Can you spot the Inconspicuous Bear?

This is one of the things I really look forward to the most, as a blogger.

I’d like to welcome to the blogging fold Reesi, the author of a great new Bear Druid blog, The Inconspicuous Bear.

Reesi may be new to blogging, but she has outstanding credentials as a Bear Tank expert, having played as a progressive raiding Bear Tank for most of Burning Crusade and all of Wrath.

Moreover, Reesi has a Bear Tanking in 4.0.1 guide on her blog, showing that even in the earliest days of writing for her blog she’s got it going on.

So please, go check it out, go check her out (that didn’t sound right, did it) and give her a very enthusiastic welcome from the BBB community. You folks have shown me a lot of love, much of it undeserved, over the years. I hope that in Reesi and The Inconspicuous Bear, you’ll find another excellent writer that you’ll enjoy reading in the months (and years?) to come.

Welcome, Reesi. Best of wishes to you, and good fortune!

Thank you for the nice surprise, Kody and Windsoar!

I was reading the news page of, and I started reading the post by Kody of suggested reading while waiting for Maintenance to be done.

To my surprise, under Druids, he mentioned me! Along with some really top notch bloggers like Gray Matter, Restokin, and Alison Roberts (my favorite WoW Insider writer of ALL time… although they have some great writers over at WoW Insider these days, really great stuff).

I just wanted to say, thank you to Kody, very much, for the totally surprise linkage… I hope that folks coming over to read aren’t underwhelmed. :)

But that wasn’t all. Earlier today, I pop on the feedreader to see that Windsoar of Jaded Alt also linked to me when putting together a list of folks writing about the new patch changes. Thank you very much, as well!

It’s amazing when you see someone outside your small circle of blogging friends link to you. It’s very easy to get a “this thing of ours” small friendly private group feel going on, ya know?

Knowing other people out there link to ya, people you repsect or read on your own that you never thought knew you existed, is one way to panic you into writing something, well… maybe not professional, but helpful, maybe helpful is a better term.

Like, among our little circle, hey, you know me, I know you, we’ve been hanging out for a long time together. The attempt at making a good first impression was over a long time ago. Now, you come over, I say “meh, there’s beer in the fridge, get me one while you’re up, and don’t touch the pizza, it’s been in there a while”.

There’s dirty dishes in the sink, there’re crumbs on the top of the stove, and the cat’s going in the litter box.

And you don’t run screaming from the room. At this point, you don’t expect any different.

For new folks that ain’t never been here before, the temptation is to clean the house, lock the cats in the bedroom with the emergency litter box and food and water, put out the good china, and figure out where we hid the tablecloth.

And then I remember… oh yeah, it’s just us.

Hey, if you’re visiting, grab a beer, pull up a chair, hang out. We’re just watching Rutger Hauer play a blind jugger in Blood of Heroes while we wait for some pizza to be delivered.

Mind the mess.

Looking for more than Group

Last year, on November 14th, quite a few of us within the WoW community took part in what we called the Raid for the Cure.

It was an in-game event for both factions on the Kael’thas-US server intended to increase awareness of the importance of early testing for breast cancer.

A lot of wonderful people, including many of my readers at the time, all got together that Saturday afternoon and took part in the event. It was an amazing experience to be a part of.

All cheesy BS aside, I know that I felt really choked up by how many people came out to take part in the run across the realms, and wore Pink Mageweave shirts and /danced and generally had a great time together.

Several people took the time to whisper me during the event, and email me both before and after the event, to share with me their own personal stories of how breast cancer had touched their lives, and how they were taking part in the run as a way to once again feel closer to the person or in some cases people in their lives that breast cancer had taken from them.

Being a part of something like that, even for just one day, really reminds me why the “massively multiplayer” part of this game makes such a difference. We do have the power, all of us together, to transcend the programmed intent of the game and make of it something else, something with great personal meaning for each us, if we decide we want to.

And then we go back to the serious business of smacking Arthas upside his head.

I was asked yesterday by Kit in an email if we intended doing another Raid for the Cure again this year, a RftC2.

Sort of, kinda, but not really.

Yes, we do intend to try and organize a charitable event in-game across both factions on the Kael’thas-US server.

What we are not doing is continuing with the Raid for the Cure theme for a second year.

