As you may recall, this series started with a Twitter convo. As our conversation progressed Anamaria made a good point:
You don’t have to write in obscurity waiting to be discovered.
Whether you write on a blog or you create multiple documents on your own computer, you can create an audience for your writing.
- You are allowed to ask people to read your writing.
- You are allowed to be picky about who you ask.
- You are allowed to be picky about what kind of feedback you want.
Why would anyone want to read your first drafts or semi-articulate thoughts on Deleuze*?
- Because they are interested in similar things
- Because you say interesting things in other forums (Twitter, seminars, comments on other people’s blogs) and they want to see what you are working on
- Because you also read their first drafts and semi-articulate thoughts
* Random example. Substitute whatever it is you happen to be thinking and writing about.
Create a blog-commenting posse
If writing a blog seems pointless without readers, then invite people to read. Ask them to comment or create conditions in which feedback and dialogue are built in.
You aren’t the only one struggling with writing. Get your academic/writer friends together and commit to reading and commenting on each other’s blogs.
Write a group blog
Even if it is only you and a friend, knowing someone else is expecting you to post can be a great motivator. And you can comment on each other’s posts or the posts can be in dialogue with each other.
You can even write them as letters, if you like. A couple of my quilter friends did that for a while, if you want to see how the style works.
Create an online reading/writing group
Commit to reading a book or article and writing your thoughts as part of a group. Respond to each others posts. Slaves of Golconda is an interesting model of this.
You can do this as a group blog project or each of you can write your responses on your own blogs and link to the others. (It probably helps to have a “home” blog for a particular topic with a post that lists all the contributions in one place.)
If people who don’t have their own blogs want to contribute, you can post guest posts on your blog. (Tip: get them to send them as plain text files)
If you are on Twitter, tweet about new posts.
Remember that your readers live in different time zones and are on Twitter at different times of day. You are not being pushy if you tweet 3 or 4 times a day. You are just telling different people about your post.
Twitter is not a place to read everything. It’s a stream. People see what floats by when they are on. And skimming is normal. We are all capable of skimming past tweets we can tell are repeats.
You can even add an @ to specific people you think might be interested or have helpful comments. Or tweet questions or highlights with the link.
You don’t have to “keep it up”
Don’t create rules that stop you from writing.
You can start a blog and then quit. Or not blog for months and then suddenly blog daily for a week and a half.
You can host a reading group once. Or whenever the mood strikes you.
Remember, your goal is to write.
Finding it hard to protect your writing time?
You are not alone. It’s like exercise. Some people can make a commitment to exercise, figure out what they’ll do, and do it regularly at home, by themselves. Personally, if I don’t sign up for a class, I don’t do it. The Academic Writing Studio is like a yoga studio for academic writers: A Meeting With Your Writing provides synchronous classes to help you keep your commitment to write regularly, other resources help you set priorities and boundaries so writing fits into your schedule, and electronic forums provide community support. Join us.
This series of posts originally published in March 2011. Edited Jan 26, 2017.