I’ve been feeling less than satisfied with my writing/blogging here of late. Even though I’ve stayed pretty consistent in terms of posting on a regular basis, I just don’t feel like the quality of the posts has been as good or as meaningful as in the past. And maybe that’s just it; it feels like posting, not blogging.
It’s a big difference for me, because I’m learning when I blog whereas I’m just collecting when I post. I’ve been over this turf before, I know, but to me, blogging is work. Not work in a job sense but work in a thinking/writing sense. Blogging requires effort in ways that make it a valuable use of my time. I need to read and think and write, all the while testing my assumptions and editing what comes in and what goes out. In the three-plus years that I’ve been keeping this blog, I’ve read tens of thousands pieces of writing from thousands of other bloggers, and with each one I’m mining it for something to use in my practice or to write about. Ironically, it’s one of the biggest changes in my process since I started blogging, this reading for ideas that I do. I never used to read to write. Now that’s almost all I do. And the writing identifies and clarifies the learning. That’s really what the good blogging is here, a learning log.
What’s cool, and also overwhelming, is that there’s so much good blogging going on these days. It’s exposition in the purest sense; there’s thesis and support via links. In many cases, it’s the type of exposition that I used to teach my students, characterized by well-developed, organized ideas, vibrant writing and clear focus. But most of the time, what makes blogging different is the length; it’s shorter, punchier, and it’s characterized by the clear voice of the author. As a writing teacher, the great appeal of blogs to me is the obvious sense of audience that bloggers develop. They have to. In fact, I think I could argue that blogs can provide better models of personal essay than more traditional sources simply because the sense of audience is so acute. It is, as I’ve said before, that conversation with your audience that Donald Murray talks so much about come to life. (In fact, I wish Murray had a blog.)
So when I go through a period where I don’t feel like what I’m writing is characterized by the thinking and engagement of the reader that good blogging is, I actually start missing it somehow. It’s like not getting to the gym when I’m paying the monthly membership whether I show up or not. Or something like that. I miss the workout that blogging provides. Which, of course, is why I think every student should be blogging (not just posting) at an early age…imagine the essays they would write in high school.
I’m not sure why the dearth lately. It may be because I’m finding this harder to do now that I’m not teaching. Or because there are more soccer and swim practices to get to. Or because at times the limited focus of this blog is, well, a bit limiting. (Oh the blogging I COULD be doing…) But at any rate, I’m hoping to get back to the good thinking and writing stuff more often.