Category Archives: Blogging

Sometimes You Just Gotta Let It Out

A few weeks ago, I explained that my writing background is in journalism. While I am genuinely working to develop my creative side of writing, I find my roots, at least on a technical level, are still firmly rooted in my journalistic education. Face it, after 30 years of working to perfect any trade, it is hard to execute an about-face or even a deviation in one’s path.

So, setting aside my emerging creative aspirations and focusing this week on my anal, journalistic side, I want to address a couple of issues – “pet peeves,” you can call them – that I have in the hopes, that by jotting them down on paper (or a blog), I can shake them off and, perhaps, get them out of my system so I can move on. By the way, can I even use the word “anal?”

My rant is not about creative writing, but is directed mostly at professional journalism and, specifically, news broadcasters, although print reporters are not entirely innocent either.

Try this on for size: “The tornado completely destroyed the high school.” With all the storms in our area, this type of phrase has been used lately, either out of carelessness or perhaps toward exploiting the dramatic effect. But, as I was taught and had beaten into to me by my teachers, that if a building is “destroyed,” would it not be by definition “complete” and total? If it is not “complete,” then it would be “damaged,” since “destruction” is already all or nothing.

You see, journalism is about using language effectively and efficiently, meaning that redundancies on the professional level, as I was taught, are not tolerated.

Another example comes from the news of a recent tornado in Oklahoma where it was reported that “a warehouse had been totally leveled.” Again, if a building is leveled, would it not be “total?”

Then there is the word “unique,” which is also abused constantly by broadcasters and just about everyone else these days. According to Merriam-Webster, “unique” primarily means: “being the only one.” I say “primarily,” because the word has been abused with terms such as, “very unique” so commonly that their dictionary has a sidebar dedicated to the debate of how some people accept the term. After all, if an item or person is unique, how could adding the word “very” make it any more of one of a kind.

There are other examples in contemporary journalism that I could discuss, such as how the word “literally,” which has come to be overused and abused; or how the small word “very,” as referred to above, is frequently added for emphasis where it is not needed.

So there, call me “anal” but at least I got my rant and a couple of my pet peeves out in the open.

 

5 Things I Have Learned From Blogging

I don’t know if you have a blog, or just love to read them (thanks for reading!), but I have found I have learned a lot since the first time I jumped into this crazy world that is blogging.  A friend of mine, Shelley, just did a reflection on her A to Z Challenge in April talking about what she learned about herself from the challenge. Her posts were very open, honest and revealing, not just to her readers, but also to herself. I am so proud of her, because I remember when she first talked about starting a blog and I know I what it feels like when you start a blogging journey.

Reading her reflection got me thinking about what I’ve learned, not just in that crazy and fun challenge, but in my time as a blogger. I have had my personal writing blog, Darling You Should Be Writing, for about a year and a half now. I started it primarily for the purpose of keeping myself accountable in a daily writing challenge I had set for myself, but it’s become such a great adventure. Today I thought I’d share my Top 5 Things I’ve Learned from Blogging.  Even though these are personal for me, I’m sure I’m not the only one who has experienced at least a few of these.

1) Blogging Can Sharpen New Writing Skills

Writing a blog is very different, for me, than writing fiction. While I wrote research papers in college, have written technical writing style work in my non-writing real world job, and did some journalistic writing in college, I’ve focused most of my attention on the creative writing side of things. I’m far more inclined to ink out a possible dialogue between my imaginary people I’m creating in my head than to document a real conversation I’ve had with a friend or family member, but there is a real lesson in capturing a real moment and sharing it with others. I can take a story that has affected me and then put it into a blog post to share with others. I don’t embellish, but I do try to present it in the most interesting light so hopefully someone out there actually cares to read it. Writing a blog is a great way to stretch those writing muscles regularly in a way you might not do otherwise.

2) Having A Forum To Share Your Thoughts Can Be A Beautiful Thing

While there are certainly opportunities to share your thoughts in comments and tweets and letters to the editor, I’ve found it’s been very fulfilling to have an outlet to share what I’ve been feeling about something in as many words as I like, with an audience who has chosen to read what I have to say, and in my own little blog world. I try to stick to writing topics for the most part, but when my kids do something that inspire me, I can write a post about it. When I want to explore some new territory, like poetry, I have a great place to throw it against the wall and see if it sticks. When an actor died unexpectedly, I could write a post about how heartbreaking the loss felt and what I felt could be learned from it. I have loved having a place to express myself and have found it quite therapeutic at times.

3) Blogging Helps To Develop Your Voice

Jumping into the blogging world, I fumbled around at first to find my voice. What did I want to say with my blog? In the very beginning I thought I would just track the writing challenge, but then I started posting more openly and really sharing a glimpse of myself. You could read my work and get an idea of what my writing style is, but you also just get a look at my perspective. I try to keep a relatively positive outlook in all my posts. It is reflective of my nature and I think runs pretty solidly through most any of my posts. A blog is a great way to play with the image you want to put out there to the world.

4) Building A Catalog Of Posts Feels Great

Just like picking up an old journal and re-visiting a moment in your past, it is great to go back into an old post from a year ago and remember where I was when I wrote that post. I can remember the work in progress I happened to be tackling right then. I can remember the first writing workshop I attended. I can remember the challenges I did. I can point to a post I did when writing a new post that touches on the same subject.  And it makes me proud to have a collection of things I’ve written stored up over time.

5) Blogging Can Give You A Great Connection To Others

One of the biggest things I’ve learned blogging is how fantastic it feels when you connect with someone who has read your blog. I’ve had perfect strangers comment on my blog that it affected them, sometimes inspiring them and other times just speaking to them. The idea that someone read something that I’ve written and said, “Oh yeah, that’s me!”, is a great feeling. Having comments that people enjoyed a post is the best. Having someone tell you in person that they read your blog and that it completely went with something they had been thinking, too is super cool. It’s easy to get isolated, but putting yourself out there means having the chance to have someone connect with you. It’s worth blogging every week for those few comments that drift in over a year and a half’s time. I promise.

And then, after learning all of this, I’m given the amazing opportunity to join this cast of Twisted Writers so I can have a whole new journey with them. In the few short months we have done this, it’s already been a great experience.  Hopefully you have enjoyed the ride as well!

Do you have a blog? What have you learned from blogging? Has it been a great experience or a challenging one? Please share with me in the comments. Please visit my blog and others in the blog roll on the right. Leave your blog in the comments and I’ll visit sometime this week!

Have a great week!

~CJS