I am slowly learning how to write. It’s not that I can’t — I have some 3,000 odd journal entries (they’re all odd, believe me), of which, 650 of them were since I started my Morning Pages in 2014 (from the Artist’s Way). I just don’t know how to write a captivating blog, but here’s what I’ve learned so far:
- People Like Lists
When I read about how to create great blog posts everyone says, “make a list”. Bloggers mention that their posts containing lists are some of their most popular, often suggesting that people don’t read anymore, they just skim, and bullet points are about all they can sink their teeth into. I’ve noticed that the majority of the top stories on medium.com are some sort of list.
The one exception to this is Exposure – stories told through photos, such as Jaipur Diaries or India: 3 weeks in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Beautiful, right? Possibly the photos are too beautiful to be messed up by numbers.
- Sometimes You Have to Break the Rules
You can read 100 suggestions about the best way to do something and never get any better. I’m not that into writing with lists… yet. Maybe I’ll never be, and maybe that’s okay.
The best way to illustrate this is through a story of an artist I came across in Jaipur – Mamta Sing – who found her passion by letting go and letting her art flow as it came. Over time her art took on a form of its own, and was able to transform her passion into her career. When she started trusting what she created without following what she “should have” done, she was able to create and find her own style, and now has had multiple shows at Jawahar Kala Kendra — the cultural hub of Jaipur.
In addition to her projects, she joined Thalagiri as their creative head, and runs a number or artistic projects around Jaipur. Thalagiri (not to be confused with Dhaulagiri, the mountain in the Nepalese Himalayas) is a common term in India that portrays “the act of doing nothing”. One could argue that most of the time I spend online is the epitome of thalagiri, but I suspect there is a difference between mindless clicking, and mindfully doing nothing.
The group Thalagiri is geared towards summer carnivals, workshops and providing people with tools to explore their own creativity – which is quite a different expression of art, when you think about it. 20 years ago, art was something created by an artist and then sold… but with the internet, Flickr, Instagram, Meetup.com, Kickstarter – art has transformed into something much more social.
Events such as Paint Nite or photography meet-ups help non-artists with their own artistic expression, so individuals are able to create their own art. One of my favorite kickstarter projects was the Taxi Fabric project, which enabled local artists to create colorful taxi coverings in Mumbai. It funded itself through crowd-funding.
The point is sometimes, you need to let your own expression come to the surface instead of just following the rules that others have laid down. From this expression something new and unexpected will be born and will take on its own form and life.
- Sometimes You Don’t Need to Break the Rules
Mostly, because I’m writing a blog post with a list, two points is not enough.
Being creative isn’t about following or breaking rules. Creativity is using your imagination to dream up original ideas and allowing yourself to express them. Sure, art has rules, just as writing has grammar. It’s a convention for convenience and clear communication – it is the instructions on how to take a step, but not the path which will take you to your destination.
Let go and trust your imagination, and let your own expression surface. That’s what I’ve learned for writing a captivating blog.
So… what I really want to know is… how did I do?
Also published on Medium.