What is a blog?

I have often had trouble getting around to writing stuff here. I have a far too many half-written posts tumbling around my computer in folders or in google docs. I was reading A blog is your brain, over time, on the internet by Giles Turnbull the other day and I realised something I’d been thinking for a while which has been tripping me up.

My abiding idea about why it might be a good thing to write in general (but specifically a blog) comes from the thought that writing about something you think is a really good way to help you sort out your ideas about it. A good way to force yourself to collect and organise your thoughts and present them coherently. A good exercise.

So, often when I have an idea for something to write about, I’ll start making notes or writing disconnected paragraphs in an attempt to get stuff out of my head. Then I sit and look at that stuff and quite often it doesn’t seem to amount to much. Occasionally I’ll leave it and come back to it. Once in a while I’ll come back later, start from scratch and get the sense that a new tack might flow better. Just very rarely does that result in something where I have truly nailed what I think on a subject and properly expressed it in a coherent and well formed way. It has happened. Just not very often.

What I realised, reading Giles’s article, is that I’d been thinking that this was the only approach. To wait until you had something perfectly formed before sharing it. Because I was thinking that the process was meant to end with you having sorted out in your head what you thought and how to express that. Which is stupid. Most of the time what I think about something is a swirling mass of contradiction and confusion which never really coalesces into anything (or at least takes years and years to do so).

The idea that “that’s why you should write” has been there in the background for years making me feel like only those perfectly formed nuggets should ever see the light of day. Don’t get me wrong, there have been occasions where that kind of perfectionism has worked and I’ve been really proud of the results, but there are far, far more times when it’s been a stultifying force instead.

Of course if you are writing for money you’re in whole other situation. In that case getting your ideas together and expressing them properly is absolutely necessary. That’s what you’re being paid to do. But that’s not blogging. A blog by it’s nature is free to create, free to consume. It has none of those expectations or and should have none of those restrictions.

The other thing a blog should be is a conversation starter and I also realised that by always attempting to create complete and unassailable arguments I was unwittingly attempting to ward off the contributions of others. “I’ve got this sorted” I was saying “no need for your input”. Whereas if sorting out my ideas was really what I was interested in doing, what better a way than to bounce them off others.

Hmmm… 485 words, beginning to look like a blog-post type of length. Now the feelings of discomfort set in. “It’s all a little facile isn’t it”. “Surely people know all this already”. ”They will think you are an idiot for stating the obvious”. Self-doubt.

Well to hell with it. I’ll put this up and from now on attempt to remember to try and post more imperfect half-formed rubbish maybe.