Saturday, February 12, 2011

Artful Blog Mistakes

Given that this blog is called Artful Mistakes, my learning curve in blogging and my writing process require periodic review. The following provides some oh-so-gentle reminders to myself on how to work with or around an assortment of issues. My hope is that you can find something useful that applies to your own artistic process and avoid some of my pitfalls. 

  • Write More, Write Often. The more I write, the more I want to write, the more ideas I have, the more I wake up with words. The more I stress about writing, the less likely I am to do it. Go Nike and just do it.
  • Don't Delay Writing. Delaying writing after an event for more than two to three days means losing the immediacy of memory. Notes and pictures mitigate this somewhat, but only somewhat. To avoid ideas disappearing in a poof of smoke, start a draft.  
  • I Will Screw Up. Fix If Possible and then Move On. Typos, poor grammar, poor organization, limited research, faulty premises, weird ideas, ill-conceived opinions, or just damn dull -- all of that has happened; inevitably, repeats and new variations will crop up. Learn from missteps. Don't give everything up in a snit. Slog on. 
  • Writing Reveals. Deal With It. Yeah, I reveal too much in this blog. I'm definitely of the confessional and post-modern process school of writing and I'm aware that it makes some people uncomfortable. The narcissism and lack of privacy make me uncomfortable. How do I expect anyone to respond to public ruminations on grief, failure, insecurity, and ugly mobiles, and why is it all about me, me, me? It's all a little, well, unseemly and vaguely manipulative. But. This is my little world and I have to be honest about my own voice and obsessions and flaws in order to sharpen my own lens. After all, what gets even worse is when I try to be all slick, and mostly just end up being mean or condescending or dull. Yuck. Voice is in process (likely always will be), and that voice will swing wildly between polished and awkward. Accept that and keep writing. 
  • Take Risks. Peel back the skin to show the bones. Experiment with form, topics. Change it up, lest all get stale.   
  • Reporter: I'm not one. When I try to be strictly an objective reporter, I often end up boring myself and, uh, it shows. I need an angle to really dig into something, endlessly loosey-goosey subjective. That said,
  • Basic fact checking.  Do. It. Plu-leeze. I've been not-so-good on that. 
  • Nice foot, let me shoot it. Perfectly fine, mildly interesting and organized posts will take random tacks because it seems important for me to rant. Maybe some of the ranting that I'm trying to disguise as "voice" could just stay silent. The Delete key can make magic happen.     
  •  Good gillies, but I'm wordy. Revise more. In particular:
    • Cut long, meandering sentences in two.
    • Shorten paragraphs.
    • Trim unnecessary phrases.
  • Verbs! Verbs give birth to good writing. Revise around verbs.
  • Spellcheck is My Friend
  • Patience, grasshopper. Generally speaking, my best posts are those that I write, sit on for a day or two, revise, tweak, fact-check/research, ponder, and then post. The ones that I hammer out quickflash and then slap up when I'm just feeling stressed out about not posting: bleah. Do not rush to post.   
  • Just Because I Wrote It Doesn't Mean I Have to Post It.  A number of drafts will forever remain unpublished. This is good. 
  • Comments= Good.  So respond. I like getting comments (although I find it jarring: holy crap, there's someone out there!). I'm really lousy about responding to comments, however, and so I need to fix that.
  • Expect the Unexpected. A slapdash ending recently generated a comment that focused on the second half of a sentence rather than the first, reminding me that I hadn't emphasized what I'd thought, or researched a point, as I hadn't fully realized I was making that point. Comments can keep tabs on sloppy writing and thinking. Bask in that.     
  • Nuts Will Find You. The first time I blogged, years ago in Minneapolis, I ran away quickly after a nut took umbrage to "anti-American" sentiments when I quoted "Alice's Restaurant." My Catholic creep did not scare me away from writing this time (although he did cause me to lock my doors more religiously). Comments are moderated for this reason. 
  • Don't (post to) Blog Angry or Sick. In the moment, I might think I'm saying something reasonable, coherent, or interesting, but I'm likely not. Post a photo or a poem and review and revise any drafts when normalcy returns.

No comments:

Post a Comment