Does it bother me that no one reads and comments on my blog? Yes and no. Of course, I’d love it if they did. It would make me ecstatically happy if I had some followers who regular left comments, but at the same time, that would put more pressure on me to blog more regularly with some good stuff.
And then there’s that reciprocity thing. You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. You comment on my blog, and I’ll comment on yours. That’s time consuming, Folks. It’s easy to get lost in Blogland, reading and pondering and commenting. In the meantime, writing on personal projects takes a back seat.
So why do I make the effort to maintain my blogs? Blogging gives me practice. It gives me a chance to experiment with words and phrasing and ideas. I keep hoping that if I post often enough, especially if I incorporate something I’ve learned about writing, I’ll eventually improve.
A friend nearing retirement plans to write when he retires. Notice that I said “write” and not “write more.” Although he’s an avid reader, he doesn’t write at all now. He thinks writing is something a person can do—or not—and that instruction and critiquing is not necessary.
While I agree that some people have more of what Howard Gardner refers to as linguistic intelligence, I also think that innate ability of any kind needs development. People with kinesthetic intelligence need to practice tennis, golf, baseball, or any other sport every day in order to stay at the top of their game. I read that the Rockettes practice six hours a day. Six hours a day!
I’ve been a teacher for nearly forty years, but before they let me loose in a classroom, there were certain criteria that I had to meet. Have you ever heard the expression that while there may be some luck in getting a job, there’s no luck in keeping one? To continue teaching, I had to keep learning, sometimes by trial and error, and other times by modeling, instruction, and evaluation by supervisors.
When I retired and began writing more diligently, I quickly realized that I needed to learn and practice and learn and practice some more. One day it occurred to me that the folks who are serious about the craft pursue it just as earnestly as they do their other careers/professions. Why did it take me so long to gain that insight?
My writing group continues to be extremely helpful in helping me improve my writing. If not for them, I’d be repeating words, overusing passive voice, and going overboard with “to be” verbs. Because of the group members, I’ve learned to show, not tell; kill the darlings (slash all unnecessary words); use strong verbs like glowered instead of looked at; and pay attention to dialogue.
So I hope blogging is helping me improve as a writer. And I hope my friend will read some of the books on writing that I’ve suggested to him and that he finds a writing group. Who knows? Maybe he’ll be blogging soon.