Last week some readers made comments that piqued my curiosity. They wrote that reading my blog inspired them to start blogging too. That’s wonderful! My first thought is brilliant! Grab a pen and start writing! Then I started thinking about what they might find rewarding about blogging, and how blogging has affected my study habits, process, and progress. You might expect that regular, weekly writing would benefit students in some predictable ways, like organization or efficiency. It does, but some of the most satisfying and relevant rewards are less predictable, and even surprising. I thought I would share…
Sharing, in today’s sense of the word, is part of blogging – it is part of the ‘social’ in social media. Bloggers share their curiosity, passions, perspective and experience. The ‘blog-o-sphere’ is a dynamic place, made amazing by the creative, practical, ingenious, and highly successful ways different contributors have embraced the medium and available platforms. The sheer ingenuity of the community inspires me to think of different approaches and modes of discourse while blogging and in my studies. Blogging, and exploring other blogs, opens a door to a stunning variety of voice and point of view that I have come to expect in literature of all kinds. To me, that creativity and variety of language comes from the passion of a cause or interests. Bloggers blog because they enjoy the process of developing and expressing ideas.
I have long thought that creative people who engage in some form of original self-expression – whether it is visual art, writing, music, dance or other venues, are among the most highly disciplined people I have ever met. For me, it is no surprise to hear high achievement or attainment described as the ‘art’ of something that is not really ‘art’ at all, like management or science. That metaphor, ‘art’ standing in for excellence in expression, is no accident. It really refers to mastery of medium, ideas and expression. I suppose the discipline and curiosity behind expression really comes down to a marvelous obsession with whatever moves you. The motivation for that kind of inquiry and self-expression is part of the process of developing an idea. Maybe facility with the medium of your choice is really a matter of the depths to which one pursues an interest. Which brings me around to how blogging has helped me as a student.
Many students, myself included, have felt that argumentation, structure, and time allowed is the most difficult part of producing essays under exam conditions. If you are unfamiliar with the English and Comparative Literature exam process, we have 3 hours to write 3 essays in response to 3 sets of blind questions. No notes or books are allowed. What blogging has helped me realize is that the ease with which I can respond in exams in directly related to how thoroughly I have thought through various ideas and concepts before I begin outlining and writing an essay. If you are ‘thinking it through’ or developing an idea for the first time in the exam room, well, from experience I can share it can be a little scary. My first reaction was to assume there is some better way of thinking or outlining. In reality, I cannot outline what is not at my intellectual command or disposal. It comes down to how thoroughly I have thought through the ideas and questions I want to write about. That is why I study literature; blogging has helped me to embrace the ideas and questions literature presents.
Thinking through ideas and questions I want to write about is not something I learned in exams. In exams I have sometimes felt like the ‘100th Monkey,’ doing something but not really knowing why. The great thing about blogging is the luxury of thinking through the progression of an idea before putting pen to paper. Blogging helped me to realize that studying and writing about literature is a process. Learning to trust the process makes it delightful and productive. If you feel inspired to start studying or blogging, grab a pen and set some high expectations for the rewards and pleasure of the process– and remember to share.