One thing I’ve come to learn over the years that I’ve been writing is that the more passionate you are about a subject, the easier it is to write about it. Ditto for being more knowledgeable about a subject (but that is perhaps trivial). My favorite posts are those about the subjects I am most passionate about. And not only is the resultant work better, but it takes less time to write as well. I’ve spent hours laboring over works that didn’t turn out very satisfyingly, whereas for other works I sat down, wrote at a break-neck speed, and within ten minutes had something I was really proud of.
For instance, look at the post I wrote the recent death of my great-aunt Muriel. It was an obituary of sorts, covering salient points of her life, explaining why the unknowledgeable reader should care that she died. It also expressed my innermost feelings on expected deaths. I think it came out really well, and I can tell it resonated with others by the comments that were left. Yet it was incredibly easy to write, probably taking a total of less than half an hour (and it was written within a few hours of hearing of her death). I didn’t even have the time to go research how old she was, leaving a perhaps too gruff proclamation to set the tone at the beginning of the post, but I shan’t go back and edit it. That post is from-the-heart, brutally honest, and essentially unedited, yet since it was something I felt passionate about, it just flowed from my mind, through my fingers and the keyboard, and onto the screen. I swear the number of typos I was making was lower than average, even though the typing speed was higher.
My first column for University of Maryland’s student newspaper The Diamondback was on a topic I am very passionate about, evolution. I’m very happy with the way that one turned out. It did take awhile to write, but only because I was completely unfamiliar with writing for the newspaper business. My later columns on similar subject matters were dashed off very quickly, yet with good results, because I am passionate about and intimately familiar with the material.
Now compare that to my column on bike theft on campus, which, frankly, was a waste of newspaper space. Being a columnist for the Diamondback was kind of limiting. We had to write about topics relevant to students and the school, and even though my column was only published twice a month, I couldn’t always find anything interesting to me to write about. Hence the column about bike theft. I’ll be honest: I don’t give a damn about bike theft. I don’t own a bike, it’s a boring topic, and nobody really cares. Yet it took me longer to write that column (over three hours, I think) than any other one I ever wrote. Why? Because I was reaching so hard just to find something to say about it. The thrust of the column boils down to one sentence: “Bike theft is bad and security measures on campus should be better,” gaining nothing in the expansion to a whopping full page of newspaper column. Yet I couldn’t come close to distilling my blog post about my great-aunt down into a smaller number of words without vastly affecting its quality.
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