Letter: Why Write an Article for SurvivalBlog?

Dear SurvivalBlog Readers:

To date, I have written a few letters to the editor, and several articles. I can’t speak for all authors but I can share my experience, and more important why I do it. Now, I can tell you that it isn’t easy. It’s not just about writing the article itself. The hardest part is dealing with people. If you write an article that has anything to do with money or product choice and you are almost certain to have some very interesting comments. You have to deal with a few people that think because they chose something different, you are wrong, don’t know what you are talking about, or just somewhere near stupid.

I’ve seen authors accused of just putting words together to win the prize. If it is expensive, you are wasting money and your article is somehow useless. Honestly I could go on and on. Often hostile feedback is by aliases that have never posted an article. It’s not always that way, but you do have to be prepared for it.

There are people that will think this is an attempt to manipulate the decision process. So to you, know that I am posting under a completely different alias from anything I’ve written before.

Unfortunately people will say things on the internet that they would never say face to face. So, why do I put up with it? Why knowingly put my neck on the chopping block? You can say its about the prize but I will say that the subject matter I write about almost never wins. In fact, I’ve only seen one article on the topics I write about win, and it was really an excellent one that was far beyond my skill. That person went on to publish books on the subject. So I’m not surprised, because I don’t think my articles rise to that level. So, again, why write?

Because it’s part of my preps. You see, having a skill, logistics or a plan isn’t enough. A plan means nothing if you can’t articulate it, separate the superfluous from the critical, and express it in terms understandable to the audience. You can’t teach a skill, or outline a plan, by saying “because I said so.” No one is going to listen to you if you can’t talk to them. Some concepts and skills in the prepper community are simple, but many are very complex. If you are dealing with people that have no background in a subject, you, not them, need to adapt to that audiences baseline. Writing here also helps to deal with people with equal and greater skills; working through different opinions, and working out was to improve and compromise instead of argue.

Writing articles here allows me to develop the communications skills necessary for survival. Learning and improving “listening” skills, along with improving how to deal with confusion or down right angry people in a way that is productive, improves my odds of survival. This forum, helps me to break down, my thoughts into something presentable, and teachable. It helps me to explain to people want to learn, people that won’t listen, and often, I see responses that cause me to re-think something, or even change my mind on it.

So, consider it a challenge. Can you express a skillset, idea, or concept? I can tell you that it takes practice. Even deciding how to build an article conceptually, organize from simple to complex in a way that has each paragraph build on the previous, attempting to predict questions and address them ahead of time. But if you don’t practice you will never develop that skillset. – G.T.


  1. Excellent point. Hopefully anyone that has participated in our educational system has been taught to write a term paper. It used to be a highly developed skill. At its simplest it was “What I did during summer vacation” and at its most complex, it was the plans for the invasion of Europe on D Day.
    It forced you to order your thoughts and present them in such a way that others could not only understand them, but if they disagreed would do so in a coherent manner and you had the foot notes and resources to back up your view point. I will never forget being in a 1 room schoolhouse 70 years ago and trying to get things together for my first debate class. You prepared and when class arrived, you found out which side you were to defend. You were expected to and had to prepare for either side
    I am trying to write about the fallacy of charity in prepping. Might never submit it anywhere, but in doing so, I have had to reorder my concepts of prepping, I found out my expected calorie count in my survival foods is totally unrealistic and that our 2 year food supply is more realistically about 8 months, and that if our children arrive a week after TSHTF, it realistically is about 3 months. It would supply 1/3 rd of our town for 1 day if “shared”. In trying to organize my thoughts on a “handout” for charity, I realized that one of my excellent freeze dried meals, chili macs, was 320 calories with 130 of them being fat calories. Given that in a survival situation we probably will not be totally immobile, we would have to have at least 1500 calories, giving out a ration said to a 3 day ration, would supply less than 1 days required calories. While it started out as a study of “charity” supplies for a possible article, it has morphed into a total reevaluation of my food supply and not a pleasant one either.

