This is part of The Blogging Gauntlet of May 2016, where I try to write 500 words every day. See the May 1st post for full details.
A while back, one of my friends asked why I started blogging. Amazingly, I’ve never explictly laid it out, so I figured it was worth writing about.
First off, I’m blogging because I want to. This is obvious to the point of vacuousness - of course I wouldn’t write blog posts if I didn’t want to. Who would? Still, that doesn’t explain why I have this motivation to write. After thinking about it, I’ve ultimately decided I blog for mostly selfish reasons.
Everything comes back to my perspective on writing. Writing is the process of turning explicit thoughts into words. Thinking about writing, on the other hand, is the process of turning implicit thoughts into explicit thoughts.
This can take a very long time. I have a hard time explaining my points in person. It may just be my general social awkwardness, but often I feel like I want to say something and can’t because I don’t know how to explain it properly. If I try, it gets muddled into a ton of rambling that doesn’t go anywhere.
By blogging, I give myself an outlet for practicing turning vague notions into concrete words. It may not come out perfectly, but all I’m looking for is getting experience at explaining my thoughts.
With that in mind, let’s look at the posts I’ve written so far. I would broadly classify them into the following categories.
- Posts on topics I understand well. These are all technical posts, and are about problems with known solutions. The post is spent presenting and framing the solution the right way.
- Posts on topics I’ve been learning about recently. These are things I don’t understand very well yet, and trying to articulate them forces me to condense my understanding into simpler terms.
- For lack of a better word, discussion posts. These are posts where I try to present my point of view on a topic. They’re essentially life observations, things a person might post on Twitter or Facebook.
Writing posts on topics I understand well only helps train my framing, because I know the ideas well enough to have most of my feelings be explicit already. Accordingly, I’ve written very few of these posts, reserving them for ideas I find exceptionally cool. Yes, it feels good to teach something new, but writing a good teaching post takes forever, and I don’t have the motivation to sustain it.
Writing posts on topics I’ve been learning about, on the other hand, is good for raising awareness on ideas that I think should be more well known. At this point, I don’t know enough to make a judgment call on whether the idea is worth researching more, but I do know it’s interesting enough that someone else may want to research it more. It helps me organize the new information I’ve just received.
That leaves discussion posts. In these posts, I’m forcing myself to evaluate my own beliefs and become more aware of my implicit thoughts. Depending on how much I’ve reflected on my world views, these posts either come naturally or are a huge pain to write. In the worst case, organizing all the disparate threads of thought into a coherent narrative takes days to disentangle.
Now, note that these are all things I’m doing for me. I’m making blog posts to help organize my own thoughts, to help figure out my position on things. There’s very little I’m trying to do for anybody else.
I suspect the only reason I’m okay with writing a ton of blog posts is that I have very few inhibitions against sharing my thoughts on the Internet. I have friends who would never, absolutely never, share their life stories without careful consideration. Somehow, my barriers against this are much lower.
(Also, I’d be lying if I didn’t point out I was also writing this blog to try to make myself interesting. Come one, come all, sue me for my insecurities when I know awesome people! Get in line, I’ve got first dibs.)
Of course, pointing out your own selfish motivations doesn’t stop them from being selfish. It just makes you more honest. And besides, a lot of good things in the world happened for selfish reasons. If you like this blog, hopefully you consider it as one of them.