Write Often, Write Bravely

I would like to make a confession. There is a blog I follow above all others. I believe my commitment to it could qualify as a “blog crush”. I anticipate the daily tweet that a new post is waiting (and if the stars align it’s twice daily). I savour the words, the meaning, the message, the delivery…everything. Oddly the topic of the blog is completely unrelated to the majority of blogs I follow on educationleadership, teaching, learning, and technology. Quotes from this blog that resonate with me are scribbled on the whiteboard in my office and pasted into Evernote. My husband has come to expect that over the course of dinner I will utter:”Today Seth was talking about…”, “Did you know Seth thinks…” or “Seth says…”. Indeed the object of my affection is Seth Godin’s blog.

Seth’s blog is about marketing and publishing but truly these topics are a vehicle for much broader themes about life, risk taking, leadership, ideas and change. Seth’s posts encourage shaking up the status quo while looking at ourselves and situations from a different angle. He is skillfully observant of human nature and advocates for movement forward. I am quick to apply his ideas to education and teaching but I believe his writing can be interpreted through many lenses.

Last week, as so often happens, one of his posts serendipitously spoke to my moment in time. Just as I am wrestling with how to write openly, out loud and reflectively in my blog Seth comes through for me. In “Talker’s block” he discusses how we never lack for anything to say but when it comes to writing we can hit a wall, a standstill. Why is this? What differentiates the ease of talking from the challenge of writing? The answer according to Seth is practice.

We get better at talking precisely because we talk. We see what works and what doesn’t, and if we’re insightful, do more of what works. How can one get talker’s block after all this practice? ~Seth Godin

Seth offers a great reminder for overcoming writer’s block-just write and do it regularly. The more you write the better your writing becomes and the easier it will flow. There is no quick fix or magic spell…get to it and keep at it. Again it comes down to practice. Naturally the message is the same for any style of writing and Seth strongly promotes writing publicly:

I believe that everyone should write in public. Get a blog. Or use Squidoo or Tumblr or a microblogging site…Do it every day. Every single day. Not a diary, not fiction, but analysis. Clear, crisp, honest writing about what you see in the world. Or want to see. Or teach (in writing). ~Seth Godin

While reflecting on Seth’s sage advice and agreeing that frequency is key, I panicked wondering how I was going to blog daily. These four posts that make up my entire blogging history didn’t come together in the carefree fashion I envisioned at the start of this journey. The behind the scenes of each blog post is a mashup of several days worth of ruminating, playing with ideas, 3:00 am musings, and testing content out on the dog (who is a tough customer). It isn’t pretty. And this is all before a word is typed. It is such a process and the thought of creating a daily post at this stage seems far too daunting. But then I realized I am indeed writing daily if I take into consideration my online course discussion boards. It is writing that is reflective, responsive, honest, and it centres on big ideas. The ideas are perhaps more focused as they are moderated and related to course content and the public nature is limited to my classmates but the thought and the process behind the writing is similar.

Thank you, Seth for pointing out the simplicity of “Write like you talk. Often.” You have reminded me to honour the daily writing that I am doing as it will move both my writing and my learning forward. It doesn’t have to be perfect or profound, it just needs to happen. It is a process, another journey.

Whether or not you write well, write bravely. ~Bill Stout

I’d love to know: If you write daily what shape does it take? Where are you writing? What are you writing about and how do you collect ideas for writing? Do you follow a blog that speaks to you (aka a “blog crush”)?

19 thoughts on “Write Often, Write Bravely

  1. I have been facing the same issue – it takes me so long to write, then edit, then delete and start over that it becomes less natural. I will take that advice to “write bravely” and often and perhaps then my skills will naturally refine themselves. I wrote about play and learning in a previous post, perhaps I need to let myself “play” within this learning environment!

  2. Glad I’m not the only one who finds blogging hard work. I thought it would be easy when I started, but I quickly realize that if I didn’t want my blogs to be about what my dog ate for dinner, I’d have serious work to do.

    I get ideas from Twitter. I recently made a committment to commit to Twitter, and it has really helped me develop as a writer.

    Like you, I’m a student, and I work full time, so I don’t have time to update my two blogs regularly. I do, however, write almost everyday, but I do this through the discussion boards for my degree courses, and through my private journals. I find the latter necessary for practicing. It’s a bit like playing the piano. You practice in the practice room and work out fingerings, pedalling, learn the notes, and work out interpretation. The public never hears that (or they shouldn’t). It’s the finished product that the audience hears, and so it is with writing. It’s the fully-baked ideas that make it to the blog.

  3. I love this post. I am feeling like I really need “to find some time” to write and blog. Maybe all I need to do is take the 5 or 10 minutes a day, sit down and just write. I have a running list of topics and themes but never really sit and write. This will be my goal for this week.

