Writing About Writing

I have been writing recreationally for a while - I've been writing in my journal for close to 7.5 years, and this blog has been going for 2 years as well. Before that, I used to have a LiveJournal account, which was mostly used to keep my high school friends up to date with what I was doing. This blog stands out though, because it can be said that I'm doing a lot for a very small audience.

I recently read Paul Graham's essay on essays though, and I found it interesting that the word "essay" comes from the French verb/noun essayer/essai, meaning to try/an attempt. A lot of my blog posts are planned before hand. I have a running list of topics I want to write about, and while I find the time and mood to write them, I collect ideas and quotes in bullet-point form. Often times I don't actually know what I want to write, just want I want to write about. For example, I knew that I would do a post on The Fountainhead, but I didn't know what I want to say about it. Even for this short post, I'm not sure what my final point is, if I have one. Writing, then, is a way for me to figure out my own ideas. It's not just a tool for me to express my ideas to other people, but also for my ideas to become clearer in my head.

My friend Genia also wrote something about writing a little while back.

I thought it would be interesting to show the notes I have collected before writing this too. They're below:

Paul Graham on essays
    the french essayer, to try
    I have a goal, but I don't know how it turns out
        I'm not sure what's the point I want to make in this essay
    more to write thoughts down, to externalize and make concrete my thinking
    to clarify ideas
    show notes for this essay


  1. Sometimes if I feel that I am reacting irrationally to something, I write it out in bullet points in my journal, and it usually smooths itself out quite magically.

    I've always been curious who actually reads my blog, besides the people who comment. Google Analytics tells me I get roughly 20 hits per day, and I can track what part of the country those hits come from, but I'm not sure if that reflects regular readers or random facebook-clickers.

  2. I didn't know you have a journal. How long have you been writing in it for?

  3. I agree with Graham. I pretty much always just write whatever I'm thinking, when I think it, in order to have a place to get it out. It's usually rather chaotic, but the ideas will have been stewing in my head for a while so there is some content in there somewhere.

    I'm kind of curious about how you find your topics. They seem quite... random.

  4. Jenn - I've answered that question before:


    They're /are/ somewhat random, but overall I probably tend to topics like education, psychology, and religion more than others.

  5. Oops. I always forget to check back for comments.

    I started writing in a journal since I was around 8. It was all pretty spotty, up until middle school when I started writing more frequently. High school entries became nearly an every-day habit, and it still is. I make myself write at least a sentence every day, but once I start writing, it usually becomes more. Sometimes I get into long lapses where I stop writing, like when I'm dating someone and I don't need the extra outlet, or during summer breaks when there's not much happening.