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On being a better blogger

by John on April 18th, 2011

I’ve really been trying to find extra time in the day to be a blogger, and I don’t mean that in a purely “I’ve been trying to find extra time in the day to write” sense. I’m trying to be an active blogger more & more. I want to read what you write, I want to try to feel your experiences.

Because of this, I’ve started leaving more & more comments. I used to stalk read a lot of blogs, but that was it. I read your words, I might smile, but this ended the process (well, except that my memory is a curious beast and therefore your words imprinted on my mind so that I end up linking to a post of yours days/weeks/months/years later, well after you’ve forgotten what you were writing about) . I was happy, I got to think for a minute, but I moved on. I was treating blogs like books.

And then I started writing blogging myself.

We write in order to be read. I can try to say that “I’m writing for myself,” but if I were truly writing for myself, I wouldn’t be posting it online. I know there are people who write for specific topics and have a specific group of people in mind. And that’s great. But that’s not for me – my writing is eclectic, just out there. Sometimes, I try to make people laugh. I always try to make people think. If what I’m writing is actually helping you? Well, that’s great, but you still can’t borrow my truck, and if I’m writing about home improvement, I’ve encountered a massive head injury. I may choose my words carefully, knowing that a specific person would appreciate the selection. There may be a line intended for a specific audience – but for the most part, I just want my writing to be read by as far & wide-ranging a group as possible.

So, I switched from writing to blogging. For the initiates, the difference is semantic. For others, I think they’ll know what I mean. I’ve been reading, lately, with a purpose. If I have the time, I’m reading. I’m reading for enjoyment, but I’m also reading to see how I can make my own writing better. I’m always looking to improve myself.

When I read, I almost always comment these days (the only posts I don’t find myself commenting on are giveaway posts for items that I wouldn’t want to win because I ether have a penis, my kids are of an inappropriate age, or it’s for food that I shouldn’t/won’t eat). I know longer just stalk Pop’s blog, I engage the writers that I’m reading. And, I’m really making an honest effort at saying more than “I was here.” It’s great to get some feedback when you’re writing, but it’s better to know, at least for me, that I’m transporting a reader, or making a reader think, or something more than just read. I like knowing that my words are more than “just words,” if that makes sense at all.

I’m a firm believer that no life experience truly stands alone. When you write about meeting your Aunt Matilda, well something you say might trigger a memory of the first time I dreamt about water-skiing. So, I’ll bring that up.

Sometimes, my comments seem right in line with the post – sometimes, they’re a bit of a stretch (but, believe me, in my thought process, I arrive at my seemingly tangential bit of nonsense through completely logical thought). With some people, those comments always lead to something suggestive *ahem*, but I’m making a concerted effort to say more than just “I was here.” I want to tell the authors that that they made me think, because I, as a writer, can think of no greater compliment than to know that something I wrote made my readers think.

I’m always looking to engage. On the surface, our dear Aunt Becky1 had the lesson right: You don’t owe the Internet anything, but she was talking about somebody reading your words & turning you into a prophet/motivational speaker/expert of some sort2. No, we owe the internet our best writing (few would argue that), it’s just how best to draw that writing out.

Me, I’m finding that it’s getting out, reading anything I can, engaging writers, challenging myself to comment and further engage. At the very least, you get to read a lot of great stuff out there. At the best, well, you end up with some pretty awesome people that you can call new friends.

And, if you’re reading this because you’re replying to a comment I left on your blog, curious as to why the heck I’m saying what I’m saying, or at least oblivious as to how anyone would say what I said after reading what you wrote . . . well, it’s because I’m trying to compliment you – in the only way that I know how.


1 What’s that, you didn’t think you had an Aunt Becky? If you’re on the internet, you have an Aunt Becky. Mommy Wants Vodka is mandatory reading for anybody looking to understand how to write on The Interwebz.
2 I claim to be an expert at nothing. Well, I know how to play with my organ quite well, but, really, that’s about it. If you want organ lessons, or if you have a technical question about the specifics of male masturbation, I feel that I’m fully qualified to help you out.

From → Geek

23 Comments
  1. This makes me think of Weeds and banana peels. Don’t know why? Start googling.

    • I had not seen this. I was giving serious consideration to going back to The Wire to watch whenever I chose to spin at my house (meaning that I’m not running or cycling outside, or swimming at the pool, or lifting weights at the gym), but I really think I need to watch Weeds end-to-end – it’s a great idea for a show.

  2. this is a tough blogging year for me, but i’m loving that the toughness of actually writing a full blown post is making me enjoy the process so much more.

    for me? it’s been huge to put my blog out there in my TL. or on my FB page. for a lot of years, i’ve tried to maintain three similar, but distinct, on-line presences. what the hell?!? let me tell you, it’s exhausting. and? none of the three were really *me.*

    thanks for all of your comments – seemingly random or not ;)

    • I’m still pulling multiple blog identities, and I think I’ll always have to, but not necessarily having to write within a specific subject area is really a lot easier.

