Using a Blog to Clarify Your Thoughts

I enjoyed this post from Cory Doctorow on how blogging has shaped his writing career. I resonated with the idea of public notes, which strikes me as similar to digital gardens. The idea that my thoughts and notes will be out there” for the public is comparable to taking them and placing them in a purifying fire. I am forced to articulate my ideas and come to grips where they don’t make sense.

I particularly liked how he reveals the inversion of blogging and traditional publishing. In blogging, you have a way to do research for a book or essay or story or speech you don’t even know you want to write yet.” With books, you have your topic and then you do the research.

Doctorow uses his blog to [turn] habits that would otherwise be time-wasters — or even harmful — into something valuable.” I’m often tempted to keep reading and researching, thinking this will get me to where I need to go; a temptation made much worse by my enjoyment of it. This vice could be turned on its head by letting it springboard me into writing more. What is more terrifying but just as satisfying is sharing my reading and thoughts with others.

This also struck me hard: When I was a baby writer, I thought the injunction to write every day’ was purely aspirational…” Given my current stage of life, this does feel purely aspirational.” But, Doctorow’s method of writing about what he finds interesting at the time could be my way into writing every day despite my circumstances. What’s easier than writing about what you find interesting at this moment? I’ve started so many posts and then realized they had holes and I needed to do more research. Writing to publish on your blog brings these to the fore, but it also stops me in my tracks and I may never return to plugging those.1 The command to just write what’s interesting right now is much easier. A window in when the door feels like it keeps slamming in my face by peanut-buttery hands.

Doctorow and others have also discussed how blogging has helped them find their people.” This for me is a large part of my desire to write. I want to find people interested in similar ideas and how to live them out. Even if no one else reads this blog, writing it will enable me to share my ideas more clearly when I’m out in the wild, increasing my chances of finding others on a similar adventure.

Blogging has certainly worked for Doctorow. Maybe his method will work for me too.

  1. Yes, I just said this was a benefit to posting publicly. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a hurdle as well.↩︎

June 3, 2024