Last year, we had a very personal reason for organizing the Raid for the Cure. Julie’s diagnosis, and her battle with breast cancer, caused within us a desire to show our support for her. It was a personal cause, not a general one.

This year, Cassie and I want to show our support for a different cause, one that has intense personal meaning to our family, one that is really never far from our thoughts.

Our own personal lives have been touched, very deeply, by Heart Disease.

Cassie’s maternal grandmother died of complications arising from her battle with heart disease on June 4, 2007, and within less than three weeks, her father had passed away very suddenly from heart disease as well on June 21st.

Cassie was devastated by this, she was just torn apart. I really don’t have the words to describe how close her relationship was with her father, a wonderful, caring, loving man. He was such an incredibly warm-hearted man, I felt so welcomed by him into his home and the incredibly warm extended family that he had helped nurture, that even within the brief time that I knew him, I have only ever felt pride in choosing to take her family’s name instead of keeping my own when Cassie and I married.

The biggest factor that caused Cassie to begin playing WoW was as an attempt to find a means to distract herself from her grief at her father’s passing, and though several years have passed, it’s been clear to see that her grief remains as fresh today as it was when he passed years ago.

That is why this year we’d like to organize an in-game event meant to heighten awareness of the risks of heart disease, and to be a time of remembrance and celebration of the lives of those of us we loved, and still miss, that have been taken from us by heart disease.

It’s a very personal cause for us, and I know that I would feel joy in thinking that I had done something, however small, in helping to support organizations that are working to find solutions.

What we’d like to do, starting now when there are still months to go before October/November, is to ask for volunteers who would be willing to work with Cassie and I in planning the event, organizing it, and running it when it happens.

The event we will work towards and take part in will be on the Kael’thas-US server, both Alliance and Horde side. If someone likes the idea, and wants to organize one of their own on a European server, I’ll certainly be happy to advertise it on my blog if you let me know the details.

We’ve got some ideas, but now is the time to really get a plan going, and we can’t do it without your support.

This event is going to completely driven by the individuals that want to come forward and take an active part, a true community activity, and everyone that wants to participate in the planning stages or wish to offer their services as event volunteers are not only welcome, but needed!

So if you’re interested in taking part in this with us, with a planned event date somewhere in the end of October, or early November, please email me at tigerlordgm AT yahoo DOT com.

I can tell you one thing… Cassie pointed out that the Red Linen Shirts look quite attractive, and the mats are certainly a lot easier to come by than the Pink Mageweave ones. Cassie told me she could see a vision of the event, and a scene of dozens of players wearing bright red shirts, forming the shape of a big old heart in the middle of Barrens. Is she the only one that sees that vision?

The Week of the Phoenix

This is going to be a slightly different post for me, but I’d like to ask that you bear with me on this one for a few minutes, because the feelings behind it are very important to me.

I’d like to start, by asking you to try and remember back a few years to 2008, and the story of a young boy named Ezra Chatterton. 

Ezra Chatterton, for those that might not have played WoW back then, was a charming ten year old boy that suffered from a very serious brain tumor.

His story came to light in the WoW community when, through the works of the Make a Wish Foundation and Blizzard, his wish of meeting the designers and developers of his favorite game, World of Warcraft, and spending a day AS a developer was made real.

World of Warcraft was Ezra’s favorite game, because according to the story related by, Ezra’s parents were divorced, and Ezra’s main method of spending time with his father was through playing together, and talking together while they were both online in WoW.

WoW was a bonding experience that helped bring father and son closer together, even though they lived quite far apart. 

The story of a father and son brought closer together through a shared love of video games did strike a very personal chord with me, and it was only too easy to imagine how I’d feel if it was my own son that suffered from a brain tumor, and an uncertain future. My little wabbit slayer. :)

During his visit with Blizzard, and his day as a guest designer, Ezra, whose in-game name for his Tauren Hunter was ePhoenix, took part in helping design many small features that are still to be found in the game.

He helped design and do voiceovers for a new NPC, Ahab Wheathoof, that can be found in the Tauren starting town of Bloodhoof Village near Mulgore, and also designed the quest Ahab gives you, which is to help find Ahab’s pet dog, Kyle, modeled after Ezra’s own dog Kyle.

