One of the beauties of blogging is the capability to take your reader directly to an online source, a piece of writing, or a current discussion. You also have the ability to provide your own commentary on the subject under discussion at the time you direct your reader, through comments on your own blog, or later in a follow-up post.
I bring this up today because of the great series of essays David St. Lawrence has written over at Ripples this week and I urge you to read them in their entirety. In a remarkable two-part essay Finding ourselves through blogging, David provides a thoughtful examination of how the act of blogging influences the lives of the bloggers and their readers and gives us a glimpse into the deep-seated psyche-related reasons as to the power of this new found, technology oriented form of writing. His analogy in part one of the Moravian star is delightful and thought-provoking. In part two, he deftly weaves in the many values of writing that are often applied to journaling but relates them to the contemporary use of blogs as the form of communication and expands this further with his views on the inherent nature of the blog to inform the blogger.
Not content with all that, his next blogging effort is the two-part essay You don’t need permission to create. Here David digs deep and proves that he does, indeed, have a thoughtful, philosophical soul. Moving out of his usual domain of a work/business blog, he considers the creative aspect of blogging and writing in general to provide some good, common sense approaches to what is often a difficult discipline. Those of you who have read this blog for any length of time or who know me will quickly hear my own sentiments and writing dictums echoed in David St. Lawrence’s well-wrought words.
In part one David arrives at the same place when it comes to advice for budding writers: "If you want to write, write every day for a few hours until you are good at it." The prolific and celebrated Ray Bradbury has one solid piece of advice for young writers: Do as I do, write a short story every day." When the then 80 year-old storyteller came to Houston several years ago and did a signing at the Borders store where I worked as the promotions and events person, I heard him repeat his mantra to each and every person who asked his advice as they gave him a book to sign. There is a reason why so many experienced writers say the same thing over and over and over. David’s next sentence captures it quite nicely: "You will know when that happens, because people will start asking you how you do it or wanting you to write books."
In part two he goes on to expand on the many ways his blogging has impacted his writing and his ever-evolving view of himself as a blogger and how that guides him in shaping and shifting his blog to match his expanding sense of what he blogs about and why. This is exactly what happens to writers as they practice disciplined writing. They begin to understand their mind, their thoughts and views, and the ways in which they wish to promote and communicate these thoughts. In part they come to understand what forms or genres work best for them and how the stories, essays, or commentary can be fashioned to become more adept in expressing their views. Even in writing a simple story, a writer is expressing his view, his take on the subject and the world. It is that individuality of expression, that uniqueness, that the readers are seek in their reading. Some use shorthand and call it "voice."
If you’re still not sure about this whole writing daily thing, consider this admonition of David’s: "You must get yourself to the point where you can sit down and easily write 500 or 1000 words about anything that interests you."
If you can do that, you can sure maintain a blog. If you can do that much writing daily, you can easily follow Bradbury’s dictum to write one story a day. Practicing a daily schedule of writing can lead you to that coveted writing-in-the-zone experience. It is the Zen in Writing. Opening up the creative flow is one of the most important things a fledging writer or, perhaps even more so, an experienced writer can do. Blogging can be one of the tools in your arsenal to help you define yourself as a writer. Take a look around the blogosphere and you’ll find many bloggers expanding their horizons and honing their writing skills at the same time.
Here’s a thought for the day from the ever-passionate Ray Bradbury in his essay The Joy of Writing found in Zen in the Art of Writing on how to enjoy first draft writing:
"Time enough to think and cut and rewrite tomorrow. But today–explode–fly apart–disintegrate!"
Bradbury’s book should be required reading for all who aspire to write.
(If you you’re planning to buy "Zen," consider clicking through here to Amazon as way to help support this blog, and don’t forget to take the poll in the upper righthand column.)