Thursday, April 15, 2010

the art of blogging: part two

This is Part Two of a mostly one-sided and largely narcissistic conversation about blogging. You can read Part One here. 

In my last post on this subject, I laid some questions on the table. In this post, I will try and answer them. Also, since my first post I've done some major redesigning to ye olde blog, which I'm feeling pretty good about. Hence, don't be surprised if my thoughts are more lighthearted today than they were on Monday. :)

What is the best way to relate myself and my experiences in a way that makes them fodder for others, in a way changes someone's circumstances for the better?

I fancy myself a writer, and as such I believe the key to any successful blog is, first and foremost, good writing. I don't care how exciting your life is or how valuable your stories are - if you can't communicate in an effective way, in a way that evokes emotion and sincerity, I will soon tire of you. This goes for personal blogs, obviously, but also for photography blogs, fashion blogs, food blogs, and how-to blogs. My favorite blogs are ones that share information and experiences, that inspire an aspect of my life, and that give me a peek of someone's personality while doing so. Do you post everything you eat every day? I will read this, gladly, but only if you also throw in some pictures of your dogs and your Friday night bowling adventures. Do you have a fashion blog and post daily outfits? Great - but only if you also tell me about living in Brooklyn, or share your excitement about your first baby. Blogging, for me, is all about the context, and the context? Is YOU. 

How can my blog fill the need I have to share, be creative, and build a community? Or, if a blog posts in a forest, but no one is there to read the blog, did the blog really post?

While I check out my stats every now and then, I don't obsess over them. I don't read about how to increase my hits with search engine optimization, though I do know what that is. I've been blogging for so long that I've gathered enough followers to keep me going - friends from real life, mostly, but also some folks I've never met and who, over the years, have become just as close as those real life people. And my blog is more than an effort to get people to read my words - it's also a way for me to catalog my experiences in a searchable format.

And yet - I fancy myself a writer. A writer who writes because she loves to write, and also because she loves to share. I thrive on community, feedback and friendship. And I feel like maybe I'm ready to take my blog - and my writing - to the next level. But how?    

What is more important - art, or appeal? How much time do I want to devote to blogging? How much time to I have?

I have noticed that these blogs, in which women post everything they have eaten every day, and log every workout that they complete in meticulous detail, garner 100+ comments per post. They have over 2,000 subscribers in Google Reader. I will be the first to admit that I am one of those subscribers and commenters, but I am still flabbergasted at the popularity of this kind of writing. And then I think - I could do that. Easy. I could take a photo of all my meals. I could post them to my blog. I could have 2,000 people tune in every morning to see my bowl of cereal. But do I want to? No, I don't. Recipes once a week - yes. Pretty photos of special meals? Absolutely. But every meal, every day? That would be appeal, and I am naive enough to think that blogging can still be art.

Plus, photographing and posting every meal would take up a lot of time, time I should be spending on short stories and essays. You know, writing that takes thought, time, editing and revision. Things that are not instantly published on the Internet. Which brings me to our last question of the day...

Does blogging make me a more productive writer, or is it an illusion that makes me feel like I've produced?

This is a tricky question. Blogging in addition to writing is one thing; blogging instead of writing is another. I am ashamed to admit that on many, many occasions, my blog is the only writing I do. I started my challenge of writing 500 words a day, and it's been mostly successful, minus a week here and there. (Current record = 21 days in a row. Woot!) The older I get, the more focused I become, and the less this particular issue is an issue. I do not think I have to give up my blog in the name of productivity. If I swing it right, I know my blog can help me to be more productive.

That's all I got for today. In Part Three of our series, I will outline some plans for my blog's future, for my life's future, and for the universe's future. All I gotta say to the universe is: get some shades! Our future is bright.


  1. As always: Inspiring.

    My own photography blog has sat, stagnant, for at least a month now. I'm not a "talker", I'm not a "joiner", I'm a quiet little hermit, content to while away the hours in his own little head. And I really need to change that tendency. I'm really working on figuring out what I have to offer to the photographic community; what hasn't already been said by far greater persons than I. Thanks for the post, it's made working on my blog become a bit more of a priority.

  2. I've come away from this with ideas... :)

  3. Michael - I hope you pick your photo blog up again. I really liked the direction it was headed in, and enjoyed reading about your creative process.

    And Mulleina - yay! Can't wait to read your ideas. :)

  4. Like Mike, both my blogs are sitting on the internet collecting dust right now and I'm also trying to find a rhythm of blogging that makes sense, is productive and isn't just a bunch of extra noise out there. Thanks for sharing this. Your blog and writing is of a certain quality and caliber, I wish I could find more like it out there.

  5. i know that whenever i have a public blog i feel so much pressure to update it regularly so readers don't leave/forget. whereas private journals i feel like i can update whenever i want, & i still expect some people to see it. i'm curious about your feelings towards that, since this has always been a public blog. also, does the difference between "real" writing & blogs have anything to do with time/freshness & how people tend to not go back & read everything on a blog, but just start where they find it? that seems to be another way that online writing is less tangible than off-line. not only is not handled the same, but it seems like old entries just disappear.
    anyway, love you!

  6. Ooh Finn, these are great questions! I'm going to write a new post and answer them. I love you too!

  7. Hi! I'm a friend of Finn's writing a somewhat similar blog, so I'm really happy to have stumbled upon this.

    Before launching my most recent blog (about creative life, generally speaking), I had a photo blog. I read lots of other art blogs, researched SEO and how to gain commenters, and posted on a strict schedule.

    The thing is, the blog became a huge chore. I was rearranging my social life around "blog night" and berating myself for getting behind on reading other art blogs.

    Now I may not have a ton of readers, but I'm blogging for me. Hopefully I'll find a good happy medium in there, but I'm done molding my blog to an audience.

    Anyway, just wanted to say I'm so glad to have found someone like-minded on this :)