Since I began blogging, a mind-nag has developed. It can’t be removed surgically, but only through keyboard therapy. The effect expresses itself in a urge, akin to the need for a cigarette to a smoker, to write anything. To many who produce material for websites, such a condition would be considered healthy, a kind of benevolent obsession. Anyone who considers himself a writer, writes. Correct? That is the standard inspirational advice given in the ubiquitous articles goading the novice blogger. Subject sources, daily habits, even the lure of being paid for the effort can be found easily. How easily? As of this writing, Goggling the phrase “inspiration for writing,” in quotes to produce hits on that whole term, produces 1,040,000 results, that’s over one million locations on the Internet with motivation advice.
And this really does beg the question, if forethought exists at all, of just what are we being motivated to write about? Accepted wisdom, and there’s some justification for it, dictates that as we continue to write, something will eventually hit the screen worth reading; as writing becomes more fluent, the ease of that mystical transformation from thought to word will become more efficient. This is true. Dedicated bloggers will produce several articles a week, semantically perfect, grammatically correct pieces, six hundred words in length, in complete alignment with Internet standards.
The subject matter? It seems unimportant, kind of a “don’t bother me with that” attitude. Just write! Is it me or does the idea of a writing recycling process seem superficial? It’s as if there’s a growing disconnect between thought and product. I’m reminded of the direction eBay is taking where much of what is being sold are items about how to sell items on eBay. These are fancifully referred to as “reports.” And these reports are, in turn, sold by others. It resembles a kind of pyramid scheme with no underpinning support. Internet blogging accepts the same process, as contributors write about writing, with others writing articles to inspire us to write about writing. What a monotonous sentence. You got it!
Is there an alternative, a way out of the vortex of the harmless and meaningless? Of course, but the path is difficult, uncomfortable, somewhat painful, and inspiring, productive, and rewarding. In other words, we to need use some neuron grease and to come up with an original perspective. By that I don’t mean another inspirational tip like “meditate on a Tatami mat and suck fig pits.” The “why” of writing must include consideration and dismissal, a point of view reached following analysis and a rejection of previous approaches.
Whipping out a few hundred words in the breeze of early morning musings is simple, and the odds of it being guest-posted are high providing that the subject is popular. It’s a cinch if it even borders on “how to” do practically anything. Am I questioning the justification for such an easy effort? No more than I question going to the local Cineplex to watch the latest Pirates of the Caribbean incarnation. There’s a huge berth for pure entertainment and we need this. Writing for the Internet and reading articles these pieces provides a two-way street for both information and pleasure.
But we’re missing something when we call ourselves writers because we place a page of words on the screen which become, in effect, a marketing ploy to gain exposure and backlinks. This doesn’t blur the connection quality and originality, it severs it. And attempting to explain away such criticism with the claim that the Internet age is redefining writing is a cop out. So, why do we write? On the one side, to receive the reward of publication; on the other, to put into words such thoughts as many have never considered. The Internet desperately requires a hybrid; that is, good, entertaining writing. For this to happen, its contributors must reflect, take chances on not being easily promoted, and stimulate readers with original material.
Michael Carter His writing output tends toward social criticism. http://www.artistsinlet.com/wordpress/