I’ve always struggled to make notes when reading beyond those that adorn the margins of every book I read. It is not that I struggle with the concept of writing them, but with justifying the purpose of them having rarely referred back to them in my early studies. Apart from notes on specific issues when constructing assignments, I had almost completely separated the processes of reading and writing. My recent foray into blogging has really opened my eyes to the value of writing about what I’m reading and I hope by sharing this with you, it might make some of you who are in a similar position consider why blogging about your reading might be a useful endeavour and not a distraction from your work.
In order to be able to write a coherent blog, I need to have read, understood, found a way to succinctly summarise and decided how the ideas in the work sit with my own. Writing this blog has helped me do that in a more concrete way and has helped me explore better not only the issues that I have been blogging about but my understanding of wider issues within Sociology. If you are reading this, you are probably someone who already knew this, certainly the part that writing was key to better understanding concepts and solidifying thinking. What a blog does more than this, is force me to consider if my arguments are strong enough to put out in public, for writing an idea on a pad and publishing it into the blogosphere are two quite disparate things. The first few times it can be fraught with worry: what if my ideas are no good, what if I haven’t got the right just of what I’m reading or even what if I make myself look stupid. I would argue that the risk of all these things is far outweighed by the confidence that blogging can give you, especially when others enter into the discussions and debates you open up.
I’m glad I have discovered this before I begin my PhD but really I wish I had discovered it much earlier, in fact I wish someone had told me why it might be a good idea, so that is why I am telling you now. Try it, it may not be something that works for you, but certainly it has helped me become more engaged with my reading.