So at some point in recent weeks the blog-post-o-meter rolled through 3,000, and if I’m even close in my estimation that the average length of posts over the last seven and a half years has been around 3-400 words, that suggests about 1 million words of writing and reflecting and thinking here. That’s a pretty staggering number in my feeble brain. You’d think that after all of that output this publishing thing would be almost as easy as breathing.
Well, it’s not.
I’m reminded of this because of conversations we’ve been having of late with team leaders in PLP. While the successes are many and impressive, a good number of people still find the thought of publishing to an audience, even a relatively small, private audience of like-minded souls, to be too daunting. It’s just way outside their comfort zone, and they just believe that their contributions would either not be relevant, interesting or useful. It’s hard to nurture these folks, to convince them to take small steps, to help them see the potential upside. And I really believe that there is an upside to sharing what you know and do with others; it’s the foundation for building learning networks.
But here is the thing: no matter how you slice it, blogging is a risk. And it’s a risk not just because you are putting yourself out there for the world, but because unlike many other types of writing that we do, it’s unfinished. At least that’s the way it feels for me. I don’t KNOW very much for certain. But blogging isn’t about what I know as much as it’s about what I think I know, and I find that to be a crucial distinction. For me, it’s the distinction that constantly makes this hard. It’s also the distinction, however, that makes blogging worth it. The one thing that a potential global audience does more than anything else is create the opportunity to really learn through writing in various texts, through the conversation and feedback that ensues. I say this all the time, that while a lot of my learning occurs in the composing of the post (or whatever), most of it occurs in the distributed reactions (when they happen) after I publish.
One thing I do know is that when I write with a humility of not knowing I get a lot more learning in return. That plays out in my reading as well. I am not the greatest commentor on other people’s blogs (though I am working on that.) But I find I am much more compelled to comment on posts where the author is obviously testing unfinished ideas. Where that person is not simply saying “this is the way the world is.” I find those types of posts less compelling.
And, obviously, the other risk is that my “thin thinking” will not simply be responded to but will be ripped to shreds at the hands of those who disagree or who may be smarter or more wordly than I. (They number in the billions.) Fortunately, that has not happened very often here, with some notable exceptions. What is hard to convey to new bloggers and publishers is that the debate is almost always civil, and that those naysayers who denigrate and tear down what they perceive as ignorance are not worth listening to. They are not teachers. I welcome disagreement, but I will tune out those who voice it with cynicism regardless of the validity of their response. When I read those constant smirkers, I wonder if they would treat younger learners the same way? Luckily, it seems, few of them are in classrooms.
Despite all of this, for me, right now, the rewards far outweigh the risks. I just wish I knew better how to convey that to those who see the scales tipping steeply in the other direction. And I wish I could help them understand that the angst I still feel every time I press “publish” is a good thing on balance, not something to avoid as much as to embrace as a path to a greater awareness of myself and of the world around me.