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“If this is a deterioration in my brain, then more, please.”

Wise words from Andrew Sullivan on the rewards and challenges of blogging.

Blogging hasn’t been around for that long, historically speaking, but it’s already transformed the way writers seek and find their audience and become members of larger communities.

Here’s Andrew Sullivan, one of the blogosphere’s earliest — and most successful — citizens, weighing in (back in 2010) on writing, interaction, and striking a balance between different modes of expression:

I’m a writer by profession and it’s totally clear to me that since I started blogging, the amount I write has increased exponentially, my daily interactions with the views of others have never been so frequent, the diversity of voices I engage with is far higher than in the pre-Internet age — and all this has helped me become more modest as a thinker, more open to error, less fixated on what I do know, and more respectful of what I don’t. If this is a deterioration in my brain, then more, please.

The problem is finding the space and time when this engagement stops, and calm, quiet, thinking and reading of longer-form arguments, novels, essays can begin. Worse, this also needs time for the mind to transition out of an instant gratification mode to a more long-term, thoughtful calm. I find this takes at least a day of detox. Getting weekends back has helped. But if there were a way to channel the amazing insights of blogging into the longer, calmer modes of thinking… we’d be getting somewhere.

I’m working on it.

Andrew Sullivan, “Collecting Our Thoughts

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  1. I love this! I was getting so distracted by my over-connected life that I had lost the ability to focus on reading a book–something that once was a huge source of pleasure. I’d try and try, only to realize my thoughts were drifting (or I was falling asleep) after just a few pages. It took a hard-earned, two-month sabbatical after 25 nonstop years of publishing to find the quiet that restored this fundamental joy of connecting with the written word on a deeper, wider level.

    Liked by 8 people

    1. I sometimes worry about where all of this go, go, GO of technology via cell phones, internet, social media and yes, even blogging is taking us. My son recently posted something on Facebook about how his is the last generation to have not grown up with the internet and the implications of that are truly mind-boggling. And yet, being a newbie to The Land of Blog, I am loving the experience of being part of all of this. Balance here as with many elements of life is key.

      Liked by 5 people

  2. I, too, find I’m writing more since I started blogging — and not just my blog. What blogging has done for me is to fill my brain with ideas, and loosen its grip so that I write more freely than every before, and in a voice that I’ve discovered along the way.

    Liked by 6 people

  3. Yes, blogging has allowed an outlet for an otherwise very real but very stifled part of my life. I find comraderie and encouragement from those that respond to me in the blogosphere more than I have from some of my “real world” friends, but that’s due to how fundamentalist religion can corrupt relationship. http://www.tealtomato.com

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    1. I wondered at that too. As a grammar nazi, I realize I am quick to judge as unimportant the opinions of those who do not communicate well. But I’ve found that there are thoughtful people with great things to say whose blogs may be filled with grammar and spelling mistakes. Seeing past the error to hear the person is an improvement.
      Another possibility is how easily we close our minds to those with whom we disagree. Or perhaps we argue with them, though neither side shows any sign of changing their minds. Maybe “open to error” was meant to say becoming willing to consider a differing opinion, one he sees as “wrong.”

      Liked by 3 people

      1. The purpose of grammar is to clarify ideas. This idea doesn’t come through (to me). I’m not judging his ideas. I just don’t GET this one. It can be interpreted in several ways (he’s open to hearing about his OWN errors? He’s open to differing opinions that he considers errors? He’s willing to overlook the errors made by other people?). I’m not judging his opinion as unimportant, but I wonder if it is unimportant to HIM? In my writing classes, my governing principle for my students is this; clarity in writing shows respect for your reader and respect for your own ideas. And yes, one can make grammatical errors and still be clear.

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      2. Your comment struck a chord. I recently acquired a new follower and because I think it is so important to respond in kind I checked out her blog. The first — very first! — thing I noticed was her choppy grammar and punctuation, misspellings, sentence structure and so on. Let’s just say the mechanics of her writing could use some improvement. But my goodness: what she had to say and the way she wrapped her mind around ideas and observations kind of blew me away. A perfect example of not judging a book by its cover? I think so.

        Liked by 4 people

      3. sonworshiper, I think your comment is spot on. We blog about issues that are important to us. Spelling and grammar mistakes can interfere with the message of the post, which sometimes is pretty insightful.

