Thinking Out Loud: Why I Decided to Start Blogging
When I was a college student at the Cleveland Institute of Art, it took me a while to grasp the significance of writing an artist’s statement. “What good is talking about my own artwork,” I thought, “when my real purpose as an artist is to convey those ideas through art.” For a long time, I immersed myself in the principle that writing about my art defeated the very basis for creating art; in many ways, I perceived that having to express my ideas through words was a defeatist act against the very code of striving to become an artist.
I don’t remember whether it was a professor, class discussion, famous quote, or my own gradual realization that led to the paradigm shift, but I eventually began to understand the extraordinary benefits of thinking out loud about my own work. It started when I began presenting my work to my classmates during critique sessions. I would expound on my thinking processes in a monologue, and as I spoke, I would discover whole new facets to my own idea that I would never have conceptualized in my solitary mind.
By having to shape my complex but amorphous thoughts—which came quite effortlessly and intuitively to me in my youth—into words and sentences for the purpose of being understood by others, it seemed I was able to solidify those thoughts more fully in my head. What distinctly felt amazing was that I could go a step further in that moment of clarity to discover brand new fragments of other ideas. I sometimes happened upon a whole new framework of ideas that suddenly snapped into focus, and my comprehension and conceptualization of these ideas felt so tangible… often more so than the very body I wore on myself.
“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
– Albert Einstein
I later learned—in my adult life—that there is an ideology dubbed the “four stages of competence,” which defines the stages of one’s increasing self-awareness while learning a new skill. Thinking is certainly a skill, and in many ways, expounding on my own thinking process out loud allows me to become increasingly aware of my own thoughts, and it allows me to expedite my progression toward the “unconscious competence,” if only for that one idea.
That’s exactly what blogging is; it’s a process of thinking out loud, a process of discovery, a process of internalizing my own ideas so I can distill the percolating concepts into a simple one.
“That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you’ve understood all your life, but in a new way.”
― Doris Lessing
But for many years, I misinterpreted what blogging did for people.
I used to think that blogging was a self-important, self-aggrandizing thing that narcissistic people did to gratify their cravings for public attention. Perhaps there are some bloggers who do just that; some bloggers may be interested purely in self-promotion or self-pity or, even worse…, SEO. But the bloggers I respect go through the trouble of blogging because they are intelligent, curious people who are invested in figuring out how the slew of thoughts that burst out of their heads can somehow be put back together into a new understanding of themselves and the world.
The act of blogging for me will likely never be about public display, and my blog will likely never become a showcase of my most refined and final thoughts. I’ve decided to start blogging now at age 40 because, more often than not, my brain is no longer quick and absorbent enough to keep up with the slew ideas that burst out of my head; I needed a process that would allow me to continue weaving my heterogeneous thoughts back together, and I hope the process of blogging will continue leading me to a renewed understanding of myself and the world.