Ezra also gave input on, and helped design the Season 2 PvP weapon, the Merciless Gladiator’s Crossbow of the Phoenix. A weapon that still looks really damn cool, and that my Hunter has in the bank. How can you get rid of the Phoenix bow?

Why so many references in Ezras’ story to the Phoenix? It’s because Phoenix was actually Ezra’s middle name, and he took the name his father Micah and his mother had chosen for him, and it’s mythological background, close to his heart.

The lengths the Make a Wish Foundation and Blizzard went to, to bring his dream of feeling what it was like to be a game developer for a day, really was an inspirational, sweet gesture full of heart. 

Towards the close of his  day with Blizzard, he was given one parting gift from the development team; the Ashes of Al’ar that drop from Kael’thas in The Eye, the 25 man raid instance in Burning Crusade. He was the very first person to have the Ashes of Al’ar in all of the game, the exceedingly rare drop that becomes the lovely Phoenix mount, and I think it was very appropriate and wonderful to have thought of.

Not too long after the story of Ezra and his day with Blizzard came to our attention, shared the news that Ezra had passed away on October 20th, 2008, after complications resulting from a stroke.

So, why am I bringing this up now?

Well, here’s the thing.

One thing that is talked about a lot these days, here and elsewhere, is how things feel like they’ve changed recently in the game.

With the addition of random Battlegrounds, random Looking For Dungeon tools, weekly Raid quests that get advertised, filled, knocked off and then party abandoned, even pug ICC raids, it’s become increasingly easy in the game to log in, join a series of groups, play in group content for hours, and then log off without ever having shared an actual moment of personal interaction with anyone else.

For me, the story of Ezra is, at least in part, the story of how a video game that is designed to make it easy to bring people closer together CAN be a place where families and distant friends can get to spend some valuable time together that they might not have had otherwise.

Yes, it’s time spent in a virtual world, but it’s time with REAL people that you know, love, and miss, people that you can’t be near in real life at that moment.

The distance between people in game, the ease the random group systems make it to slip away into isolation from other people… these are things I think about often, and Ezra’s story stays there in the back of my head, as counterpoint to what the game can be.

I’d like to try and do something with you, the readers of the blog, as a joint effort to remember Ezra. A little event where we could each get together and remember him, and the joy he took in having the game help him be closer to his dad, by doing something with friends and family.

What I’d like to propose is this.

If you read this blog, and if you are willing to take part in this with me, then approach your guild leaders, raid leaders or officers, and ask them if they would kindly put up a raid sometime during the next week or so to go into The Eye, the 25 man Burning Crusade raid, and try for a Phoenix mount drop, in honor of the ePhoenix.

Make it a special occasion that holds the spirit of the game to heart; you and your fellow friends and guild members, and of course your family if they play, getting together to have fun, to bond, and to spend time doing something just to be together as friends in the game.

I know it must seem corny, but it would bring a smile to my face to think of people playing WoW all across the world, seperated by physical distance but together in the game, having fun and giggling and doing silly crap, all inspired by the memory of the young boy who loved the game and the closeness it brought his family so much.

Now, here is the part that will probably sound wierdest, but I’m really serious.

Please, don’t advertise it with my name on it. Please don’t link to me, or refer to me, or have it be attached to me in any way. It’s not a Bear thing. It’s an “all of us” thing.

If you do want to spread the word, please do not mention me in any way. Just take the idea on your own, and mention it as something you’d like to do.

Where the idea comes from isn’t important.

I want this, for the people who agree that it’d be a nice thing to do, to be all about the idea, and about Ezra, and about playing together with friends instead of alone in LFD.  

If the idea of taking a few hours out of the week to remember how precious it is that we can get together with friends and most especially family members from all over the world and have fun appeals to you, just bring the idea back to your guild, and try to make it happen.

Any of you that do this next week, whether you get a Phoenix mount or not, I’d just like to know how it went for you. Whether you had fun, what craziness you may have gotten into. Just drop me a line at my email, and let me know.

If by some chance you do have a Phoenix mount drop, send me a screenshot if you think about it. Cassie and I would love to see it. :)

I don’t know, maybe it sounds stupid on the outside. Maybe folks just have much more important things to do, or things to think about. But the older Alex gets, the more I think of Ezra and his father… and of how precious having these few moments to spend together really are.

