Wednesday, May 21, 2008

How To Be A Better Writer

I have just finished writing the fiftyeth million response to a blogger who feels she is frittering her life away on line. Okay, it wasn't the fiftyeth million, but it seems like I'm saying the same thing to a lot of people. So I'm gonna say it here too. But first, my bonafides: I have been a writing teacher. People, universities even, have paid me to teach students of all ages and capabilities to write. I've taught elderly ladies and male felons, but those are stories for another day. I tell you this so you'll know I know what I'm talking about. And believe me!

All the desire in the world won't make you a writer. For that, you have to work. And working for a writer is reading and thinking and writing and rewriting.

Blogging is just another genre of writing, not inferior or superior to any other in and of itself. You can practice writing the Great American Novel by writing on your blog. You can learn how to write by reading other's blogs. The work involved is this: when you're reading blogs, try to figure out what it is you like (or dislike) about a particular writer. Try on techniques that they use. See if you have a like-sounding voice that you can fool around in. Figure out what you don't like about a blog or a writer's voice or...or...whatever. You figure it out. Think about it.

Then, when you're writing your blog, don't just hit publish and let it go. I've had years of experience at writing fast, but I NEVER do a blog post that is first draft, final draft. I preview my drafts and reword and rewrite and--goddamit--REVISE the thing until I deem it publishable. That doesn't mean it's perfect, because God knows I'd never publish if I held myself up to that. But it does say what I want it to say clearly and in a way that makes me proud. At least for that day.

All the talk about blogging being inferior and self-indulgent is just so much hoo-hah. It's genre-ist, if I may coin a word, coming in somewhere under racist and sexist and ageist and ist-ist. Don't let Them--be they friends, family or artful critics--get away with it. Don't allow blogger to become another word that must be known only by its initial.

BlogWriters of the World--unite! Stand tall and stand proud. When you're asked what you do, answer "I'm a writer." And when the followup question is, "Oh, what do you write?" Look them in the eye and say, I publish my writing on-line. Because that's what a blog is: writing that is published on line. It's neither better than nor worse than writing that has been published on paper. It is what it is, and that's the best we can say about any creative work.

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