Halloween is a time when kids go out walking in the dark going to strangers' homes in hopes of receiving a reward for their efforts. Blogging is like writing in the dark hoping that someone out there will take a look and validate the blogger's efforts with a comment or by becoming a follower. The kids have the advantage of having a door to knock on and they can tell if the lights are on or off to give them an idea who is participating in the event. The payoff is immediate and the reward is tangible. The bloggers are writing or whatever they may be doing and just tossing it out there hoping that someone is going see what they are doing.
Writing in the dark is not like dancing in the dark like the great Fred Astaire (I will get back to Fred one day, but not today). Writing in the dark might be a little closer to what Bruce "the Boss" Springsteen is talking about in his song "Dancing in the Dark" but still really not exactly the same. Neither is it like walking in the dark -- as I've said before you can usually see where you are going in the typical sense of walking in the dark. However, without some light it's rather difficult to write or read. No fair using the argument that you "write" on your computer with the lights off -- the screen provides the light. Personally, I've got to have the lights on when I'm on the computer or it gives me a headache. The bottom line is I'm not talking about lighting. When I talk about "writing in the dark" I am speaking metaphorically -- but I think you probably knew that.
We're taught in any class that teaches about writing to start with an outline. Writing teachers encourage the writer to start out with outlines, notes, chararcter studies, time-lines, and other organizational methodology. Then from all of this organization the writer starts the writing process. Organized thought and presentation is vital to creating a coherent and easy to follow product for the reader. Usually a writer wants to put across a point or tell a story and in order to do this one point must lead clearly to the next. But a question to those who are writing a blog: How do you approach writing in the case of blogging?
I would imagine that some writers out there carefully organize their thoughts, especially if they are trying to convey something complex or technical perhaps. Others, like I have been doing, might approach their writing efforts much like they would in, say, writing a letter to a friend. Basically it's a randomization of free form thought in the form of written word, stream of consciousness with doses of free association. I have a point in what I'm trying to say, but I may wander considerably while saying it and maybe even change the outcome as a result of thinking it all through. Most blogs are fairly conversational and that's probably what most people are looking for. Am I right or wrong on this point? What would you say?
But here's what I'm talking about: Creative writing like novels or short stories -- is it better to approach them organizationally with an outline, etc or just randomly, letting the stories play themselves out organically and pruning them later with editing? I am curious to know what works for other writers. Do you write the story as you have planned it or does it just come to you while you are writing it? I would imagine there is some of both involved, but which method is most effective for you and how well does it work?
Today I was reading in a blog by Jennifer Hudson Taylor, http://jenniferswriting.blogspot.com/ , about a writing competition, or perhaps a better word would be challenge, called National Novel Writing Month (see http://www.nanowrimo.com/ ). Jennifer was asking readers if anyone had ever participated or was thinking about it. I too would like to pose this question. I was intrigued by the idea and am thinking about signing up. I think I like the approach of writing in the dark for this one. According to the rules, you can start with an outline and character studies and such, but you cannot start the actual writing until November 1 and must finish by November 30 at which time your completed product would have at least 50,000 words. In order to truly challenge myself I think I would not think too much about what I will do but just start on November 1. To me that would be the real spirit of completing a novel in 30 days. I am going to start pondering this and try to decide in the next few days so I can get signed up. What the heck. If anybody else is participating please let us know how it's going and what your thoughts are on the subject.
So in the mean time I'll keep writing in the dark and tossing it out to you. And maybe in November I'll be writing in the dark a whole lot. Out go the lights. Knock, knock! Who's there? Trick or treat! You want candy? No I want comments, lots of comments. And please sign up to be a follower of this blog as well. Thank you!