        I don’t mind a good debate and actually enjoy hearing a different viewpoint, but some people show their gross immaturity by not being open minded and allowing others to express their opinion as well.

        All and all, blogging is a stimulating experience. I never force myself to blog. I write when something is pressing because it is a way to process and also inspire others.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s really helped me develop my style and motivate me to work on my fiction.

    However, there’s still a bit of snobbery about blogging as a medium though. I heard an amusing quote in a film (may have been the disaster film 2012?) that “blogging is graffiti except with punctuation”. I think that’s the general attitude from some people.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I’ve always enjoyed his blog.

    I started writing five years ago, but I only just started writing well. I read both textbooks and novels. I read often. Reading and talking has improved my writing and I would recommend it to anyone.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I agree ! Reading and writing both plays a pivotal role. I was never into writing or reading stuff. But once I read a novel by Khaled Hosseini .. and I fell in love with both reading and writing.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I am really a baby in this field. I only just started blogging and have posted a few articles. I loved it. I have never been so focused and determined while enjoying every minute of the task. Its exhilarating and I understood the gratification he talked about. I can see even now how addicting it can be. I’d never considered it, though the losing my ability to focus and get lost in a book, reading’s being one of my passions, would hurt. And i find that it informs my writing too. I’m glad I read this article, I’ll to watch out for signs and monitor this new love i have just stumbled on.

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  7. Some cynics do make you wonder if you are spending too much time on the internet, but as long as you think you are finding time to read that book you always wanted to, or that movie everybody is raving about, it’s all I guess!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I find myself viewing reading and writing as a chore at times, completely forgetting that they are doorways to world’s that only a pen and paper can access. It’s an escape. It’s another reality. It’s a gift, ultimately. I need to remind myself of that.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. My attempt at blogging is nothing short of a learning experience. That’s the purpose of starting one in the first place. As a mother of two and student stuck waiting for the classes I need to not be cancelled this is a great opportunity for me to keep my brain on the critical thinking side of thought.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I’ve noticed, ever since I got back into blogging, that my writing has increased exponentially. Even as I seek full time employment, I find that it’s easier for me to find time for my writing now that I’ve allowed the creative juices to flow. It’s become a habit and a necessity. This was a nice read and Andrew is so right.

    My site is a portfolio of my work as well as a running diary of sorts on my life and experience as a homeless gay youth. Come check it out, and my article, ‘Gay, Interrupted: Perspectives and Paradigms from a Homeless Writer,’ found here: http://alanjryland.wordpress.com/2014/08/17/gay-interrupted-perspectives-and-paradigms-from-a-homeless-writer-on-a-life-no-longer-in-stasis/

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Everything has its strengths and weaknesses, pros and cons. Blogging is no different. An essential step to improving is doing. I’ve learnt a lot about grammar and punctuation since starting; still learning. I’ve also learnt about focus and how important it is for our brains to be able to master both short and long range focus. But equally, it is important to be able to shift between the two quickly. It takes practice. It’s worth the effort.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Good luck with your “working.” I have heard it said that a life without reflection is not worth living.” Reflection sure beats reaction in the search for a life worth living. Writing can require time and thinking rather tan emoting.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I was just thinking today that I haven’t say down to read without interruption for months. I started my blog to let friends know how we were doing in the aftermath of the “Texas Tragedy” that killed our son. I had never journaled before. But I now write almost daily and check other blogs throughout the day. I realized today that I need to add back the quiet time. Tomorrow will be a day off. A day to think and read and just be quiet.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I love this post and totally agree. My book writing has taken a back seat and I finally picked up a book to read today. I also unplugged from every social media outlet so WordPress is it for me. It is still hard though not to scroll through all my favorite blogs on a daily basis!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Well good for you. As for me I find that as the years go by (I started blogging 12 years ago) my philosophy solidifies even more and I can see the contrast between my brain and that of others. I appreciate the diversity I see.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Just two months ago, I created my travel blog after coming across an interesting WordPress page. Whenever I receive a notification from someone after posting a piece, my entire demeanor automatically brightens. Writing on here has tremendously encouraged my creative juices to work in high gear in one of the most meaningful ways of my life. I’m always thinking of new ideas to share and I’m sure that’s the same for most people here. Keep on writing, friends!

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