A question to Ask Shelley from Peter, who wants to know whether ‘writing a blog can be considered a good playground for developing a writing style/voice?’
There are three issues to consider here:
- What is a blog?
- Do writers need the frivolity of a playground?
- Is ‘writing style/voice’ a product of nature or nurture?
A blog (to get back to basics) is an online diary, a ‘portmanteau word’ combined out of ‘web’ and ‘log’. That’s the obvious bit. Less obvious to me is how often to update your readers on your thoughts or doings and, more importantly, who these readers are. In my experience they are few indeed so it can be tiring and dispiriting to shout into a void with no responses – apart from yours, Peter. Thank you. I suppose the key to finding readers is to make your posts regular, to touch a universal chord (aha! I know exactly what that feels like!), and/or to supply relevant and interesting information. [This year I aim to do all these things. And to teach. And to write a new novel. I’m tired already …]
Which brings me to playfulness, that tireless state which young children and kittens achieve so effortlessly. Its devil-may-care exuberance was once so easy to capture on swings and scratching posts and climbing frames, but so elusive when you’re a grown up doing that serious thing called writing.
And if writing a blog without inhibition can help you recover the old joie de vivre, it’s an excellent tool. Self-consciousness, the sense that you’re being watched and found wanting, is an impediment to creativity – so forget your audience and go whizzing down that playground slide …
And in doing so you may discover that even more intangible quality – your voice, your personal style. Great storytellers seem to project a kind of relish which infectiously communicates itself to the reader – a joy in the telling of tales. I believe we all have a narrative voice lurking inside, but a strong dose of playfulness is needed to liberate it. To free the personality behind that voice: that is, you, in a particular frame of mind, preforming a role, projecting a persona with conviction and the belief that you are interesting.
So, in answer to your central question, Peter: keeping a regular blog is an excellent way of trying out the various costumes and settings and modes of being that will come to fruition in fiction. If that’s what you’re aiming for.
Whatever your writing goal for the year, good luck with it! And keep the questions coming.
Thank you for such a considered and enjoyable reply and, of course, it answers some questions but reveals many others – but fear not, I’m going to answer them myself.
I suppose I was thinking of a Blog as a digital (or Web) Diary, and in the world of portmanteau, I assume that ‘Wiary’ came a poor second. I was also (vaguely) aware that a number of books had been born from blogs. I now realise that there are more than I expected and that the term Book Blog can refer to something other than a blog about books.
Your playground analogy (or is it a metaphor ?) is useful as I was exploring the value of a ‘safe’ space for experimentation and development but then realised that ‘lack of an audience’ would translate as lack of supervision (which is not always a good thing).
Your answer led me to an article on ‘Literary Blogging’ and also to the unfortunate term ‘linkbait’ and so I close with the suspicion that I have (knowingly) created linkbait but happy in the knowledge that, without your reply, it wouldn’t have occoured to me.
I am also aware that you chose not to emphasise the key word in “keeping a regular blog” (another lesson learnt)
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