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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Bloggers are not Writers

This is not so much a post about 'tips' on how to write a blog better. In fact, here's my only writing tip: it's hard, practice often. The posts I linked to in my other post (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) on blog content are good ones to read if you're really interested.

What I really want to focus on are the multiple aspects of blogs. Having done a brief stint in college as an amateur performance artist, the concept of experience is an important one to me in anything that I write. I saw my work as having 3 aspects, each of which changed the experience.
1. Reading the text
2. Viewing as the audience
3. Performing

To me, blogs are a performance piece. They are not a passive, content distribution medium. But, if you're willing to discuss some active, challenging steps towards better blogging then please continue reading.

Critical Reading Skills on Life Support?

I did not have many things to be proud of in high school (yes, I'm admitting it was a difficult time of life) but one area I always excelled was reading comprehension. I'm sure that this was a product of the many hours I spent reading... alone (sigh). Now, I see reading comprehension as a skill. One that does not get enough credit from readers or writers. This is the first step towards better blogging.

The fact that content exists does not mean you should shy away from the topic. My experience is that most experts explain, they write from their position of expertise. This is where you have an opportunity. Write challenging posts that require the reader to think about how it applies to them. Encourage them to dig out meaning that applies to their situations.

The Medium is the Message

Unless you are selling advertising on your blog, you do not have an audience. Audiences are for monetizing, they realize that they are paying for the content by ad-interruption.

Blogs are a unique medium because the point isn't to distribute content. A blog starts, or joins, conversations. A blog builds relationships. A blog taps into communities. What you say should not be considered exhaustive or definitive. If there's nothing left to add to what you've said, you've chosen the wrong medium. (Look into politics, maybe?)

Choosing to say something on your blog means opening up the idea to discussion. Once it's out there, you are no longer the voice of authority. The best you can do is hope to persuade someone else to agree to the direction you want to steer the conversation.

Blog Like Everyone Is Watching

I like the work that Chris Brogan does and one of his latest posts especially rung true to me. I'm not going to quibble about nomenclature because his point is valid. Write for the people that are, or that you want to be, reading your work and talking about what you say. While your blog could possibly be found by everyone in the world, that's incredibly (incredibly, incredibly) unlikely.

Coming back to my performance analogy, you are on display. Even if it's only to a small slice of the world's population, you still need to be putting on your best performance. A good performance is a virtuous circle, the performer and viewer play off of each other with positive results. The more you can give as a writer, and performer, the more you get back.

And that's my advice. I hope it's been helpful but please let me know what you would add.