As you’ve probably guessed I’m a pretty big fan of blogging. I do it all the time, it is a central part of my professional practice. I find that setting stuff down on the blog helps to get my thoughts straightened out, I’m also lucky to have a tremendously informed readership who will invariably comment my more interesting posts to hell and back. Writing has become really important to me and the blog is the main vehicle for most of my writing.
Increasingly I’ve found that if I haven’t written it down (which means blogging most of the time) I basically haven’t thought it. Of course I do have thoughts that don’t make it onto the blog. One category of these thoughts is basically the usual – “I fancy a bit of cheese” kind of thought that I generally try and keep out of the public arena. However there is also a category of more serious thinking that I do and which doesn’t make it to the blog. In general these thoughts and ideas don’t get very well formed, they all swirl round together and end up in a big mess. I hop from thought to thought never really spotting which ones are actually interesting or even sensible. Writing them down, even if I decide that I won’t put it up on the blog, makes me nail down the ideas, give them shape and start the process of testing and refining them.
So my best thoughts make it to the blog (you may feel that this is a damning indictment of my thinking, but you haven’t seen the other stuff!). My second best thoughts are scrawled in a black book that I carry round with me which is filled up with diagrams and jottings and occasionally lost. My third best thoughts are spoken out loud in a room with other people and then refined (a bit) in discussion. My fourth best thoughts stay in my head (where they belong).
Of course once in a while I publish something that is “finished” – a report or article or something similar. However by this time what I’m publishing isn’t really thoughts anymore. It has become an artefact that has been worked on and refined, contextualised and shaped into a particular form or genre. This stuff is hopefully much better than what I push out on the blog, but it isn’t really my thoughts any more. Of course some of my thoughts are in there, but it has become more than my thoughts. This is particularly true because I rarely write anything alone, but it would be true even if I did. Proper writing is a dialogue between the author and the traditions that are being drawn on and the context the artefact will enter. Writing a blog is about sharpening your thoughts.
But, what about the thoughts that you can’t put on the blog? The ones that relate to someone else, or to some government secret that you know but isn’t in the public sphere yet. What about the thoughts you have about the things you’ve done wrong, that you want to learn from, but you don’t want the world to dwell on. What about all the news that isn’t fit to print. What do you do with all that?
Most people would say, just keep it in your head. Sit down, have a think, drink a cup of tea and move on. But, they probably aren’t bloggers. This stuff is starting to hurt my head and as I say, I can only really have fourth rate thoughts when I keep it up there. So maybe I should write it down in a big note book like Richard Crossman. I could then publish it to get my own back on everyone once I retire. However I’m not very good at delayed gratification, if I put the effort in to write something I want people to read it. I’ve thought about setting up an anonymous blog full of bile, poison, regret and revelation, but I fear that it would be ultimately unsatisfying. Anything of interest would lead people back to me pretty quickly.
Maybe I should get a Woody Allen style analyst and wax lyrical on ‘me against the world’ each week. However, I fear that giving free rein to my inner thoughts might make me feel worse rather than better. It is possible that there are some things that it is best to keep bottled up inside and that becoming better at expressing the things that shouldn’t be expressed is not a good idea at all. Once again I feel that I/we write our personalities and our selves into existence and it is probably a good idea to concentrate on the positive constructive stuff.
So what to do? I’ll probably stick with my fourth rate thoughts for now. What about you?