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.