I feel like I have developed into a more thoughtful writer since the start of this semester when we first read “Why I Blog” by Andrew Sullivan. Now, I find myself writing and asking “Who is my audience? Where will this piece end up? What is the point of my argument and who cares??” The last question is not meant to be self-defeating, but rather to invoke more meaningful thought behind my purpose for writing and creating. I strive to improve as a writer and as a person through multiple forms. I feel like one way to do this is to just read. Reading good or bad writing can improve a person’s writing and analytical skills in writing, but reading good writing is especially inspiring.
Getting to read why George Orwell and Joan Didion write gave me a little bit of that inspiration. It is fascinating to learn that Orwell was not born as an all-knowing author. First, he spent time practicing. He practiced by writing mundane, meticulous, descriptive details that he observed. Then, he says he discovered the joy of words. It showed me how writing is a learning process for many writers. Didion expressed her need to write as a way to realize her thoughts in a clearer way. For her, writing was not so much a choice activity as a necessity in her life. To me, this expresses the passion that writing fosters in many people’s lives. While I do not find myself writing as a necessity to provoke thought in everyday life, it certainly helps make muddier thoughts more clear if I take the time to stop thinking and just let my fingers type on a keyboard or scribble on a page.
This brings me to Sullivan, who proclaims that blogging is accident-prone, free form, and informal. He calls it writing out loud. This feels very comparable to Didion’s way of writing as thinking. While Orwell and Didion don’t seem as interested in immediate criticism of their work, and are rather more interested in the writing process, Sullivan explains that blogging allows for comments and shares to be used to have a conversation with the writer. This can be a very valuable way to share ideas and thoughts in a way that seems new and so easily available to many. I find a lot of reward in peer-review workshops and conversations about one’s own writing with another writer, because it is a way to think about your writing from a different point of view while also allowing constructive criticism to play a part in the revision process.
Orwell, Didion and Sullivan all have reasons for writing and for writing the way that they do. What inspires me about them altogether is that each has a different argument and purpose for writing. There is no one way to write. It makes me think about how I might evolve my purpose for writing throughout the minor, and how I already have.