A new leaf

When I first started writing this blog, a better name would have been the Reluctant Blogger. I wanted to really get into my blog. I wanted it to become a virtual home for my thoughts. I wanted to use it as a place for my ideas to percolate, clarify, and emerge. But I was, well, reluctant.

Then, a few weeks ago, I came across this list at A List Apart on writing for the Living Web. After reading it, I made a decision to turn over a blogging leaf. I decided it was time to let go of my inhibitions and insecurities and let the little voices in my head out. The list itself was published several years ago, and the ideas may seem like common sense, but sometimes I need common sense spelled out for me.

A few excerpts:

Write for a reason, and know why you write. Whether your daily updates concern your work life, your hobbies, or your innermost feelings, write passionately about things that matter.

For a while, I felt like I was floundering for a reason to write (floundering. fish. get it? ah. . .never mind). I’m now starting to understand what it is I’m trying to do here.

I want this space to be a place for me to talk about some of what matters most to me. I want to be free to explore ideas about technology, and teaching and learning. But I want it to be more than that. I don’t want to just report about what I’m finding. Occasionally, I want to convey some of the feeling of giddyness and awe that I feel when working on these ideas.

Write honestly. Don’t hide, and don’t stop short. When writing about things that matter, you may be tempted to flee to safe, familiar havens: the familiar, the sentimental, the fashionable. Try to find the strength to be honest, to avoid starting the journey with passion and ending it with someone else’s tired formula. The work may be hard, it may be embarrassing, but it will be true – and it will be you, not a tired formula or an empty design. And if you can be satisfied with that tired formula, you aren’t writing for a reason.

I’m guilty of “pulling back” just when things could get interesting. I’m also guilty of writing posts and then, upon going back to read them, clicking the Cancel button. I’m not going I’m going to try not to do that anymore.

If you are writing for the Living Web, you must write consistently. You need not write constantly, and you need not write long, but you must write often. One afternoon in grad school, I heard B. F. Skinner remark that fifteen minutes a day, every day, adds up to about book every year, which he suggested was as much writing as anyone should indulge. You don’t need to write much, but you must write, and write often.

I love the idea of the Living Web. Again, nothing shockingly “new” about this concept, but still a nice way of talking about the stuff we create and share online. I’m working on writing often, even when I’m not sure that what I have to say is the best, most interesting stuff I could write about.

If you believe you are right, say so. Explain why. It doesn’t matter that you are young, or unknown, or lack credentials, or that crowds of famous people disagree. Don’t hesitate or muddy the water. The truth matters; show us the right answer, and get out of the way.

This is a big one for me. I’m going to try to learn to “let go” of those inhibitions and let my blog be a place to just put myself out there. I’m going to stop worrying about being “right” because I’m going to be willing to admit when I was wrong. And that’s okay, too.

There is a lot more good stuff in this article. Take a look.

3 thoughts on “A new leaf”

  1. Martha:

    Go for it! I missed your postings so much this summer. I figured it was your bundle of joy that was keeping your attention. Perfectly understandable. Then, I realized that you’d changed your site. Boy did I feel stupid, but by the same topic I was elated. It never occurred to me that you might be, like the rest of us, apprehensive.

    Don’t be afraid, (I only feel that way occasionally now), you have wonderful, thought-provoking, inspiring things to say. You make us see things we had never imagined before. We are all friends, after all. Okay, well most of us are friends, at least the ones who read you regularly. And at least the ones who matter.

  2. You nailed this one Martha. I have spent a lot of time floating around the edges of the same issues you mentioned. I also have also started to reach some of the same conclusions, but you have articulated it so well it suddenly seems very clear to me. Thanks.

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