On learning writing through blogging

Frowny

There is still a perception out there that spending a part of your time on blogging or social media is wasteful, frivolous or simply inane–a “soft” pursuit that you choose to follow because you’ve chosen to not take the more serious or rigorous paths.

But for me, far from being inane or frivolous, four-and-a-half months of blogging has helped me learn so much more about the nuances of writing than what many other forms failed to drive home successfully.

So before anyone tells you you’re wasting time just blogging, think about how blogging helps. When you’re blogging, you’re

1. Generating ideas and practising writing: Blogging is a superb method at getting writing practice. And if you manage to get a few readers, you have a process of constant feedback. No matter who they are, comments always make you stand back and take stock and that’s a very important avenue towards becoming aΒ  better writer. Getting used to generating new and original topic ideas on a periodic basic seems very difficult at first but it has amazed me how much more easy it becomes with practice.

2. Understanding audience: We all start with a general idea of who our audience is. But you learn the nuances as you go along. Nuances are very important in writing. One very important lesson I learnt is this: You can never fool an audience with substandard material no matter who they are. On days that I write out a blog hurriedly throwing some points together, I get far fewer readers. The other side of the coin, the good side, is that when I put in effort, more people read. You also learn how much effort is too much investment on a single thing. So it’s not a haphazard world out there which is very heartening.

Also, connecting with different kinds of readers in different ways depending on realizing what different things they are getting out of the same material is a very important learning process. This only comes with putting your wrting “out there” as I could with the blog. You can never take readers for granted. They are very discerning.

3. Focusing on organization: Understanding how/what people read taught me important lessons on where to insert the breaks if I had a long blog in mind, how much to repeat if I was breaking it into different posts, what to foreground for quick readers.

These lessons carry over to other kinds of writing, even to other areas of life strangely–something I learnt as I was recently writing and commenting on a completely different kind of material. As I was working on that, I realized how much I had developed as a writer, how flexible I had become and how much more I was keeping in mind the reader’s point of view as I was working compared to what I was four months ago–a legacy of my blogging experience. All the while, practising organization in writing was teaching me how to organize my life! (No. Writing won’t help clean up the mess in the room. I mean it helps conceptually to see how the parts fit so where life is going as a whole and which parts need to be revised.)

4. Practising patience and preventing procrastination: The two P’s. The former is a virtue I lack. The latter is a vice I had developed to perfection. If I wrote something, I’d either want to submit it immediately to get rid of it or stop thinking about it. Or I would be so anxiety ridden under the surface of my writing self that I wouldn’t be able to start. Since each blog does not matter so much in the great universe of things and since there’s always another chance in blogging, the procrastination driven by anxiety disappeared. Writing was fun!

As for patience, when better edited blogs received better feedback and more readings, when better timed blogs had more readers (and you knew how you had fared almost immediately), you learnt to discipline yourself much more easily because there was a reward at the end of the process and the process was not isolating.

Smiley Face

At first, we think there might be some short-cut method to attracting readers. Innumerable accounts in innumerable social networking sites where you can share, constantly monitor and “friend” people with a purpose. Not to get something out of them but just to make them read!

But in the long run, it’s what you have to say that matters and how you say it where writing is concerned. That’s a constant learning process and blogging makes that process fun.

159 thoughts on “On learning writing through blogging”

  1. Brilliant. I’m still finding my way, not being a natural social networker, but you’ve nicely summarised a lot of what I’m just starting to get to grips with. Cheers.

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  2. I’ve found blogging to be invaluable for similar reasons! I think for me the biggest one is just getting writing practice in. My writing has come on in leaps and bounds since I started blogging.

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  3. If you go on FAcebook you tend to stick with family, friends and other associations but with blogging you allow everyone into your living room and it makes for a more critical and receptive audience in my view. Fine post, whenever I get a bit jaded with blogging this post shall reinspire me.

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  4. Thats great! I admire the real bloggers… (I’m not one of those..LOL) because of the patience and thought that goes into their blogs, & as you say, keeping in mind their audience etc. I just write what’s important to me… I vent a lot (LOL), I try to bring up things people might not be aware of (sorta like sharing knowledge), and things I think are so important… that people SHOULD at least consider, or start them thinking… even if they disagree.

