Found a few of interesting articles in the past couple of days, related to writing. To blog, perchance to write is a discussion of how blogging is a particularly easy and lazy form of writing and probably quite bad for anyone aspiring to a career as a professional writer. This is quite a fair argument, since it is really easy to just publish something on the web now. Although it is a great tool to increase the confidence of those unaccustomed to writing regularly, the chances are that it does those who have already developed into something of an accomplished writer to hone their existing skills.

Personally I think that more of this is due to the attitude to blogging than the act of writing frequently itself. The best creative writing coach I ever had would always maintain that what was most important was just to write. To write all the time, about anything. That old chestnut of “1% inspiration, 99% perspiration”. His theory was that even if you threw away 90% of everything you ever wrote, the remaining 10% would be much higher quality as a result.

The problem with blogging is that we publish directly, immediately, straight into the gaping yaw of Google and our consumers on the web. Going back and editing is low on the list of priorities, particularly when debate has ensued and your personal deadline for the next post is already upon you. If we are serious about using this blogging hobby as a facility for increasing the quality of our writing, we should draft & edit more, only publishing when we are completely happy to release our creations into the public. Stops sounding like blogging pretty quickly doesn’t it?

The other interesting link was from BoingBoing, also noted on /.. It focuses on rising numbers of children writing fanfiction. I find it quite amusing that younger kids have now joined what was previously the domain of sexually charged teenagers and lonely adults. Admittedly, some of what I’ve been exposed to is probably better known as slash than just fanfic. Equally, I can see the advantages and I’m glad that so many kids are taking the opportunity to develop their writing in this way.

Focusing on character development, plotlines, story, timing and more general style is certainly a lot easier when you have a ready-made universe to slot your characters into … or even someone else’s characters to define and control. It can certainly be a great stepping stone into original creative work and also a good way for a budding writer to decide if that’s really what they want to do. With systems such as a the “beta-reader” one that many fanfic domains employ, criticism is likely to be friendlier and rejection easier to take.

Writing will always be hard work, however, and better they discover this at age 12 and decide to go for it with everything they’ve got, or to concentrate on something else, than lose focus on their studies, only to realise once they’ve (barely) graduated from high school that they didn’t really understand what their dream entailed. Too many of my friends put all their stock in their potential writing careers, only to find too late that it wasn’t really what they wanted to do. They could have done much better by participating in the fanfic world early on and learning the hard way that they should much rather go for that accounting career.

Admittedly, the best advice I’ve ever heard for someone considering writing as a career came from Neil Gaiman in this post. Great writer that he is, you’d be much better off reading his words than mine.