Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Things I Learned From Pioneer Woman

Today was a good day. It was a good day for many reasons, but mostly today was good because I got to hear Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, speak. For those of you who are new to my blog, I'll let you know now that I may have a sorta huge girl crush on this woman. She is an amazing writer, photographer and cook, and all I want to do right now is copy her blogging empire and make it my own. I admire her so much. And now that I've met her, I'll tell you that my opinion of her hasn't changed in the slightest. She's just as funny and quirky in real life as she is online.

You know, sometimes I'll go listen to speakers and while their speech topics make me think they'll be super inspiring, they just fall short. Happens all the time, it seems. And I definitely left plenty of space for Pioneer Woman to fall short in my mind, since I'd put her up so high. But she didn't disappoint. I loved every moment of her talk. I learned so much and I left feeling so inspired.

Below are the things, practical and abstract, that I learned from Ree today:

1. I need a new hosting site, so that the platform and designs I use better reflect who I am as a writer. Did you know that Pioneer Woman also started out on Blogger? Yup! But then she decided that the templates available were too limiting and she couldn't get the look she wanted, so she branched out. And the more I've thought about it, the more I think she's right. I'm getting really tired of my current template, and it's time for a change. I'm going to start looking around for other hosting sites and a different look.

2. I need to get my own domain name. Pioneer Woman, like me, started out using Blogger as her hosting site. And she, like me, had that ending, which is lengthy and looks uncool. So she put up the dough and got a domain name and server space. I think that's my next step. Hosting doesn't cost more than $4 a month, so why not?

The only problem so far on that one is that I don't have a really good name for my blog yet. To be honest, I've started to hate the name VirginiaFilms. Well, hate is too strong a word. But that title tells you nothing about me, except that my name is Virginia. I don't even talk about films very often, so that's a misnomer there. I just wish I was better at titles. I need help. Any suggestions?

3. Not only is Ree Drummond writing a book -- putting her Black Heels to Tractor Wheels story to paper -- but Columbia Pictures has optioned the screenplay. Seriously can't wait.

4. Photographs make a blog so much better. People are highly visual nowadays, and they need pictures.

5. When she started blogging, it was only to keep her mom (who lived in another state) up-to-date on her growing family, etc. But she found she actually really enjoyed writing, and it developed from there.

6. When Q & A time came, I asked her how she was able to be so honest about her personal life -- her romance, her parents, etc-- when she knew that the people she was talking about would be reading her posts. And her answer was perfect. She said that she made sure that she never said anything to hurt someone intentionally. She was never critical or mean. The only person she makes fun of on her blog is herself. She said that she could sense when her stories, like that of her parent's divorce, had moved out of her realm and into being their story to tell (and she'd left it that way).

Then she gave me some of the best writing advice I've ever received. She told me that you can't start out with a box, labeling and defining everything you will and will not write about. Blogs shouldn't work that way. Start with writing about what you love. Be honest. And if you feel you are overstepping a boundary, you probably are. Then just retrace and start again.

7. Before starting her blog, Ree Drummond didn't know anything about photography. Anything. She is a self-taught photographer, and I think that's amazing. And very heartening. If she can learn, then so can I. At least, that's what she kept saying. Throughout the entire talk, she kept stressing that she was just a normal person who took something she loved and stuck with it. 

I left the talk full of ideas and feeling empowered. First step = get a new name. Any ideas?

1 comment:

  1. Wow! You're so lucky. I would love to have been there to see her.


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