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Writing Wednesday: The Truth About Blogging

May 25, 2011

It’s funny because I thought Monday’s entry would be the one that got me in hot water with people.  Maybe I should start my own Doomsday cult now!

Anyway, just to push the topic a little further, here are the only two reasons to follow a blog:

  1. Obligation
  2. Message

I’ll be honest and say that a good portion of people who read/comment on my blog are doing so because I read/comment on their blog.  Sometimes especially someone will trickle in after I conveniently left a comment on their blog.

I’m not saying that this is wrong.  It’s polite in a quaint, “Godfather” way to repay a favor with a favor.  Though generally I think the comments that result from this are mostly of the “thanks for sharing” variety because the commenter probably has 2,000 other blogs to go comment on from her Google Reader feed.  All these blogfests, Crusades, etc. seem to breed this kind of behavior, though sometimes you can also find a blog you legitimately enjoy visiting.

Because the real reason you SHOULD read a blog is because you enjoy what it has to say.  The ones I visit most frequently and make the lengthiest comments on are those who share something interesting.  I prefer those who aren’t sharing the same moldy advice being spewed by agents/editors (who don’t bother following said advice anyway) and reach a bit deeper.

Let’s be honest, when I go to your blog I want to hear what YOU think, not what Mr. Big Agent thinks or what Ms. Famous Author thinks.  If I want to know what they think I’ll go to their website, not yours.  Now if you want to use what they say as a starting point and discuss the merits (or lack thereof) of what they think then that’s good.  Though I usually think disagreeing with advice is more interesting because it’s more difficult.  Anyone can agree with what someone more famous says; it takes a critical mind to take what they say and figure out why you don’t agree with it.  So, yeah, don’t be afraid to question authority.  Rock the fucking boat!  Writers should know that conflict makes for the best drama and you can’t have conflict by parroting what everyone else says.

Now take what you’ve learned and disagree with this post!

Friday:  how the movie “Catfish” kept this blog open–which some would say is not necessarily a good thing!

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12 Comments
  1. I think the reason the majority of the writers out there regurgitate stuff is because blogging is seen as something they “have to do” so there’s no spirit in it. They look at it like, ugh…gotta make another entry and sound halfway intelligent. Let’s make it short so I can get back to writing my story. And that’s fair I suppose, but I don’t think it should have to be this way. The whole idea of a writer having to be a salesman really makes me long for the days maybe two decades ago when that was the job of the publishing company.

    You’re right though about the whole crusade/blogfest thing lending itself to huge numbers of followers who only stop by your blog that one time to follow you. It’s kind of like owning a huge mansion that looks great from the road and you investigate and the place is unfurnished with one person living inside. You kinda think…huh?

    • Though on occasion with the blogfests you do find a decent blog or two. I think it’s about four I found through the Crusade that I really like to read. I won’t say which ones because then people might get pissed at me again.

      But in general I think blog following is like Twitter. If you follow 2,000 people, you can’t really interact with all of them or even pay attention to most of their stuff, so it becomes noise. If you try to follow 2,000 blogs that are active (not those that post once a month or less) you aren’t going to have time to read them and comment and still have time for everything else.

      Sometimes I wish it were like back in the “old days” where you could still send your manuscript to a publisher and get it noticed and where editors would actually work with you to improve your writing instead of demanding a finished product for them to sell. Though like a lot of nostalgia maybe this never existed.

  2. This is why I refuse to get sucked into Oprah’s world. Just because she says to read this book, follow this person, or whatever, doesn’t mean I have to or want to do it. Gotta think for yourself. I agree it should come out in your blog posts. 😉

  3. Again, blogging is work for me. I don’t really get it. I do it because, well, like Mike said, I feel like I’m supposed to. Oh how I wish I could be a recluse that just churns outs my shtick and receive accolades and praise, and I used to throw out stuff to try to get some reaction, a long time ago, but never got any, good or bad. Now I just throw up whatever.

    So, I tend to blog about what comes to mind at the time, I don’t plan, I don’t research, I don’t even edit…much. It’s all a big stream of consciousness sort of thing.

    If there is something that I hope to get out of it, it’s conversation, only rarely do I get it, and sometimes I do put stuff out there that’s intended to be rhetorical, but if folks have really have expertise, or insights that I might not have on a topic I find interesting, then I want to know about it. To have a dialog.

    • It’s hard to have a dialog though because commenters have to come back more than once. That’s happened a couple times here but usually someone posts a comment, I might post one back, and that’s it, even though in some cases I could go on doing a back-and-forth right up until 5pm because work is boring as hell and then maybe from 9ish-11ish when I go back online after dinner, movie/video game/reading time.

