Why You Should Write A Short Blog Every Day
A few years ago I used to run a creative writing group in Wakefield, West Yorkshire. I’ve lost count, but probably we ran the course for around five years, every Monday evening for two hours and the average number of ‘would be writers’ in the group would be around 16 or so. The average age? Difficult to say, mostly older I suppose, retired, but we did have some younger members who who wanted a little encouragement. So, in other words, your typical creative writing group – some very good writers and others who were just starting out and frightened to death.
In all the sessions the format was the same. The first hour would be spent doing free writing exercises. For example I might say “Okay I want you all to write this down… ‘It was not the kind of dance I was expecting….‘ (or some other vague phrase)…and I want you to continue that phrase and just write whatever comes into your mind. There are no rules, apart from ONE – you must begin writing and not stop until I say STOP…right….start writing please.”
And that would be it for about ten minutes. Fairly standard creative writing class fare you’re probably thinking to yourself. Yes, I suppose so, but it always worked. Then I would go around the group and ask them to read out their written work. Everyone was encouraged to read – if someone said “I’d rather not. Mine is rubbish” I would still encourage them to read it out because I assured them there would be something in there that would be worth the effort. It was rare that anyone said “No thank you.”
After an hour we would break for ten minutes or so, have a coffee and mingle and chat about anything and everything, not just writing.
Then the final 45 minutes were spent asking group members to read out their ‘homework‘. I always set them some piece of writing to do at home to bring back the following week – I would give them a title mostly – ‘The Haircut From Hell’. It was a totally random choice on my part, and usually based upon something that had been said during our writing session.
These homework pieces were usually very revealing and it was good to gauge the reaction of the other members of the group who would simply sit and listen. And that would be it. As I said, every Monday evening for five years. Every year we had new members come and join the group but we also had a hard core of keen regulars who wouldn’t have missed it for the world. I loved it too.
So, what point am I getting at? And what has blogging every day got to do with it….?
Well, to be honest, all of these writers needed to have an outlet for their writing that would have an audience (1) and hopefully give them some feedback (2). Simply writing at home and then putting that written work away in a drawer forever was not enough (3).
They also needed to be told that whatever they wrote was not a matter of ‘life and death’ (4). They would not be judged on that piece alone (5). It was simply a writing exercise – a one off.
They needed to be aware that writing was fun, not a chore.(6) They had to realise that writing could be about anything – absolutely any subject, any starting phrase could lead to something worthwhile if they only gave it a chance.(7)
They were encouraged to be silly, off the wall, inventive and even frivolous with their writing, even if in the real world they were a bank manager or chief executive of some local business, because others may be inspired by their efforts.(8)
They had to believe that what they wrote in this relaxed environment could have a profound effect on themselves too, make them realise there was another side to their character, something that maybe they kept bottled up in normal daily life. (9)
They were told to ‘write without thinking too much‘. Writing a couple of sentences and then going back and rewriting it there and then, and analyzing it, being too critical, weighing up if it’s any good or not, that was not the way to write. (10) I wish I had a pound for every time I said in class “Don’t get it right, get it written”… (11)
Writing is all about ‘letting go’ too in many ways, freeing yourself up, having the courage to write from the heart and from your own experience and letting your inner feelings and emotions out through invention, storytelling, and just enjoying the experience of writing without any pressure. (12)
But most of all they appreciated being allowed to write in an atmosphere where ‘anything goes’. They wanted to be told that they didn’t have to write in a particular style, to keep up any kind of ‘standard’ and that the act of writing itself would make them better writers. And in truth, over a period of time, they ALL became better writers, much more confident, much more productive. (13)
And that’s about it really…..
That’s why I now encourage writers of all abilities, all ages, to have a go at blogging. Writing every day, having a ‘time structure’ helps enormously, and just the act of typing something, ‘anything’, even if it’s just a paragraph or two, gets them into the habit of writing and helps remove the pressure of feeling one always has to create something ‘earth shatteringly brilliant’ – something ‘perfect’. Nope.
Did any of that make sense? I hope so, because my time limit of five minutes is up. (Do I have to read it out too?)
Finally…….just a quick recommendation if I may. If you’re in need of some instant inspiration why not get yourself a copy of Bonnie Neubauer’s entertaning Creative Writing book THE WRITE BRAIN ….full of lots of exercises to get your creative juices flowing……definitely worth reading.
Check it out HERE