Blogging in 2017Comments

Having read a number of posts recently about people's experiences rediscovering blogging, and others questioning whether blogging was still a valid exercise in 2017, I thought it would be a good idea to re-examine why I do this.

My own rediscovery period was last year. I was still writing but not truly blogging - it was elsewhere, not here on my own site, and I realised that needed to change.

I blog now, just as I have always done, to get thoughts and ideas from my head to the page. Ideas are special, ideas are the lifeblood of our existence and need to be shared.

Even if no one reads them, putting them on the page gives them a validity that just having them in your head can't match. They are shared for the record and for posterity rather than being ignored and forgotten.

Accountable

When I started the Write365 project on Google+ in 2014 I said that just writing every day wasn't enough, it had to be done in public to hold me accountable.

It's the same now.

Sharing ideas with a prospective audience opens them up to examination, makes you question them in your own mind and establish a degree of clarity before committing them to the page.

Writing something publicly means (at least should mean) that you are willing to stand behind it, willing to explain or defend it, and even willing to be challenged on it and review your position should that challenge be persuasive.

Blogging is absolutely still valid, probably even more so, now that so much of what is published to the web is to social properties where it is gone in seconds - if we ever see it at all.

Does it matter what you post or how long it is? No.

Does it matter that 'social' has fundamentally altered blogging? Definitely not.

What matters is that ideas get posted, regardless of length or format, so that they can be shared, explored and built upon.

Blogging in 2017

Posting without titles is immensely liberating. Not having to come up with something pithy to head up the piece every time you want to say something really takes the pressure off - you just get on with writing.

Of course, it's the career blogger's nightmare - those who keep reminding us that the title is the most important part of the piece, your one chance to capture the eyes of potential readers.

Some content will always need titles: microcast episodes, parts of a series, or more topical long form offerings. It is these that will form the bait, but the rest that will get people to subscribe or, just maybe, keep coming back to your site.

We don't think in titles, we think in ideas.

Sometimes they need announcing but, usually, the idea alone is enough.

Status

Ideas, creativity and scale

This is always a difficult time of year for someone who likes to call themselves a writer.

Why?

NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month - an annual event in which authors sign up to write a novel of at least 50,000 words during the month of November.

I have always wanted to write a book of some description but my only effort, a sci-fi novel begun in my late teens, fizzled out - the scope was too grand while I was too young and inexperienced to match the vision.

At least I'm honest about that.

Ideas without execution

For years my social profiles have included the words "thinker, writer, ideas man" but what does that really mean?

It sounds grand, creative, perhaps self aggrandising but it is also self deprecating.

The problem is since that failed attempt I have only had small ideas, bits and pieces often building on someone else's work. Extensions, wishes, improvements.

When original ideas do emerge they suffer from my inability to expand them, to turn them from small ideas into big ones or combine a number of smaller thoughts into a worthy project.

Ideas without execution.

Ideas are our lifeblood, yet alone they are nothing but shadows of what might have been or reflections of possible futures.

With only ideas I am just the thinker and not the doer. With only ideas I am just the ideas man and not the author or the entrepreneur. With only ideas I am but a single step down a very long road and can only dream of reaching the end.

And small ideas only get you so far.

Worth something

It may be a little conceited but we want our ideas to be worth something - not necessarily financially, but mentally, emotionally.

We want our creation to be something someone else will care about, that will make an impact or make a difference rather than get buried in a social stream with just a couple of likes from friends who feel obligated to tap that little heart icon.

Perhaps it is a fear of our own mortality that we want to make a mark on the world and not be lost to time once our number is up.

We tie self worth to external validation when we should be looking within; when we should be relishing our ideas no matter how small.

Ideas, creativity and scale

Media Shifting

I know why I haven't written by hand over the years: I hate the process of transcribing from paper to screen.

Many writers talk of how they will unload their thoughts at the start of the day, clear out the mental detritus so that the mind is free from distraction when they come to write.

But this is like my actual creative process.

I don't write in notes or bullet points, I don't create in abstractions. I write - and think - in full sentences, paragraphs.

If I have a thought or an idea it simply has to come out, it has to make the transition from mind to medium before the moment is lost and the idea decays.

The phrasing of the ideas, the emotion behind them, is of the moment, tied to my mental state at that exact point in time. No matter what the subject, no matter how well conceived, if it is not captured in that specific moment then it might as well have never existed.

So, writing down these sentences and paragraphs while they are fresh in the mind should be a good thing, right?

It should, but once they are written they are done, loosed upon the world - they are free and I no longer control them.

Irrespective of the medium used, like the morning detritus they have been removed from my mind, transferred to an outboard memory with no reliable means of retrieval.

I am unable to "media shift" my ideas.

Media Shifting