A Visual Indication of AoE

To be filed under “Why didn’t I think of that” is a post by Brokentree over at Wayward Initiative, performing a very simple and yet helpful service;

Showing the DPS what each tanks’ most common AoE looks like.

The subtext goes back to a recent post there by another of the multitude of Wayward Initiative bloggers, Pugging as DPS.

The post is brilliant; it gives a visual example of what Tank AoE looks like, so that DPS have some idea what to wait for before they unload on the group.

I’m a sarcastic old Bear, so that’s a post I totally should have thought of first.


Because what it’s saying is, “Hey, you idiots keep pulling aggro off the tank in PUGs, time after time after time, in the first two seconds of each pull, before the Tank has ever even had a chance to reach the bloody mobs. But maybe the problem isn’t that you’re a complete f’ing moron. Maybe the problem is you just don’t know what the AoE effect looks like. So I will teach you. The more you know. GI Joe!”

That’s sarcasm to be proud of.

Look, there’s a foolproof, simple technique that will ensure you do not pull aggro off the mobs on the tank.

It’s called patience.

If you play as DPS, just wait a few seconds for the tank to get it stuck in before you open up. If you still pull aggro, then either tone it down, or wait a few more seconds the next time.

Try, and I know this is a crazy, out there idea, but try to use your skill to adjust your DPS output on single and group targets to take into accuont the current tank’s Threat output.

It may take you a pull or two to figure it out, but just do it. 

Stop with the “gogogo”. Stop with the pulling FOR the tank unless she asks.

Just be patient for a few seconds on each pull.

Mathematical tests have proven* that the potential amount of time you will save by pushing the group and screaming GOGOGO, or by pulling the groups yourself as DPS, does not outweigh the amount of time you lose from wiping and running back in, or by having the tank tell you to shut up or having the tank leave the group in disgust at your behavior or having the healer stop healing you each time you pull something antisocial so you’ll eat a repair bill.

If you are DPS and have a 15 minute queue time, and you want to get each Heroic finished as soon as possible so you can requeue, pushing the speed of a group and destabilizing the run is not going to save you time. 

Neither will screaming “you suck” at the tank if you pull aggro by not waiting, nor will screaming obscenities at the healer if you, as the tank pull half the instance in your 22k health/non-defense capped gear and die.

I will hammer this home until everyone seems to get it;

“Why is there never enough time to do it right, but always enough time to release and run back in?”™


If you’re the tank, learn what you can safely pull and hold before taking too much damage too fast. And go slow enough for the healer to keep up.

If you’re the DPS, wait until the tank has had a chance to tag everything before you open up, and hey, brilliant idea here, how about making your primary target the same one the tank currently has targeted? Chances are excellent that’s the one getting the lion’s share of the tanks threat output.

There are even mods/addons that make it easy. X-Perl unitframes let’s you turn on target of target display for Party mode. You can easily, at a glance, see what EVERY person in the party is targeting.

I love comparing, as the tank, what I’m targeting against what the rest of the group has targeted.

“Oh hey, how about that, every time I mark a Skull, the Mage is on something else and pulls aggro on it. Every time. Let’s see how he likes it when I stopped Growling.”

And healers… well, I’m sorry. That’s about all I got for you.

Oh no, wait, I do have one piece of advice.

If you go Engineering, you can get Rocket Boots enchanted on your feet. It really helps keeping up when the tank thinks his leet 22k health means heals are optional on the next sequence of groups. 

*Based on my slowing down every time I get one of those assholes.

So, Druids gonna see some change, huh?

I’m going to start with an assumption;

If you read my blog, you also read MMO Champion,, or the main forums, and are plugged into the “WoW news” scene, such as it is.

If not, that’s okay. I’m sure you’ll get the gist of what’s going on with Druids soon enough.

The proposed Feral changes, such as they were, were pretty good.

Plenty of stuff made me smile in the announcement, not least of which was the announcement of a new AoE threat/damage boosting ability, Thrash.

That’s nice, I think it’ll be fun in execution. However, once again, I refer you to a previous post, wherein I pointed out we have no idea how any change will actually work. The assumption would be that adding a new ability, Thrash, would add to Threat generation. However, in execution, if they dial down Swipe’s Threat/Damage as they add Thrash, balance them out so we need to use both together to equal today’s Swipe… well, see what I mean about not making silly assumptions as to how things will work until we actually get the game changes in our furry little paws? 

