I’ve been thinking lately why blogging has been a good thing for me and the ways it has helped me improve my skills, and thought I should share some thoughts about it.
I have never been much of a writer and have always struggled with the blank page syndrome. Even though I did a short Creative Writing course back in the 90’s and it was a fun experience, I’ve always been a lot more comfortable communicating with images, be it photography or illustration.
The other day I read a letter from the writer C. S. Lewis (the one responsible for the Narnia Chronicles, for example), in which he gives some very simple advice on writing to a young girl:
What really matters is:–
1. Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else.
2. Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one. Don’t implement promises, but keep them.
3. Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean “More people died” don’t say “Mortality rose.”
4. In writing. Don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the thing you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us a thing was “terrible,” describe it so that we’ll be terrified. Don’t say it was “delightful”; make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers, “Please will you do my job for me.”
5. Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very”; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.
Read the whole piece here, it is quite endearing.
When I read this I was quite happy to find out that instinctively I got the gist of it, maybe because I read a lot of blogs and I know what I like to read. I prefer those that are written in a unpretentious and colloquial way, it feels a lot more personal and natural.
Picking up on blogging again and making an effort to write something about the images I post has made me get out of the I-don’t-know-what-to-write rut and improve my writing skills. Not that they are perfect, sometimes writing in a second language can be a challenge in itself, but I feel that overtime my confidence if not my writing as well, has improved. I won’t be writing a novel anytime soon, but for blogging it will suffice and will strive to carry on getting better.
I have always loved taking photos. Period. I don’t see myself as a photographer, but I enjoy the whole process of playing with colour and composition, of bringing out details from daily life that otherwise may have gone unnoticed. There is beauty all around us and one just has to look to find it, even in the most boring (hello Grantham, I’m talking about you!) or ugliest places. Having a place to share my collection of daily life and adventure tidbits stimulates my creativity and the drive to learn more and do better. I am really excited about starting to use the DSLR camera I bought second hand recently and to show the results here, everyone’s feedback is important.
Even though I don’t do it enough, it has been quite encouraging all the nice feedback I’ve had from my little illustration postings. I’d like to get back on the illustration horse sometime soon (I’m working on it) and it is nice to see that there is an audience for my work.
The outfit posts are by far the most popular ones. By posting them on the blog and making a habit of it keeps me from falling into a rut or being lazy about what I wear, and most important, not forgetting who I am, regardless of currently living in a small boring town (yes Grantham, I’m talking about you again). I do feel overdressed at work (and everywhere else for that matter) a lot of the time and sometimes feel the need to tone down a little. You see, everyone else tends to wear jeans or black leggings (frankly I don’t blame them, working in a business park in the sticks is not exactly the most glamorous location one would dress up for) – but it does help me not lose sight of what I love and gives me pleasure. Playing around with clothes might seem frivolous but to me it is a very important part of my daily life, as an outlet for my creativity.
There’s a lot more to be said but the most important things are that it helps me keep my creative juices running and also it has allowed me to get to know a lot of other like-minded people. That must be the best part of it all – to share what I love with so many interesting and supportive people I would never have met if it wasn’t for blogging!
I would also like to know why and how blogging has been an important part of your lives, won’t you leave me a note?
(images from my scrapbooks)