Back in the Dark Ages before social media and the internets were such a normal part of life, I remember hearing about blogging and thinking it was the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. Why would anyone write a journal that everyone could read? Who would want to read other people’s diaries, (except of course for my sister’s diary in middle school)? I asked cynical questions about the trend of vanity in American youth culture. I vented and ranted to my friends, family, and strangers, none of whom probably cared what I thought about the topic. I couldn’t imagine who would be arrogant enough and insecure enough to write their thoughts and musings online for other people to read and comment on.
I am now one of those people. I blog. I am a blogger.
Obviously, a lot has changed in the blogging world since it first began and I definitely believe the blogging medium is becoming recognized as a legitimate platform for writing. All that said, since I’ve been harassing you for over a year and a half with this blog, I felt I at least owed you an explanation for why I harass you with my thoughts (and why other writers should harass the world with their thoughts as well.)
5 Reasons I blog
1. You’re Not a Writer if You Don’t Write
In college if you asked me what I wanted to do when I graduate, I would have said one of three things: be an inventor, a rockstar, or a writer. The first I would say as a joke. I even had business cards that said my name and “inventor.” Most people didn’t get the joke, which is the case with most of my humor. The second I would say half seriously. I am a singer/songwriter and I am still playing, writing, and occasionally performing. I don’t actually want to be a rockstar in the traditional way it is meant, but it got my point across, it was more glamorous to say, and usually people wouldn’t ask anymore questions about it afterward. The third, being a writer, was the only one I meant completely seriously. I love writing, creating images through syntax and vocabulary, crafting timeless phrases together in such a way that make you laugh, cry, and question the very foundations of your self all within the millisecond it takes to go from one synapse to the other.
Once people got over how impressed they were with my aspirations (read sarcasm here), the next obvious question was what have I written lately. My freshman year of college, I ambitiously set out to write the book that would change the face of Christianity as we knew it, a book which instead never got published and is sitting in a box.net folder for anyone who wants to try and sweat their way through the hackneyed prose and ambitious hermeneutics.
So that endeavor kept me going for a while. And then there was the occasional poem, song, article that no one wanted to publish, and school papers that I would try to describe in a way that was far more interesting than they ever actually were.
It took me years to finally realize that it wasn’t enough to say that I wanted to be a writer to actually make it so. If one doesn’t garden, he isn’t a gardener. Desire doesn’t equate to actualization. In the same vein, you’re not a writer if you do not write. After reading some of Ray Bradbury’s short stories about two years ago, I started to Google him and came across some YouTube interviews with him on the importance of writers writing persistently. Shortly after, I decided to start blogging.
If you are a writer, or want to be a writer, then do everything you can to write frequently. Blogging provides a platform for you to write in short bits and pieces, consistently and often, and get feedback from others. It really is a no-brainer.
2. Not Every Great Idea Needs a Book to Go With It
There is a trend in the publishing world, especially in the Christian publishing world, to take a simple idea, as profound as it may be, and kill it with a book that is too long, redundant, and watered down with anecdotes to pack a significant punch. I’m not saying that books are never warranted. There are definitely books that should be written and I hope one day to write one. However, there are some ideas that just don’t need 200 plus pages of explanation to be fully developed.
One of the advantages of blogging is that it provides a format for you to share the great ideas that should never become books. Blog posts range from 500 to 1000 words. Often times, this is all an idea needs.
Furthermore, when you do come across an idea that should become a book, a blog allows you the freedom to test, explore, develop and get feedback on the material that will one day become an important, publish-worthy book.
3. Blogs Have the Capacity for Conversation
As a writer, especially a developing one such as myself, good, honest feedback is incredibly important for improvement. Knowing what ideas connected and what needs further explanation is invaluable. Of course, there are ways of getting this kind of feedback without having a blog, but the advantage of blogging is that the platform not only supports it, but encourages it.
I have to be careful here because sometimes the comments section of the blog, if not managed well, can hurt the writing process more than help it. The internet is not the wild west of information and credibility, so feel okay with managing what comments are posted and which ones are not. Just because H32K-alpha thinks you’re blog is the worse string of crap the internet has allowed since its inception, doesn’t mean H32K-alpha is in a position to make that kind of judgment or deserves to be a part of the conversation.
4. People Read Blogs
In a 2009 study on The Future Buzz, there were roughly 346,000,000 people globally who read blogs. At that time, 77% of internet users read blogs. These numbers have undoubtedly gone up since this study. This means that people are reading blogs!
Whether or not people are reading your blog has more to do with SEO and SMO factors, which are well worth investing time into understanding. However, blogging as a a medium, has become a significant source of information in the online age.
5. Writing Changes the World
Okay. This is where I get a little idealistic and nostalgic. The thing that drives me more than anything to write, more than the fun of turning phrases and creating clever quips, is the knowledge that when things get written down, history starts to change. One of my favorite examples in history is the year 1848 in Europe. In 1848, all but 4 European countries had a political revolution. Obviously there were a number of things that attributed to this phenomena, and as a historian, I would be irresponsible to diminish historical events of that magnitude to being caused by one thing. History doesn’t work like that. With that being said, it is important to note that in that same year, a short pamphlet was published that became an active part of almost all of the revolutions. This pamphlet was the Communist Manifesto.
Regardless of your personal feelings toward this small book, the effect it had on the course of 19th, 20th, and now 21st century politics is undeniable. History changed because someone had the foresight of writing things down. The Protestant Reformation was significantly fueled by the prolific writings of the reformers, especially Luther and Calvin. Christianity itself, the consistency and longevity it has endured is due to the fact that people wrote down what they heard, learned, or experienced from God. If a religion doesn’t write its tenants down, it typically doesn’t last very long.
Jesus is described as the Word. Jesus is God’s writing!
I believe I’ve made my case. Too much of history is what it is because someone had the courage to write their thoughts down on paper and share it with others. In this day and age, blogs are a medium where the words written can change history. Granted, sifting through the dense wasteland of the blogosphere can be a lot like searching for pearls in a field full of empty oysters. My hope is that if I keep writing, if I stay courageous in writing things worth reading, that someday something I write might become the sand in the oyster of your mind, irritating you to grow a pearl that changes your life for good.
This my apologetic for why I harass you with my thoughts. Now go and do the same.