As I was tying up all the last strings for my degree I found an interesting article on Scientific American about how graduate schools should require their students to blog. I actually started this blog as the first assignment I received in one of my very first classes for my masters degree. It has not gone the way of scholarly articles, but I’m a firm believer one of the best ways to become a good writer is to write, especially in a place where you are encouraged to get better.
Expertise is developed through deliberate practice (practice with the intention to get better) and quality feedback. Although there are times when I question the quality of the feedback I get on my blog. It’s always surprising to me what posts get the most comments.
The other way to become a better writer is to read quality writing, which is one of the requirements I have for what I read. It gives you a model to follow. I require it of the books I read as well as the blogs I follow.
I don’t know if my blogging helped me directly with my dissertation. But I know that writing is something I feel compelled to do. Ann Madsen said that writing allows thinking to gel. And I believe that. When you can put your thoughts down on paper/computer you’ve managed to grab them and make them sit still for a while. The more practice you have doing that, the easier it becomes. And a dissertation requires a lot of thoughts to sit still for a long time.
I have several blogs. I have my personal journal I hand write in on a semi-regular basis. A lifetime of writing in several formats, for multiple types of audiences, certainly made writing my dissertation easier than it could’ve been.