Why blog? In fact, why write at all?

Ever tried to explain blogging to someone who’s never read a blog and doesn’t even know what the word means?  If so, I hope you made a better job of it than I did.  I left feeling I’d done a disservice not just to myself but to the millions of other people who spend their time doing this.

During the course of my stumbling explanation, I found myself saying “I write to be read.”  Well, that’s true, I suppose.  I also write to get better at writing.  I write to connect with people like me.  (Are there any people like me?)  I blog to encourage myself to write more, whether it’s fiction, non-fiction or anything in between.

Blogging allows me to explore ideas and develop my skill.  You  might argue that it’s better to do that in private, and stuff the results in a drawer, never to see the light of day.  But then how would you know whether your words were touching people?  How would you know whether your writing was improving?  Would you be motivated to write regularly if nobody was reading?

I’ve said it before, but writing begets writing.  The more frequently you write, the more you will be thinking about writing, and the more you think about it, the more likely you are to actually pick up the pen.  It doesn’t have to be blogging.  Anything that encourages you to write regularly, and keep on writing regularly, has to be good.  For me, blogging provides a framework, a community, and a digital kick in the pants.

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They might not understand (and that’s ok)

You’re sitting in a cafe with a friend, catching up on all the news.  She asks what you’ve been up to, and you mention writing.  She looks blank.  You tell her of your two recently-published articles, and after a bemused pause, she asks, “Can you make money doing that, or is it just…”  She trails off, leaving you to wonder what she would have completed her thought with.

“Just…a hobby?”

“Just…a waste of time?”

“Just…something to do while you look for a proper job?”

Or is it just something she doesn’t understand?

Would you be defensive in that situation, justifying yourself and explaining the writer’s life in great detail?  Would you find yourself curling up inside and thinking, she’s right.  I’m wasting time.  I should stop playing around and get a real job.  I’m no good at this anyway?  Would you get angry and flounce out, vowing never to associate with such a Philistine again?

Or would you stop and think about it?

Do you understand every one of her decisions?  Do you really ‘get’ what she spends her time doing?  Does working in a bank / horseracing / collecting toy pigs (or whatever it is that she loves doing) make your heart sing in the same way it does hers?  And if it doesn’t, why would you expect her to understand your need to write?

Many people won’t understand.  And that’s ok.  If we all wanted to be writers, the world would be lacking an awful lot of plumbers, actors, farmers and a lot more besides.

When they don’t understand, write anyway.  There will be others who do understand.  Write for them, write for you, but write.

PS. In case you were wondering how I responded (because you really weren’t fooled into believing this was a hypothetical situation, were you – although the pig-collecting etc was made up), I simply said, “Yes, you can make money from it,” and moved on to something else.  We’re still friends.