Practicing the Craft
I need to write better.
I’ve always thought of myself as someone who could string enough sentences together to get through whatever the assignment happens to be, and often with enough clarity to make myself understood. But since leaving school, the occasions I have to write for an audience have dwindled.
I’ve written one blog or another since 2002, but always for a narrow audience of either friends or fellow devotees. History and shared passion are a great framework, but they also let me slack on the actual work and construction of writing. My tone steadily slips into sarcasm. I abandon explanations and rely instead on obscure references.
Most tellingly, I watch the same sentence structure pour out time and time again. Not just cliched phrases, although I’m drowning in those, but the same clause formations and reliance on parallelism. And the three example sentence! The number of times I fight myself trying to find the proper third clause that completes my arbitrary list, when I would have been far better off taking a whole paragraph to break apart the first idea that I glossed over in some needlessly alliterated phrase.
Some of these are left over ticks form the sausage mill of academic writing. Shooting for a specific page count I rely on the same structures to just keep the momentum moving. Some are artifacts of the semi-humorous/sarcastic tone from writing about comic books, video games and the other ephemera of extended adolescence. The non-sequitor pop culture intro is certainly part of the later. While pulling relevance out of strange corners is a honest reflection of how my brain works, it’s a poor way to communicate.
So this is my public declaration. I’m going to try to write better, clearer, with more direction. I will not start my posts about the future of EdTech with a summary of a Doctor Who story. Even if it’s a really cool Doctor Who story.