Monday, August 15, 2005

Blogs improve writing skills

Blogs improve writing skills.

Also thinking, searching, researching, linking and networking skills.

But let's stick to how blogging improves writing skills.

How do I know this to be true?

I see it in myself.

Personal Anecdotal Evidence

I was a perfectionistic, laborious, never-satisfied writer. I always revised my articles and stories over and over again, never happy with any end result, releasing all essays with accumulated hesitations, misgivings, and frowns.

When I wrote short stories, I felt I was leaving something out, some vital text seemed to always be missing. Forget novels. Though I wrote 20 or 30 different novels, I could never end them. Conclusions escaped me.

"THE END" was impossible to pen. I could get off to a great and astonishing beginning, but every stretched-out story fizzled out. I couldn't even hit a "dead end", but consistently pulled up short at an emaciated, pulverized, half-alive middle.

I turned away my eyes as the thing twitched and squirmed on the page, and was eventually put out of its misery by a well-placed slashing. Ripped to shreds, the poor thing finally passed on to its final resting place in the city dump.

Now I no longer believe in the importance of novels, so I have abandoned that form. But I have had great satisfaction writing what I call science fiction micro stories. I quarantine these tiny monstrosities in a blog called Cosmos Blogmos. And I'm pretty pleased with just about all of them.

I don't add any new stories to that collection, due to my new knowledge that exposing them to public view has a negative effect on my ability to submit them to online publishers for pay.

Even Successful Authors
of Scholarly Books
Should Have a Blog

Yesterday I was watching Book TV on CSPAN television, an interview with a controversial, but successful author of books on social policy.

When asked why he did not have a blog, he replied, "I'm not a first draft type of writer. I spend a lot of time revising my work. So I could never post daily or even a few times a week like most bloggers. My writing doesn't flow that easily."

Here was a Harvard grad with a BA in History, and a Ph.D. in Political Science from MIT. His problem was not that he couldn't write. His problem was that he couldn't write fast.

I pondered this for a few moments.

I felt he was honest, and had a good reason for not blogging. But then it hit me: he really should blog. Blogging daily or frequently could probably help him overcome his perfectionistic dilemma, he would eventually acquire the skill of faster, more perfect writing, with fewer subsequent revisions.

At least, this has been true in my case.

I rarely feel any need to revise my blog posts once I publish them to my blog. Once in a while, I'll discover a typo or a poorly constructed sentence. Occasionally, I'll feel a need to add a few sentences to a post to clarify a point.

I wonder if anyone else has experienced a large improvement in their writing, due to the discipline of frequently updating a blog with fresh, original material.

If you have seen a dramatic improvement, email me or post a comment to let me know.


[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate



Voix said...

On this one, Steven, I agree with you completely. I think it is very liberating to write a short segment, hit "publish" and let it stand on its own. I use many of my blog posts as "seeds" for more formal essays and as practice. I have learned a lot about keeping an idea contained and try to constantly practice not saying more than needs to be said. I feel that my ideas come more quickly now and I'm more likely to sense when I've got an idea that is worth pursuing and when its just a thought. Does that make sense?

steven edward streight said...

"...more likely to sense when I've got an idea that is worth pursuing and when it's just a thought."

Yes, that is a very important point.

I've written a few posts that, when I looked at them critically, I decided were not well developed, not contributing anything to others, just half-baked hunches, or unfair critiques that could easily be refuted.

So I didn't publish them, I either saved them as drafts for later elaboration, or just deleted them.

The odd thing about Blogger blogs is that you must Save As Draft and the Delete Post. You can't write a post, then "erase" it by deleting it directly. You have to Save As Draft first, then go back into it and hit Delete.

Thanks for enriching my post with your comment, Michele.