What Shakespeare can teach us about Blogging

When Shakespeare was writing during the Elizabethan period, two types of dramatic style were merging together to form an exciting new voice. Previous to this, London theatre audiences were served up either the traditional Tudor morality play of slapstick allegory and farce, or the more rhetorical academic play based on classical Roman drama. Usually shown in universities, the latter were perhaps not much fun.

Yet Shakespeare was an innovator, and sensed that the audience of Elizabethan England was changing. So he decided to dip into both styles of writing and add in some of his own wit and intellect, to create a new type of play which audiences both wanted and responded to. In short, the new commercial theatres were demanding new content, and Shakespeare and his contemporaries endeavoured to fill the gap.

So what’s all this got to do with blogging?

Well it seems to me that Shakespeare’s unique approach is similar to the art of the modern blogger. We too select what we like from more traditional modes of writing – journalism, web writing, diary keeping, email and corporate communication – to deliver innovative and vibrant content that best speaks to the blog-savvy audience.

We apply our own personality to make each post unique, just as Shakespeare did with his new style of writing. And in the same way as Elizabethan theatre goers started to demand new voices, so the 21st century digital audience wants its content presented in a different way too. How else do you account for every major newspaper or news publisher now having a blog?

Shakespeare was also known to ‘borrow’ from or be influenced by his contemporaries, such as Marlowe and Jonson. It was their combined scorn of certain elements of society that changed writing styles once again, heralding the satire of the Jacobean period. And just as bloggers today invite comment and discussion from their peers to move things forward, so such discourse existed in Shakespeare’s time too.

So next time you sit down to write a post for your blog, consider perhaps the context of where the history of content creation has brought us. We may not have his writing skill, but surely the great man would be thrilled by the freedom, innovation and attraction of what we do.

Ultimately, there’s only one conclusion to reach from all this. If the Bard were alive today, Shakespeare would definitely be a blogger.

About The Author

An English graduate from the University of Birmingham and professionally trained journalist at postgraduate level, Laurence James has been 
copywriting for over ten years. A Member of The Institute of Direct Marketing, he is also founder of The Copy Box.


8th May 2008

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