I love blogging as a medium. The written word is kind of my thing, and blogging fits nicely in that little gap between a well written book and a spontaneous, insightful tweet. Blogs are a place to share knowledge and personal stories. A place to formulate your ideas and take them public, while always remaining your space.
So why do I find blog posts so hard to write?
Part of the problem is non-fiction in general. I’m like most people, I have a lot of opinions on a lot of different subjects, but they’re not really developed. A few good ideas bubble to the surface when prompted, but if I had to discuss them at length, I would soon run out of steam. I’d start trailing off and before you know it, I’m thinking about to have in supper instead. There’s that bag of sausages in the freezer, of course, but then they’ll keep whereas the quiche in the fridge will probably only last a week. Sorry, what was I talking about?
Oh yeah, blogging.
This is one of the age old problems with writing, of course. It’s all well and good when you’re writing about the dragon swooping down into town and snatching villagers up with its claws, but when you need a good protagonist to go and slay the beast, and they need a name and a backstory, character motivations, a family, the plot needs to be well paced… well it all starts to feel a lot like work.
I don’t really like work.
Nobody does. Which is sort of a problem, but it shouldn’t be. I’m not one to suddenly start rambling about the problem with society today but if I were, I would probably say that we live in a time where it’s more important to be entertained and distracted than it is to be satisfied with finishing a task that was difficult. I’m as guilty of this as anyone. I want to be amused through the bad bits, I want to find a way of writing that is always fun, and always easy. I want to be swept along as much when writing a piece as I am when reading one.
But writing isn’t like that. Writing is more like baking. Sometimes you’re whisking, or kneading. Nice automatic jobs that are satisfying for the fingers and time passes like it’s supposed to. Other jobs are more like measuring ingredients, checking temperatures and getting the crust right. Harder still if it’s puff pastry, I wonder what the pastry is on that quiche? I should definitely eat that tonight and… Oh sorry. It won’t happen again.
And then there’s the failures.
Another reason I find writing blog posts so tricky is that I’m unpracticed. Writing is like any skill, it builds up over time, and in the early days you need to force yourself to do it. You need to learn basic skills like just getting a target amount of words on to the damned page, to more complicated skills like making some of those words good, and forming sentences that people understand and contribute to your overall point. I can’t count the times I’ve written a post entirely off the cuff and posted it, only to go back and few weeks later and find that it is utterly incomprehensible. (In the art world, we call it abstract.)
So how do we get around it?
How do you continue blogging if you find it a chore? The same way you learn to do anything else that is difficult. You force yourself to do until it feels natural. There’ll be days when you want to pull out your hair, and there’ll be days when you don’t know what you want to write about, but then there’ll be the good days. There’ll be days when you find ideas you never knew you had, and communicate something you always felt but could never quite say.
And then one day it will be easy.