Tuesday, February 3, 2009

On Writing

Dorothea Salo wrote a blog post just the other day that got me thinking about writing. I once had dreams of being a professional writer, in the way that almost every educated person has thoughts of writing "The Great American Novel." None of those dreams resulted in my doing the work to actually become a good writer, i.e. in writing. Nobody who has looked at how often my blog updates should be surprised at this.

I am now trying to look at any past writing I accomplished somewhat objectively and I have two general problems that often appear. First of all, I write much better when I actually care about the topic at hand. I guess that's true for most people and is why they say "you should do what you love." The major problem that I see in my own writing about things that I think are important, is that I try to jam too much content into the article. I try to include every little offhand thing that I care about that is touched upon in the subject area. This tends to dilute the message and make it more difficult for the reader to follow.

The other main problem I have occurs more often in topics I write about that are of passing interest, but don't have a deep hold on me. For these I often find myself trying overly hard to justify my opinions and to conjure enough content to be worth writing about. Sometimes, your opinions are just your opinions and you need to present them as such and move on and sometimes you don't have enough content to write a real article or even a blog entry and you should just let it go.

I have not yet developed any tricks or habits that I am aware of, as Dorothea has, to make my writing any better. But then again, most of my writing appears in two paragraphs on the local opinion page or here on my blog. So I don't really get a lot of writing practice. I think I'm going to try and change that by updating my blog on a more regular basis. I'll probably have to cut down on something. Possibly my video game playing and my alcoholism will suffer because of it, but I am making my new resolution to try and post something of length at least once a week. We'll see how that works out!

P.S. My grammatical problems usually center around the use of the comma. I get the basic usage with and, or, but, and because. However, if then statements and other comma usage to break up a sentence often leaves me quite confused. If anyone has a good suggestion for an advanced comma use primer, I'd love to hear it. Like that comma there. That's right. Right?

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