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Friday, August 10, 2007

Classic Miscellaneous Mum - 'How Reading Can Improve your Blogging'

Here is a repeat of the post I did over at Problogger in April:

I don’t play poker well, so I am going to show my hand early: I like to think I know a bit about writing and reading. ‘Hang on, so do I!’ may say you. Certainly if you are blogging, you already know the importance of content, of exacting the best of your knowledge and putting it out in the bloggersphere, hopefully to be respected and successful.

But are you doing this at the expense of reading? Does it even matter? I think so, and so does Francis Bacon,

‘Reading maketh a full man’

Reading is an education
Before you start squirming, believing I am going to offer a teaspoon of icky medicine, consider this - education is increasingly being seen as a commodity: something you buy and discard. It’s less Dead Poets Society than it is ‘How to get perfect grades’. Knowledge isn’t retained. We’ve forgotten what we learned at school as soon as the bell rings for summer.

Blogging can change this. You research; you search for the right words. You recognise your audience and their needs. In a way, you are becoming an educator yourself so isn’t it important to be the best you can be? Further, wider, reading can improve your grammar (an area most of us are unsure about, let’s be honest) and expands your vocabulary. If you recognise various types of writing style or authorial voice, you are less likely to imitate them. Because the point is to develop your own, isn’t it? There’s nothing more frustrating for a reader than a self-conscious writer.

Take a look at your blog. Are you overly apologetic? Do you always sit on the fence? Is your language bland? Do you overuse graphics and photos to compensate for language failings?

Tip: Read a blog you admire, and pick a post you particularly like. Imagine the author sitting at the keyboard and forming the keystrokes as they type. This is an adapted exercise many writing students are asked to complete (usually substituting keystrokes for pen strokes) in order to get a sense of rhythm and pace.

Reading affirms self
We are bombarded with images everyday: via television, billboards, even our mobile phones. When we do read, it’s usually without joy. We plough through websites or our RSS feeders, scanning for tidbits of gossip, or breaking news, or scandal - things which create a momentary thrill but nothing lasting. And when reading becomes a chore, our eyes being to glaze; we question why we’re on the computer to begin with.

Tip: Get off the chair and turn off the computer. It will be there in the morning. Pick up a magazine. Go to bed early with a novel you’ve had on your ‘must read’ list for a while. ‘De-plugging’ is a good option for those of us on the point of burnout. Standing back from your own words may give you a better perspective than if you are crouched over a desk.

Turning to another subject you have passion for may just be an opportunity to tie together those parts of your self you are happy with; and overlook those bad ones we judge ourselves harshly for. What better reason than to read?

You have power as a reader
The skill of critically evaluating a text is commonly taught today. It is not enough to simply say you like (or don’t like) something anymore. You need to back up your claims and once properly done so you can debate a subject at a greater depth than you otherwise would have.

Writing for business and pleasure rarely congregate and the same can be said about reading. Those of us (myself included) who have to pen words for dollars often lose sight of the reasons why we wanted to blog in the first place: for passion, pride, love, ambition. If we read a bit more, lose ourselves to the pleasures of words once again, these same words may find us at times of blocked thought or starting at a white screen.

Read. Be inspired. For it may be the difference between blogging and giving it up altogether.

Comments on "Classic Miscellaneous Mum - 'How Reading Can Improve your Blogging'"


Blogger D. Paul said ... (11:10 pm) : 

Fantastic post, Misc-Mum. I've been in love with the written word since my mother sat me on her knee when I was a small child, reading history books to me (yes, I was a geek at a very young age). Your post captured the importance of being all-around well read as a writer. Though, seriously, you were up at 6:50 in the morning? My sincerest apologies.


Blogger Jean-Luc Picard said ... (5:19 am) : 

That's a fine post that extols all the benefits of reading.


Blogger Miscellaneous-Mum said ... (6:34 am) : 

Thank you gentleman :)


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