anniversary!

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