Writing Influences

One of the first misconceptions I got from school is that all writing is for literary purposes. I did a lot of “creative writing” in middle school which was in reality more truth than fiction (See Stories from Middle School.), and I wrote more essays analyzing literary works than I do in high school.

Then during the summer before high school, I decided to start up a blog so I could write to the interwebs. Most of the blogs that I looked to for inspiration in the beginning were amateur fashion blogs (thanks blogspot.) and I kept hearing about the success of blogs like RookieMag that were very visual and focused on topics that I really wasn’t that interested in. I found a couple personal blogs that I admired, but for the most part, I wasn’t sure where I should be going.

As a result, I wrote about other things I found interesting and posted a bit of the crocheting and origami that I did. I had a ridiculous amount of time to write and perfect my posts (which still ended up being pretty horrible), but after a while, I decided that was too boring and moved onto the wobbly stage of my own original ideas, which were few and unfounded.

Then I discovered Paul Graham during NaBloPoMo last year, and he has singlehandedly changed my beliefs towards writing more than anyone else. The Age of the Essay explored the true nature of writing and told me that not all “essays” were for English classes, and despite being a computer programmer, his other essays have ridiculously good ideas. [In terms of writing, see Writing, Briefly, and Writing and Speaking]

I don’t have a similar base of ideas to write about, so I’m moving back to writing about other people’s ideas that have really stuck with me. I don’t attribute this to a lack of creative juices, but rather a result of reading more online.

English classes like to teach that “what you say isn’t as important as how you say it,” but I disagree. Part of writing is getting your point across well, but the main part is still the idea itself.  I used to spend a long time thinking about how to word complex ideas before thinking of the actual substance to back it up. Now, I just focus on the idea first and the wording later. If it’s a good idea, usually it’ll sound good written.

Just as I don’t trust my mental math anymore, I’ve stopped trusting any ideas that I haven’t written out completely and scrutinized, whether on Google Keep or on this blog. This has gotten to the point that I feel uncomfortable without a notebook or an electronic device to record my thoughts. Maybe I’ll do another fringe thought dump sometime this month.

As for other blogs I admire , these have become some of my favorite blogs:

  • Math With Bad Drawings. The title says it all. Hilarious and relevant
  • mathbabe– I actually found this blog through looking up math camps a few years ago, but I subscribed to it, because well, math, and well, women in math.
  • Brain Pickings To be honest, this information is a lot more dense than what I’m used to reading online, and a large amount of the content is going over my head. However, it’s the type of content that I’d like to start reading more regularly.
  • Longreads. Everyone once in a while, WordPress puts out a series of lengthier posts from around the web about a variety of topics. It’s nice to know that in the world of Buzzfeed articles and pageview journalism that there’s still longer quality content out there.
  • All the people I’ve known who have started blogs, which I won’t provide links to.

I’m generally not a fan of meta posts about writing, but this idea has been sitting in my head for a while.

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