My blog is relatively barren. Relative to all the stuff I write in my head, anyhow. My head explodes with ideas – I process my whole day in terms of how I would write about it – and yet I don’t. I am sitting right next to a list that says:
Long lines at Peets
Then and Now
All of those are things I would like to write about and yet I suspect I won’t. Or I will write something and post it to the drafts folder of my email and forget about it.
Part of the problem is that I’m a terrible first draft writer. When I write it comes out like crap and requires several edits which means it takes a long time which is a great excuse to just skip it. Part of it is that I don’t find most of my writing particularly entertaining and yes, I realize that is an acquired skill that will not get better until I put more time into the craft. Mostly I seem to approach writing the same way I deal with exercise. I listen to the whiney little voice in my head who is a master of excuses and a notorious procrastinator.
I feel like the Elephant Man who said (in the fictionalized play) “Sometimes I think my head is so big because it is so full of dreams” only mine is so full of stuff to write about. It’s also a rather small head but hopefully you get the point.
The 4 or so people who regularly read this blog all have blogs of their own (I think). So how do you do it? What motivates you? How do you get the stuff rattling around in your head to come out the ends of your fingers? I’m not as concerned about the ‘why’ as I am about the ‘how’.
My writing sucks and my spelling is deplorable. I’ve come to feel that if I just put it out there as a first draft, I will get better through practice, and my first drafts will start looking like second drafts and then third drafts…I also drink a lot of coffee because I have a sleeping problem; thus, I’m always wired and ready to type. I have a lot of 10-15 minute incubation periods in the lab so I have to use that time somehow. It also means I have to write the first thing that comes to mind without too much thinking. I also have lots of material because everyone I know is insane (myself included).Since I don’t have any friends, I don’t have anything to lose. If people think my posts are boring and horrible, it doesn’t change my life. If they like some of them, it means I feel a little more like a real person. If someone really hates me, maybe they’ll correct my mistakes and let me know so that I can improve my skills.Let us judge how interesting your material is–you are always going to be your worse critic. Trust me. We will love it, and we will tell you how much we love it. You will get more confidence and think less about what you are doing. You will be able to overcome your fears and evolve. Hope this helps.
So, like you, I jot down topics all day. I divide the list into “current” items, meaning things that I need to write about quickly or they’ll become dated, and “feature” items, which are things I can write about whenever. Having the “current” list helps drive me to write in a timely manner. Sometimes I can group multiple topics together. I like that because it makes it seem like I have more of a broad point to make.I try to “talk” to my blog as if I were having a conversation with a friend. I try to write with my own voice, I try to make jokes, and I try to be sensitive to my audience. I write as much as I can first, and then I go strike out the boring parts. And then I go back to make sure I’m moving from point to point in a coherent and understandable manner; if I have to add transitional sentences as segues, I do. But I try not to over-edit.Like faltertorise wrote, you’re probably your own worst critic. Your stuff is good, believe me. Now if you let go and just write a bunch of stuff without caring how perfect it is, you’ll find that the writing just gets better on its own.By the way, faltertorise, I’ve added you to my bookmarks. You’ve got some good stuff going there too.
Thanks Ken,I think your “talking” advice is really good.
Thanks Ken, that is good advice. Falterstorise your stuff does not suck – cut that out!
Hee – I have the same kind of list. I think mine is about 120 topics long at this point…Now, get your straight face on. A lot of times, I start my work on a topic in my van. Yes, that’s right – if you see a woman in a big van with four kids yowling and bouncing and carrying on in the back and she seems to be talking to herself…that’s me. And yes, I’m talking to myself. Even if my fingers appear to be tapping on the steering wheel as if I’m singing or something, no, I’m talking to myself. The tapping thing is just a nervous habit. I talk the topics out, “interview” myself on them, keep working them until I know what the heck I’m trying to say about it.Then, I write it. Usually either between 10:00 and 11:00 at night or 4:30 and 6:30 in the morning. The rest of the day, I’m just dashing in and pounding out another title for the list.The other thing I do is a stream of consciousness writing. Just write it all out, even if it has nothing to do with the topic at hand. I’ll scrub the excess crap out when I go back to review a day or two later.Sometimes I’ll end up with three or four different pieces after I’ve cut all that ‘excess’ out into their own topics.I’ve also taken myself totally mobile. I’ve got the laptop, I’ve got the Palm Pilot with Docs to Go and a little keyboard…I’m ready. If I get eight minutes waiting for a train to go by while on the road, I can whip out that Palm and start pondering the imponderables instantly.Oh, and I type really, really fast.That helps, too. 🙂
BTW – I saw this post on your blog on my Palm this morning. See how mobile I am? While I was mixing up muffins, I was reading your blog.Ok, Ok, so, yes. I DO need a real life. But that’s mostly because the one I have is so crazy-wild that it’s dull and I want to borrow someone else’s.Hmm. Oxymoron with your coffee, anyone…?