How do you learn? Do you take classes? Use Internet tutorials? Read books? Do you find useful tips and ideas on blogs and websites?
Guess what? You have something to share, just like the authors of the blogs and sites that you gain new information from. Your experience, your perspective, your frustrations are all things of value- to an audience beyond yourself and your team. So start sharing.
For starters, if you respond to this suggestion with “I have no idea how to do that, I can’t build websites”, you can relax. If you can sign up for Facebook or GovLoop, you can sign up for a free WordPress blog account or a free account on Medium or TinyLetter if you prefer a more minimalist writing environment- no buttons, just blank space. So you now have to drop excuse number one- this isn’t hard to start.
Next you’re maybe unsure about what you could possibly have of value worth sharing about. Stop for just a minute and think about how many other people work in similar jobs to yours in other agencies across the USA. That’s a big number for most people. That’s your audience (most likely). You’ve surely had some successes- those are great things to write about- how did something work, how did it change an outcome, make a process better? You’ve experienced frustrations, so write about those, what it means to be limited by policy or practice and how things could be better. Maybe pay some mind to naming names and embarrassing people here, but the essence of a situation can transcend locality and inspire others to also accept their frustrations as valid and start to do something about them.
You may also have witnessed or led a failed effort. That sucks, but only if you fail to learn from it- we learn through mistakes way more than we learn via success, so you’ve hopefully learned something, and you can share that for others to benefit from also. But maybe you haven’t yet seen the learning come out of a failure- for many of us, writing about something is a powerful way to process a situation, to help you sift through the failure and identify the valuable things your team or agency has learnt along the way or through the failure. The worst thing you can do here is to fail to share the lessons from this experience. By writing, blogging and sharing about it, you provide these insights to others who may just be heading into that same doomed situation- by writing more, you can save them grief or maybe just connect you virtually to others who’ve struggles with the same frustrations, successes and failures.
Once you start, you’ll hopefully see that writing doesn’t happen in a vacuum- make an effort to connect to others via social networks and broaden your own network of people in your field, share your thoughts with them and over time you’ll have a strong group of individuals you can bounce ideas off and learn from- your <insert job title here> doesn’t exist in isolation anymore.
As Edward Tufte says, “Avoid Not Writing”!
Steve Spiker is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.