“I hate writing.” This is one of my most frequent complaints whenever I have to actually write something for school. I would much rather spend time coding a more advanced data analysis program than writing up my results in a research paper. Writing is time-consuming, subjective, and cannot be mastered.
If we go back to a pre-grad-school time when my classes still required essay-writing, my dislike becomes even more pronounced. Essays – ugh. When my freshman honors class offered the option to lead themed class discussions in lieu of the usual three essays, I jumped at the chance. (Bear in mind that as a severe introvert, leading class discussions isn’t exactly my favorite activity either.)
All this is to say that it was a pleasant but confusing surprise when I found myself (a) wanting to blog, and (b) enjoying it quite a bit. Not just the community aspect – although that part is pretty great, too – but the process of composition itself. But I hate writing!
What is it about the blog format that makes the writing not suck? After some thought, I’ve come up with a few possibilities.
The stakes are low. There’s no grade on the line, no impact on my professional standing. I’m not trying to sell a product or drive traffic to advertisers – just writing because I feel like I have something to say. A blah blog post is just a post that few people will read. Lots of blah blog posts could translate to a general lack of interest and followers, but it’s extremely unlikely that anyone will bother to comment on the writing in that case. In the end, it’s just me, trying something fun.
Rapid turnaround means no time to edit repeatedly. A once-through for sense, a once-through for typos, and that’s it – publish. If I want to post regularly, I can’t get stuck on making any particular post just right. The low stakes factor plays a role here, too.
Unconstrained format. Blog posts aren’t tied to the formal (and often deadly dull) structure of a research paper, and they don’t have to be organized like the dreaded five-paragraph essay. I can play around with words and sounds and layout to land on something I find appealing. And it can change from day to day.
Topics of personal interest. Not since second grade, when I scribbled short stories on page after page of rough brown paper, have I taken much time to write what I’m really thinking. High school was filled with contrived essay prompts and too-vague assignments; do they really expect us to come up with Serious Thesis Statements about every novel? But now the words come easily; in fact, I often find myself composing posts in my head on the drive to school and looking forward to having the time to write them down.
Fellow bloggers, how about you? Do you blog because of the writing or in spite of it?