Thursday, May 17, 2012

Does blogging encourage bad writing?

SOURCE
 
A couple weeks ago, one of my professors (who, I must add, is an extremely intelligent, reasonable, and respectful human being) said this when someone mentioned blogging:


"Blogging encourages bad writing." 

Now, I was highly disconcerted for a moment.  Partly because he is SO smart and SO kind that I respect his opinion, but also becuase at first, it seemed like he was irrefutably correct. 

The evidence:
  • My blog posts are nowhere near as well-written as my college essays. 
  • They're not even as well-written as my fiction work. 
  • In blogging I use run-ons, I use slang, I tend not to worry about flawless structure, I may use more cliches than usual, and my diction is kind of...meh.  (<<Case and point.)

So, blogging encourages bad writing.  Right?  Seems true. 

I disagree with this statement.  Here is why: 

It comes down to a question of how we define "bad."  My professor seems to be operating under this definition: 

bad writing (bad wri-ting)  noun
1.  informal or casual writing; writing that does not adhere to post-secondary academic standards
2.  what people do on blogs

So really what he is saying is that blogging encourages casual writing. 

Which I believe is okay.  A college paper written casually is also written badly, but I think a blog post can be written casually and also well. 

Saying that blogs encourage bad writing is like saying that having conversations with people encourages lazy language.  I believe there is a valid place for using language informally.  And it is here. 

Right here.

Does your blog encourage bad writing?

23 comments:

  1. As I see it, the purpose of language is to communicate. How language is used to that end depends greatly on the context. Academic language by necessity must have a high level of precision due to the fact that you can't leave room for ambiguity, and you can't make assumptions based on locale ("they'll understand what I mean by that colloquialism") since academic communities tend to be international.

    Outside of that, however, we don't use language the same way in conversation--and in fact, the way we use language in conversation will differ depending on who we talk to (a stranger versus an old friend or family member).

    Blogging is different again, and the main distinguishing feature of the blog over the academic paper is, I think, personality. Academic papers, again by necessity, are impersonal. They are supposed to present fact-based research and reasoned conclusions. The best blogs reflect the personality of the blogger. So the tone will naturally be more informal (or not, if that blogger happens to be comfortable communicating in formal language), and may be far more relaxed about grammar, punctuation, etc.

    I would say, then, rather than encouraging bad writing, blogging expands and enhances the writer beyond the rut of academic writing. It helps us broaden and hone our ability to communicate in ways that actually speak to the people for whom we're writing.

    That's what I think, anyway. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. You and Colin both said it best. And I'm so glad you didn't agree with your prof! I would have been sad.

    If blogs were all academic sounding with perfect writing, I know I wouldn't read them!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha, yes...I am a very sensitive, feelings-based person, but not so much that I can't respectfully disagree with people!

      Delete
  3. I respectfully disagree with your professor :) Blog posts are crafted specifically to engage the audience (and I know that we can spend hours getting them just right-- or have those magical posts that come together in minutes.) Like Melanie said... academic writing would be boring and would defeat the purpose of the post. Yes, I've seen badly written blog posts, cringeworthy blog posts (uh, and some were mine!) but I've also seen many, many well written posts-- like this one!

    e.e. cummings did not follow a lot of the "rules" but no one can argue that his writing was bad :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, Isabel--engaging your audience is one of the main purposes, if not *the* main purpose, of a blog post. And that is an extremely valuable skill to cultivate.

      And thanks! :D

      Delete
  4. Seriously, if I can't talk like myself on my blog, then I quit =P I write like I talk in real life (with considerably less swearing, honestly), because I see my blog as a way for ME me to communicate with friends, readers, and everyone in between. Books obviously have a different tone to them. I write omniscient with myself as the narrator for one series, and while my personality is definitely in it, it's also a story-telling tone. Which is obviously different from blogging.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed! Different styles for different types of writing--makes total sense!

      Delete
  5. I just clicked through to your blog from mine (Then Comes Mercy). LOVE this post. I've heard writers say similar things - DON'T blog under ANY circumstance. For me, I feel like it's helped me as a writer because the quantity of my writing has increased. And, like you said, it's CASUAL writing...not bad writing. Hey, it might even help us with dialogue. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by, Heather! And I agree--any practice getting your thoughts fluently into words does help.

      Delete
  6. Hello! *Waving*

    Interesting idea. Many people choose to write poorly on blogs as part of their blog style. Maybe they never capitalize or don't punctuate adequately. That certainly gives people the opportunity to write poorly, but that doesn't mean the person can't write well. Blogs aren't meant to be essays, term papers, or dissertations. That being said, I try to write as well as I can when blogging because as a writer, my blog is going to reflect my abilities whether I want it to or not.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is true. I also try not to be TOO casual. There's a difference between casual and sloppy.

      Thanks for stopping by! :D

      Delete
  7. Blogging encourages writing, period. My blog is where I put the thoughts that aren't quite in order yet. I don't think there's anything wrong with that.

    A professor of mine once gave me this advice: when you are trying to start writing, and you're having a hard time, give yourself permission to suck at first. Just write something down, even if it's terrible, because then you won't be staring at a blank screen anymore. You can go back and fix it later. Personally, that is what I get out of blogging: a screen that's no longer blank.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Blogging encourages writing, period." Agreed!

      And I had a professor who told us that too! He actually forced us to turn in rough drafts, and emphasized that it often helps if you let they be really, truly "rough."

      Delete
  8. you're right. I think we always try to do our best even if it's not amazing. we get better and better with the time, I'm sure I'm so much better in french and I'm anxious sometimes about what I write, but well, if we like what we do, it's the only thing that matters.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your English is quite good, by the way. I sometimes forget your native language is French at all until I go to comment and find myself hitting the "Publier" button haha.

      Delete
    2. Oh thank you it's really nice. I try to, but sometimes I wonder is everything is all right.

      Delete
  9. This feels like the whole debate around chat/text 'speak' making people bad writers/spellers etc. I think the point you made about the difference in how you write a paper and a blog entry is the key - most people know which language to use in which area! Just because you blog and write casually does not mean you are unable to write a good essay as well, or a good book for that matter, which is another completely different bag of bones :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely! And yes...a whole different bag of bones indeed... Thanks for coming by!

      Delete
  10. Nice to meet you, Susan and thanks for stopping by my blog :D I'm so glad you did, because now I've found yours and this very interesting post.

    For me, blogging is an outlet where I can talk about writing, put any process(es) I might be struggling with into words, and connect with a whole host of fellow writers in a collaborative way. In the end, it's not that much different from a discussion group in an English class (which doesn't encourage bad writing either, right?). So, yes, maybe the writing itself is casual, but it's helping me to improve my not-so-casual writing too. And, writing is writing - it keeps me in the habit ;)

    ReplyDelete
  11. I don't think it encourages bad writing but for me, it reinforces habits I don't want.

    While it keeps me writing and thinking, it means I find it difficult to write something above 1000 words so my novellas/novels and my 4000 word college essays are harder to write.

    It also helps me find my voice though. But I find myself expecting my novels to be like blogging and they are both very different.

    I quite like blogging though even though I don't update as recently as some bloggers do. It gives me a voice!

    ReplyDelete