Blogging to learn

writing

Shared on Flickr by lucy loomis

Had I been blessed with even limited access to my own mind there would have been no reason to write. I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear. 
                                                                                                                                                             Joan Didion

One of the most amazing happenings of my adult life is discovering I love to blog. I hated (yes hated) writing as it was presented to me as a student and young adult. I saw writing as something I had to do for someone else; I never had the opportunity to understand it as a process I might do for myself. Weirder still, after blogging here for almost 3 years, I now get “a mental craving” to blog, similar to the feeling I might get when I need to go for a run or brisk walk. Blogging soothes and settles my brain when burdened and blurry; it cuts a path and shines a light. More than other mental activity, blogging has been a reliable compass for navigating my explorations “out here.”

If I were to sum blogging up, I would describe the process as the perfect dance between navigating my learning and learning how to express myself. One aspect seems to strengthen the other: blogging enhances my ability to navigate my learning and as I navigate my learning, the more clarity and focus I have when I blog. But how to blog to learn and how to learn to blog? I am no expert and in fact I find blogging to be the hardest (in the very best way) mental activity I do. But I offer some hints that have helped me navigate my way…

Ideas for blogging to learn

1. Process Post – When you are full on confused or overwhelmed by a topic, when a question continues to circle round and round in your brain. Forge through and process it out. Lay the ideas down and re-order them, as you might when laying a rock wall, until they sit in a way that gels to provide clarity for you.

2. Round Up – Getting started on a topic? Investigating a new area of interest? A round-up or collection is a great way to dive in and find some preliminary resources on a topic. A round-up outlines the tracks of your travels and shares what you have read, watched, tried, heard, etc.

3. Dear Somebody – Write a post to someone or something. For example: Dear New Teacher Me; Dear Student, Dear Stressed Me; Dear PLN. Writing a post to someone can be fun and provides an easy style to guide your writing and explore a topic.

4. Stream of consciousness – Sit down and just write just as you think. This may be in reaction to a conversation, a Ted Talk you watched, or to a post that moved you. Let your thoughts come without judgment or reservation. The post might lack grammar or logic, but mentally it will feel fantabulous!

5. Lists – Although some peeps are anti-list and lists can feel contrived, at the end of the day everyone loves a good list! Lists are an easy way to organize your writing and ideas. I myself both love and hate lists. I hate writing them, but they organize me in a way I love!

Ideas for learning to blog

1. Give blogging time – I try to blog once per week. Weekends work best for me as I have enough time to sit down and write a post start to finish. But this habit developed over time. When I first started blogging it occurred randomly and sporadically. It took time to become a habit and it took time to find a routine that worked best for me.

2. Keep it simple – My biggest struggle when I blog is I tend to over complicate and then lose my way. What was I trying to say again? Simple clarity is deceptively difficult to achieve. For me my title is what gives me the greatest clarity. A title clears the murky thoughts and then I try to write as tightly as possible to that central idea.

3. Read other blogs – What grabs you? Whose style do you love? What format is most inviting? What topics resonate? What sticks with you a week or month later?

4. Notice ideas and topics that fully grab your interest – What topics really catch your attention? What conversations linger in your brain? What puzzles you? What amazes you? It took time for me to notice these and I had to let go of my preconceived notions of what I thought “I should be interested in.” I had to develop my own taste and learn to trust myself.

5. Keep track of ideas, quotes, and central questions – When I get an idea for a post I try to keep track of them, either in a journal or in a unpublished post. Don’t despair if topic ideas go unexplored for months. Out of the blue a post, tweet or conversation might reactivate the dormant topic and bring it to life.

6. Don’t believe any list of “must do” blogging tips – Write your own!

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Blogging blocks and long walks.

Summertime,
And the livin’ is easy

                                             George Gershwin

Lots of time, blogging should be easy-peasy, just crank those suckers out!!

OK. Here goes.

Draft 1. Almost done. I’ll finish it up tomorrow. Yup, first thing in the morning when I am fresh.

Easy.

Hmmm……………………………………………..that kind of sucks. Trash it.

Ok. Start fresh. New topic.

How about a blog on dreaming? Ahhh wrote one on that already, same thoughts. Again. BORING.

I know! How about one on summer goals, that would be good! Yeah let’s do that!

Ok. Here goes.

Typing, typing, typing………………..

Days pass.

Reading. Reading always gets me inspired to write. I’ll read Steven Johnson‘s Where Do Good Ideas Come From today and blog about it tomorrow? Good plan!

Ahhhhh….I’ll just have a little nap, that’s what holidays are for, right?

Typing.

More days.

Ahhhh…that is boring! No pizzaz to that.

Trash.

How about one on all the mistakes I thought I made in last month but realized they were good mistakes, necessary ones?

Yeah. Ok here goes……

700 words. Great start girlfriend, you are on a blogging roll now! Now we’re cooking with oil! I’ll come back to it later tonight when it’s cooler. Yeah good plan.

Ahhh there is the dog. We’ll just go down to the Greenway, that’ll clear my head out anyway.  Yeah good plan.

Look at that, David Truss just wrote an amazing post on being busy, yup he nailed that topic shut! I’ll just comment on that.

Trash.

How about one debriefing CanFlip? Lots to say there!

Ummm, kind of did that in These are Real People?? And Audrey did an amazing post summarizing it. Yeah. I’ll just comment on hers. Solid plan.

Oh look at that Royan Lee just posted something. Jin and Tonic, that sounds interesting. I’ll just go read that. What a heart warming post!! Inspired now.

Back at it! I am focused this AM. 2 cups of coffee and I am raring to go!!

Ok. What’s the topic again?

I really wanted to move blogs, maybe I should do that first?

FOCUS.

Oh I know. I’ll do a summary of Will Richardson ‘s ISTE session, lots of meaty stuff there. And I really wanted to listen to it again. Yeah. Solid.

And he had some awesome links…what where they? Margaret Wheatley’s Willing to be Disturbed, that’s it. I wanted to read that.

 I’ll just print those up first. Yeah. I’ll take them out back and read them in the shade. Perfect.

Ahh there is the dog again. She needs more exercise, she sure has put on some heft this winter.

Ok. Back at it. Minute 32. I’ll just make some iced tea.

Want some?

While I’m gone you can watch this.

I blog…

I blog to untangle my most treasured thoughts and ideas, strands glistening, but interwoven in a complicated knot.

I blog to soften my heart and sharpen my brain.

I blog because I can’t figure it out on my own…I never could…but now I can admit it, to myself, to the world (who never really cared anyway).

I blog because you can’t hear me through these classroom walls.

I blog because I have no choice.

I blog to reach out a tenuous, tender and tentative finger towards you.

I blog to pry open this oyster and find the pearl.

I blog to hold up a rear view mirror and trace the long windy path I have travelled.

I blog because reflection feels really good.

I blog to let down this heavy anchor in rough seas in this safe and calm bay.

I blog because I need to connect to you.

I blog to knit together the bits of  yarn you have shared with me, strikingly eclectic; I unravel it many times to examine each piece.

I blog because I cannot get it right the first time.

I blog to imagine the classroom of my dreams.

I blog to create brain-callouses so I can climb steeper hills next time.

I blog to sharpen my machete so I can chop ferociously through the undergrowth that grows faster than I can talk.

I blog to hook onto the zip line that crosses this deep unknown ravine.

I blog to call out…..HELLO…. have you found the edge yet?

I blog to rent the expensive shiny purses before I buy.

I blog to remember why I started down this path in the first place.

I blog to connect to my most idealist self and let go of my cynical one.

I blog because in the middle of the night when I hear my heart I need to listen.

And you?