I don’t know if blogging is my thing, but I do think it’s a great exercise for any writer. This shouldn’t surprise me, given that I believe writers in any genre can improve their work by studying and practicing other writing disciplines.
To write a succinct, 650-word blog, reminds me of the advice I received some time ago in photography class: that a photo should convey a single idea. That to try to say too much with just one photograph usually serves to weaken, not strengthen, the image. The same seems to be true for blogging: we get into trouble when we’re not clear – by the time we finish a piece – what it is we’re trying to say.
Fortunately, writing is an exploration and we don’t have to know what we’re writing until it’s written. I often wonder if there are writers out there who plan their work before they write it: “Okay, today I’m going to write about such-and-such and this will be the beginning, middle, and end of my story.” Imagine?! No, for me, words and ideas might as well be a mess of dough set out in front of me that I fold, pull, crush, shape, and re-shape until it takes form and resembles something recognizable or meaningful. For me, this process takes time. I like to let ideas come to room temperature, chop them just a bit and let them simmer and stew a while. Mainly this is because I’m lazy and I’d prefer to let my subconscious do some of the work. Pushing along with the logical brain feels so much harder.
But just as writing poetry can help with the lilt and language of prose, writing fiction can help with characterization and imagery of the personal essay. Just as journalistic structure can improve the readability and appeal of a story, the practice of blogging can help us clarify our ideas, quickly yanking meaning from the mundane, and find ways of linking them together over time.
Still, cranking out a blog every few days feels rushed to me, but cranking out anything tends to get easier over time. And that focus on the point is such good practice.