published 15 March 2012
There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
–W. Somerset Maugham
Pressing ‘Pause’ on this site for a while has afforded me time and distance to realign my writing objectives. An invitation from Chris Shiflett to join today’s “Ideas of March” has afforded me an opportunity to break the silence.
Successful blogging, much like Maugham’s quote about novel writing, is largely a mystery. While there are certainly foundational principles that can increase our chances of success, we’ve all seen articles and posts that break all the rules and go on to receive extraordinary traffic, comments, and retweets.
But if our definition of successful blogging — nay, let’s say successful writing — is measured in terms of audience reach and grammatical proficiency, we’re measuring the wrong things. Letters of Note, for example, repeatedly proves good writing does not necessarily equal grammatical proficiency. Additionally, I’ve read plenty of beautifully written pieces that may have been seen by only a handful of eyes beyond my own. (Many of these have been written by my wife and sons.)
Writing, at its core, is a means of personal expression. The greatest measure of its success lies in what it returns to the author. Consider this: I’ve handwritten — yes, with ink — many pages in my personal journal that have been read only by myself. But I consider this some of my most successful, and meaningful, writing because it comes from the heart, allows me to ponder what I’m doing with my life, and encourages me to be a better person.
For those of us who are creative professionals, there are few exercises more beneficial to our profession than writing; persistent writing, to be specific, as the act of writing does more for our ability to think creatively than just about anything else. It forces us to synthesize our thoughts and opinions on paper, which in turn yield an opportunity for critique by ourselves and by others. Synthesizing, as I’ll share in my presentations at DIBI and Interlink in the coming months, is simply the act of organizing unorganized matter — a fancy way of saying create.
And that’s the hope for Ideas of March: a rededication to creative, persistent, meaningful writing, specifically in the form of blogging. If you’d like to participate in Ideas of March, please see Chris Shiflett’s post.