Joining the blogosphere is an interesting business. Sooner or later, you’re going to get hurt. Sometimes people write blogs that makes you feel sick. Other times, you may get personally attacked. It happens.
Here, anyone can say anything. There’s no filter, no editor in chief.
Sometimes popular blogs say weird things. Writers earn their soapbox but forget to stay grounded. They say things that make the reader go… I’m sorry, what?
I read a blog yesterday like this. I loved the writer’s topic: being authentic and genuine with your readers. I can roll with that. To give a context, it’s a spiritual blog.
Then it got weird. The writer claimed that if bloggers craft “exciting titles” and cover popular topics that they are improperly manipulating their readers, and that by using writing formulas and word intentionality, bloggers are being in-authentic.
My favorite part was this:
My blogs and books will probably be riddled with improper grammar and syntax – but really, they’re just riddled with me. They’re honest.
Now I don’t want to pick apart this person’s blog, nor do I wish to unfairly scrutinize this person who had a bad blog in a bunch of good ones.
This blogger doesn’t appreciate good writing, and that’s fine. What upset me was his claim about those who DO practice good writing techniques. His claim that people like me, and many of my good friends here on WordPress, foster improper manipulation towards our readers.
In the past, I’ve claimed expertise in topics I wasn’t accomplished in; I’ve painted others I disagree with in bad lights. I’ve made these mistakes.
Here’s what I’ve learned: Write what you know, and explore what you don’t. Never assume you’re a whiz just because you have a keyboard.
This topic did make me think about the future of writing. Digital platforms are taking us to a place where thoughts like these are championed, a place where everyone has a publisher and the need for polished craft is a distant second.
I wonder if we’re seeing the beginning of the end to accomplished technique.
Maybe we should all come to terms. After all, we live in a new world now. Does grammar, syntax, and stylistic intentionality really matter these days?
Let me know your thoughts!
Photo Credit: [http://www.flickr.com/photos/kwerfeldein/2879955156/]
I didn’t want to post a link to this person’s blog. But without doing that, I fear I’m not allowing YOU to come to your own decision. Also, I don’t want to present an argument without giving my sources. So HERE. I’ve framed the blog in a pretty negative light. Read it for yourself, you may find it’s alright.
I definitely think good writing matters! If you don’t have a catchy title, unless I am really interested in the topic, or I already know I like your writing, I’m probably not going to bother reading your work.
I clicked on your blog post because of the title. I was interested because your title says people should stop blogging — yet it’s the title of a blog post. I figured the article was either well written or riddled with hypocrisy, and either way, I might find something new to discuss at those cocktail parties I never go to.
So having a clever title indicates that there will be good writing in the piece that follows. Unfortunately, this is not always true, but on the internet, we do not have time, and usually lack the inclination, to simply click on everything.
Also, grammar helps writers clearly state what they are trying to get across. I do not like scratching my head in confusion, and trying to puzzle out what someone means because their grammar is odd – I have large ears, and it results in my looking quite monkey-like. (Although a cool thing about the internet is that sometimes these writers are from another country and/or English is their second language – in these cases, I forgive them, as I would certainly butcher their first language far worse than they do mine.)
Finally, style is so important in my book (which remains half-written and abandoned in a poorly-titled Word document, like the books of many good writers). Along with these digital readers, and self-publishing becoming such an easy, viable option, there has also often been a decrease in price that makes readers such as myself willing to try new authors who aren’t promoted by the publishing industry. More often than not, however, when I do this, I discover that the ideas are really, really interesting – but the writing is not.
One of the great things about the publishing industry is that it helps weed through writers to figure out who is ready to be published. I am of the opinion that the difference between an author and a writer is perseverance, and usually, 3 or 4 crummy books that no one else should see (with the exception of your significant other and/or spouse, who deserve occasional torture). Digital printing means that we can put any writing out there at any time – unfortunately, we usually feel ready to share our work before we really should.
Even the arguably great Stephenie Meyer (disclaimer: I am not a Twilight fan) has said in interviews that her first novel was written while she was a novice, and is not indicative of her writing anymore.
Great topic; love the blog title. Thank you for getting me thinking!
Hello and nice to meet you!
Thank you for the comment. It seems that we agree here. “…grammar helps writers clearly state what they are trying to get across.” Very well said. It’s like trying to play guitar without learning to tune it first.
I read that blog post you were talking about the other day, and it rubbed me the wrong way too! I do believe in keeping things simple as much as possible, but he’s saying that you can’t have good writing and be authentic at the same time. Seems to me like a dumb dichotomy.
Thanks Ian, I’m glad I wasn’t the only one. I appreciate the support!
Late to the party here, but I agree with everyone else. I think effective communication, and the effort put into it, is absolutely worth our time. And to say “poetic effort” (in the words of John Piper) is manipulation is almost laughable. I guess our forefathers were out to manipulate us when they very carefully crafted each word and sentence of the Declaration of Independence. How dare they put so much thought into the grammatical structure to clearly communicate their intent to be an independent nation! (That’s snarky, sorry). Here’s the link to Piper’s “Saying Beautifully as a Way of Seeing Beautifully” biography of George Herbert: http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/biographies/saying-beautifully-as-a-way-of-seeing-beauty-the-life-of-george-herbert-and-his-poetic-effort. Worth a listen or read.