Craft For The Soul Creativity Pip-Life

Intention + Convention + Floaty Pens + Stuff Like That

Aw man. I’ve had the stuffing knocked out of me. Have not been feeling well at all. Couple that with work that needs to be done and bills that need to be paid and it’s a bit of an annoying combo. Life is like that sometimes though. You have to take the bad with the good. Plus, there’s nothing like a bit of adversity to highlight just how lucky we are, right? Or how lucky I am. That’s what I meant, really.

Today I did an interview with a bit of a foggy brain. I was talking about something that I don’t talk about much: the legitimacy of writing online vs offline as part of an upcoming event on digital writing (more on that another time!) I’m not sure if I made much sense, but it all got me thinking about some things, and I thought I would ask you what you thought.

The interviewer wondered if digital writing was more widely accepted, more legitimate now than perhaps a few years ago. I think that it is. I think even a year or two ago, people were still talking about online writing as though it was ‘less than’ some other forms.

I don’t think of digital as being any less legitimate that other forms of publishing – but that’s just the view from me.

Certainly the democratisation of publishing – being able to publish online and have it widely read, rather than relying on ‘being published’ has given us writing of varying types to read. My thinking is that good writing usually finds its audience. Yep. But I also think that ‘bad writing’ can find its people too. Sometimes the intention behind the writing is what rises to the top. The palpable feeling behind the words can make it compelling, even if it’s not traditionally ‘good’. I’m okay with that (in case you care!)

I think we’ve seen this intention/convention face-off with grammar and evolving language. Some feel that if your grammar is not spot on, you’re diminishing your work. Others feel that it’s the tone and intent that matters more than ‘the rules’.

Writing online is often judged in a similar way. Some people are okay with intention. Some sticklers for convention. Others see quality/legitimacy somewhere in between.

I also think there’s something going on with experience and legitimacy – for someone like me who’s published thousands of posts over the last eight years – I’ve created my own TINY sub-culture online and have apparently earned my stripes. (I know this because people interview me about this stuff. Also because I get to write books and speak at events and things!) Back in the day, blogging was a new thing. It was meant to fade away like scratch n sniff t-shirts. Except it didn’t and now some bloggers are celebrating ten years or more of this flash-in-the-pan that is writing online. Legit schmidt.

We (luckily) have wonderful information and inspiration from trusty, online sources served up to us for free, in a super timely manner. Medium, Brain Pickings, Science of Us and other great sites are gifting us well written posts on things we want to know right now… RIGHT NOW!

The ability to respond quickly, in a lightly edited or non-edited voice, has been an ace ninja move when it comes to digital writing. It’s so easy to write something and hit publish, making it super-simple to be swiftly relevant.

Don’t get me wrong – I love to smooth the pages of a magazine or newspaper with all my heart too – I’m just saying that digital publishing has speedy moves that analog/print does not.

But wait. At the same time, though, we’re chomping through wonderfully written digitally published work at a rate of knots. I guess that’s a whole other thing. Perhaps the ease of access makes us less likely to value what we read, though? Perhaps that’s where people read in some kind of wavering legitimacy?

Or maybe it’s just the proliferation of allegedly ‘bad’ writing online that’s meant some people consider it less valuable?

I’m really not sure of the answers to those questions, but I do know that some of the best writing I’ve read has been in the digital realm. How about you? What do you think? Is the stuff you read online as legitimate as the stuff you read offline? What do you read more of? What are the strengths of each, do you think?

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  • Zoe | A Quirky Bird
    July 14, 2015 at 9:03 PM

    I love to read however and wherever I can. At this time in my life I am mainly a digital and audio reader. Sometimes I miss the feel of turning the pages and looking, as you close the book for the evening, how much I have left to read. My days of devouring books will return. All forms of the written word are important to me.

    Get better sweetie.

    I love that your blog is providing your middle child with home cooked meals, gorgeous.

    Zoe xx

  • Isabel
    July 14, 2015 at 1:04 PM

    Hey Pip! I totally agree that being sick (or other types of adversity) really highlights how lucky we are most of the time. When you’ve been sick and then, finally, you’re no longer sick, it’s like ‘Wow! Hello world! Being healthy is the greatest thing ever! I must appreciate this every day!’

    I read both online and offline. Both are legit, for my generation (Y). I’d say for my parents generation, or maybe just for my parents, they would be far more proud if I had an article published in The Age compared with on Buzzfeed, for example, even if the audience for the online article was larger.