    Thanks for the good information just in case I am actually able to reform. πŸ˜€

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  5. This is a great post. I’ve often had trouble with finding things to say on my blog. It’s essentially talking to strangers without them talking back and that always makes me a little nervous. Someone staring at you without a hint as to how they take what you’re saying.

    But as you said, blogging contributes writing ability in general and that’s always a good thing. πŸ™‚ Great insight.

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  6. Your post has hit home for me. I am writing about a similar topic – but related to composition theory/rhetoric – for my dissertation. Can I use you as a source to quote and to possibly interview? One chapter of my dissertation discusses authentic, quality writing as defined by theorists past and present. Then it goes into the ways in which bloggers are following these tenets of “effective writing”. I would love to be able to use you as a prime example of a writer who developed his craft through blogging.
    – – Elizabeth

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    1. Thanks for finding my blog resourceful enough to use as a source to analyze in your work. All the best with the dissertation. You can certainly use anything on the blog with proper attribution. As for any interviews, it’s only been about four-and-a-half months of blogging for me. I really don’t have any concrete ideas to share yet. Perhaps I’ll see which directions my thoughts are going in a few months and then I’ll have something meaningful to say. . . But I’ve been blogging about (my own) blogging periodically over the last few months as you will see if you visit the archives. Perhaps they might help?

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  7. Great points. In the current incarnation of my blog, I’m trying to be both patient and persistent. I was previously too rushed with my posts, which affected quality. Also, I’ve limited myself to 500 words per post, and will try to hit a specific number word count in order to teach myself discipline.

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  8. How very true! I have been blogging for about four months by now and have come to much the same conclusions. In addition, blogging also β€˜holds the mirror’ to the inner writer!
    Kind Regards,
    Daniela

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  9. I’ve always written, but perhaps more of a personal blog rather than meant for everyone. Sometimes you can have lots of readers and followers but they do move on. Content does have a big play in it, and the ‘blog’ compared to regular writing ‘novel or script’ is freedom.

    Although I do re-read and watch what I write, There is that passion through what happened in my day that comes through.

    Great blog though πŸ™‚

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  10. Blogging is writing. What matters is that you cared to learn by doing. Doing is an implicit education, even backhanded — ‘if the fool persists in his folly, he will become wise,’ says Blake’s “Proverbs of Hell” — but paying attention compounds the interest. I’d also suggest that there’s a #5 in your list — one learns about oneself. In your ‘complexity’ posts there’s a didacticism in the bad examples; cliches and aphorisms are unearned knowledge bad writers use to sound smart, like punks waving Glocks to get their way. The better writers see their ignorance, their implicit biases, the flatness of their prose. And do what they can to fix them.

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  11. Blogging is no doubt a different kind of media, where you may end up connecting all the same…but getting sucked in too much (i.e., internet addiction) does pull you away from real life.

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  12. Nicely done πŸ™‚ I think it’s particularly important to remember there are valuable writing (and sometimes life) lessons to be taken from all forms of writing, making whatever your ultimate writing style cleaner, more interesting, and (hopefully) more marketable. πŸ™‚

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  13. Great post! I have to admit I still feel a bit guilty sometimes about the time I spend blogging. Sometimes I feel like every spare moment not spent on writing or reading, is just a waste. You kinda fixed that for me there. Thanks! πŸ™‚

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  14. I completely agree with the points you made about understanding the audience (and everything else, but especially the audience). Some of my stories are just silly and frivolous, even if they are a lot of fun for me to write, but the stories that I take seriously generate a lot more interest.

    Great post!

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  15. Yep, I agree. And it’s amazing, in me experience, that people of all ages (and generations) are embracing blogging as a way to say what they want to say. It all about sitting in the chair–or sofa or patio or wherever the Muse calls–and making a commitment to our writing! Thanks for stopping by and liking my blog. It’s only Day 2 of the whole year, so we’ll see how it goes. Cheers!

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  16. Good post. I wrote about that myself a while back, about allowing your blogs to be an extension of all your compositions. I find that it’s a great way to get the juices flowing, to write an email or a blog. That sets the tone for when I do wade into my fledgling manuscript.

    Any time writing is well worth your time. And no matter what kind of writing you do, it’s always good to present your best work, even if it is a simple email. The readers will certainly know if you have put your best pen forward.