What mostly brought a smile to my face was the way the tanking announcements, in general and across the board, all said that the intended goal was to balance damage dealing capabilities across all tank types. To have tools in place so that if any one tank class gets ahead of the pack, they can reign them in, or if one lags behind, they can pull that one up by the bootstraps.

The concern I have is that the term they use is damage, not Threat, when talking about balance. I know that many tanks worry about damage generation comparisons with other tanks, and that there has been a lot of complaining about the high damage output of some tank classes.

I don’t care nearly as much about damage output balance as I do about threat. I really hope that when they are talking about balancing damage amongst the tank classes, they also mean threat output.

The main point to take away from tank announcements is that they are trying to change the underpinnings of the abilities and mechanics so that they have easier tools at hand to balance the classes when they decide it’s needed.

I imagine that’s one of the reasons that the Paladin review is so delayed. Paladins have a very fine tuned, race car style performance when it comes to threat and damage generation. Messing with any of it is going to cause a lot of headaches for all concerned. 

As far as Bears go, with Vengeance, and damage reduction and Thrash and everything, it looks to me that Bears will do about as well as could be expected. Tools are being added to increase the complexity/diversity of the Bear playstyle, increase our group utility (Movement speed buff? Cool!), improve AoE threat generation (hopefully with Thrash) and keep our gear diversity intact.

The only fly in the ointment would be the lack of an announced ranged Silence pull, while in their infinite wisdom they gave Rogues (Rogues?) a Smoke Bomb to force ranged spellcasters to close to melee.

Did I actually expect to get a ranged Silence pull? No, I did not. Bears have so many other tools from Cat using the same gear and (mostly) same spec, PLUS self-Heals, that I figured, from a PvP standpoint, there was just no freaking way we’d get one.

If you don’t like it, play a Pally, right? We’re Bears. Toughen up, sunshine!

I will add that while I like the Smoke Bomb idea for our Ninja leather-wearing brothers and sisters, if you can do that, c’mon guys… hows about giving a Bear a fart cloud? Although, come to think of it, that would be more along the order of a Fear, wouldn’t it?

Hmmm. Actually, a fart cloud that stuns enemies in an AoE would be fun. I bet they can’t do it because you wouldn’t be able to put in diminishing returns for the effect…

Oh well, lesson here is, Bears, make sure your best friend is a Rogue, I guess. Good thing I married one. :)

As far as Cats go, they said that there would be no new earthshaking, wonderful new spells. They like the rotation so much, they don’t want to fiddle with it. However, they WILL extend debuff durations and things, so there is a slightly looser window to get each ability off that depends on a previous debuff being in effect on the target, making the rotation a little more forgiving to a slight blunder.

Restoration Druids aren’t expecting to get any new spells either; Blizzard thinks the ones we have fill all the required niches.

I can feel the desire for new shinies, but I honestly don’t need something new just to have a happy button added to my bar. I look at all the excess buttons on some of my classes, like all the buttons for abilities my Mage alt almost never uses, and figure that I’m good with having a tight group of abilities that all work well together.

I don’t play a Moonkin, personally, but I love the form. I would like to say one thing about their new spell.

Why, oh why, do Druids get to be the ones bringing the magic shrooms? Now there’s nothing for it but that I go grind Sporregar rep to Exalted so I can wear the Magic Mushroom purple tabard, proclaiming my hippy druggie status to the world. 

Okay, so I’m laughing on the inside. Trust a Moonkin to look at the enemy and think, “What you really need, what you really need right now, is to get high. Here, have one of these. Oh my, look at the pretty stars. And the lights! The beautiful, glowing, pretty lights. Oh, wait, those are my spell effects as I blow you the hell up…”

Lets move on to what is shaping up to be the big drama of the teasers; Treeform on cooldown.

If you follow Restoration Druid blogs to any extent, you might have noticed a stirring in the branches, as the winds of discontent blow through the community.

Down and dirty, they’re planning on changing Treeform from being a discrete form that Druids shift into, and make it similar to a long cooldown buff. 

This changes it from being the form you are in while being a Healer fully specced into Restoration, and makes it more a “For 30 seconds you are in the form of a Tree, and healing power/whatever is increased by X amount. 2 minute cooldown.”

