March 02, 2003

Is Blogging Writing?

Chris Locke just made a post that opened up a can of worms that's been brewing in my head for a while. I consider myself a good writer, although I think I've slipped a bit recently due to the nature of my job .... putting together proposals really isn't writing in the sense that I think of it. Creativity starts lacking when you write slightly varying versions the same proposal over and over for different clients. "Professional" writing is more about the efficiency and clarity of words, not creativity.

Somehow, I feel like blogging might be making my writing worse. A professor told me once in college that there are no good writers, only good re-writers. Which makes sense because usually the first thing that is thrown down on paper sounds like crap --- it's the ideas that matter at first, then you re-write and re-write it again and again and again into Robert Frost-like prose .... or something like that. Blogging is more like a stream of consciousness -- there might be a couple read-thrus -- but I'm not out to make a masterpiece. Blogging tends to be quantity over quality. Which is why when Chris said, "writing is a sacred thing. Each word must be carefully considered, weighed, mulled over, its connotations and juxtapositional conjunction with previous words and (possible) meanings thought about deeply, agonized over," I let out a sigh of relief. This is what writing is to me. I am constantly in awe of the people who can write so well, so frequently.

So I ask the question, is blogging synonymous with writing? In the traditional sense of writing, I say no. Blogging is more like speech -- spontaneous, conversational, rough, imperfect. But like writing, it is closer to being permanently stored in history. Speech is gone once it is spoken.

I'm starting to notice that those who write for a living are the ones that blog with a unique and powerful voice. I don't think blogging can make you a better writer -- rather being a better writer will make you a better blogger. (And then there's Eric Norlin who always seems to be the exception to the rule -- I think Eric just has a clear head -- which helps his rap)

A clear head. That's another thing. There always seems to be ten things I'm trying to do at once. The Wall Street Journal had an article this week on how multi-tasking makes us less effective.

A growing body of scientific research shows one of jugglers' favorite time-saving techniques, multitasking, can actually make you less efficient and, well, stupider. Trying to do two or three things at once or in quick succession can take longer overall than doing them one at a time, and may leave you with reduced brainpower to perform each task.

Even while I'm not actually doing 10 other things, the weight of ten other things seems to be pressuring downward in some fashion. This tends to make my blogging words with meaning, but no impact. When I write well, I need to be focused on the task at hand. My girlfriend always asks why I usually just link and quote other writers and bloggers. It usually means, God I wish I had the time and mind-set to write about that, but this will do. A reference point for myself for a later time, and maybe something my readers will like.

So, you might see fewer words here, but more meaning in the weeks to come. We'll just see how it goes.

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