I have friends who attend (and love) the Iowa Summer Writing Festival and always try to encourage me to do likewise. But, when I ask if ISWF offers sessions on blogging, the answer is always no (despite the fact that a large percentage of their student body probably blog about their own ISWF experiences). Is blogging not worthy of attention by excellent writing instructors and the ISWF?
Writing a good blog is a lot harder than it appears. For now, let’s look at the blawgs on the ABA Journal Blawg 100. (Yes, there are other Top 10, 20, 25, etc. lists of terrific blawgers and the nice thing is, you are free to make your own list, without being influenced by others’ lists or by things like this and this.)
Consider discipline: Do you realize how difficult it is to keep this up day after day, for months and years on end? Some of these blawgers make twice a week newspaper columnists look like dilettantes. These blawgers have also found their writing niches (not an easy thing to do as anyone who writes professionally knows), their own unique writers’ voices, they write with great thought and care, and are diligent beyond measure about keeping up with their readers’ legal information needs. Let not s/he who has never tried to blog regularly, with style and substance, cast the first disparaging stone at blawgers.
Consider writing: Writing is not easy, at least not good writing, and only a few can do it quickly and effortlessly. (Not everyone is Judge Richard Posner, who could write a law review article while waiting in line for coffee (fast, manly coffee – not with steamed anything, whipped anything (except maybe a law clerk), or choco shavings on top) and a 3-volume treatise while waiting for the traffic light to turn green). Most of these blawgers teach us, save us time, and make us laugh.
Consider persistence: Most of these blawgers are full-time attorneys, professors, law librarians, or other full-time legal professionals running their own businesses, making time for their families, taking vacations (we hope!), and somehow still managing to crank out invaluable information regularly for the rest of us.
Yes, there are a lot of fair-weather, not to mention “what I did last night with the blokes” bloggers and blawgers, but the ones we in the legal profession have come to rely on to help us do our own jobs should not taken for granted. They should be recognized for their talent, persistence, devotion, public service, skill and hard work. I do stress that public service the most; it’s the librarian in me who does so. Whatever else substantive blawgging is, it is sharing information, and law librarians everywhere thank these dedicated blawgers.