Is All Writing Real?
Several of the recent posts on this blog (and the comments that go along with them) have touched on the topic of real writing. There is a maxim among authors that a writer writes. The message being that the simple act of writing makes one a writer.
While this saying is true in spirit, it glosses over one unfortunate fact: Not all writing is real writing.
I’m making a distinction here between casual writing and formal writing. By casual writing I mean writing that makes no pretenses of proper grammar or editing. Or writing that relies on an overtly casual tone for it’s style. Blogs that read like someone’s diary would certainly fall into this category, as would diaries, warm-up pages and plenty of other kinds of writing.
Why the distinction? While it’s true than any form of regular writing will help someone get into the habit of writing regularly, it is only the attention to detail—every detail—that gives you the practice to improve your writing.
Even for a serious writer, casual writing offers myriad advantages. But anyone who believes that updating a personal, casual, blog twice each day will lead inexorably to the Great American Novel is deluding themselves.
The only way to get better at something is to push yourself, to expand your knowledge and abilities. Regarding writing, the best ways to do this are through practice, experimentation, editing and inviting criticism. And as Janie correctly pointed out yesterday, blogs don’t invite real criticism.
So if your goal is to write the Great American Novel, am I suggesting you should scrap your blog? Of course not. When building a house, a hammer is an important tool. It’s just not the only tool required.