Research. It gives our writing depth. It gives our writing character. It gives our writing that little bit extra which compels an editor to buy our work or compels a reader to keep reading.
The nature of research has changed considerably in the last 20-odd years. Time was you’d do research in a library surrounded by stacks of books or periodicals, or flashing through microfiche. And you’d be taking notes using pen and paper.
Nowadays, most research is done online. And a lot of that research involves collecting links. Links related to something you’re writing or something you plan to write.
But if you really want a bit of power and flexibility to the links you collect, you’ll want to check out Permamarks. It does more than allow you to collect page after page of links. You can use Permamarks to group and focus your research.
Let’s take a closer look at it.
There comes a time when you have to do just that. To release your work into the wild. To let the world see and read it. To, in the words of Seth Godin, ship. Something. Anything.
Far too many writers don’t do that. Or, at least, they don’t do it when they should.
They obsess about trying to make their articles and poems and stories and books and blog posts perfect. They work and rework. They edit, rewrite, cut, and pad. They agonize over the right word or the right image. By the time they’re done, if they ever are, the time for their work has often passed.
You never know how good or bad your writing is, about whether it’s being read or not, until you press the Publish button.
Aim to make your writing as good as it can be. Don’t strive for perfection. You’ll never reach that goal. Instead, ship something. Learn from the praise and from the criticisms. Use the experience to make your next piece of work stronger and more polished. Use the experience to become a better writer.
Photo credit: mzacha
Or even above average.
In fact, what you write might just be good or good enough. It won’t be to your usual standards.
There’s nothing wrong with that. Even the best writers stumble every so often.
Accept that every so often you’ll produce something that doesn’t meet your expectations. Try to figure out why what you wrote turned out the way it turned out. Were you under time constraints? Did your enthusiasm wane? Weren’t you engaged with the subject matter? Were you tired?
Just don’t agonize over a less-than-stellar piece of writing. Instead, learn and improve. Keep writing with intent.
I’ll point you to a blog post by Jason Rehmus (which inspired this post). In that post, Rehmus wrote:
It won’t harm you because it doesn’t have power over you.
That sums it up for me. Don’t let something you write gain power over you. Once that starts to happen, you’ll fall into a downward spiral which you’ll have trouble recovering from.
Many of us who cast their words on to the web don’t always realize how much we blog. We tap out words, post them, and often just promptly forget about them and move on.
That happens to me a lot. But recently, someone asked me how much I blogged in the last year. And, I couldn’t tell them. I have three blogs including this one, and do the occasional short post here and there.
To be honest, I didn’t dash off to count the number of words or posts that I published in the last year. Instead, I reflected.
It’s not just about the number of words or posts that you put on the web. It’s about what all that blogging, however much it is, has done for your writing.
If you’ve been blogging with purpose, then much (if not all of it) has helped improve your writing. How? By making you conscious of the need to write tightly, to tell a story, to properly break up what you’re writing to make it easier to scan and read.
Maybe it’s given you a bit of extra exposure. That might have come in the form of more gigs, a wider audience, a speaking engagement, or even the basis for an ebook or two.
Or maybe writing all those blog posts has given you extra confidence and the willingness to try new forms of writing.
Regardless of how much you blog, there’s always something to be gained from it. You just need to realize it.
So, how much do you blog? And what have you gotten out of it? Share your experiences by leaving a comment.