The Rhythm of Practice

Blogging is important and ubiquitous. So much so that, perhaps, the verb “to blog” is something of a misnomer. Perhaps most digital publication is, in some regard, connected to the work of the blog.

There are blog platforms, blog networks, and countless success stories. The democratization of textual distribution has happened, one might argue, and it happened in a medium built on reverse chronological order.

I say these things to my students, and like Seth Godin, I feel that the blog is a uniquely powerful digital space:

But Godin’s observation is important: Blogging is about rhythm, about practice, about metacognition. It’s thinking about something, working through that something, and then offering your voice to a largely unseen audience.

If an outcome of traditional textual production is external validation–as is the case for much of the text published in print venues–then blogging might feel like an empty exercise. When I publish a poem or a piece of research, there’s something quite fulfilling about having the end product in my hands: about moving from draft, through editorial response, to artifact. The “Post Now” button just doesn’t have the same reward.

But that form of thinking is part of the problem. Blogging isn’t just about offering text to the world. It’s about a regular interaction with ideas–yours and others. It’s about sitting with your thoughts, sifting through response, and working with language (and the many other modes of composition).

I’ve imagined a course where most of the grade comes from blogging, and where that blogging happens daily–because the rhythm of writing is more important than the final product. Final products are built from drafts, and–I believe–that more drafts yield more invention, more engagement with ideas and with text. A better interaction with ideas.

The movement is the thing.

There’s an adage that although the actual process of writing is difficult, few things are better than having written something. That truism speaks to the joy inherent in doing, in offering something–an idea, a notion, a passing response–to the world, something that wasn’t there before you put your fingers to the keyboard.

So we, as learners and makers and writers, welcome, with whatever hesitation, the rhythm of practice.

Through regularly returning to words we begin to find the best ones, the best order.

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