Blogging as a Creative Writing Exercise
Blogs can be literary forms, just as much as short stories and poems are literary forms. Not everyone who has a blog uses it to create high-brow literature, but bloggers do write to charm a unique audience, one that’s unique in that it can interact with them.
As a writer, blogging helps me supplement my other writing projects. It helps me discover my own voice, explore my characters, and experiment with different styles.
I’ve been struggling with a short story that I’m trying to revise. A friend who is helping me revise this story said that my first person narrator should speak more honestly, like I do in my Comma ‘n Sentence blog posts.
No matter how I restructure this story, the characters remain flat and lifeless. I get so caught up in the language that I forget my characters need to resemble people. I just can’t seem to get inside their heads.
On this blog, I write in my voice, and I try my best to penetrate the surface of whatever subject matter I am exploring. So how can I get the characters in my stories to speak in a similar, substantial voice?
Earlier this semester, I asked my students to complete a faux blogging exercise that required them to create a concept for a blog and write three blog posts in the voice of a fictional or celebrity character. My students wrote blog posts from the perspective of Spongebob Squarepants, Paris Hilton, and George W. Bush, among others.
My favorite posts explored an emotional side of the character that most people never see. For example, in one blog, “Katy Perry” wrote very detailed posts about the nail polish she is wearing. The posts were believable because Katy does like unique nail polish, but they were also creative because Katy doesn’t actually write about her nail polish. The student had to use her imagination to create the content. She was able to maintain Katy’s voice throughout the posts by mimicking what she does know about Katy’s persona and the way she speaks.
The blogging exercise was supposed to inspire my students to think about how they could write from the perspective of someone else. Now that I’m struggling with writing in another character’s voice, I should probably follow my own advice.
Blogging requires a certain candor and simplicity that I sometimes lose when I’m writing fiction because I’m so focused on language and structure. When I blog, my goal is for the writing to be as clear and direct as possible. I have no idea why I can’t carry that over to my fiction writing.
But I think a great exercise for me would be to write “blog posts” in the voice of the characters I just can’t seem to penetrate. I might be able to get to know them better and let them help me discover the emotions that I really need to write. If I can uncover their insights, musings, and thoughts, their stories should write itself. In this way, I will be able to build multi-layered fiction.
(Photo by Tony the Misfit)