    • It so often comes down to time, doesn’t it? I find I am now actually scheduling writing into my day to create a foundation for a habit, or as close to one as possible.😉 To shift my mind from “I have to…” to “I will”. I am so glad we are all in this together!

  4. Pingback: Can We Teach Writing if We Don’t Write? | Digital Learning

  5. Never once had I ever thought of myself as a writer. I always thought I was opposite….I was a creator…musician….but never in that ‘literary’ sense.

    I was never good in English classes and I fear writing essays and papers. However, once I started writing, finding my own voice, and writing for me – things I found interesting, my writing improved.

    I nearly fell to the floor when a colleague of mine read one of my blog posts and said, “Hey Jeff, you’re a good writer.” Never had I heard those words, or believed them to be true about myself.
    So maybe this writing thing isn’t so bad after all. I’m trying to keep up my blog (albeit at a slower pace than the summer) to keep those writing skills sharp.

    And to tell you the truth…..I actually like it a bit now🙂

    Jeff

    • It is so interesting how we see ourselves! I would automatically believe that if you are a creator, musician you have a “mind” for writing. Perhaps more comfortable with experimenting with ideas and thoughts in order to create. I guess fear and ability are not synonymous! Maybe it is the style and type of writing that has helped bring it to the surface for you. Writing from your own thoughts, perceptions, questions, experiences is what we know works so successfully for our students so why not for us too? Thanks so much for your comment, Jeff!

  6. I have to admit the idea of writing is not as scary as it once was – at least in blogs and commenting. This is my first class in 12 years and I am absolutely petrified about writing in an academic sense.
    Blogging has become easier the more I do and I really admit that finding my voice has been fun.

    I find that the daily writing I do is often in emails and the tone and content is important so I am pretty careful…the blogging – not so much – it is just fun!

    • I can completely relate to the fear of returning to the world of academic writing. As teachers I think we write a lot and often but not in the sense needed for University. I have been out of this loop for 15 years and honestly it was like leaping off a cliff! When I hit “send” to submit my academic paper for 50% of my mark in a course this summer, it took my breath away. Now that I think of it, blogging is not as scary as that. Thanks for the perspective! And let me assure you-you can do it! It is like riding a bike plus you have a wealth of experience that you didn’t have 12 years ago. Your writing is better for it!🙂

  7. Thanks – I hope so. This class has been a good way to get my head back into – “formal learning”

    Enjoy the journey…because “the road to success is always under construction”

  8. Great post, Tannis! I really enjoyed reading exactly how you were feeling. It almost WAS as if you were talking, rather than writing!
    I started blogging years ago when I was in my first year of university. It was mainly a place to critique movies, music, fashion, and pop culture (a guilty pleasure of mine) and have my friends weigh in with their opinions. Giving my point of view on the “trivial” (yet fun) aspects of life was a great way to begin blogging because it was never for marks – just for fun. It was also great practise. I usually take much longer now to blog when the subject matter contains more depth.
    Thanks for the great post! I love your dog, too!🙂

    • Thanks, Chelsi! You make a good point and one that I have been wondering about-writing a blog about personal interests/experiences/adventures versus one with more depth of content and tied to professional work. I have been wondering if I should have a second blog to explore the personal interests side to see if that gets the fear of writing publicly out of my system when the content is different. Although the thought of having two blogs to keep up scares me! Great food for thought though!

  9. I think a second blog would be a great idea! You wouldn’t have to “commit” to it like an education blog for a class. You could just post to it when you feel inspired!

  10. When Seth Godin speaks / blogs about writing I always think of three things – Anne Lamott noting that writing happens because people give themselves permission to write “shitty” first drafts that they can reshape a bit to share with people. A mentor named Cleo Martin who reminded us a readers that what we were reading and commenting upon (as writing teachers) had never existed in the world before so that as readers we had responsibilities to respond so that that unique piece would grow into its particular uniqueness. And of Robert Boice whose research showed that when writers (early career faculty in his studies) not only wrote before they were fully ready, but wrote regularly and shared that writing with other writers (even without getting feedback from those readers) were more comfortable and fluent writers – the ones in his study who did no regular writing produced about 17 pages of writing A YEAR, those who wrote more regularly got to 60-some pages in a year, and those who wrote regularly in a net of relationships created over 150 pages of polished on the way to publishable prose in the same year.

    So, thanks for a reminder about writing out loud, about writing bravely, and writing what we really think – and for all the discussion the post stirred up!

    • Oh I love your three additions to Seth’s ideas on writing! A great triad of valuable reminders….thank you so much for sharing these with me. They are going in my journal🙂

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