Quite a few people I know are going into blogging. Most of them are CRPSers, all of them are clever and interesting, and I think that is terrific. I couldn’t find a Blogging 101 that wasn’t oriented towards cashcow blogs, so I figured I’d better write one.
Each writer who writes as themselves is unique, and the more of us who write truly about CRPS (or whatever we struggle with), the more others will begin to understand what’s really at stake when we talk about managing and even curing it.
First, let’s knock off some assumptions…
What it isn’t
– A blog post is normally not a chapter in a book, or a news article, or a short story — unless it is. If you’re posting any of the above, it means you’re writing a particular sub-category of blog, which is a good thing to be clear about. (Generallly, a blog is a place to work out ideas which subsueqently turn into books or articles, we’re writing for.)
– It’s not a journal. Generally, it’s creepy people who want to read other people’s journals; most of the rest of us are uncomfortable with that feeling.
– With that in mind, writing a journal entry before writing a blog post can really help deliver a punchy, powerful blog post.
Then let’s talk about the almost unlimited potential…
What it can be or do
– A great place to work out ideas that later go into books, articles, and so on, with more focus and a better understanding of the audience. The interaction and feedback you get on each nugget of thought is a great way to learn how to tune your writing and make your ideas clearer.
– Pre-marketing. When people love your blog, they’re liable to be interested in any work that comes out of it: books, articles, even speaking tours or movies.
– Wonderful way to connect with people in your target group, the group of people you want to explain things to or share things with.
And now some basic guidelines…
What a good blog usually is or does do
– Each post has one or two main points. A post is a limited space, oriented towards people with not a lot of time — either because of work, attention span, or memory issues. Keep each post to the point.
– Short posts get read more. Kinda sad, but true.
– The above is a good reminder to keep the writing “tight”, that is, no needless words, no needless sentences, and no needless paragraphs. (Another reason why journaling is so helpful — we can get the need to gnaw on an idea out of our systems, so we can step back and deliver it more tightly and strongly in less space.)
– Be particular about which posts get long, and keep them engaging to someone outside one’s own head. Extended metaphors or an underlying plot can keep people reading.
– Serious stuff matters. Humor keeps people reading. The two often go together really well, or at least can take turns gracefully.
– Keywords/categories/tags (the terminology depends on the blog host) are important. They help people find your blog online, so choose terms that people are likely to search for.
Further tips and suggestions from my experience
– As I have to remind myself now and then — my readers are people outside of my head, not in here with me 🙂 This helps me explain and unpack when my first impulse is to be telegraphic; it also keeps me from belaboring a point that’s bothering me more than it would bother someone else.
– I get a lot out of watching the director commentaries on good/entertaining films, especially if there are director commentaries on the deleted scenes and outtakes. Hearing how they chose to eliminate much-loved or super-cool scenes in service to the overall piece, is like a mini-workshop on creative structure and knowing what your priorities are. Most notably, the concept of eliminating “repeated beats” is key to keeping my blog posts solid. I’ve deleted some great lines, but they aren’t missed. It took awhile to realize that, if they won’t be missed, they aren’t needed.
And now for a practical note…
Choosing a setup for blogging on
If you have access to a server and a web geek, read no further. You’re set. Just do what they advise and ask for any help you need.
If you’re totally new to all this, it’s not crazy to go to http://blogger.com, set up a Google account if you don’t already have one, and go through their step-by-step process for setting up and customizing your blog. The upside is, they really protect you from spam and thin out the hacking issues. The downside is, once you’re hacked, you’re hacked. They don’t seem to have a way of letting you build in extra protections.
If you have some geek skills and can get access to a server or hosting service, you might prefer http://WordPress.com to build your blog site with. It’s highly customizable and you can choose from plenty of forms of protection, which you can alter, tune, and change as you like. Downside: the spam is horrific. Upside: You can always upgrade your hacking protection.
There are a growing number of options, but I’m describing what I know and have worked with myself. Hope it’s helpful.
Happy blogging 🙂
Predatory mis-links are so common now, I aim to be more diligent about providing lists of the links I actually use in my blogs. That’s not a bad tip, actually, and it was first suggested by one of my readers 🙂