I wholeheartedly advocate blogging for writers. The regular routine of having to pound out some words, even when you’re not inspired, is invaluable for developing discipline and creativity.
But, there are some dangers. Some writers feel that blogging drains too much creativity and hinders their “real” writing. Others feel that blogging can absorb so much time that they devote hours to posts about their cat instead of revising that novel.
I don’t have those problems. But I do struggle with one danger of blogging: getting sloppy.
No matter how serious you may take blogging, it’s still something that you do for yourself, with little to no editorial review, in as quick a manner as possible. Sure, there are some big posts that we all work and revise over time. But the day to day stuff is generally blasted out before catching a train, or before giving the kids a bath, or during the commercials on the 11pm Sportscenter. I guess I’m trying to say that even though I take even the quickest of blog entries seriously, it’s still not as rigorous as other writing.
A buddy recently pointed this out. “You’re getting rusty,” he said after reading a recent magazine piece of mine. “Rusty? I’m writing more now than I ever have.” He scoffed and said it was still crap. And he was right. My editor at PopMatters has justifably ripped a few of my pieces to shreds for similar issues.
And now, I’m struggling with a simple essay. I just need to prove an argument. It’s nothing more than a persuasive essay, the kind of thing you write in Comp 101. And it’s freaking killing me. Ridiculous.
So, my advice to you is to slow down. If you’re a blogger, strive to set aside a few pieces each week to really fine-tune and revise. Pretend you’re back in school or that workshop where the class is threatens to eviscerate you if your character development isn’t strong enough. Take a deep breath and just go back to basics, and all those other sports cliches that are thrown around so often. I generally don’t use writing exercises, but I might incorporate some into my routine.
I’m sure musicians periodically return to practice scales. I’m probably going to have to do the same thing. Anyone still got their old Comp 101 textbook handy?