Tuesday, January 12, 2010

If a tree falls in the forest... A word to writers

Once in a while I wonder if blog writing is maybe one of those "If a tree falls in the forest" events. If an author writes a blog... and no-one reads it... then is the author actually blogging...?

I get a vague idea of how much traffic hit this page from my "counter". It's useful information, but then a lot of people tell me they read my daily posts via the RSS feeds to facebook, or by checking the feed to my "author page" at Amazon.com. That kind of activity doesn't generate a "hit" back at the home page.

Of course it doesn't really matter because (and I tell aspiring writers this all the time) writing is primarily most valuable for the person doing the writing. For me this particular morning exercise, completed either five or six times every week, is both a devotional practice and a way of warming up my writing engine for the day.

God - to paraphrase the old hymn - is in my head, in my mind, in my understanding, in my being. I choose to spend time with the Creator (reading from the Bible... and contemplating God... and engaging God via prayer) as some of my first deliberate actions of the day. Consequently, my blog post is a means to sorting through some of what has already started to happen and becomes - always - a kind of thinking out loud.

The process of articulating thought as a routine discipline is a critical element of the writing equation. It's much like any complex activity in that it requires practice. If writers do not think out loud on a regular basis, if they don't literally listen to themselves, then it's going to be difficult to discover their own, unique, "writing voice".

What's so important about "voice"? Well, it's a kind of finger-print; it overlays and under-girds content with the personality behind the fingers striking the keys. And voice is not/cannot be "affected", like an actor presenting a phony English accent; voice emerges through the act of regular communication. In other words, it's a lot like the need to have acuity in hearing in order to be able to speak with clarity.

Do you want to be a writer? Then write. Or, in the spirit of the New Testament letter of "James" and via the words of the classic Nike commercial - JUST DO IT!

God be in my head and in my understanding:

God be in my eyes and in my looking:

God be in my mouth and in my speaking:

God be in my heart and in my thinking:

God be at mine end and at my departing.


settergirl said...

Music to the ears of an English teacher -- I've been trying to teach students about the concept of 'voice' this year. You articulated it quite well today.

Derek Maul said...

Yay English teachers! Where do you teach?