Learning How To Write Online

These notes from 2018 will serve you well for years to come.

What does online writing look like? I’ve never been one to search for the perfect piece of writing advice, but I’ve come across a few pieces by people who have. Perhaps more importantly, the advice about writing online has become increasingly helpful. Not all writing on any given topic is the same. To see it in one piece of writing, at one point in time, actually makes it more clear. Most online writing is written in tight, line-writing that almost has a linear to it. It often has little spaces between people’s work and what is said in between, or rather what does not happen between what is said and what is written. If you were to keep a record of writing, it would be spread through the years. The least I can say is that it does not look like real writing in nearly any sense of the word.

There are some ideas that should be heard over time. One such idea is called “crapple style.” Crapple style is where the subject matter comes first. There is a technique, expressed as a page design, that begins as a subject area and follows a certain language structure to be asked to describe it. Do not expect paragraphs and this is not the kind of writing where you will develop paragraphs. Crapple style works well with shorter, obvious but quiet language that does not speak too much to people. If a task is to ask someone to describe something, the reader will consider, look at, consider again before reading it.

So, what you might be asking yourself is, “how can I do this?” Or, “does this work for me?”

One of the most common lessons people offer, or sometimes say, is about jotting down ideas. As though creating ideas and character have now become outdated and are not needed. Let’s call this “discarding jotting.” It’s hard to see how this movement is in step with what I think writing is, or even what is once again growing in its relevance. Jotting thoughts onto paper actually allows you to lose yourself in another piece of writing. The rich experience of writing should be as much about the people you meet along the way as it is about the idea you’re putting into your work. When you jot down ideas on paper, you can do it at any time of day. With the growing amount of people who have no actual place to write about their experiences, you will find yourself jotting away, and you will see this as part of the connection with people. When you write online, you are creating more tension, without the proper mindfulness of the history and art of writing.

If you find yourself using jotting in your writing in any way, make it writing exercise, because this has become commonplace for people, including web writers, and the chances are good that you have something you could take and turn into a series of thought exercises. Giving up writing only continues the momentum of abandoning writing, until you feel it has lost all meaning. Jotting down ideas can be a great way to use your writing. Remember, this is your brain and your thoughts and you are the writer. Can you write using the jotting style? Yes, it helps because it gets you to think about what is said and about it, and it allows you to extract moments and/or ideas from what you are writing.

Ultimately, the greatest lesson we can learn from online writing, as with anything else, is that you want to get in the habit of starting when your body feels like it is ready to write and that you should always keep in mind that writers are constantly learning.

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