Friday, April 10, 2009

On blogger's block

I don't suffer writer's block, as far as I can tell, by any means. I always have something going on in my mind that I could write on. At least, there's always something on NPR I can put my 2 semi-Marxist cents in.* But I suffer some anxiety about choosing something to write about, and the struggle between writing to get something out of my mind and providing it due context results in a typically stagnant blog. Fortunately, I am reminded that this sense of "it's not enough" is not only a phenomenon of bloggers, who have no imposing editors or deadlines, in that academic and professional writers are no more immune to that sense of incompleteness. Rex from SavageMinds writes:

There is a saying that works of art are never finished, only abandoned. This definitely seems to be true of academic works as well—or at least the ones I right. I don’t think I’ve ever ‘finished’ something such that I’ve read it over, thought it over, and said “there is nothing more to be done to this—it is finished.” Instead, I finish projects in one of two ways: first, the deadline hits and I have to send it off or, second, I wake up one morning and realize that I have just stopped caring about it and it is done.
I write mostly for practice and as an outlet for my cluttered mind, but this is often to myself, which if presented as decontextualized as it would be to an outsider, it could be read as poetry or nonsense. And really, it just is so much work to make something consistent and readable. In the interest of having something that others can see, I have to a) stop being lazy and b) let go of the anxiety of putting myself out there without sufficient disclaimer. And fortunately for blogs, you don't have to post complete works, or even complete thoughts. For the umpteenth, I tell myself I have no excuses to not write more than I do on this thing.

Does anyone else suffer from these blogging anxieties? While some discretion is managed through the content, the medium of the blog is quite expository, so it's best that you not write anything that you wouldn't mind just anyone knowing.

And some questions for academics: I believe that, typically, academic writers publish in a highly specialized, often impersonal, language in sanctioned media so that they are often, though I understand not all the time, coccooned from that sense of raw exposure. Which leads me to: Do academic writers feel a similar vulnerability when they move to writing about themselves in more open, public sphere, i.e. blogs, or are they more grateful for a less restrictive outlet? Are they apprehensive about exposing
themselves to their peers, or do they see it as an opportunity to be more open with eachother?

* I consciously acknowledge the irony and/or sense of this phrase.