Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Writing to Be Read

The most important thing I've learned from keeping this blog is how to edit.  Writing for other people sort of requires you to write well, but writing for yourself can be more about preserving your writing as it is. When I was younger, I liked to make up stories and poems, but didn't have any interest in writing them out.  My dad insisted on writing down all of my poems.  Sometimes I would change a few words of a poem if I was giving it to someone, but my dad would never let me change the originals.  We had an unwritten rule that every poem in that binder would stay preserved so we could remember what I wrote at each age.

When I began writing in journals in middle school, I never wanted to alter anything I had written, including fiction and poetry. The only time I ever corrected something in a previous journal was if something was illegible or unclear, to the point that someday I might not know what I meant to say. When I read over my senior autobiography/scrapbook during the summer, I really wanted to fix it since the writing wasn't my best. But at the same time, I didn't want to touch it because technically, I wasn't in high school anymore, and I didn't want to alter my record of how I felt when I was in high school.

I am grateful for all my preserved records, but all those years of writing just for myself didn't give me any practice editing. The first time I really learned to edit was in fiction writing class, where I transformed some stories to the point of not touching the original documents.  But in terms of my non-fiction writing, I'm learning to edit on this blog.   I used to keep an online journal, which contained some private entries.  My main reason for moving to a blog was to be able to share my writing without giving access to those more personal journal entries. But now that I'm writing for other people, I care more about how I sound. On the internet, any post could be the one that readers stumble upon first. I'm always editing past posts. I no longer care about preserving my state of mind on some random day - I care about sounding good right now.  This blog has taught me how to write to be read.

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