Or 5 minute cooldown. Or something.

The point is, it goes from being what it is now, a shapeshifting form exclusive to the deep Restoration tree, and reduces it to just another spell in the rotation. 

Now, Druids are unlikely to get a lot of outside sympathy for being unhappy about this. From the outside looking in, it resembles a simple complaint about a cosmetic change, and Ghostcrawler has already replied, saying that if Druids are so adamant about having a Tree form, they could add a Minor Glyph that would leave the Treeform appearance up all the time, but would leave the new mechanic unchanged.

I’d like to try and present a Druid’s viewpoint that cuts to the core of the matter without silly drama.

World of Warcraft has, as a large part of it’s charm, both a romantic and a mathematic side of the game.

The mathematic is represented by all things analytical; stats and mechanics and DPS curves and damage reduction by armor with diminishing returns, and all of the other things that allow a dedicated theorycrafter an opportunity to min/max their performance.

The romantic is represented by the graphical style, the non-combat pets, the rare and exotic pets Hunters can tame, the varying landscapes and cultures to visit, the tabards to wear, the mounts to ride, the clothing and gear that changes your entire appearance, the view of the tumultous sky over the mana engines of Netherstorm and the peacefulness of fishing the pools while watching the Sun set across the sea in Wetlands.

The game is not just stats and power curves and progression. It is not just preparing for, and engaging in, battle. If it were, it would be Squad Leader with a bare bones graphics interface on a Hex map.

It has those elements, that depth of complexity. But it also has the whimsical, the romantic, the things that bring the game world alive and make it so much more to a player than a set of stats on a cardboard placard or a token on a map.

The way the game is designed, and part of the continued draw of the game for me is the extent to which I can develop an emotional attachment to the characters.

It is, at it’s heart, what differentiates an MMORPG from an RTS; that I have a single character whose story throughout the World of Warcraft has some measure of escapist value for me.

Where the problem here comes in, is that from what Ghostcrawler has said, the developers are approaching this issue with only one concern; stats and effects during raids and combat.

Where the players that have Restoration Druids are coming from, is mainly from the point of view of any player with an emotional investment in the character they play.

To us, our Treeform is an ability that shows our heart is in healing. Much like Moonkin form, it is far enough down the Restoration Talent Tree that you don’t just take it as part of a hybrid spec. You have to be intending to Heal as your main function, you have to really dedicate yourself to being a supporting healer to be a Tree.

I know I’m only speaking for myself on this, but to me, I don’t see the lack of offensive spellcasting abilities in Treeform as a detriment to playing my class; I see it as a mark of honor and distinction, and symbol of my dedication to keeping your ass alive.

I don’t ever find myself railing at the cruel fates that have prevented me from casting DPS spells from Treeform. In the rare occasions that I throw down a Hurricane, mostly during the Shifted phase of the wraith boss in Violet Hold to kill the adds, I accept dropping out of Treeform as the cost of dealing damage, and I return to Treeform as soon as my brief foray into causing pain is over.

I know that Ghostcrawler seems to feel that the Treeform mechanic doesn’t add anything to the game, it doesn’t bring anything special to the Restoration Druid’s table.

It does.

What it brings is Treeform itself. What he just doesn’t seem to grasp is that Treeform, for a Restoration Druid, is a goal in and of itself. Not something to be pity Glyphed, but an outwards symbol of a Druid Healer’s resolve.

I truly hope that the developers that are trying to balance this incredibly complex game for raiding and PvP in cataclysm are reminded that there is a lot more to the game then stats.

At the end of the day, what keeps us all playing this rather than Star Fleet Battles on a MUD is our personal involvement with our characters. Our emotional investment in the class that we play.

Character involvement can be a fragile thing, and I truly hope that, before making such a significant change, the devlopers take a big step back and ask themselves; is what we expect to gain by making this change worth all that we WILL lose in terms of player goodwill?

The what of the which, now?

Continuing on from yesterday, I’d like to ramble on a bit about something that I get asked quite often.

Namely, “Hey, I’d like to start a blog of my own, do you have any suggestions?”

No. No, I never have any suggestions. I live my life without holding a firm opinion on anything, and on the rare occasions when I am forced into a corner and have to adopt a position, I never share it with others.

Just kidding, just kidding.

