Taking Writing on to Real Pages

Sometimes when your writing finds an audience the hard-work is starting

During the #Profession series on The Bridge I had an opportunity to collaborate with several excellent writers. This exchange of ideas spurred by a Twitter inquiry from the diva of Military Ethics, Dr. Pauline Kaurin. Now, through a unique opportunity, we are in the process of collecting these blog posts into an edited book on military professionalism and ethics.

It is not an easy task to expand our blog posts into legitimate essays. As I’m updating my draft, these three topics keep swirling through my mind.

1. It feels like a term paper, but it should still be interesting:

If you follow The Bridge, you've probably read essays such as Williamson Murray’s views on Mission Command, or something more academically focused such as the strategy tome, Makers of Modern Strategy. A tough fundamental question for me to answer, is “How the hell do I still make this interesting?” Audiences are interested in blog posts, they are quick reads, they can spread via email and social media like wildfire. The rare whitepaper or essay that makes the rounds to the force really needs the right stuff.

2. Find Sources that Support and Challenge the Narrative:

Most blog posts keep it pretty light on the scholarly citations. In college, like many out there, I used to do research first and than craft my thesis (whether I liked it or not) around the good citations I found and let them do the heavy lifting. Now things are different. I may have something to say. So my argument has to weave through and be strengthened by supporting and opposing views.

3. Have Fun with It and Don’t Let it Go to Your Head:

Getting “published” is a great first step for aspiring Mil-Writers. Beware of the “Seamonsters” and the pitfalls of arrogance in writing. Don’t forget the message you are trying to share with the profession, and the fellow Soldiers, academics, and wonks you are trying to challenge, inspire, and develop. Just because you’re some hot shot blogger now, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still counsel your soldiers well and develop your fellow non-writing peers. Use this experience to make those relationships better, and people might be interested in what you have to say.

Mike Denny is an Army National Guard aviation officer and company commander. Formerly, he served as a Field Artillery officer while on active duty. As a civilian, he is an executive management professional and occasional contributor to Task and PurposeThe Bridge, and Red Team Journal. The views expressed in this article do not reflect the official policy or position of the US Army, the Department of Defense, or the US Government.

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