I have been blogging since late 2005, about 9-1/2 years. Over the course of that time, I’ve written 5,546 posts (5,547 if you count this one). That amounts to more than one-and-a-half posts per day, every day during my run thus far. I don’t even want to try to count how many words it amounts to.
In all the time I’ve been blogging, I don’t think I’ve ever written about my blogging influences. I’ve written about writers who have influenced me, but I’ve never gotten specific and identified those writers who influenced my blogging. I thought I’d do that today.
Compared to other forms of writing, blogging is still relatively young. The people who have been doing it the longest have only been doing it for 15 years or so. At first glance, this narrows the scope of influencers, but the truth is there is only one blogger out there that has influenced my approached to blogging. The two other people who have influenced my approach and style, while both writers, were never known for their blogs.
My style and approach to blogging has evolved a great deal since the early years. I used to rant a lot more than I do now. I used to write about things that no one else cared about. Over time, I’ve narrowed my focus, and I’ve done my level best to cut out the rants. I was reading the latest issue of Baseball Digest last night and came across this remarkable passage by the magazine’s editor, Bob Kuenster:
At the start of my career in covering Major League Baseball, a great writer told me to report on the good of the game. It has so many great things and good people that you should focus on that end of the spectrum and leave the controversial garbage for the hardcore news people to write about… fans want to read about the good in the game.
While I’d never thought about it in explicit terms, this is exactly what I’ve been evolving toward here on this blog. Writing about the good, whether it is in technology, science fiction, writing, family, or whatever it is that I happen to be writing about. I don’t always achieve this, but it is what I aim for. This isn’t to say that I don’t recognize the other end of the spectrum, but as Kuenster says, there are plenty of other people writing about that stuff. No need to add my voice to it.
Here are the three writers who have influenced my approach to blogging and writing about the good of the game.
John Scalzi has been blogging at Whatever for 15 years. He’s one of the originals. And while John doesn’t always write about the good of the game, he does several things that has influenced me on this blog over the years:
- He writes engaging posts.
- He writes with clarity.
- He writes consistently.
- He writes in a way that encourages discussion and dialog.
Each of these things are something I have worked toward over the years, and John’s example has been foremost in my mind when doing this. Engaging posts are important for the same reason that hooks in piece of short fiction are important. You want to engage the reader and get them interested. Clarity is also important. With a potential audience as large as the entire Internet, it is important to try to be as clear as possible to avoid confusion and chaos. I think John does a great job of this, and I’ve worked hard to establish clarity in my posts.
If you look at the thousands of essays that Isaac Asimov wrote over decades, and combine that with his colloquial style, you could make the case that Asimov was what we might call a “proto-blogger.”
Over the years, I think I’ve managed to read nearly every essay that Asimov has written, and his influence on my style here on the blog is undeniable. There are three things that I think I’ve taken away from Asimov when it comes to blogging: