by Monica A. Ross, LPC
I sat down today wanting to write another post, but not really sure what to write about. Classes are going really well. I’m loving being in this doctoral program at USC. We’ve learned so much even in these first few weeks about social norms, deviance, and innovation dynamics. Jeff Leitner developed innovation dynamics.
We’re starting in one of my classes with a case study on decarceration and analyzing all of the actors involved with some of the problems surrounding that. I have something to contribute to the discussion because I have had clients who were also former inmates. As we go through each case study, we’ll continue to hone our abilities to tackle the social problem of our choice for the capstone project.
My professors this first semester are Dr. Terrance Fitzgerald Jr. who got his PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Professor Jim Wind who received his MBA from Harvard Business School. Both are leaders within the fields of social work, education, and business.
It takes a bit of getting used to having classes in a virtual environment. I love the concept of collaborating with colleagues all over the country/world and in different time zones—live and in real time. Classes sizes are kept small. The software that we use allows for the capability of chatting with everyone or with specific people while class is taking place.
This has its pros and cons and invites moments of laughter. Imagine the experience of listening to the professor lecture and being able to direct your gaze to the chat in the corner where a colleague included a link to an article or organization that contributes to the conversation. It can be a very useful tool.
Also, people tend to loosen up a bit in the virtual environment and crack one-liners on chat which adds comedic relief. This too may take place during the actual live discussion itself.
I started this blog almost one year ago. I remember the feeling of whelp, this is post number one. I didn’t know then if I could sustain my motivation to write. And I wasn’t sure at the time what my blog would be about. Some things haven’t changed in a year. =)
As a writer, sometimes you have broader concerns about how people will take what you write and, in some ways, that sense feels compounded if you are a clinician in addition to being a writer. =/ But I’ve just kept at it. And then several months into writing this blog, I became motivated to write a book. And now I’m working on that.
I don’t have a set schedule, for example, to sit down every Monday morning at 8 a.m. and plan to publish by Wednesday. I also don’t force myself to put one post out every week or what have you. It’s just when I feel like sitting down to write, I do.
And what I end up writing about isn’t mapped out for the next 3 to 6 months around themed topic areas. I’m not strategizing about covering such and such issues in mental health. I did play with doing some of that early on. I had all of those posts about the 10 unhelpful thinking styles that are the core of cognitive behavioral therapy and then there were the posts about EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing).
But when I wrote all of that it was more from a sense of just wanting to get the information out and less from a sense that I was building up a marketing strategy. I do remember writing one post that was formulaic and based on marketing strategy techniques.
At the time I was listening to advice from a marketing consultant and actually, while the post has good information in it, I don’t really like it for that reason. It’s not really me.
It’s not as though I can’t follow a formula. You hear things from marketing consultants like “only provide information in the post that is bite-sized and skimmable, aim for 1,500 words, write to your ideal client, start with a ‘hook,’ and add an emotional appeal that delivers a vision of a before and after scenario.”
It’s also not as though I’ve thrown all the advice out. I think some of it has been helpful. And for people wanting that type of structure and direction, I can see how having a plan can be good. Maybe it’s something I’ll shift into? Maybe not? Who knows.
But by and large I’m just picking and choosing what I feel like writing about at the moment. With taking on additional education, and as I begin to shape my capstone project, and what will eventually become my first book—my website, this blog, my life will begin to take on a different form I suspect, as well.
This is just a moment captured in time. Life is a process. And I’m in that process right alongside the people that I help. I guess that’s one of the major points I’ve been trying to get across from the very beginning.