Show me a person who never edits their writing, and I’ll show you a liar, an incompetent, or someone who walks on water recreationally.
It simply doesn’t happen. We have to try things out and screw them up. We have to experiment. We have to get writing out of our head so it’s out and then we can improve it.
Show me a person who writes but never has to just “get something out of their head” and I’ll show you a rarity. I have to keep a book of ideas just to keep myself from getting preoccupied.
We have to get our ideas out of our head. We have to see them. We have to look at them once they’re not rattling around inside our skulls. Once they’re out we can refine them.
This is where a blog comes in.
Your blog is a rough draft – and a socially acceptable one at that.
A blog is a place where you can throw out ideas and get feedback. A blog is a place where you can try things out and evolve your work. I’m not talking radical experiments (that was another post), but just getting something done and growing it.
Then with all of that outside of your head, you can decide what to build on, what to improve, and what to ignore and silently hate yourself for.
A blog also provides what is usually a more accepting audience to such activities. They know there’s a bit more rant there (in most cases) and will accept it.
In your career this gives you several advantages:
- It lets you grow as a communicator. When you’re willing to get something out there, when you’re willing to revisit ideas, your communications skills improve.
- It shows activity. Even if what’s on the blog isn’t exactly your greatest work, it shows that you’re working on ideas.
- It shows growth. Showing a rough draft blog post and then what evolves from it shows that you can improve, and it tells a story – always important to convince people of your skills. Also it’s not just that you want others to see growth – you need to see your browth.
- It shows initiative. When you refine a blog post and improve your work, when the rough draft of a column and the eventual realized ideal are in the same blog, people are going to appreciate what you can do.
- In a lot of cases, it’s better to have something out there to show skill, initiative, knowledge, humor, etc. than nothing. Better a rough draft than a void.
- If you’re a professional writer, well, enough said.
For me blogging has been great. Showing ideas evolving, discussing my series, showing how posts became full works, is great for illustrating the simple point that I am a competent writer who grows and improves and time manages. I can even point at things where I’ve done a bad job or been wrong as examples of how I improve or cope with mistakes.
For me, blogging also let me just become a better writer by getting me constantly expressing ideas. Sure sometimes they weren’t the best, but I learned. I also took some work and streamlined and improved it.
So, your blog is a rough draft. Put it to use.
Takeaways and To-dos:
- How much you’re willing to use your blog as a rough draft is an important professional question. If you’re going for a very cultivated image, it might not be a good idea.
- If you’re going to embrace blogging as a form of a rough draft, then do so. Deliberately cultivate it so you can get ideas out and grow.
- In fact, to get feedback on what you’re doing, don’t just rely on comments. Try things like polls, cultivating feedback, asking for posted responses, etc. Really work the rough draft.
- Go over your “rougher” posts and ask what you can build on. It helps to revisit them now and then. In fact if you’re deliberately cultivating ideas, you may want to make an effort to revisit them regularly and repost your latest thoughts/observations.
- Remember not all the media you put in a blog has to be text. Show off new logos, layouts, photos, etc. and see how it works out.
- Be sure you use good tags and categories so you can re-examine your work.
- I always write blog posts separately and save them separately so I reduce the risk of losing them. This allows me to reuse them or expand them easier.
- Consider some regular reexamination of past posts to see what you learned and what you’d say or do differently.
Good luck with your blog – and what you’ll find doing it . . .
Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach. He blogs on careers at http://www.fantopro.com/, nerd and geek culture at http://www.nerdcaliber.com/, and does a site of creative tools at http://www.seventhsanctum.com/. He can be reached at https://www.stevensavage.com/.