Getting creative on the Web

One of the big questions I’ve had about learning how to write for the Web — and specifically, the practice of blogging — is how different the creative process may be for those like myself who’ve done most of our writing in print.

As leading Web writer Merlin Mann points out in this enlightening video (it runs about an hour long), the approach isn’t so vastly different. Blogging in particular is a highly personalized (and I think very liberating) way of writing, so those of us accustomed to practicing antiseptic “objectivity” need to understand his first imperative very clearly: Write about something you’re passionate, even obsessed, about:

“Find out what your voice is, and blog the shit out of it.”

Most of his other points are actually very basic to the craft of writing in particular, especially writing something every day, even if you don’t post daily. Have several different posts in progress at the same time. Focus on what you think rather than what you feel, edit everything and above all, try to get better every day:

“Traffic will come if you are good.”

The two books he’s found most useful to his writing are from prominent figures in the creative arts: Stephen King’s “On Writing” and “The Creative Habit” by dancer Twyla Tharp.

I also came across this post from Web public relations ace Adam Singer, who blogs on the necessity of creating art no matter your vocation because it’s “the ultimate brain boost.”

Most of Singer’s reasons ring true to me except for the first one: “Creativity breeds success.” This very well may be true, but to start off his post with this one really makes me cringe. Above all I’m just an “art for art’s sake” person. Oscar Wilde, one of its leading practitioners, put it perfectly: All art is quite useless.”

One of the most beneficial things I’ve gained from reading blogs and consuming other content from Web experts such as the two above is to learn how much they value being well-rounded. One of the false assumptions about Webheads is that they’re all about being online, being total geeks. Some are more than others, but I’ve tried to select individuals to follow who stress the importance of unplugging.

So after two very productive days this week learning how to market myself and begin assembling the building blocks of my future, I’m going to step back today and dip into some more creative waters.

Just for the hell of it.

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