Put stuff on the Internet and watch what happens

You should write. 

Regardless of your self-perceived skill or experience, you should absolutely write stuff and stick it on the Internet. This is what I have been doing for more than a decade. Every single day since 2005 - without exception, I have posted a thought or an idea or an observation to the Internet in the form of a blog post.

Many remarkable things have happened as a result of this.

  • I am quite certain that it has made me a better writer.
  • It has connected me with people from all over the world.
  • I have made friends as a result of my writing.
  • It has created an archive of my life and my thoughts that I reference constantly and with great zeal. 
  • I have been offered jobs and landed writing gigs as a result of my writing.

My blog posts were also excerpted, misquoted, and presented out of context by a lunatic or a small group of lunatics in attempt to destroy my life and the lives of others, but that was a unicorn. An "impossible-to-believe of act of insanity" in the words of one attorney. A one-in-a-million disaster that could only happen to me. 

It also resulted in a Moth story that won me a GrandSLAM championship and ended up being heard on the Moth Radio Hour by millions of Americans. Listeners reach out to me all the time about the story. It's become a story that the victims of hate-mongering, prejudice, and cowardly anonymous attacks listen to for solace, hope, and inspiration.

So it wasn't all bad. 

Then there are the bizarre, the unexpected, and the unbelievable things that have happened as a result of writing stiuff and sticking it on the Internet.

Here are just a few:

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post advising Hillary Clinton to take certain strategic steps in her next two debates with Donald Trump. That post made it into the hands of a senior staffer on the Clinton campaign and was passed around. I don't know if Clinton herself read it, but I like to pretend that she did. 

I have yet to be offered a speech writing job, but I haven't given up hope. 
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In June of 2010, a wrote a post about the Blackstone Valley sniper. When I was a child, a pair of men spent almost two years firing bullets into windows in my hometown and the adjacent towns, forcing us to turn out our lights at night and crawl under the picture window as we passed through the living room. We lived in fear for a long time. There was a total of eleven shootings from 1986-1987 (in addition to acts of arson and burglaries), and though no one was killed, four people were wounded in the attacks. 

The two men guilty of the shootings were sentenced to prison in 1989 and were released on probation in 2008. 

Five years after writing that post, the girlfriend of one of the shooters saw the post and wrote to me, complaining about my disparaging remarks about her boyfriend, who was turning his life around. 

It was an interesting exchange of ideas.  

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In April of 2011, I wrote about my desire to become a professional best man. I declared myself ready and able if anyone needed my services.

Since I wrote that post, four grooms and one bride have attempted to hire me (scheduling prevented those bookings from happening), and a fifth groom actually hired me for his wedding but cancelled later on. 

I've also been contacted by three different reality television producers about the possibility of doing a show in which I would be a professional best man at a series of weddings. None of these shows came to fruition.

In 2015, comedian Kevin hart wrote to me upon the release of his film The Wedding Ringer, in which he plays a professional best man. He acknowledged that it was my idea first. 

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In 2012, I wrote about my desire to find my first library book. I recalled a few details about the book - the color of the cover and a few details about the plot - but nothing terribly specific. 

Two years later a reader correctly identified the book. It now sits on my bookshelf. 

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Earlier this month, I wrote about Mrs. Carroll, the woman who taught me how to tie my shoes in kindergarten.

One day later, I was informed that she is 94 years old and still going strong.

By the end of that day, I had been given her home address by a reader. I sent her a letter last week telling her how much she meant to me and how I think about her every time I tie my shoes.

I'm waiting to hear back. 

Why do I blog? Because it’s nearly led to national television, and it still might. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

I’ve been blogging for over ten years now. Every single day for more than a decade, I have sat down and written something for a blog. Before this blog, there was another, and before that one, there was my first, born in a blogging class at Trinity College.

I am often asked why I continue to write a blog. Is it worth the time? Doesn’t it ever become a burden? Wouldn’t the time spent writing it be better spent working on my books?

I’m often asked if I generate income from my blog, and while there was once a time when I did – and maybe someday I will profit from my blog posts again – I don’t do it for the money.

There are many reasons why I write a blog. Too many to list in just one blog post. But this past week was a clear indication of just one of the reasons:

Back in 2011, I wrote a post proposing that brides and grooms hire me as their professional best man. While I was serious about my skill set and the need for this position, I never thought that anyone would actually take me up on it. Last Saturday – with an hour of each other – two prospective clients (one bride and one groom) contacted me via email, inquiring  about my professional best man services, and it looks like I will actually be hired by at least one of them for their wedding. They aren’t the first to reach out to me. In the past two years, six other potential clients have contacted me, and in all instances, geography and scheduling were barriers to employment.

Still, just to be contacted was amazing.

