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Defining the Writing Phenomenon

As a writer, there always comes a time where you ask yourself why you are doing what you’re doing. Why do I sit here – or in my case, lie on my bed – and type words to publish on the Internet? Some think it’s crazy; others, a waste of time.

I came across a paragraph from John that expresses my feelings perfectly:

I wanted to write a site for someone it’s meant for. That reader I write for is a second version of me. I’m writing for him. He’s interested in the exact same things I’m interested in; he reads the exact same websites I read. I want him to like this website so much that he reads it from the top to the bottom, and he reads everything. Every single word. The copyright statement, what software I use, he’s read it all.

This long weekend – big happy birthday wishes go out to Queen Victoria by the way – I decided to do just that. I read a blog. No, not a blog post. An entire blog. From start to finish. From post number one to post two hundred sixty eight. I poured over the pages and pages of my favourite blog for hours on end.

And you know what? I really enjoyed it.

Enjoyed it more than spending the night watching TV. Enjoyed it more than coding and tweaking my website. Heck, I even enjoyed it more than tweeting.

Why did I enjoy it so much? Because Shawn wrote for an audience of one; he wrote his blog for himself above everyone else “When I write something for shawnblanc.net and hit publish, I want to then open up my homepage and read my own article. And I want to really, really enjoy it.” He wanted to enjoy his own content. And that made me love his posts even more.

Words of life

I hate to rave on and on about Shawn’s blog as I know I would be embarrassed if someone did the same for me, but I believe there is something to learn from the way Shawn writes. When I read over the pages of his blog, his words come alive. In all honesty, I have no words to describe it (no pun intended).

Words have power. And words, real words, are the ones that speak to me and come alive in my life. It’s addictive – in a good way. When I finished reading every word on Shawn’s entire blog, I started googling for more articles from him (and I did end up finding some). It didn’t have to be about anything in particular. It wasn’t the topic. It was the passion and the realism behind the words that allowed me to see into his life. It could have been about quantum physics, and I would have been glued to my seat.

It’s the exact reason that John wanted to write. He wanted to write for someone that would “like this website so much that he reads it from the top to the bottom, and he reads everything. Every single word.”

Fear of words

The problem with writing words of life is that it requires you to be vulnerable. You have to open yourself up, and allow your readers to glimpse into your life. You have to be yourself, and write with passion.

Shawn Blanc:

The problem is the fear of man. That fear to be ourselves, to speak truthfully and honestly, to stand up for what we know to be right and true and beautiful and wonderful.

In many ways, I believe that our world has corrupted our ability to create “living” content. We are bombarded with news that is written to drive traffic – not spur imaginations. We are told to study the writings of Shakespeare in school and strive to mold our writing to meet replicate his techniques. How are we to develop our own voices? How are we to write words with meaning?

That is why I’m sitting here on a Sunday night – Victoria Day’s Eve – in front of my laptop immersed and typing away in Writeroom with fireworks exploding all around. Because I want a voice of my own. I want to write for myself. I want to enjoy every word that I write, and savour them over again and again.

I’ve read through all the secret sauce recipes of blogging. How to write the killer headlines, and how to attract the crowds. Keywords and SEO and stats and traffic. But I’m tired of all that. I just want to write.

Staying up until 1:30 in the morning to write an article on writing better has got to be a tremendously horrible idea. Put it up there next to the ‘peanut butter, jelly and croutons all together in a squeeze bottle’ idea.

If so, I love peanut butter jelly and croutons in squeeze bottles.