How to Write a Post for Congregation.
Everyone struggles with writing their post for Congregation. Some of us are more verbal and some of us are better at writing for others than ourselves. Its not easy but it is really worth the effort as by researching, constructing and by writing down our thoughts we really take ownership of the topic and the process means it becomes naturally engrained.
We are not looking for a thesis. Indeed no one person has all the answers for the what the future holds but we all have pieces – some very specific insights, thoughts, feeling, questions or gut reactions that no one else has. These are very valuable and by sharing them you can illicit reactions from other that you may not expect.
There are many ways to select a topic. You could pick something that relates to your day to day work life, you could pick something related to family life or just dig deep into almost unconscious mental itches you may have about the world. In this almost limitless set of options it is best to pick something you have domain knowledge of – something you know – and ideally something that you would like to know more about. Write up a few one liners – let your mind go and don’t be restricted by what you know. It’s easy to plug the gaps later. Some people find it useful to scribble on a post it pad as ideals arrive and stick them up on a wall. Don’t worry your mind will be subconsciously processing and coming up with new ideas. Once you have a number of ideas organize them on different levels – from ones you would like to do, ones you know most about or even ones that would be good for you (work or otherwise). Try to do this over a number of days rather than in one block sitting. Once you have list you are happy with mentally add some thoughts to them or ask someone close to you what they think. As they ask questions you will quickly start to generate a short list by eliminating the ones that are either not of interest or too outside your comfort zone. It is also useful to check the other topics for inspiration and avoid direct clashes.
One you have chosen your topic then quick do a synopsis about what you are likely to cover and send immediately to to eoin at congregation.ie or submit via the website along with a photo.
Everyone differs on this but most prefer to leave a few days to allow the idea to mentally percolate as you drive to work, eat lunch and just chit chat the area with friends. The key part of this period is to not procrastinate.
The prospect of writing your 600 word submission can be daunting but once you break it into a number of stages and actually start the process of putting pen to paper it gets much easier (we are also happy to take edits over time just in case you get new inspiration. The main thing is to start early, don’t procrastinate and submit it.
Phase 1: Preparation: Do a general search in google and perhaps some academic research to see what others are saying about your topic. This will help augment and validate the approach that you are taking. It can also act a good reference point that we can include in the submission.
Phase 2: Assembly: Construct the basis shape of your submission. Think four paragraphs (but dont feel constrained by it). Jot these out at a macro level and don’t worry about use of English or exact sentence construction. Just a rough shape will do. The first paragraph should articulate the main hypothesis of what you want to say. The next one should include some background to make sure everyone is on the same page. The next paragraph should build out the main points your wish to make, explaining and documenting them. Remember you are bringing people through a journey of your thoughts. The final paragraph should sum it all together and leave people clear about what you will talk about on the day. The perfect submission give people enough insight that even if they did not make the day would get value from it. Some people find it useful to look at some of the previous submissions to get a sense of style, tone and approach. However remember this is your article, on your topic so use what comes naturally to you. For those who prefer to talk than write we also accept audio and video submissions.
Phase 3: Review: Submissions by their very nature are never 100% perfect. In fact the very purpose of the event is to share, get feedback and learn more from like minded people. With this in mind we encourage you to share an early draft or even the outline with a colleague. When you have your first draft of the submission done we are happy to connect you with one of the other Congregation participants so that you can peer review each other and get some feedback. Outside of some helpful comments and validation this allows you to build some very positive relationships with the other attendees in advance of meeting up on the 26th November in Cong.
Phase 4: Submission: Send us your submission, any images you want to include with it a quick synopsis (one sentence), 4 key take away points, some biographical information about yourself and how people can contact you. We already have your photo. This extra information is for your benefit because other will scan your synopsis before reading the full text and also the more you know about each participant the more value you will get from the day. We will publish this on the day and feel free to share.
Although there is some work to be done before Congregation (topic and submission) it means that all you need to do is turn up on the day and talk about your area in a relaxed format.
Now stop procrastinating, get your submission in and enjoy the experience.