      • I come back. Unless I’m making a one line zinger or something I’ll always come back. But your right. I guess the whole thing is me remembering how much I used to enjoy bulletin boards. Someone would post a topic and everyone would jump in and discuss until it was beat to death and everyone was flaming everyone else. It was awesome.

        Maybe they’re still around, I just don’t visit them anymore.

    • Oh sure there are plenty of message boards around. I used to be a part of Writers.net, which was like the Wild West because for the longest time there was no moderator and really an absentee site owner. Now I hear someone else has bought the site and tamed the wild frontier. Still there are plenty more of those and you can always build your own.

      What surprised me the other day was that you can find old newsgroup posts through Google. I found some of mine from 1998. Those were the good old days. Not.

  4. I like how when I air my political views on my blog I lose followers. It makes me chuckle cause I didn’t want those people reading my stuff anyway. I figure that if my political views or views on religion upset you, then most likely you’re going to hate anything I put time into writing.

    • Someone whose blog I followed a few years ago–and from where I got the whole scheduling entries with themes–used to say he didn’t include politics because it was too easy to offend people about it. Which is why I try not to overtly bring up politics or religion in my blog. And I’m sure that’s why Mr. Pagel confines most of his politics on a separate blog (http://www.nonsportsman.com).

      Though is it ironic that in an entry where you joked about W wondering who was unfollowing him that you’re lamenting who unfollowed you?

  5. LOL I suppose there is some irony in all that. Although the reason for me posting the picture is that it captures fully how helpless I feel with most American politics. If I disagree with someone, the only thing I can do is to “unfollow” which drops their following of 10,365,782 to 10,365,781. In other words…that is how UNIMPORTANT I am in the world…and that is how much my voice matters. Because in truth, George W. could give a shit if I followed him or not. Yet it is my only way to object to the way things seem to go.

    I thought about trying to keep certain opinions of mine out of my blog but decided that there was no need for that. I’m not published now, nor do I expect that if I were somehow exceedingly nice and only regurgitated politically correct stuff with no swearing, etc. that any more people would read my blog or that my chances would improve on landing an agent or getting published.

    I just don’t believe it.

    So…I write what I want to write and it’s bound to piss some people off. On that same note, I think that blogs only truly explode when someone has a certain measure of success. Success breeds a following. So I expect if I ever magically do get published in the traditional sense…the success will be worth at least 49 followers…maybe 51.

  6. As usual, Rogue gets people talking — which is why I come back to his blog. I started coming here out of obligation — he comments on my blogs, so I go check his out, which I do for anyone who leaves a “real” comment that shows they read the post.

    Then I stuck around because it was interesting.

    (Also, Rogue was the one who taught me how to get more followers on Twitter.)

    And I read the comments because they’re interesting, too. I like to see what people think of what he wrote, and they often start to become like a second post, which is great.

    It’s not so much that I care about the craft of writing (although I do like to see how other writers do it) but that I like the way Rogue writes about writing — so the message is secondary to the enjoyment of the writing.

    Which is why he’s right about why people keep reading: they enjoy it, either because it’s helpful or it’s simply well-written.

    In that sense, “blog tours” and the like are like any other promotional item: You may check out a blog because of obligation, and like it, and stick around, at least for a while. Or you’ll hear about a blog and go there and like it for a while and then not go back, at least for a while. So if people go check out my blogs for one reason or another, and keep coming back, I appreciate that. (It’s viral marketing.)

    I don’t really view blogs as a discussion, because I rarely respond to comments directly (should I? Let me know) but I do view things like Twitter as an open discussion; I’ve come to really like Twitter — but I really began to like it once I pared down who I was following to 40 or so, which gets me the people I want to follow and lets me reasonably review some of what’s posted there.

    As an aside, I moved my political stuff (“Publicus Proventus”) from my main blog (“Thinking The Lions”) because I was tired of serializing a novel on a site I have, and because Thinking The Lions is mainly supposed to be about me and my family; the political stuff was threatening to take over. I don’t mind irritating people, but I do mind if you expect one thing (Funny stories about kids) and keep getting another (annoyance with Governor Patsy), and my “blog is a magazine” philosophy suggested that I should simply start up a political site and that way, you can head to one or the other.

  7. You definitely got me thinking! I am going to post- not on this blog post but more on what I was commenting about the other day. I found an article I am going to include. In the meantime, I’ve tagged you on my blog! I know you’ll love this!!!

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