Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Rambling: Daily Blogging (Mostly recycled thoughts)

So, day before yesterday I resolved that I was going to post here every day, just as I post every day over at the other blog.

Then I didn't post yesterday.


However, I did write a really really long post on the REAL Bloggers United forum over at BlogCatalog, about why I want to blog daily. So today I'm going to blatantly steal from myself and re-express some of those thoughts here. (Is that wrong? Probably.) It's a not particularly orderly set of thoughts:

Thought One: I've realized that a large percentage of my favorite writers are or were journalists. I like their ability to create prose that's clean, graceful, crystal clear, and somehow carries extra nuances without needing extra words to carry the weight of those nuances. I'm tentatively associating that with their being journalists.

My theory is that journalists write a lot, write it on a deadline, are forced to hand it over to an audience on that deadline, and get rapid feedback on what they've written. They have a very, very high frequency of the write, edit, publish, feedback cycle. And barring my quitting the job, going to journalism school, and hunting for a job as a cub reporter, the blog looks like the thing to give me that. The editor to yell at me when my writing stinks is missing, but, well, I can't have everything.

Thought Two: I sometimes remember a scene from the Mary Tyler Moore show, where Mary is trying to write a late breaking bulletin as the news is just about to end. She tappity-taps, pauses, waggles her fingers trying to think of the right phrase, tappity-taps again, pauses again...

After a couple of repetitions of this Mr. Grant urges her out of the chair, sits down at the typewriter, types for a few seconds at such thunderous speed that you can't really distinguish the keystrokes from one another, rips the paper out of the typewriter without so much as glancing at it, and hands it to whoever is supposed to run it to the anchorman.

I've always assumed that Mr. Grant's writeup was not only faster, but much, much better than Mary's. I realize that's not data ("Mary Tyler Moore is fiction, ChickenFreak; do you know what 'fiction' means?"), but it makes my goal clear to myself: I want to write like I imagine Mr. Grant writing. Or, at least, I want my progress to be in that direction for a while.

Thought Three: And ("Fiction, ChickenFreak? Remember what fiction is? Remember how it's not real?") I think of those scenes in movies where reporters call in a story with no papers in hand, apparently able to juggle a multi-paragraph composition in their heads. Sure, there are editors at the other end, but that still points me to a goal: I want to be able to compose larger written structures on the fly. And I think that's at least partly a matter of sheer volume of practice.

Thought Four: And, I'm thinking of the ten thousand hours theory in Outliers, the idea that ten thousand hours is what it takes to master a complex task. Of course, that's quantity of time, not words written, but I'm considering it relevant anyway. Sheer practice. Increasingly complex skills becoming automatic. (Like steering was conscious when you first learned to drive and now you don't think about it?)

Thought Five: I recently wrote a scrap of fiction dialogue for the first time in weeks and wrote it Ever. So. Carefully., trying to make it clean and smooth and in the style that I like. Looked at a day later, it's clogged and stilted and much too self-conscious.

I went to look at my NaNoWriMo novel, with tons of sequences of dialogue that were written full tilt with no editing or pauses, and while many are junk, many are infinitely more graceful, and communicate more, than the careful bit. They need editing, but once edited, they'll be much better than the piece that I wrote with care.

So I think that I'm a write-full-tilt-and-then-edit writer. The kind that writes ten thousand words and only salvages a thousand. So if I'm going to salvage much, I need to write a lot.

Thought Six: As I've mentioned before, a nontrivial portion of my "writing", if you count it as writing (I do, but with embarassment) was on text-based online roleplaying games. Not the kind where you fight coded monsters with coded swords, but the kind where the players, together, describe all of the events, dialogue, visuals, and so on. I played those things for hundreds and hundreds of hours.

So I'm used to "writing" with a deadline of two minutes, absolute maximum, and getting feedback within seconds. So a 24-hour deadline should be nothing, and I really like at least having the chance of that daily feedback.

Conclusion: So there we are. The current course of action is, write more and write faster.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.


  1. I admire you for blogging every day and remaining sane. I feel like a wrung out sponge after my once-a-week posts, but then writing lucid and occasionally witty prose doesn't come naturally to me;)

    Christine in Alaska

  2. Oh, how odd. This post thinks it has a comment, but it's not displaying it. I felt the need to comment on this fact so that no one thinks that I deleted their comment. If you see what I mean.

  3. .... and there's the comment! Freakier.

    Howdy, Christine! Well, I'm not claiming that I am sane, but I'm in one piece so far. :) We'll see how that goes, with two posts a day instead of one.

  4. CF, I'm really happy for you. Go CF!
    I have so many things I would like to do in a day (including having time to write more often) but I just don't have enough time. I hope you are going to have enough to that to complete your goals.

  5. Hey, Ines! Well, I haven't lately, but I blame the film festival. :) I'll do the daily blogging starting Tuesday. Really I will.