Working on a full-fledged book for the last nine months has changed my view of writing. Before last year, blog posts were just about the most significant writing I had done,* other than an account I worked on of my solo marathon experience in 2021 (incidentally, a year where I hardly blogged).
The difference between blog posts and writing a book reminds me of improv comedy. As I recall from improv class, in improv comedy there is what is known as short-form and long-form improv. Short-form is essentially games-based. They are a lot of fun, but there’s not exactly a through-line in the story. Long-form, on the other hand, gets into scenes. Scenes have characters and even a plot.
In a sense, these blog posts are short-form writing. Writing a book is long-form.
Also, I see now how this blog is a great way to try out ideas. These ideas don’t have to be perfectly-expressed. They don’t have to be polished, or frankly, even always good (though I try to make them good!)
Recently I read a blog post from last year about learning new things.** As I read, I thought, “Hmm, this is a little heady, a little abstract. It could use some more specific detail to add vivid specificity.”
Okay, good point. Yet I also thought: “Well, it’s just a blog post. It’s fine. No harm if it’s not perfect. What are blogs for if not to experiment?”
Believe it or not, this was a new realization. My blog really is a sort of repository for ideas. Perfection not required. Sure, I edit my posts, I make them look pretty as much as possible. Yet it’s really about writing down the ideas, not need any other purpose than putting them up.
With this blog, I write for the sake of writing .
It’s different with writing a book. With a book, I am taking my readers on a journey. There is a logical order and flow of ideas that will be effective. Incidentally, finding this flow has taken a lot of editing and re-writes! If not perfection, a high degree of cohesion and progression matters.
I started writing the book the way I blog, each day typing out the ideas that came to me until I had at least 1000 words. This way I quickly amassed a lot of ideas. That was the easy part! From there, it took a lot of trial and error, lots of cutting and pasting, lots of editing, and lots of thinking to make these related but unrefined ideas go together.
*As an adult, at least, not including lots of essay-writing I did throughout school.
**Incidentally, it have explored similar ideas in my piano-playing book. No surprise there—I wrote the blog post around the time I started working on the book.