Taking Your Time With Writing, or Why a Blogathon is Kind of a Bad Idea

This post is a part of the Humanist Community at Harvard’s 2012 Blogathon, a 12 hour blogging marathon by Chris Stedman and Chelsea Link to support HCH’s end-of-the-year fundraiser. Chelsea and Chris are both publishing one new post per hour, for twelve hours straight, and none of the posts have been written or drafted in advance. For more blogathon posts, click here. If you enjoyed this post or any of the others, please consider consider chipping in to support our work.

This is only the fourth post of the twelve I’ve committed to write for the Humanist Community at Harvard’s 2012 Blogathon, and already I kind of want it to be over. This may be my fatigue talking — the first three posts I wrote were surprisingly lengthy — and I realize the irony inherent in saying this while doing a blogathon, but: I don’t think this kind of rapidfire writing and reflection is a very good idea, generally speaking.

Writing for public consumption can feel pretty intimidating. And with good reason — once it’s out there, it’s out there forever. So I think it’s important to give a considerable amount of thought to what you’re writing, and why.

When I first started blogging about atheism and interfaith work, I wrote pretty often. Many of my pieces were pretty short — more often a commentary on someone else’s work or ideas paired with a few thoughts of my own. I tried to include original reflections in my blogging, but I found that those often took much longer.

Then I started writing a book. I worked on it for nearly two years, and even once I submitted it for my deadline, I knew that there was more refining I could have done to make it stronger. That there were mistakes I made, and things I didn’t explore that deserved attention. This process of writing and revising over and over again taught me a lot about the importance of editing, reflecting, and letting your writing sit for a while before you publish something.

As an example: Recently, I published a piece for The Rumpus about what happened when a young woman approached me after a speech I gave on Valentine’s Day and told me that I had a demon inside of me that was making me gay. I started writing that piece almost a year ago, then set it aside, revisiting it every so often to make a few edits, add a few thoughts, or remove a paragraph here or there. At one point, it was actually five times as long as it was when it was finally published. I’m glad that I took the time to let that piece come together — it was a difficult thing to write about, and I wanted to be sure I was able to tell the story in a way that would make sense to others, and allow them to do their own reflection in response. Writing and reading are both forms of creative expression, and creative processes take time.

Thus, as time has gone on, I’ve moved away from the model of blogging several times a week. Instead, I write what I think are more substantial pieces — which means I publish far less often than I used to. But, for the most part, I’d rather be sure to say what I mean than to say something quickly.

This is just what I’ve decided works best for me right now. It may change, and I’m fairly certain it isn’t necessarily what’s best for everyone. We all have different capacities and abilities. What do you find works best for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Now, on to writing another post…

Chris Stedman is the Assistant Humanist Chaplain at Harvard and the Values in Action Coordinator for the Humanist Community at Harvard. He is the author of Faitheist: How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious, and the founder of the blog NonProphet Status.

5 comments on “Taking Your Time With Writing, or Why a Blogathon is Kind of a Bad Idea

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