    Thanks for your post!
    Take care,
    Paul

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  17. Sometimes I feel guilty for blogging instead of working on my “real” writing projects… like it’s just another form of procrastination. So this was a good reminder! I hope that every word I write contributes to better writing down the line… including this comment, haha.

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  18. That’s a lot of thinking for a blog! lol
    Seriously, I hear ya. The ones I mull over during the week tend to be a little more thought out and I *gasp!* actually do research! Of course, Otherwise, its more a stream of consciousness-type of blogging, especially with my rants.
    But blogging has become an enjoyable why of venting. The fact that ANYONE reads my blogs is a bonus, IMO. But those that do, especially the kind-hearted people that “Like” or comment on my blog, I always appreciate them. πŸ™‚

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  19. Writing about blogging is sharing what you have learned along the way, it seems as if it is a byproduct of writing, grasping just what it is that you do. And your grasp is far reaching. And inspiring!

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  20. Yup. There’s just nothing to argue with in this post! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’m new to blogging myself and I’m just learning all this stuff, too – but sometimes (as someone else has said) my most impassioned and least ‘planned’ blogs get the most interest from readers. I’ll try to keep your points in mind next time I take to my blog, though! Really enjoyed reading this post. Thank you.

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  21. All my experiences as well, w/ one exception. I’ve found (in my entire 6 weeks of blogging) that when I occasionally fling out a deeply felt but not so well thought-out post, it can attract the most readers. I wrote one this week that was entirely unplanned (Hey Girl, You’re Bald!) – just in a fit of must-tell passion – and it got more readers than anything I’ve spent hours & hours on! Go figure. You’re totally right, blogging makes writing just plain fun! Thanks

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    1. My experience exactly. “Six ways to become a more productive writer,” 2nd on my most “liked” list at present, surprised me no end by becoming so popular. It was just a few thoughts strung together. And other blogs I constructed much more carefully didn’t get half as much attention! But I’ve tried to take away a lesson from this which I hope will be useful in longer works–don’t put writing out there that’s below a certain standard you have but once you set it out there, you never know how it will be received. The reader and the reading context bring in so many unexpected variables. That’s where one has to take a decision whether one should put in all heart and soul into just this one thing that one slogs on weeks/ months/ years on or whether it’s wiser to take multiple chances sending pieces of work into the world with reasonable effort ‘coz you never know how they will fare.

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  22. It’s so heartening to hear this. I retired 16 months ago to enjoy life and to write. When people ask me what I do and I reply I write a blog, they look at my like I have 2 heads. So what? I’m writing, learning, and loving it.

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  23. These are realizations that came to me rather slowly after years and years of blogging. Initially I blogged because I liked to- with no thought to any of the other benefits. It took me a while to realize I was reading more, thinking more, writing more, and doing all of that a lot better than I used to. It’s a feel-good realization. πŸ™‚
    I’m quite in awe of the number of amazing posts you churn out each week. It still takes me a while to come up with an idea, and then to construct the post itself before I can write it. And I’m still learning some of that patience you wrote about.
    Wonderful post, as always. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

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  24. I think what blogging has given me more than anything else is the drive, the incentive, to finish the novel I’ve been wprking on for too many years.

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  25. I admire (and envy) how you express things that at best are only half formed thoughts to me. Keep up the excellent blogging!

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  26. You said, just what I needed to read, and or hear. Blogging has helped in so many ways as long as I write and “Dance as if no-one is watching” so to speak et al. I almost forgot the reason I came to blog in the first place. So thank you for your wise and timely words.

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  27. Good points all Bottle – now if you could find the magic solution to getting feedback…;) I’ve only been blogging for a fortnight – so I shall try your ‘patience’ advice ! (Thank you too for the follow – now reciprocated)

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      1. What do you mean? That’s a photograph!
        Tee hee. I did DIY, glad you like it. I just used an art package and a few circles and wobbly lines. I like yours already, why change it?!

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  28. You’ve touched upon pretty much everything I thought of when I read the title of your post. I am a perpetual procrastinator, and to top it, I beat myself up too much about my viewership. It’s a deadly combination. Your post gave me the wake up call I so needed. Thank you πŸ™‚

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  29. I started blogging so I wouldn’t have to update individual friends and family members on my illness. To my surprise I’ve never even met those most involved in my blog, and I read way more than I used to. Good points made. Good post. πŸ™‚

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