JK has written a great post about the writing process, something I'm keenly interested in as well. JK says that we bloggers can benefit from a more disciplined approach to writing as practiced by professional writers like Orhan Pamuk, Suketu Mehta and Kathy Sierra, all of whom JK profiles. An important quote:
Pay attention to the structure of the post, spend time editing it and finally make it interesting to read.Lessons I have repeatedly learned and forgotten (often within seconds of each other). It's hard enough to write something interesting on a daily basis that the blogosphere demands, but writing and then editing is a never-ending struggle for me. This is why I write so infrequently, and when I do, the most I can manage is a few paragraphs, often only a couple of sentences (that is why I like twitter and tumblr so much). Writing is not easy. I can take comfort in the fact that writing is not suppose to be easy-- even for professional writers!
There are two things in my mind that can make a blogger better: reading and writing Obvious, I know, but hear me out. It's no coincidence that good writers are often good readers. Good readers in that they not only read widely, but pick good books to read. Quality is important here. After all, reading John Grisham, Tom Clancy, cereal boxes, and People magazine will only take you so far. Not surprisingly, most writers read the classics. Classics are classics for a good reason, they are a fount of good writing. Bloggers should read more of them.
But reading takes time. Time is a precious commodity in our fast-paced culture, where bite-sized blog posts is all we have time to digest. We value doing many things as possible in the shortest span of time, hence the mantra: volume is more important than quality. I suffer from this problem acutely. I'm always obsessed with reading as many books as I can before I die, only realize that there was no way I was going to read all the books I wanted to read, even if I did nothing but read and live to 200. It's just not possible. So I have become more pickier in what I read. And instead of trying to read a book as fast as I can. I read slowly. Letting the author's word sink-in. To meditate on the books meaning. In my opinion, a good book cannot be read once, but twice, even thrice. Each time something new, absent in previous readings, comes to the surface.
The second part, of course, is writing. Reading provides a foundation, in that you learn what good writing is. Nevertheless, reading and writing are two different functions. I've read Charles Dickens or Jane Austen and wonder why I can't write like them. My writings are consistently filled with choppy sentences (or run-on sentences), grammar mistakes, misspellings, incoherence, or is downright banal. The only way to improve my writing, I find, is practice, practice, and more practice.