IT SOUND LIKE A RATHER STRANGE THING TO SAY ABOUT SUCH A SEDENTARY OCCUPATION—
BUT WRITING IS ABOUT ACTION
To write, you’ve got to write!
Victor, your answers are fantastic. I am looking to start a blog and have a lot of "jumbled" ideas that aren't very cohesive. In general, I also feel that when I start, I will eventually dry up and not have good ideas. What suggestions would you have for someone like me who wants to get started but feels like I may be my own stumbling block?
Kerri, thanks for the kind words.
Truth to tell, I'm getting quite inspired by the questions I am being asked--as in your case.
This is not trivial stuff. It is intellectually "hard pounding" (if I may quote the Duke of Wellington after the Battle of Waterloo). The man was an excellent writer, by the way (and had a marvelous dry wit).
I should really respond to your question with a question: Why do you want to blog? However, that would be something of a cheat. My guess is that you want to blog because you want to communicate--which is a very basic human instinct--and a good one. We are social animals. Communication underpins all productive human relationships. Failure to communicate lies at the heart of most violence--and all failed relationships.
Communication is what makes what works, work. Nothing else is as important. Communication is life expressed.
Writing, of course, is just one form of communication. Body language is another one. Sex is absolutely communication--sometimes perfect, sometimes not so good. The spoken word is fundamental--and so it goes.
There is an awful lot to this communication business--but it is worth the effort. To communicate effectively is a wonderful thing. It is also extraordinarily difficult. It requires a level of courage that many of us lack. The process is revealing. There is nowhere to hide if you communicate honestly and well. You will be judged--and you may be found wanting. That is pretty scary.
Writing is a very special form of communication because it involves a level of commitment, which--for instance--the spoken word does not. It is difficult, involves time, and can be permanent. The spoken word normally vanishes into the ether. The written word can be there for ever. It is a very serious record. It can hang you (literally in some cultures).
It is worth the risk. It is that important. What is the more is that the rewards of genuinely being able to communicate are beyond riches. It is just a wonderful feeling, and it gets better, and better, and better. When I started writing, I had no idea my journey would take quite so long, be as arduous, and yield such rewards.
I hated blogging initially. I did it because social media is now an integral part of book marketing--and I felt I should. I also felt I was wasting a great deal of time to no purpose.
Just for starters, I had to decide what to write about. That involved planning and even more time. Good grief! This was ridiculous. I should be writing books--and nothing else. Why would anybody care what I blogged about?
In the end, I stopped blogging. I then got a number of phone calls and e-mails from people who said: "Victor, why have you stopped blogging? I like the way you think. You write interesting stuff. You have an original cast of mind."
What interested me particularly about all this was that these were, almost to a person, heavy hitters. Somehow or other, I was getting through to some very serious influence makers. Perhaps, I could--in some small way--make a difference.
I started blogging again by way of a satire. In that blog, the U.S. had become so corrupted by Fast Food and Money, the only living creature with enough integrity to save the day was Eagle, head of all the eagles. He was mentored by Cuckoo (a sort of Merlin who normally appeared as a Cuckoo). The idea of a Cuckoo being smart appealed to me.
I stopped How Eagle & Cuckoo Save America, after a while, because I figured I could turn the concept into a book--and have. But it was, and remains, fun to do.
A close friend of mine, Tim Roderick, then pushed for me to start blogging again. I had foolishly let my website go, and he insisted that I had to have some way to stay in touch with my readers.
I thought about this for a while, and then decided I would turn blogging into an exercise for my brain. I wouldn't plan in advance. I would see, instead, if I could train myself to write spontaneously, from a standing start, about whatever occurred to me at that particular moment.
It was a decidedly counter-intuitive decision--and one of the best ones I have made in my writing career.
It's success is based upon a very simple truth: WRITING IS ABOUT WRITING.
Don't talk about it, worry about, debate it, analyze it, or over-think it. JUST DO IT--and be prepared to live with failure, because you will never write quite as well as you would wish (and, if you do, you will raise the bar).
But, at least as far as I am concerned, failing as a writer beats success in most other fields every time.
Since I started blogging in this ridiculously unplanned way, I have never had any trouble writing. I just go for it.
I also make a point of blogging every day. That is a serious level of commitment. I love it. Writing is true communication--and true communication is joy.
I wish I could adequately describe what I feel.
The key point to realize in the early days is that THE FACT YOU ARE WRITING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN WHAT YOU ARE WRITING. YoU need to train your mind to 'think as a writer' (a separate issue)--and train it also to interface with your body. Writing doesn't come naturally. It is a learned skill.
Training one's muscle memory plays an important role in the process.
If you run out of ideas ( which you won't) write about running out of ideas.
Keep the faith--and WRITE!
Bt the way, there is nothing wrong with having "jumbled up ideas." You should see my mind! It is a veritable junkyard of the good, the bad, the totally confused--and the amazingly interesting. An important aspect of writing is that the process, in itself, both compels, and enables you, to clarify your mind. Think of it as intellectual tough love. It can be extremely stressful, but, it works.
Kerri, let me know how you get on--and if I can help.
I blog at http://victororeilly.blogspot.com
Thanks for the question.