      I’m loving your blogging this year, Lelly – that 10k post was downright perfect. And there is no single greater motivator than knowing that you have a TL full of people checking in and encouraging you. Then again, it’s great to, simply, be able to look back & see what struggles you were having as you worked to your goals.

  3. Every day I’m amazed people read the pile of crap I churn out. I have no focus and definitely lack charm.

    As one of my regulars, I thank you.

    • You lack charm? Have you seen your blog? It’s one part art museum, two parts healthy eating, with a side of snark thrown in. If blogs were physical places, yours is the bar that I’d want to hang out in.

  4. You know I’m going with our Aunt Becky to get inked tomorrow, right??

    Yeah … that has NOTHING to do with your post – just wanted to make you jealous …

    • Seriously, ink is ALWAYS relevant for blog comments here. And? I’m jealous. Bitch :-p

  5. I am SO HUGE! I just got called “some people.” I’m totally blushing.

    What I love about your blogging is that you’re honest. I love when I see you’ve commented on one of my posts because its sometimes a post all its own or it leads to one of our private chats, that I so enjoy.

    Love what your doing here John and yeah, I’ll probably pass on the organ playing instruction. I didn’t get to 38 without learning a thing or two about organs.

    • Yay, your comment didn’t come in as spam!

      I can say that there’s a little extra “yay” as I notice that the Mad Woman has left a comment – and our last email exchange is brewing a post all of its own, for when it’s time to get a little more serious around here.

  6. Commenting? Totally half the fun of reading blogs.

    I’m enjoying the hell out of myself right now, and I’m not even saying anything.

    It’s all about the community! And apparently the organ.

    Good grief.

    • I don’t think you’ve been following me for quite long enough to experience the full marvel that is me, playing with my organ . . . but, yeah, most everything about me revolves around my organ ;-)

      And, yeah, the community aspect of blogging is what the non-bloggers just “don’t get.”

  7. I am such a bipolar blogger. One week I will totally care about responding to comments and being a better blogger and the next I totally don’t give a shit. I do love the dialogue with “some people” though. It breaks up the monotony of this housewifery bullshit.

    • I’m SO the bipolar blogger – and it’s funny, because my want to actually keep up with everyone else has nothing to do with the world as I know it. When I start feeling like writing is a chore, it’s a bad, bad thing. Fortunately, I’ve never felt that reading amusing stories of people’s adventures was trying :-)

  8. Look at you branching out! I love commenting and replying to comments. I email a reply. Makes for crazy fun interaction at times.

    Thx for the button for Poppy & our 3 Day team!

    • Yeah, the greatness of the side effects from commenting cannot be underestimated. Seriously lead to some fun conversations…or, depending on who is checking in, complete random silliness.

      Again, it’s you & Poppy who have to deal with the blisters – I’m just happy to be able to help.

  9. There is a difference between writing and blogging- blogging is more about a give and take and talking to others.

    While I’ll agree with Aunt Becky that we don’t owe anyone anything in the blogworld, when I’m a crazy person with my schedule and dont’ have as much time to read blogs, I do start with the ones that commented on mine before I go to the ones that didn’t.

    • Oh, totally – there isn’t a question that you always start with the people that “scratched your back.” When I’m really, really crazy with my schedule, I check in with 4 bloggers (names redacted, but I have a feeling these four know who they are) and my commenters. That’s it. Fortunately, I’ve had JUST ENOUGH breathing room lately so that I can branch out a bit.

  10. I have read both Middlesex and Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

    (see what I did there? I commented with seemingly random points that I believe you will still understand.)

    Will discuss with you anytime. With or without cocktails and cobbler.

    (p.s. Good luck tent-pitching.)

    • Liked my play in one act?

      It’s funny – sometimes, I forget that people actually read other people’s comments – for a second, I was afraid that I put Kris’s comment on your blog (I’ve done worse on a followup to a followup comment).

      I’m actually (and honestly) pitching the tent this weekend. I just bought it (I used to go camping fairly regularly, but my tent was downright ratty and a pain in the ass to set up…very unappealing after being on a bicycle for the better part of a day) and need to make sure that everything is there and that I understand how to set it up.

  11. I dunno, I used to like it when you were hiding in the bushes, stalking me. Or leaving markings on my blog:
    John wuz here or For a good time, call John

    Thanks for the shout-out and you’re one of the dads/bloggers I’ve really enjoyed engaging with.

    • Same here, Pop – it’s good to know that there are others who keep doing the right thing & keep a good sense of humor along with a good appetite!

  12. Hi. I’m here!

    And your writing is making me think what an amazing way this is for us to connect and learn and expand our collective world view. I don’t know if the internet gets my best writing, but it gets my real voice and my attention and my keen, genuine interest in you, John, and you and you and you….

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