We have a DVR, so I tend to be a little behind on my TV watching (hey, did you hear Obama won the election?). I was watching The Daily Show from a couple of weeks ago. Arianna Huffington was his guest. I remembered her as Bill Maher’s frequent foil on Politically Incorrect. She was on the show, hawking her new book about how to write a blog. I haven’t read the book myself. To be fair, she didn’t write the book, just provided the name and the introduction.
Just because I haven’t read the book, doesn’t mean I can’t hold a strong opinion about it and write a few hundred words to that effect. That was one of the “secrets” divulged during her appearance. She believed a blog is the digital equivalent of a first draft. While a lot of blogs do read like first drafts, I don’t think that is something to aspire to. I wouldn’t foist my first draft on anyone. For example, this blog’s first draft was scribbled down in a yellow legal pad in my cramped, almost doctor-like handwriting. I have an OCR program that can convert text from printed documents, but it has limits!
I would suggest the best blogs read like first drafts, not because they’re difficult to read, but because the words work together as if there was no effort behind the scenes to write them in the form they’re in. This is called good writing. The best writing, like the best acting or the best music, seems effortless to the audience. That doesn’t mean it is effortless. Stephen King comes to mind. He is an extremely readable author; both his fiction and short essays just flow. But while it may only take me half an hour to read something of his, I know the prolific Mr. King most likely worked on it for days, weeks or even months before my prying eyes beheld it… and he’s Stephen King. The rest of us have to work even harder!
Arianna Huffington’s best suggestion was to write about private passions. Her example was her love of cheese. That gave me a lot of hope. I’m not particularly into cheese myself, but the fact that someone who just wrote a few pages at the beginning of a book could get interviewed by Jon Stewart and talk about cheese… well, it doesn’t make me feel as bad about devoting a dozen blogs about going to Burger King.