There’s one big problem with computers and pervasive connectivity. The problem is: it’s all at your fingertips. Which means, when you sit down to do some work, it’s all too easy to realise that there are other things you’d rather be doing; and there are a lot that can be done there and then.
In a lot of cases that’s straightforward to solve: disconnect yourself. It’s a bit trickier, though, when it comes to writing blog posts. Particularly, the sort of blog posts that need fact-checking, more information, and so on. Once you have to start doing that, you start getting sidetracked down a line of “research” which is very interesting and distracting, but doesn’t really help you with getting your blog post written. The inspiration fades away amid a mass of non-information.
What I’m going to have to do, I think, in order to get this process going properly again, is to make more notes. Get a notebook, and find a place far away from the internet. Hide my phone. Lie back in bed, maybe, and write my posts with pen and paper first. And after that, put all the links in and do the fact-checking, after the text is already down. It all goes back to something I wrote a long time back, wondering if having a Blog Editor would improve the quality of this blog. An independent Blog Editor is highly unlikely to appear, so I have to fulfil both roles myself; but if I do try to explicitly divide writing time and editing time, then maybe much more will get done.
Mike Troubled Diva recently posted a set of lecture notes on: going from blog to book. It’s an interesting read, and touches on one element that I, struggling to come up with something to put down on screen, have been thinking about a lot lately. If you’re a blogger, you don’t have anyone to restrain you, or point you in the right direction.
Watch any TV show, more or less, and you’ll see “Script editor” in the credits. Comic books and graphic novels, too, will often have a script editor credited somewhere. Books don’t usually mention it – books don’t have credits – but pretty much anything published in the traditional way will have been mangled by an editor at some point, and usually much improved in the process. It’s an old adage that the reason famous writers’ books get worse with time is that they gain enough earning power to tell the editor to stop. Look at how JK Rowling’s books have got slower, baggier and less well-paced over time.*
This blog is (on the whole) completely unpaced, unstructured, rambling and undirected, with frayed edges where there are parts missing, things I should have written but didn’t, stories I left hanging in midair. Most of the individual posts are that way, too. Because I don’t have anyone to bounce ideas off, to poke me, to say: “why don’t you write about X” or “why don’t you post that today, that next week?” There’s no one to say “that post was rubbish!”** Maybe, if this blog did have a script editor, it would be a rather better-quality one. I’m not sure what would happen to its frayed edges, though. I rather like a frayed edge now and again.
* Especially the big jump in length and pacing between books 1-3 and 4-7.
** The Plain People Of The Internet, all together in chorus: “One … Two … Three … THIS POST IS RUBBISH!”