    1. As the saying goes, “If you really want to learn a subject try writing about it and/or teaching it.” You will quickly find out where you are deficient and where you need more work. (Unless, of course, you are one of those armchair and computer article mills so prevalent in the industry. Then all you care about is getting your article published with the link you were paid to put in it.)

    2. A few years ago I really started putting on weight. It wasn’t that I ate different, it was just that I was eating like I was 20, and that doesn’t work at 45. So I got a workout program called “Body Beast” (mostly weight lifting) I ended up loosing over 60lbs, but here’s the kicker. 30-45 min per day of hard lifting, eating about 2,200 calories a day and I lost that kind of weight. It caused me to seriously rethink the minimum calories per day thing. If SHTF, I think a lazy day would be equal to on of these workouts. So now, I had to recalculate to about 3,000 calories per day. If I’m wrong, I get extra days.

  2. Good point. I too am a published author and “writing at an eighth grade level” is sometimes difficult. Fortunately, the eighth grade was the best two years of my life. Keep writing.

  3. Hugh can win? I hope so as his articles are amazing! I have only submitted a couple of articles that were never published. Honestly, after looking back, I can see why they weren’t. They contributed little, if anything….just whining on my part. Please keep up the wonderful articles everyone. Not everything will be able to apply to me, but it will to someone.

    1. “I have only submitted a couple of articles that were never published. Honestly, after looking back, I can see why they weren’t. They contributed little, if anything….just whining on my part.”

      That’s a great comment and I commend you for realizing it. To their credit, Mr. Rawles and Mr. Latimer have prevented Survivalblog from becoming a political echo chamber or a forum for the Zombie Apocalypse shoot everything that moves keyboard warrior. That’s why I have been a reader for over a decade.

    2. Don’t I wish… Those are some fine prizes. Nope, no SurvivalBlog employee or affiliate of SurvivalBlog can win. JWR and myself do all the posting and the author tag is relatively new on the blog. We still sometimes forget to properly attribute to “SurvivalBlog Contributer”, but we always include the initials or “Nom de plume” of the actual author. Sometimes those initials are not the actual initials if the author has wished to remain anonymous. Thanks for the catch.

  4. I had to laugh!
    Many years ago (Windows 3.11 era) I set down and wrote instructions on how to use a program at our company. Knowing that most people knew nothing about the command line I had to go really basic on it. Still made mistakes (difficult to not make some) and heard about those mistakes for the next few years! (My normal reply was “I know about it, I wrote it!”)

    One positive I got from doing that instruction set. You REALLY learn your subject when writing about it for the uninformed!

  5. Hi Hugh. A Greek philosopher whose name escapes me once said, “To teach is to learn twice.” He was absolutely right; to teach anything to someone else, we must thoroughly understand it ourselves, and after teaching it we will understand better than ever. One of the most common mistakes I found in college student writing was the writer not considering the knowledge level of the potential reader. When I asked a group of future auto mechanics to write instructions for changing a tire, they all said, “Everybody knows that.” Finally I told them to pretend they were writing the instructions for me or some other clueless woman. That got them on track and they included things such as “pull off the road” and “put a large rock behind the back tire”. It was a successful lesson in writing.

  6. This was a great letter! I’m a firm believer that if what you write (or say) pleases everyone, it’s probably worthless. I’ve been reading SB daily for about 8 years now, and I’ve sent in a few things that have ended up on the blog. I will say that when Hugh and JWR started allowing comments, I was nervous that trolls and “haters” would appear in droves, but fortunately those fears proved mostly unfounded. The community here is very informed, and even when folks disagree with you, they generally express that disagreement in civil ways, backed by facts and/or reasoned opinions.

  7. Excellent points all the way around. From the author and commenters.

    A few tips…

    When writing folks, proof read at least three times. Also spell and grammar check your article and we use Word. Use a thesaurus to substitute repeated words in your articles. There’s also Gramerly which is an online app to help with sentence structure and mastery of the English language.

