Shannon blogged on blogging the other day, and it got me to commenting. Here’s what I told her: blog like nobody’s reading.
Many of us do–and I’ll confess I’m one of those. This, of course, does not count for those who are blogging about issues like politics, church, denominational politics–you know, ISSUES. But for those of us who write the personal and use the blog to sort through things like an electronic diary, I think this has to be an underlying rule of blogging. Blog like nobody’s reading–at least for the first draft and before you hit “publish.”
Perhaps I have a different take on it, having written about my family in a local newspaper for 7 years. I understand the give and take of the public journal and some of it by making stupid mistakes and writing things publicly that should have been private. But I learned. And the great thing about this venue is the ability to remove posts once you decide you didn’t want to share that part of your self with the world.
I guess it all depends on what you want to do with your blog. I blog like I did when I wrote for the paper, except here I get to easily link to things, can write as much or as little as I want and whenever I want. There’s no editor telling me I’m too political, no deadline, no nothing. There’s also not the readership I had when I wrote for the paper. But there’ something here that wasn’t there: there’s a back and forth and support from other bloggers that I didn’t get in that other venue.
Your at face-value here. What you say is what you are.
So, be careful with what you say, but not so careful you don’t ever touch something deep or potentially prickly. Close comments if you write something you really don’t want people responding to because you just felt the need to write it out, work it out for yourself and you don’t want people giving you advice you won’t really follow anyway. Write like nobody’s reading. That’s where the best writing comes from. No pretense, no snark, no need to be clever or cool. Just write.
I was reminded by reading Biddies in my Brain about the writing exercise I used to give when I taught writing to students who weren’t quite ready for Comp 101 at the college level. Most of them could write, they were just afraid of it. Afraid they had nothing worth saying, told, often enough by a world that just doesn’t get it, that they had nothing to say. Part of the requirement of the course (not my requirement, but the department’s) was for them to keep a journal. The very first journal assignment I gave them was to write two lists: “10 Things I Love” and “10 Things I Hate.” I’m pretty sure I stole this from Natalie Goldberg, but my intent was to focus these people on things that mattered to them–passionately mattered to them. Keep the list at the front of your journal, I told them, so that when you are stuck on what to write about you can peruse the list and find the thing that most matters to you at that moment. The journal, I told them, was theirs to write whatever they felt compelled to write about. While the dept. head at the time gave rules like no profanity and no pornography, I relaxed it a bit to say “if the word you really mean is a word you don’t think you can say, go ahead and write it.” But, I added, I have to look at you in class, so I’d rather not read about your sex life. Real or imagined.
I loved teaching that class. My favorite thing was to see someone realize that the world was wrong, that they had something to say and they could say it well–with some encouragement and guidance.
So, I told Shannon to blog like no one’s reading as if I know a thing or two about what it takes to write a good blog. I don’t. This is hobby for me. Like when I wrote essays and sent them to the opinion page editor and she printed them and I didn’t get paid a dime. My words were out there and I was happy. And then it led, eventually, to a gig that served me well. And may do so again in the future.
But for now? I’m blogging like no one’s reading, and, truth be told, my “hit stats” tell me I’m not far off the mark. But those who do read? They are precious to me and I’m grateful for this place, this time, this community.
As the saying goes, blog as you would dance if no one were watching.