Monday, November 21, 2005

Why Blog?

Although it's not my primary hobby, I do spend a fair amount of my time blogging. Not just writing my blog, but reading around various news articles to see if there is anything interesting to post on, or spending time reading and commenting on other blogs. One question that could genuinely be asked of me in regard to this is - why? Why on earth do I bother? It's not as if I have significant numbers of readers, or, as far as I am aware, have had any significant impact on the way people think.

Nor is it that I'd be short of opportunities to get more readers. Given the number of people who comment whenever I have a letter published in the student papers, I'd probably reach a far greater audience if I were just to write for one of them. Of course, there are many benefits to blogging that simply wouldn't be present if I were to try and write features for a student paper. Most obviously, the need to impress an editor. As much as I use my blogging to try and improve my writing - to get better at getting my points across succinctly - I am happy writing for myself. I can choose the subjects I consider most interesting; write as little or as much as I like; and I can write as regularly as I please. Far more self-indulgent, yes, far more fun too. It does have its wider benefits, though, because I think that being able to strike while the iron is hot is one of the great advantages of the blogosphere. It isn't a stilted medium because anyone can write as and when they please.

Implicit within the last paragraph, of course, is the fact that I enjoy writing. I have views on many different issues; they can't always come up in conversation, and some of the time my random thoughts occur at awkward times - in the middle of the night, whilst on the bus, or when sitting quietly enjoying a coffee. Blogging allows me to develop these thoughts further. There's many times I thought I had a clear opinion on a subject; once I had to justify it in writing, it was much harder. Sometimes simply the process of working out my thoughts gives me great pleasure and advances my thinking in certain areas. Writing as a discipline is fun to me; to do it in the semi-structured form of a blog is a great way of developing this.

So, am I expecting to get anywhere with this blog? No. Not at all. I write for the fun of it - to get more readers would be nice; ultimately, if I wanted that, I'd have to devote significantly more time to the blog. Do I really want to do that? I don't think so; there are too many other things going on in life for me to spend all my time at a computer screen pontificating (I can sit in a library pontificating instead). What I have enjoyed most about writing here, though, is the possibilities of entering a broader debate - to challenge my own views, to learn more, and to, I hope, contribute in an interesting way to the thoughts of my readers. Whether I change their minds or make them more intransigent. That, surely, is the key point of blogging - to further a conversation. With whom, and on what topics, is our own choice. That's the wonder of it all.