Write with purpose, expecting nothing in return


What’s the best medium for self-expression for you? If you’re of the blogging persuasion, what do you think makes for compelling, authentic writing?

I had a highly enjoyable Twitter chat on these topics with US blogger and outstanding gent Christopher De Mers recently. Christopher has written a post entitled Selfies, which identifies four key qualities he seeks out (and which I do too) in top-notch bloggage: purpose; honesty; respect; and steel. I love this rule for great blogging:

“Write with purpose, expecting nothing in return. You are the writer, not the audience.”

This puts me in mind of Dwane Lay’s point that “the beauty of starting a blog” is that it can help you find your own voice, at your own pace… and quite possibly with the luxury of no audience to sway your writing. Dwane says:

“That’s the beauty of starting a blog. See, while I assume no one reads my work, I can promise you no one will read yours. Not for a while, anyway, especially if you don’t promote it.”

Blogging offers you the opportunity to say whatever you want, however you want to say it.

Safely lost in a stream
Blogging is just one medium for self-expression. Could it also be one that is already becoming quaintly antiquated, as new social media platforms proliferate and trends in what and how we share accelerate?

In a fascinating Guardian article entitled Should we mourn the end of blogs?, Mel Campbell surveys “the melancholy ruins of this digital Pompeii” – a beautiful turn of phrase to describe the increasing number of abandoned blogs she sees frozen in time. Some bloggers move on. The younger generation, meanwhile, have their own preferred means of self-expression, yer Snapchats, and the like. Campbell says:

“Chat-based social networks offer an evanescent space where private conversations and silly moments will be safely lost in a stream rather than archived forever.”

The words “safely lost in a stream” are thought-provoking. They say much about the presumption of benevolence that so many of us make about signing up to and sharing our lives via our free social network of choice. Those words are as arresting to me as when I heard Stewart Lee (in conversation with Alan Moore at London’s British Library, a few years back) ask: “What is Twitter if not voluntary self-surveillance?”

Campbell also suggests that the community of bloggers is a self-selecting one, attracting those with a lifelong “fondness for prose.” This pretty much explains my own blogging activity.

The appeal of sharing selfies via Snapchat is incomprehensible to me. But it’s probable that the appeal of writing a rambling post on the joys of writing via such an archaic mode as the blog is equally incomprehensible to Snapchat users.

Crystallising thought
My friend Kevin Ball tweeted something wonderful about what the written word has to offer those of us who choose to blog: “My take is it’s the act of writing that crystallises thought. You don’t get that on Snapchat.”

No matter the medium, the urge and the need to express ourselves will always be with us. For me, it’s writing (with the blog and the microblog being my current preferred modes). For you, it could (and most definitely should) be whichever medium works best for you.

What’s your preferred means of self-expression?

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