    I’m still mastering the English language. For instance did you know that there are 5 “wares.” What I mean is (where, we’re, were, wares, wear) all somewhat sound the same and all have different meanings. Ha!

    I concur about this being a family and friendly posting site. The articles and information my wife and I disseminat are to highlight to the readers about being politically hoodwinked by the Left. Our writings on any other site (where the Left goes) draws such unprofessional retorts and unprofessional is an understatement.

    God bless, keep your powder dry, and keep writing.

    We’re all waiting to read your next writing!

  8. When I was in college the most difficult task was to put on paper ideas of the mind in a logical and coherent theme.

    I really enjoy great novels, the authors have a great gift.
    Thanks for your short story, very thought provoking

  9. I was hired once to edit and help put together a book on motorcycle maintenance. They had already hired a professional writer so my job was to create the chapter subjects and out line what they wanted covered. It was sent to the writer for him to write it all out. When he sent back a chapter I had to read it and make it simpler to understand if too technical or fill in any blanks. After my review I then had one of the women in the office read it and explain to me what it said. I then would rewrite to make it more “understandable” so that she comprehended what was written.

    The purpose of the book was to introduce non-mechanical people to how things worked and as professionals you kind of forget that for other people it may not be so simple or obvious. It was also one of the ways when I taught I would teach my son (10-12 at the time) and knew if he got it then the adults in the class would get it too. At times I couldn’t even be sure of that working 100%. lol

  10. Thank you to all past, present and future contributors. The content on this site has taught me new skills and refreshed and improved some old skills. There is no shortage of content that stimulates our minds whether we agree or disagree.
    The times I comment my intention is not to contradict or dispute the writers position. Comments offered are hopefully helping the author see the effect their writings have on readers. Even if I disagree with an article I am better off understanding the opposing argument.Essay and letter writing skills have not been used by me for thirty plus years. Proper grammar and punctuation is slowly coming back from the dusty corners of my brain. Responding in the comment section is helping me regain my writing skills. Thanks for your patience.
    SurvivalBlog,my local library,a few great neighbors and some YouTube contributors have been very helpful with refining and learning necessary skills. Hopefully in time I can return the favor of an article that will help readers. Respectful , informative comments are a welcome addition to the site. Hopefully my comments are not perceived as disrespectful,ever. Thank you and keep up the good work.

  11. As a military officer I am required to write many reports; the AAR (After Action Report) being the most common. I have painfully developed this skill over many years, and still need to polish it more. This article says it all very well… communications is essential to success and today’s average high school graduate seems not to be able to put together a cohesive sentence much less communicate effectively. I see this in my unit as well as in other venues and it pains me to see it. Thank you for this article; it’s spot on!

  12. Hang in there and keep writing! I learned to write by trial and error – and a history professor in college who admonished us to back up every statement with 3 or 4 facts or reasons- or else!

  13. As the result of an “eventful” childhood, I graduated high school not knowing the difference between a semicolon, colon, or coma. I had to teach myself the cursive alphabet and basic algebra in order to leverage a gulf war “scholarship” to college. Today, I write technical documents, and debug advanced clusters for a living.

    That difference in knowledge was not accomplished by making excuses, not trying for fear of being ridiculed, or giving up. It was accomplished by being willingly asking questions that I know would get me laughed at, and by failing over and over and over again until I got it right.

  14. I must admit, I have been at fault of writing replies on here, late at night when tired, often lying in bed, no, not the best time, as proof reading several times becomes a chore, sometimes I think I have a reply, set up, then send it of only to see I didn’t spell check or interposed a word in the wrong spot. Have not won any 1st prize yet or any other on here, but I enjoy the idea of writing anyway. I have been reading everyday this site for a bit over 10 years, well done Jim & Hugh for making this a great site, free from annoying junk ads and useless promotions of selfish gratuity.

  15. Thank you for motivating those who are intimidated to write about truth.

    Mr. Rawles and Mr. Latimer appreciate beauty, truth, and justice. There is no submission to fear on this site. For these reasons, “Survival Blog” will continue to grow in respect and relevance.

Comments are closed.