How (Not?) To Blog

Disclaimer: This post is part of this blog’s That Tiny Tirade series. It can (and likely will) contain harsh language, scenes and storylines not suitable for children, and some content that may be unacceptable to other readers. This post may also contain strobe lighting effects.

Concise (adj.) – Expressing much in few words; clear and succinct

Substandard (adj.) – Of, relating to, or indicating a pattern of linguistic usage that does not conform to that of the prestige group in a speech community or to that of the standard language

When you see the definitions above, what comes to your mind? For me, if I’m presented with the word concise, I think of someone who is able to make their point quickly and effectively. By the same token, I find that substandard verbal (or writing) skills are often identified by those who are incapable of being concise. That’s not to say the two concepts are mutually exclusive, nor should they be.

The problem with the blogging community as a whole is that a well-reasoned, adequately explained argument is going to take a backseat to someone who posts a picture of what they wore today.

Every. Single. Time.

Growing up in an extended family where multiple members suffer(ed) from ADD or ADHD caused me to have a pretty thorough understanding of how a short attention span can impact an individual’s communication and learning skills. Many educational philosophies integrate concepts that allow educators to accommodate for individuals with attention deficits, often times playing to the lowest common denominator rather than addressing each student’s individual strengths, needs, and weaknesses.

As bloggers, we too are often guilty of that same fallacy. We write to the masses, using the analytics that we have at our disposal to make our blog more appealing to a larger audience. In doing so, often times we change the way we write — we change the very basis of how we communicate — in order to pander to the approval, the intellect, or the attention span of others.

The capability to be concise in an argument is a talent that should not go unnoticed. The problem with the blogging community as a whole is that unless you are concise, or unless you put pictures between every other paragraph in order to break up text, you’re considered to be a substandard writer.

Do I have everybody’s attention now? Image credit: Paul Downey on Flickr. Click for source.

I choose to write with an artists flair, I choose to write expressively and with length, I choose to paint a picture with my words, and I choose to tell my stories in a manner that exemplifies an eloquent and complex literary style. Sadly, that makes my work substandard in the eyes of the common reader. That fact, in and of itself, is likely why it took me nearly three years to get to 50,000 visitors1Yes. I really did have this level of traffic on one of my blogs. It was the 2008-2009 blog, but still. on my old site — even though I’ve watched other bloggers hit that mark in six months or less posting nothing but shoe pictures.

I could post pictures of my outfit each day to drive up traffic. You’d see my $15 dress shoes I’ve worn for three years, along with my Wal-Mart jeans, and my Target or thrift store dress shirts. Even the days I wear a suit, you’re getting an outfit that was purchased for less money than a dinner for two at Applebee’s (provided you’re not ordering off the specials menu…but even then, it’s close). Posting any of that would be doing a disservice to you, to me, and to anyone who comes to this blog looking for a specific quality of posts.

I find it to be far more than a mild insult that in order to increase my readership I need to dumb down my content. The concept of changing the wording with which one writes is nearly the same as being forced to change who you are to make someone love you. It’s an excruciatingly painful process that only leads to the harboring of resentment…a resentment that’s nearly always on the side of the one who changes what they say or do.

If writing thorough blog posts causes me to be viewed as a substandard writer — one whose talents are not nearly as popular as someone whose posts are much shorter because of my verbose language — then so be it. It’s a shame if that’s the case though, particularly if your unwillingness to read causes you to hit the back button on your browser. Before you do though, consider the definition of the word writing, and see if you define what you read as writing or as something else entirely.

Writing (n.) – Meaningful letters or characters that constitute readable matter.

All definitions courtesy of The Free Dictionary. This post is the recipient of 20 Something Bloggers’ 2013 Best Rant Speakeasy Award. To learn more about 20 Something Bloggers, go to their website found here.

How (Not?) To Blog

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12 thoughts on “How (Not?) To Blog

  1. I’m quite wordy as well, breaking the “500 words or less” suggestion of so many blogs about blogging tips. But, much like having to change oneself for their friends, do you really want people who can’t wrap their mind around so many words to become your blog readers?

    I’d think not. While it’s frustrating to take so long to bring up a substantial readership, would you really want those readers anyway? The hit-and-run “OMG SHOES!” crowd?

    If you don’t care about shoes in real life, why care about it in the place where you are meant to express yourself, and your thoughts? If you don’t have American Apparel or Pumpkin Spice Lattes on the brain, why write about it and pretend that you do?

    1. I’d like to think that by writing lengthier posts it weeds out many of the individuals who aren’t interested in taking the time to focus on what I have to say. I try to talk about things I enjoy myself, though as I set the new site up, I may limit my topics a bit.

      By the way, congrats on being the first commenter on the new site.

    2. Most of my best AND most popular posts are over 1200 words. I don’t know who these people are, saying “500 words or less,” but they’re both wrong and using poor grammar.

      The best readers are the dedicated ones, anyway. Your blog will usually be more successful, even in terms of sponsorship and earning money (if that’s your thing), with a small number of loyal, involved followers than with thousands of pointless page views a day.

  2. Based on the title, I had expected a list of points followed by description, only to find this. I am pleasantly surprised. Having said that, I agree with your sentiment. I’m quite stuck on ideas to the point of not having written anything for almost two months. I could just fill up and fall back on what I consider to be cop-out ideas, but my stubbornness and a bit of pride prevents me from doing so. I tell myself if I have nothing substantial to write or say, express nothing at all.

    1. Oh man, I forgot you hadn’t yet found my old blog when I wrote this post. I’m a huge fan of this rant, and when I moved sites, I figured it would be one of the best things to lead off the blog with. I’m sure whatever you post when you do come back will be very well written. Don’t stress yourself about it too much.

  3. It’s a little disheartening. I don’t always write lengthy, well thought out posts — but when I do, I’m proud of them. And yet I still get more comments/traffic when I post pictures of people’s bad tattoos and make dumb comments about them.

    It’s hard to be a real writer blogger in a world filled with fashion bloggers, photography bloggers, mommy bloggers, etc.

    1. I really think I could start a blog tomorrow with nothing more than pictures of my cat as a kitten and my niece and hit 100,000 views by the end of the year. Partly because they’re both adorable, but mostly because of the phenomenon you’re talking about.

      I do read your blog fairly regularly (though I don’t comment much…if your blog had an option to give name and URL to comment, it would be easier, I believe), and I’ve noticed exactly what you describe in posts. It’s a shame that happens too, because you have some quality work. That said, I think every blog with longer pieces is prone to people clicking away or merely saying “tl;dr, so here’s a comment about your first sentence”.

      1. I did not realize you couldn’t just give a name and URL. I’m only learning recently that the Blogger commenting tool isn’t so user friendly for non Blogger users.

        It really is a shame that people see a long post and immediately disregard it. And I will admit that I’ve done it from time to time (if I’m short on time I sometimes plan to go back and read a longer piece, but then I don’t get around to it), but I try not to let that discourage me. Some of the best articles/posts are the ones you that require a lot of background or detail.

        (PS – this is super delayed but I’ve been meaning to come back and reply to this for quite some time)

        1. No worries about the delayed reply. I do my fair share of that as well. I feel as though the most difficult type of post to generate comments on is a short story post, even though those are some of the very same types of posts that require the most thought and work. It’s hard to get good, constructive feedback on a short story, partly for the length of the story, but also because it’s not (typically) an opinion-based endeavor.

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