“With so many tasks competing for your writing time, is blogging worth it?” Lee Laughlin asks in her article about the benefits of blogging.
Her points are compelling– blogging does provide an outlet for everyday writing practice. Blogging routinely will instill discipline and I imagine would go a long ways towards helping overcome one’s perfectionist tendencies and bouts of writer’s block.
But so does journaling. So does writing essays for class on a regular basis. I don’t think these lessons are exclusive to blogging. Any writer knows that enforcing a schedule is a must-do if you plan on finishing your work anytime within the century. I’m no expert and even I know that you can’t afford to wait for divine inspiration to strike you into a creative frenzy, you just have to sit down and write. There’s been times where I’ve been inspired to write, but when I put pen to paper it seemed like the ideas were too high for me to capture into words. And there’s been times where a single sentence has popped into my head at 1 am and I sat up and wrote a whole page going off of it, half asleep. You have to take it as it comes, and you have to make it when it doesn’t come, too.
Similarly, you don’t have to run a blog to know that first drafts don’t have to be perfect. I’ve read and reread first drafts until I was sure I had both memorized the paper and become blind to its errors- and I know that a first draft does not perfection make.
Nonetheless, the gap between knowing something and practicing it can be deceptively large.
(I still spend too much time on first drafts).
That being said, the most compelling insight Laughlin had about blogging was not about writing, but about observing. “I’ve also developed a sort of radar for detecting stories and meaningful connections in the stuff that makes up my day…it’s improved my storytelling ability to an exponential degree,” she says.
Being able to pick out the extraordinary in the everyday is a skill, one that I would love to hone. Rilke wrote to the young poet in 1903 that “If you think your world isn’t poetic enough, or exciting enough to tell a story about, that’s not because it’s a dull world, that’s because you’re not poet enough to wake up its soul.” Those words ring true as a challenge for me as I am often wont to write off my days as mundane and unremarkable. But to develop a keener sense for what makes a good story, to recognize the full potential and meaning of those everyday moments, to become a better storyteller, these are the goals that speak to me as I investigate blogging as a means to become a better writer.