In its purest form, writing offers artistic value to our world, inspiring people, making them think, debating ideas, and challenging norms, even in marketing. The creative side of the profession, the part that speaks to the soul, demands better than a top five list or a mechanical landing page.
A blog post should contribute a small nugget to a professional’s life. An essay should revolve around an idea and debate its merits, pros and cons and leave the reader spinning with their own interpretations. A book should leave a reader enchanted with dream and vision.
And by books, I’m not talking the trade books many of us bloggers tout as our professional mantras, rather books of grander scale and intent. For example, a novel that offers societal commentary. Or even a great history or nonfiction accounting of some facet of life or place.
Writers achieve full potential when they touch others, catalyzing minds with ideas, conviction and passion. That requires effort and thought on the part of the crafts(wo)men.
I want to be read for a good read. That’s what I tell myself these days.
What an odd thing to say on a blog, especially a marketing blog (at least to some). Yet, writing for the sake of writing is my primary motivator.
Are there secondary motivations like developing leads, projects outside the scope of marketing, and simply trying to make a difference? Yes. Let’s not talk tongue in cheek. But they don’t drive overarching decisions on editorial content and format. For example, several common blogging practices are ignored to avoid tainting value.
Falling in Love with My Craft, Again
You may have noticed a change here, recently. Almost every week you get a longer post.
They’re not blog posts in my mind, rather essays, usually 1000 words or more debating the merits of something, sometimes they are work related like futurism or digital identity. Other times the topics are deeply personal like considerations of beauty or this post, an author’s view of writing in a social media world revolving around attention.
These essays tend to be a bit less popular than the regular short pithy blog post. Understandably so, they represent a stylistic shift, and offer something that doesn’t equate well on a mobile phone (25% of you come here on tablets or smartphones).
Henry Matisse said creativity takes courage. It does, it would be much easier to mail it in and stay the course, kicking out professionally crafted marketing posts filled with lists and pithy witticisms about branding and lead generation. That path offers safety.
Instead, to fuel creativity I turned towards the less popular, a necessary move to resolve the weariness of day-in day-out blogging.
Essay writing intrigues me creatively. The act of wordsmithing essays challenges my mind, grappling with thought and imagery to deliver a deeper comprehension on a topic.
Certainly essay writing demands more from a scribe than a blog post. A blog takes an hour, but essays take three to four to write, not including the thinking that precedes drafting.
Stylistically, a few bloggy considerations continue such as links out to a referring source or a similar piece; the photos; and subheads, effectively dividing the essay into four or five blog posts so readers can leave at will. But they are considered in whole.
Meatier, deeper, more enjoyable from the writer’s perspective, and yes, less popular.
The Long March of Blogging
After seven years of blogging, thousands of blog posts, most of them professional in nature, mixing it up became a question of passion. I began to burn-out on blogging again.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy the form, I do, and in spite of certain April Fool’s Day jokes and the periodic kvetch, I intend to continue offering standard blogs here.
Yet, as a writer — and I do consider myself a writer first — the form has limitations. To be successful, it demands a consistent flow of ideas and output. That leaves little time for other types of writing. Working on books, short stories and the like while blogging [not to mention the rigors of a normal work and parenting life] is intense, and extremely draining.
The limitations supersede the time and energy investment. The form lends itself to relatively short and incomplete thoughts. Really, most blogs are observations or threads of larger topical conversations occurring on that page. Writing thousands of blogs becomes monotonous after a while.
That’s not to demean the form, far from it. Delivering a consistently decent blog takes work, and having blogged for a long time, I’m proud of the effort and the result.
But it’s not enough, and I don’t have a lot of time at my disposal anymore. To not feed the creative spirit inside denies the very essence of being a writer. So, periodic essays feed the beast… For now.
Where Is This Going?
Instinctively, essays will deliver an exploration of deeper and more challenging threads, the delivery of more well rounded and challenging pieces. Perhaps even a different conversation.
Some writers would debate that great writing lies in expository style, perfect in execution, crisp in thought. Me, I think great writing challenges the reader, it provokes them, positively or negatively.
When I consider the stylistically perfect Turgenev versus Dostoyevsky, a brooding existentialist disguised as a novelist, I’m always drawn to the latter. Turgenev perfected the craft, but Dostoyevsky moved a generation of writers and philosophers. That’s the role model I prefer.
Gore Vidal said, “Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.”
Well, I think I’m finally getting there.
So let’s do it. Writing should take the reader someplace. Lift them up, challenge them, push them to another place.
Make readers think about what can be. Captivate. That’s what a real author does.
That’s what I want to offer: Dreams, new directions, vision.
When I think about what words can achieve, I know great leaps, fantastic journeys, and fulfilled promises are ahead.
I’ve only begin to touch what can be accomplished with a keyboard. And I’m hungry to deliver, and maybe, just maybe take someone to that next level.
What do you want from a great read?