Mr. Standfast

"Nothing taken for granted; everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace." G. K. Chesterton

June 02, 2005

A Note about the Writing (and Blogging) Process

First a note. In my view, the writing process is, in large part, a pursuit of understanding. This means that through the very process of writing a greater degree of understanding, of clarity, may be achieved. Now, what the reader usually sees is a finished product that represents a well-ordered recapitulation of all that the author has learned throughout the process. At this last stage, the author is a kind of docent or expert, imparting knowledge through the written word. He or she speaks and writes with authority in his or her subject, and the reader sits at the author's feet, drinking it all in.

But that level, the level of authority, is really seldom achieved. Most who write--bloggers, people who keep any kind of personal journal, and even real "authors" while still at the beginning stages of a project--write as seekers of knowledge, not at imparters. Not as teachers but as students. Not out of expertise, but out of thirst. As historian Paul Johnson has said, one of the best ways to learn about anything is to write about it. And at this fundamental stage of the writing process, the primary beneficiary is the writer, not the reader. In fact, until blogging came along, there was, more often than not, no reader at all. But one valuable result of the development of blogging technology has been to open up these early and "“unfinished" and rather personal stages of the writing process to others, which has produced a largely beneficial interaction that can actually move the process along toward its goal, which is (keep this in mind) understanding.

I say all this as a matter of prologue and of explanation. Although there are many genuine "authorities" in the blogging community (and I value them greatly), what you most often see at Mr. Standfast is not an authorial recapitulation of knowledge but the pursuit of clarity through the process of writing down my questions, surmises, speculations, guesses, thought processes, etc.

And that'’s what I'’m going to do in the next few days with regard to Ephesians 3:14-19. I'm going to take a very brief passage of Scripture, and kind of walk around and around it like a patron at an art gallery, drinking it in, mulling it over, testing, speculating, wondering. In the process I'm probably going to say many things that will seem quite obvious--no-brainers--because, well, that's how I work. And I have a hunch--an inkling--that it will all be worthwhile. I do this mostly for my own sake, but if it also blesses you, dear reader, that'’s overflow. God is graceful that way.

[UPDATE: Lo and behond, the excellent Jollyblogger has just posted on the very same subject (and with much wisdom). Go read!]


Blogger aron said...

In this post, I have sat at your feet and learned wisdom. I think my writing too often comes across as "finished product," "end of story," "case closed."

You're right. Thanks for the post.

Lesson heard (hopefully learned),

12:24 PM  
Blogger Broken Messenger said...

"...what you most often see at Mr. Standfast is not an authorial recapitulation of knowledge but the pursuit of clarity through the process of writing down my questions, surmises, speculations, guesses, thought processes, etc."

I could not agree with you more, Bob, and you do it very well and with sincerity I am looking forward to your thoughts on Ephesians 3, and to learning from your approach.


12:24 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

It honors me that you say so, as both of you are bloggers that I admire greatly. Thanks, brothers.

12:48 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

So many times I set out to write about something, and by the end of the post I have completely changed, or even more, changed a few times. I tend to find that new thoughts come in my mind while writing.

8:30 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

So true, Susan. Which is why writing can be a spiritual discipline. That's how I've come to think about it first and foremost. Before it can be a tool for teaching others, it must be a tool for teaching ourselves.

9:47 AM  
Blogger Rob Wilkerson said...

Bob! Thanks again for your good work here, brother. And thank you very much for your blog...because literally, if it wasn't for your blog, mine wouldn't show up several hundred times as linked from yours! Google says you're my biggest advertiser! You deserve an award of some kind from MOG, and I'll think up of something to call it and then give it to you! Thanks again dear brother.

5:17 PM  

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