I’ve perused a fair amount of blogs about writing and have found that, with a few notable exceptions, they tend to break down into two categories: Do’s and Don’ts, and Why I Haven’t Written.
The Do’s and Don’ts are pretty straightforward: Avoid adverbs. Never open a book with the weather. Take it easy on the exclamation points. Avoid prologues. I take these Writing Commandments with a large grain of salt, since many of these rules are subjective and made to be broken. Beside, I figure if the occasional adverb doesn’t ruin a story for me, it probably won’t ruin it for most other people either.
My favorite Do’s and Don’ts lists give insight into the writing habits of well-known writers, from Henry Miller to Kurt Vonnegut to Zadie Smith*. I am fascinated to learn about what works – and what doesn’t – for these beloved authors: Write to please just one person. Start as close to the end as possible. Work on one thing at a time until finished. Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. When sharing advice, these writers often contradict one another, and sometimes themselves. As Steven King famously wrote, “Ignore all rules.”
The other common – and certainly the most disdainful – type of blog I’ve encountered is the Why I Haven’t Written, aka Dear Diary: Life is Hard. “I didn’t write this week because I had to call my mother and the dog was sick and my boss was being a jerk and my pen was leaky and American Idol was on…” Why on earth would anyone write a blog about why he or she doesn’t have the time or energy to write? And why on earth would anyone want to read this drivel? That’s what support groups are for. If you have the time and energy to update your blog, guess what? You also have the time and energy to whip out a paragraph or two of your short story, memoir, or novel-in-progress.**
Now that I’ve planted my size eight feet firmly on my soapbox, it’s time for me to confess my own (largely) selfish reasons for starting a blog about writing. I want to make writing a constant in my life, to keep it in the forefront of my conscious mind. I want to make myself accountable. Most of all, I want to WRITE MORE. And as a side benefit, I hope to entertain a couple of folks along the way. I write about my experiences and what works for me in the hope that this will be of interest to others, just as I’ve learned from reading about what works for Miller, Vonnegut, Zadie Smith, and even Steven King.
So. Why do you read or write blogs?
* I think this heartbreaking bit of advice from Smith will resonate with most creative folks: “Tell the truth through whichever veil comes to hand — but tell it. Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never being satisfied.”
**Perhaps my next blog post will be: Too busy writing novel to write blog post. Check back later.