Why I Blog

An unusual topic, perhaps, for my first post in nearly a year. Ironic? Or aspirational? Let’s go with the second answer for now, but only time will tell. In any case, a friend of mine is thinking of starting a blog, and marshaling my supportive arguments (oh, you totally should, because …) prompted me to reexamine my own reasons for blogging.

In my first post here I declared my major motivation to be developing a habit of finishing things. That’s still true (however much I’ve struggled with it during the pandemic). But there are other benefits that I’ve discovered along the way, both actual and theoretical.

Blogging is thinking

Have you ever opened your mouth to respond to a question and discovered, in that moment, what you actually thought on the topic? It’s one of the joys of good conversation. Speaking is thinking. We discover what we think about an issue by trying to articulate it to someone else.

Writing is next-level speaking (and thus, next-level thinking), where you have time to actually pause and consider, to craft your argument, trim the digressions and close up the loopholes. The flaws of an ill-formed thought sufficient for conversation are glaring when set down in black and white, prompting you to rephrase or seek additional evidence or simply rethink. [1]

You may say, that’s just a benefit of writing, not blogging. True! You don’t have to publish your thoughts if your only goal is to discover what you think (there are people who journal instead for exactly this reason). However, I find that polishing my thoughts to the point that I’m willing to share them with the public makes them not only more cogent but easier to refer back to later.

Blogging is sharing

There are topics about which I already know what I think and want to share those thoughts with others in an organized fashion. For instance, I’ve been directing community theatre for 20 years, amassing a considerable body of knowledge (and opinion) shaped by experience. But that information is only revealed indirectly in the end product (the shows themselves) and piecemeal in notes to my actors. There’s value in making that information public so that others can make use of it or respond to it. Not that I’ve done that … yet. [2]

Blogging is networking

This has never been a primary motivator for me, but I’m including it because I know it’s significant for a lot of bloggers who either have improved or aspire to improving their careers via connections they make through blogging. Two quick examples (of many): science fiction author John Scalzi famously sold his first two novels to a traditional publisher after first posting them on his blog, and software developer Jeff Atwood parlayed the connections he made through his blog into co-founding the massively successful and influential programming Q&A site, Stack Overflow.

Blogging is building

If you do anything long enough, you’re going to build up a body of work, but some formats are more useful, more accessible and more valuable than others.

In my writing career, because I’m still at the stage where I’m not selling or publishing very frequently, the vast majority of my body of work is buried in slush piles and desk drawers. That’s … frustrating.

A blog accumulates in a public way that’s more satisfying than yet another shitty first draft that molders on a hard drive. A weekly blog of 800 words adds up quickly. At fifty posts a year, that’s 40,000 words—half a full-length novel (if you’re writing piecemeal fiction) or a decent chunk of a non-fiction book. Not all your posts will be winners, but some of them are bound to capture some insight. A few years of that and you’ve built up a considerable body of work that can be mined for books, articles, online class offerings, short stories, what have you.

Blogging is writing

Finally, what I’ve come to realize is the most important reason for me—blogging is writing.

There’s a comic play by Harvey Fierstein [3] where the main character refers to himself as a homo__ual because he’s still a virgin. Can he really be a homo-sex-ual if he hasn’t, you know, had sex? [4]

Writers of various stripes will argue how often or how much you have to write to consider yourself a writer. Every day? Only when you feel inspired? Are you still a writer if you don’t, you know, write?

For the past 18 months I haven’t felt like a writer, despite completing some major writing projects, [5] because I haven’t been writing regularly. I don’t need to write every day, but I do need to write every week. In 2019, blogging was a big part of that. It’s a regular reminder to myself that I am a writer. It’s an opportunity to sharpen my craft. It’s a chance to flex my writing muscles, which, I’ve discovered during the pandemic, quickly atrophy with disuse.

Keeping a blog may steal time from my other projects, but it more than makes up for it in creating a framework and an identity to which I can fit my other projects. Looking back over the past three years, it’s obvious that I am more productive (much more) when I’m blogging than when I’m not.  

Coming up: who knows? Last time I promised to write about my favorite Shakespeare joke and now, for the life of me, I have no idea what I was referring to.

____________________

[1]  This is one of the reasons that writing is so difficult. It’s not actually the writing that’s hard, it’s the thinking.

[2] But stay tuned for a new blog on directing, alongside HSF co-founders R. Kevin Garcia Doyle and Harry Wong III.

[3] Forget Him. Sadly, out of print, but you can buy a used copy on Amazon for *boggles* $985?!

[4] Obviously, yes.

[5] Stay tuned for a much delayed Year in Review post.

4 thoughts on “Why I Blog

  1. Oh yeah, it’s great how blogging helps you grow your body of work, especially when you look back after a year. It’s also one of the mediums that I have the least resistance to doing. Great reasons here. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tony

    I love it. Reminds me of why I wish I could write as opposed to my second choice medium…
    Stephanie- how many hypothetical cats do you have?

    Liked by 1 person

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