In addition, three different reality show producers and a documentarian from the UK have contacted me over the past two years, asking if I would like to be a part of a potential television show about a professional best man.

Six months ago, actor and comedian Kevin Hart also contacted me to give me credit fro coming up with the professional best man idea before he did for his most recent film.

All because of a simple blog post.

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On Sunday, I spent about an hour on the phone talking to a booker at Fox & Friends about appearing on their national morning show to discuss a post I wrote in 2014 about my failed attempt at becoming a member of the social network BeautifulPeople.com. This past week, Beautiful People kicked off about 3,000 members for no longer being beautiful enough, and for a moment, I was going to appear on their show to discuss my experiences. Ultimately, they found someone who had been actually kicked off the site and went with her instead, but none of it would’ve ever happened had I not written that blog post.

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And although this opportunity didn’t work out, the booker liked me and plans to use me on their weekend parenting panels, so I may still have my shot at national television.

There are many, many reasons why I have been writing a blog post every day for more than a decade, but one of them is this:

The unexpected, unpredictable, unbelievable doors that blogging sometimes opens.

Credit this blog for last night’s Moth StorySLAM victory

When I started blogging in 2004, people thought it was silly. They believed that it represented an unpolished, unprofessional form of writing that would go unread and unnoticed and eventually go away. They thought it a fad. A burst of digital narcissism.

In 2007, blogging had begun to gain more mainstream acceptance, but the perception remained that most blogs were written by loners and losers who were sitting at desks in their underwear.

2007 was also the year that blogging nearly destroyed my life. A long story for another day. A story I once told on a Moth stage. 

By 2010 blogging had become an accepted and valued form of personal expression and serious journalism. Authors were encouraged to blog in order to build their platforms. The media turned to blogging as a means of getting information out faster and more seamlessly. Readers turned to blogs as replacements for the dying newspaper and magazine industry.  

Today, blogging is viewed as a valid and valued form of written communication, news distribution and self expression.

I have been blogging consistently, almost daily, for almost ten years. This blog is my third. While my previous two blogs no longer exist on the Internet, I retain the material written on those blogs. My archive of posts, as a result, is almost a decade long.

I write my blog for several reasons:

1. It provides me with a means of expressing ideas, thoughts and experiences with an audience of engaged readers.

2. It connects me with people who I might otherwise have never known.

3. It serves as a laboratory where I can test new ideas before committing them to something more formal and traditionally published.

4. It provides a record of my life.

This last reason is an important one for me. Though I don’t often write about my day to day experiences, I do so when the moments are important or unique enough to warrant a mention. As a result, I have an extensive archive of the events from my life that I can return to again and again when needed.

Last night I was fortunate enough to win another Moth StorySLAM at Housing Works in Manhattan. I told a story about the day I intervened in a fight between two men outside my gym. When I saw that the theme of the night was Interference, the fight outside the gym immediately popped to mind as a perfect fit for the theme. But I also found myself unable to recollect the specifics from that morning. I couldn’t remember enough of the story to reliably tell it onstage, so for a few days, I searched for another story from my life that would fit the theme.

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Then it occurred to me (while in the shower, of course) that I had written about that fight on my blog, almost immediately after retuning home that day. While I was sure that it wasn’t a perfectly crafted story suited for a Moth stage, I thought that the post might contain enough details to sufficiently refresh my memory.

I was right. The fight took place more than two years ago, but I found the post and all the long lost details that I required to prepare the story for a Moth performance.

The A-Team tee shirt that one of the guys was wearing.  The dialogue that we exchanged pre and post fight. My post-fight panic attack. All were details long since forgotten that came rushing back to me while reading the post. In fact, reading the post returned me to that morning in a way I didn’t think possible. I was able to remember even more about the fight, and especially my feelings about the fight, than even the post itself contained.

I was lucky to win last night. Some exceptionally strong storytellers did not have their names drawn from the hat.

But I am also lucky enough to have a detailed account of so many of the odd and unique moments from my life. It’s an archive that I can turn to again and again when I need to recall a story but my memory is failing me.

Specific details and the emotions of a moment are so critical to crafting and telling a successful story. Many times I can remember these elements with perfect accuracy. Other times, they are lost to the abyss of time. But as long as I continue to write for my blog on a daily basis and capture these moments in ones and zeros, I can reach down into that abyss and extract the information needed to craft a complete story.

I mentioned how lucky I felt to win last night competition to a fellow storyteller. He reminded me that luck favors the prepared.

I feel like I had been preparing to tell last night’s story for a long time. At least as far back as February of 2011, when I wrote the story down, and perhaps as far back as 2004, when people scoffed at the idea and laughed at the notion that I was writing a blog that no one would ever read.

Last night served as a big, fat “I told you so” to all those doubters and disbelievers.