I really, truly enjoy writing. Although I had pretty much neglected any sort of creative writing activity upon entering music school, the last few years of blogging began to gradually rekindle my interest in the written word, and I now find myself with a large amount of content that I’ve recently created.
There’s something extremely satisfying about sitting in front of a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen with blinking cursor, as is usually the case for me), and ending up with a finished 500-800 word product a few hours later. This kind of creative process can become very addictive, and I find that the more I do it, the more I want to do it.
I’ve been doing this kind of writing for a couple of years now, and I’ve learned a lot about my own personal workflow and what circumstances are most conducive to igniting that creative spark for me. For whatever reason, I can’t write at home. I just can’t. Perhaps it’s that I do so much tech work at home now–I don’t know. But for me, a coffee shop, bookstore, heck, even sitting in my car before a gig or on a park bench on a nice day is an environment more likely to get my creative juices flowing.
Also, I find that staying away from the Internet helps immensely with my writing. There is a huge difference between blog management (answering e-mail, doing coding or programming, and manipulating photos) and writing. For me, blogging is not writing! What I’m doing at this exact moment–drinking coffee in the corer of a coffee shop on a frigid winter day, people watching and typing furiously–this is writing, and it has little or nothing to do with blogging. For me, the blog simply represents a convenient publication vehicle for my writing. I love blogging as well, and I do it on a daily basis, but writing is an animal all unto itself.
Bloggers often fall into two camps–thinkers and linkers. Though most bloggers do both, you can usually tell whether one is a linker (pointing readers to interesting stories, videos, or links, plus adding their own two cents) or a thinker (writing long perspective pieces that, although perhaps inspired by outside events, end up being the content) after glancing at a few blog posts. Put simply, linkers point to outside content. The interest in a linker blog comes from what they choose to direct readers toward. Thinkers create their own content. The interest in a thinker blog is the actual content on the blog.
My blog is a combination of both of these styles, which is what works best for me. I find that I can generally create one ‘thinker’ perspective piece each week. Though I can sometimes do more than that, I usually end up saving any extra material for weeks when I can’t spare any time for writing. I also produce one podcast per week. Anything beyond that in the thinker department (whether audio, video, or text) is not guaranteed.
I spend the rest of the week sharing news stories, events, videos, and the like pertaining to the bass. This is a balance that works well for me. If this blog were a newspaper, the daily posts would be the news stories, the weekly podcast would be the featured story, and my writing would be the editorial and opinion pages.
I actually try to avoid coffee shops with free Wi-Fi. The temptation to surf and get distracted is simply too great. I therefore find myself resisting the urge to flip my Wi-Fi switch when I’m out at a coffee shop trying to do some writing. Firing up my web browser to check my e-mail can quickly degenerate to surfing, reading blogs, and Twittering incessantly about it all.
I also carry around a little notebook that I use to jot down ideas for stories or articles. Ideas pop into my head all day, and I find that, no matter how hard I try, they leave my brain just as quickly. I now have little notes with story ideas posted all over my home office, in my bag, or as text in my cell phone.
There are numerous definitions of blogging, but for me blogging is “Hey, check this out!”, “This event is going on”, “Watch this video”, and the like. I write posts like this every day. Sometimes a blog-style post will get me going and I will inject some extended commentary to one of these posts, but my goal is usually to get in, share what I’m trying to share, and get out.
Writing is a longer process for me, one that requires me to put everything away and take some time in crafting my prose. This is a really satisfying way to spend time, but I have to plan for it, to set away some time specifically for it. Otherwise, the urge to write the previously described blog-style posts is overwhelming, and I end up turning out lots of the former without any of the deeper content. But the longer-form content has permanence and is something that is usually regularly revisited by readers over an extended period of time.
My writing often seems to take on a life of its own as I get into it. Though I may sit down intending to write about subject x, I find a few pages in that the topic has metamorphosed into something completely unexpected. I’ve learned over time to follow these tangents, for they usually result in more interesting material. My subconscious often knows what to explore subject-wise, and often all I have to do is start writing and let this part of my brain take over.
Also, there are as many different styles of writing as there are fish in the sea, and one’s proficiency in a particular style does not necessarily transfer over to another area. I know when I’m out of my element–I can feel it. I sit and stare at the keyboard and nothing comes. That feeling is my cue to abandon that story or topic and move on. If it’s something that I really want to get out there, I will sometimes soldier on and see if that creative spark comes, but usually I try to be as succinct as possible in this kind of case and move on.