Circular Writing is like Circular Knitting

circular_knittingI used to think that writing was a linear thing, and it can be if you’re telling a story. Then blogs came along, and it seemed to make sense to write and post things in order, because in the beginning they were kind of just an online diary of events or ideas.

Now there’s the next generation of blogs. What I’m seeing now and starting to write for are blogs that follow a don’t follow a linear time-line — blogs with front pages that link to all different places in the life of the entire blog.

There are ways to do this in WordPress — for example using sticky posts to make a certain post stay on the top of your post order or featured article categories that do something similar — so I’m assuming this is also possible in Blogger and Typepad.

So now I’m learning to write circular, becauseĀ  you can’t assume that someone will start at the beginning or end, or maybe you don’t even want them to. If you’re going to use a non-linear structure, you’re got to think about things from the reader’s perspective and try to give them some way-finding clues. What I call circular writing is not like circular thinking, a term many people use to describe a kind of obsessive pattern of going around and around in circles and never being able to break out of a vicious cycle.

Yesterday I realized that by “circular writing” I meant something more like knitting on a pair of circular needles in which you start with one loop of yarn and knit around and around making a tubular shape. When you knit in a circle, you are building on the past. Although you may revisit a place, it’s not repetitious, because you’re actually using it as a foundation and adding to it.

Circular writing also seems to me like making art. Over the years, I’ve found myself coming back to a theme or idea, sometimes not even aware that I am revisiting that idea until I’ve made something new and moved on. Only later do I realize the connection to the past.

Last week Karen left a comment on my “On the Road to a Improved Blog” that she wanted to start a one. I hope she does! I often hear or read about people who are are thinking about starting one, but something is holding them back. Just remember that starting a blog is like making that single little loop. Go ahead and get it started now so you can start building on it. It doesn’t have to be important or fancy, just get going now! And I hope that the idea that you don’t have to do things in a set order may be as liberating to you as it is to me.

If you’re still wondering why you should write a blog, here’s a great video from Tom Peters and Seth Godin about how blogging changed their lives, and why it’s important to do. Everything they say has certainly been true for me.

10 thoughts on “Circular Writing is like Circular Knitting”

  1. Yes, Pam, I did start a blog! I started one for my painting – well, honestly, it was a quicker way to put something new up than a complete redesign of the old, and now very dated, website. I like the way it allows me to put words and images together, and to tell stories about the work. It’s up at
    I also had begun keeping one for my painting students last May, without telling anyone at first, because I wanted to make sure I’d be able to keep it up regularly. I wasn’t always publishing images with each post, but I know what a difference they make. I’m going to do better! And now I’m telling my students about it. That blog is at
    Thank you for your posts! I have learned so much from reading them. The whole concept of circular writing is such an interesting one – I look forward to seeing how this evolves for me, too. I hope that my blogs become as interesting, as engaging, and as informative as yours!

    1. Hi Karen, You’ve got a great start on your blog. It really helps that you do such vivid and nice paintings, and I like the header you’ve designed also.

      I think you could put links to all your other websites and blogs in the sidebar. Then like I wrote Emmie, one way you do circular writing is to mention another painting or technique that’s related on another one of your websites. Get people to go look at your other stuff, don’t bury it!

      Also now you need to get a Gravatar, I think you’re using Blogger so that should be easy. Keep up the good work!

      1. Thank you for the ideas, Pam – they are great! I am checking out Gravatar, too – I never heard of it before. I’m going to get the hang of this yet….

  2. Thank you for starting (and keeping up with) your blog. It’s my inspiration to keep making my own “cartoony” quilts that so many people had told me wasn’t real art. Seeing your work and reading your blog lets me know I’m not alone.

    1. Anita, you know it’s funny, I used to try to do “serious art” but it’s when I just tried to have fun with it that my stuff got a lot better. I think you really have to express your true self, and if it looks cartoony, so be it!
      Thanks for the encouragement to keep blogging.

  3. Interesting video and so true. Blogging has kept me in tune with my world and I try to honor the commitment of blogging at least once a week. Don’t always make it, but i come close. I like the idea of circular blogging. Do I do it? Hummmm. Can I do it? Hummmmmmm.

    1. Hi Emmie, I just thought of a simple way you could start. When you post one of your beautiful flower photos or quilts, you could give readers a link at the bottom of the post to your floral fantasy workshop. Or provide a link to some of your other flower quilts on your website.

      Doesn’t have to be much, but it could remind people (like me:) to take a look at your beautiful website:

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