Re-visiting “Why I Blog”

Didion comes across mildly schizophrenic and writes to purge her thoughts and fuzzy images into a blank space that she hopes will answer her internal queries, Orwell writes to soothe his tortured soul and spread his propaganda and Sullivan… well Sullivan seems the most sane out of all three. His blog about blogging gives an in depth analysis of not only why he blogs, but the conventions of a blog. Pretty straightforward stuff compared to Didion’s fuzzy cats and lonely boy Orwell.

But in reality, these three writers have more in common than I’m giving them credit for. At their core, Didion, Orwell, and Sullivan all write to express their ideas and make sense of the world around them—as I would argue most writers do. How about I just let them speak for themselves?

George Orwell:
untitledI’m assuming most of you know who I am (one of the reasons that writers write is sheer egoism)…I wrote Animal Farm and 1984, both of which demonstrate my fourth reason for writing: political purpose. I’m not sure that Sullivan and Didion write to spread their propaganda, but it’s clear they still want to alter people’s ideas about one thing or another. Don’t we all? My style used to be much more descriptive, but now I aim to be as concise as possible. However, once I master this technique I’m sure to be bored and move onto something else. Maybe I’ll try Didion’s visual technique and use everyday sightings to inspire my writing. Although, I’m not so sure that lights in a bevatron will affect me the way they affected her…

Joan Didion:

 I know my thoughts can be hard to follow. I guess that’s just part of my style. I write in a very fluid way that leads me from one point to another until I have the answers I’ve been searching for—the whole purpose of why I write. If I knew before putting pen to paper what I wanted to know, there would be no reason to
write at all. I didn’t choose to be a writer, I just am. When something absorbs so much of your time, there is really no more questioning it. I’m a very visual person, so much so that I can see a shimmer around inanimate objects and then I try to find the words to describe what I am seeing. If I didn’t write, I think I’d go crazy. I’m not crazy though, I swear.


Andrew Sullivan:

sullivanWhen it comes to writing I do it all, but blogging is my passion. Many people confuse the purpose of blogs, which is why I laid it all out in a clear and concise way in my own blog about blogs. My style is guided by a need to inform and a need to express my views to the world for people to turn them into a discussion, argument, or whatever they please. That’s the beauty of blogging. It gives
people an outlet to get their message out there in a quick fire way. Blogs are messy and unpolished, because they are a compilation of our first thoughts about something. Each genre of writing has its own conventions that should be respected and understood.


These three writers have a lot of similarities when it comes to why they write, but their styles are as unique as they are. When I think about my own writing and work in the minor I wonder what my key characteristics will be that people pick out. I like Didion’s philosophy that we write to find answers, because I think writing leads to thinking and thinking back to writing. Like Orwell I want to speak to my audience in a compelling way that inspires them to think differently about something and like Sullivan I want to inform. There are so many different reasons to write and so many different ways to create a unique style. I hope that by the end of the minor my writing is as “my own” as it is for the three writers above.

3 thoughts to “Re-visiting “Why I Blog””

  1. As you pointed out, I absolutely agree that we can learn something from all three of these writers and how they approach their craft. Even though they are all different, they each write to express their ideas and find meaning in the world. I wonder if there is a universally common reason that all writers feel the urge to write…

    As writers in the minor, I think we are only beginning to understand why we write. Our writing will always change, and I think there is a constant struggle to figure out what your style truly is and what your voice truly is. By the end of the minor, we may not have resolved this struggle, but hopefully we all will come closer to seeing our writing as “our own.”

  2. I love the way you structured this blog post– very creative. It is interesting how all of these authors have such different voices, and yet the underlying reason they all write is extremely similar. I agree with you that there are so many different reasons to write, and I think that with more experience and time we will refine the reasons that we write just like these authors did. I think that the reason someone writes is evident in many components of their pieces– tone, voice, content, etc. Loved this blog post… it was helpful to understand each author in a different way!

  3. I second Melony’s delight with this post! It reminds me of a program for a performance–the bio section, where each cast/production team member gets to write about themselves. 🙂 And maybe it’s BECAUSE of that idea being in my mind, and particularly because they all refer to each other in their sections, that when I got to the part where you said Didion writes to find answers, I read it as “to find OTHERS.” I almost immediately corrected myself, but then I thought, “well, that’s kind of what they’re doing, too, isn’t it?” And it struck me that when I’m writing, I actually *am* writing “to find others” (long boring theoretical concept behind that), which I’d never really thought of. So, not only did you write a delightful, imaginative post, you inadvertently gave me insight into my own writing. Thank you! 🙂

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