Writing for love and fun

I hated writing. Reading was my favourite thing in the world, but I chafed at analyzing the irony in the Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock and I hated writing formulaic compositions. End result: Ds in English literature classes.

My sister went from run-on sentences to witty travel stories. I had the technicalities down pat, but I didn’t have that spark.

Technology pushed me into writing for fun. I worked on open source projects when I was in university. On a whim, I extended the obscure project I was working on so that it could produce a blog. I posted my class notes and code snippets on that blog, writing more for myself than for an audience. Other people read my blog anyway.

I learned that writing could start conversations and connect me with people I would never have met. So I wrote more, and more, and more. Instead of writing essays that went into the recycle bin after the term ended, I was writing notes that other people found useful even months after I posted them. Wow.

Now I can’t think of not writing. It’s part of who I am.

I don’t think of myself as an author. Authors write literature. ;) I don’t write to entertain or to provide deep insights into the human condition. I describe. I document. I capture. I braindump. I write because it’s a good way to think, and I share because it’s a good way to teach and to learn.

My “home” form is the blog post. Flirting with microfiction and poetry was fun. I loved the constraints on expression. It was like writing small, efficient programs. But the blog post feels right for me. Not an essay, not a magazine article, just some notes on a life in progress, some half-conversations and thoughts.

So what do I write about? Whatever I’m learning, whatever I’m curious about, whatever someone else nudges me to explain… All sorts of things might be useful. I post tips and solutions because I might need them again, and because they might save other people time. I share as much as I can because I learn so much in the process, and besides, you never know what might help.

I think other people have so much to share, and I’d love to help nudge them to write more. Looking forward to reading people’s stories!

Thanks to Ross Laird for the nudge to write about this, jdornberg for the education idea, and hi to the writers’ workshop participants!

  • Paul

    You just affirm the statement that “writers write.” Or anything you want to do, just do it everyday. Don’t worry about the quality. You will improve with practice.

    This was recently brought home to me again when I was reading a study about making pottery. The instructor would divide his classes into two parts, one group was told you will be graded on output. The other half was told they would be graded on quality, it didn’t matter if they made one pot or 100. In every class the group that was told to make as much as they could regardless of quality, always had the highest quality items.

  • Oh yes, that’s a terrific teaching story that I’ve drawn inspiration from a number of times:
    Of sewing more dresses and making more pots (2009)
    If you throw enough pots (2007)
    If you throw enough pots, you’ll be a master potter (2005)

    It’s one of my key stories. That, the first circus, and building a cathedral… =) There’s a blog post in there somewhere!