Three very different articles about writing have caught my attention today (possibly because I am avoiding tackling an important piece of work, but that is for a different posting). Even though they are very different in source and focus, they are actually complementary, and made me feel a
little bit lot less guilty about blogging.
First, I came across a blog post from the Dead Good website, a community for writers of crime fiction (don’t ask!). The post compiles writing tips from 13 crime authors, who seem to agree that, to write, you need to… well… write. A lot. And enjoy the process.
Later, when I was catching up with my RSS feeds, I read a post by Mark Carrigan on the Impact of Social Sciences blog. In this post, Mark reflects on the nature of writing – what it is and what it entails – and the role of blogging in academic writing. Mark talks about the mechanical aspects of writing (e.g., sitting down to work on a manuscript for 2 hours a day, every day) vs. the creative aspects of writing. The former is a necessary step to produce typical academic outputs, but is unsatisfactory from an intellectual perspective. Blogging, on the other hand, offers him an opportunity to develop the latter, less structured aspect of writing. Blogging helps him externalise his developing ideas.
In academia, as in crime fiction, it is important to write a lot and regularly. Sometimes that means sitting down and writing mechanically – x hours per day, everyday, to whip a manuscript into shape. But other times it means exploring what is in your mind – an idea that is not yet ready to be structured into paragraphs or sections in a document. And blogging is brilliant at the latter.
The thought of blogging as part of the academic writing process, leads me to the third article – this one. It has a neat visual summary of bloggers’ most popular concerns. While the third article is not about academic blogging, it echoes the idea presented in Mark’s piece of blogging as intellectual exploration. Points 1 and 3 are particularly relevant for this discussion and they advocate blogging about what we are learning and about the journey to a particular intellectual output.
So, there you go: enjoy blogging. Guilt free. It’s all part of the academic writing process.