For Katee Miller

Why did I decide to blog every day?

I wrote a minimum of seven hundred and fifty words in my journal every day for four years or so. It taught me to write better. It helped me learn how to overcome the fearsome blank page that strikes fear and writers block into the hearts of writers everywhere. But after a while I found myself wanting to write in a more public forum for several reasons. Let me tell you about them.

Writing to be read by other people.

No one reads my journal but me. That is by design. It frees me to talk about things too personal to share with strangers. But, while therapeutic, it doesn’t scratch the itch that every writer has, to write something that someone else enjoys reading.

It is both thrilling and scary. Thrilling to think that you may give someone else an experience like the ones that lead you to want to write in the first place. Scary to think that you won’t measure up to the standards of the writers that inspired you. But if you don’t try you’ll never know if you measure up and even if you fall short to begin with, if you keep at it, you’ll get better. You may not be Shakespeare or Hemingway but you have a unique perspective that deserves to be shared with the world.

Writing to publicly commit to a position.

When you write in a public forum it forces you to think about what you are saying. Do you want to stand by this position? Once you press the button and post, you have gone on record. You can delete the post on your own site but totally eradicating it is difficult.

I have stashed several blog posts because they were either too personal or took a stand that I was unsure about. It is important to learn that once you’ve said something, it can’t be unsaid. But you can’t let that rob you of your voice.

Writing enforces daily contemplation.

Socrates supposedly said “The unexamined life is not worth living.” I don’t know if I’ll go that far but I do value the exercise of stopping to think about things critically. I learn a lot when I do that. I learn how much I don’t know. I learn how much I knew that I didn’t even know that I knew.

And putting it into prose allows me to examine my own reasoning. I often discover that something that I thought I believed doesn’t hold up to disciplined rational scrutiny. I have also found that when I read something again after I have written it and then let it sit for a while, I have different insights about the topic than when I originally wrote it.

Writing on a deadline.

Writing on a deadline teaches the art of compromise. You aren’t always going to produce your best writing. Sometimes you just have to do what you can and accept what you have done. You could probably improve on what you have written if you had time to think about it for a while but by definition, you don’t have time to think about it.

Perhaps you do think about it some more. Then you can write a new blog post about your further thoughts. Or, you can collect your blogs together and edit them into a longer piece and spend time then reworking the ones that didn’t meet your standards the first time around.

Communication is never perfect. We refine our communications skills every time we speak or write. The more we communicate, the better we get at it. That is the best reason that I can think of to write on a deadline. It forces you to publish a lot.

Because I want to.

The last reason is the most important to me. I write because I want to. I enjoy the process of putting words on a page. I like the way my fingers feel when I type. I like the way the pen glides across the page when I write on paper. I love the smell of new stationary.

It reminds me of my mother. She was a writer. She always joked that she had given up on writing the great American novel and had set her sights on writing the great American paragraph.

She was an English teacher. She taught Journalism and was the sponsor of the school newspaper. She taught me how to write headlines so that they would fit in the space at the top of the article. This was before word processors made this a trivial matter.

I write for all of these reasons but I hope that my mother would be proud of my accomplishments as a writer. I wish she had lived long enough to write a blog. I would have loved to read it.

Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.