    Steve and I discussed online V offline reading over a drink last night. He made the point that many people like us still read books, physical books, as a way to give our eyes a break from the screen. I don’t have a Kindle etc and would prefer a hard copy book, even though it’s heavier etc, just for the sake of my poor eyes.

    Even though writing online is amazing and immediate, and I’m all for the democratisation of publishing, I’d say that many online writers still aspire to have an actual book published, offline, and that’s an interesting thing, Why? I wonder…x

    Thanks for the thought provoking post!

  • marina
    July 14, 2015 at 12:10 PM

    Dear Pip long time reader and first time writer backer, feel better soon…. I love the online writing world yes its more important, as the writers don’t get paid for a column in the Age like they did twenty years ago. so I find it much more refreshing and to the point

  • The Hipsterette
    July 14, 2015 at 8:27 AM

    I’m someone who likes reading, online, books, magazines… and think that all mediums have value. I don’t like sloppy writing but I understand that we all make mistakes – a typo or dangling modifier do not offend me, if the intent (and heart) of the author is in the right place.
    Who decides what’s good writing … well that would be the reader.

  • Sarah
    July 14, 2015 at 7:04 AM

    I have a a system – there is my daily reading of blogs & news, the books I buy on my kindle to read, and the real books I buy at book shops. Buying a real book has become more of a discerning decision for me and is usually based on whether I want my daughters to read it one day as well, or if it’s the sort of book I think I will go back to in years to come. I LOVE books, but I couldn’t make it through the day without my digital reading. I have different expectations and get different things out of online and “published” writing but I value them both the same. I write online as a creative outlet and it’s so nice to be able to share various bits and pieces with people I know and people I don’t. I think the online world has made people a bit lazy though and we are more prepared to believe stuff because we want to, need to, or don’t make the effort to research it. As a result there are people who take advantage of the online audience, sometimes with terrible outcomes, and I think that is really sad. For me though, the more words I can get the better! S x

  • Saskia
    July 13, 2015 at 10:18 PM

    LOVE your floaty pens! Especially the second one – is that Florence?
    I definitely don’t think of digital being any less legitimate than other publishing. Have spent the whole night reading blogs, being utterly transported; and am now off to bed with a book.
    I see the blogisphere as being pretty similar to the teetering pile of books next to my bed actually, just easier to access, and no dusting required!
    PS. Hope you’re feeling better soon.

  • Jane @ Shady Baker
    July 13, 2015 at 8:41 PM

    Hi Pip. Firstly…I have finally got my hands on your book and I have devoured it quickly and loved it. Already it has made me think of little ways I can put more goodness into my days. No huge changes, no completely life changing events, just small, achievable things that I can do right now. Thank you, just what I needed at a busy and sometimes challenging time in life! It is super cute too, what is not to love about a pretty pink book with nice paper?

    I read a lot of stuff online, mostly blogs, restaurant reviews and the news. I also love (some) real magazines and beautiful books. I think online and offline both have a different purpose. Without sounding too dramatic blogging has changed my life and opened up friendships and opportunities. I cannot imagine how this would have been possible without the online world! x

  • Annette
    July 13, 2015 at 7:16 PM

    I think online writing is just like offline – there’s rad, uplifting, educational stuff (I’m looking at you Pip and other blogger/creative/clever types) and then there’s garbage like former pollies attacking people (who have already been attacked in the most heinous ways) in the fancy schmancy we’ve got the big bucks newspaper – so there’s good and terrible stuff happening in print, whether there’s ink or backlighting involved.
    It’s about what we choose to read.
    I think those who create tiny subcultures online are doing a great thing for us as choosy news (and not news) choosers.
    We get to click in and participate in great conversations, or click away if we don’t find what we’re looking for, just like we can leave those horrid newspapers to rot on their stands.
    I love that I can be a minuscule participant in this digital landscape.

  • Zanni Louise
    July 13, 2015 at 7:13 PM

    Hmmm. All good thoughts to think about. I think you are right on all levels. I do worry about those beautiful articles, slurped up then quickly forgotten as they disappear into cyber space. But looking back over my blog lately made me so glad to have all recorded all those memories. Even if only a handful of people ever read them. They are not beside my bed. But they are in a place I can access, and I am glad about that.

    • Meet Me At Mikes
      July 13, 2015 at 7:15 PM

      Do you know what else? My middle child who just moved out has been LOOKING ON MY BLOG for HOME-STYLE recipes to cook at his new place. So… I realise my blog/writing is TOTES legit to him. (Thank you for reading and commenting!) x

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