I’m a blogger. I have suggestions and opinions on everything.

When it comes to starting your own blog, I have one major suggestion for you; think about what it is that you’re trying to say. What is it that’s important to get across in your post? What’s your point? Focus on what you MEAN, what idea or ideas you are trying to get across. Nail down what it is, in your head, that you’re trying to say before you start writing.

In general, or in particular posts, the most important thing is to communicate your idea, and get your meaning across.

Once you know what the point of the post really is, you can play around when writing, meandering around and having fun, making digressions, dancing around with wordplay, whatever, as long as you continue driving towards your point.

If the things you are saying in your post all pertain, in some way, to your main point, then it’s going to be fine.

Now, about that meaning.

You’ve got to focus on your meaning, your point, the reason you’re firing off a blog post, but you’ve got to do it in your own voice.

A blog is different from other forms of media in one very important aspect; the core of a blog is that it is a very personal expression of your specific opinions.

When you are writing, when you are presenting your points and expressing your meaning, always keep in mind, people who know what a blog is about are coming there specifically to get YOUR opinion on whatever it is you are talking about.

No matter how impartial someone tries to be, everything you think or say or write comes through the filter of your experiences. If you’re lucky, you are well aware of that, and aren’t under the delusion that you and you alone are tapped into “universal truth”.

When you write, the posts you make are what you think about things, and not necessarily exactly how reality really works. It’s how you think it works. Never lose sight of that.

Don’t try to smother your opinions or personality or attitude to fit your view of  being “professional”. Be yourself, and by that, I mean write in your own voice. It’s why people are coming, they know that this is your opinion, and they want to get to know the person behind the words. They will get a feel about you from your voice in your writing. Hide it, and your writing will suffer. Badly.

One way to develop your voice is to write, and re-read what you’ve written, while thinking the words aloud in your head, or even saying them aloud after they’re on the screen.

What you write should flow naturally, just as you would say them yourself.

If, when you re-read your own writing, it sounds natural to you, then it’s you. You’re good. Have fun finding a way to phrase something you like better, if you wish. But you’ve gotten it to sound how you think you sound. It comes across as being you. Score!

If it sounds stilted, or confused, or isn’t what you’d say… fix it.

Everything on your blog is your opinion, your observations, and your understanding of how things are and how they work. Don’t try to hide that fact by being all monotone and clipped. Be yourself, and by that I really do mean, write as an expression of how you talk normally. Or, through the magic of having the time to think up the perfect phrase, how you’d LIKE to talk.

“But wait!”, I hear you say. ” What if I screw up! What if I get things wrong! I’m out here on a limb, damn you, and now you’re telling me to be the real me, honest and true, and if someone goes off on the real me, it’s gonna hurt!”

That’s true. If you are being yourself, and people go off on you, then you’ll feel it personally.

But if you are being false or hiding behind a mask, then if people like that person on the blog… well, it’s not you they like, now is it? If that’s a big concern for you, then you might want to rethink your reasons for writing a blog. It’s damn personal experience. If you’re not prepared to deal with the idea that some people will like you for who you are, and others will hate you, then you might want to find some other means of personal expression. Like origami.

Also, inevitably, you will make mistakes. Accept it. Write about your own experiences and ideas, and then read all the comments your readers leave, looking for new ideas, information and points of view. If you’re lucky and open-minded, you’ll learn as much from your readers as some of them may learn from you. 

An example. The internet is a crazy place. Crazy Cat Lady x1 beeellion.

Somewhere out there on the internet is an expert on everything.


Someone who, shall we say, has devoted their entire life to the study of the mating cycle of the middle-American fruit fly.

They started studying at the age of 12, and have spent every minute of the last 43 years obsessing over that one thing. Fruit flies.

They’ve grown 100 generations of fruit flies in controlled environments, under varying atmospheric pressures, and measuring extremes in gas content percentages.

When that person sees your throwaway post about the fruit fly, accept the fact that they are going to be outraged, tee off on your audacity for daring to write about it, and then spend the next 4 paragraphs correcting you.

Be grateful.

It’s not that they hate YOU for making a mistake, it’s that they know a shitload more than you do about that subject, and when given the opportunity to share that knowledge, they are going to do it.

It’s rare that you’re ever going to get such expert guidance on any subject. Don’t feel like a failure that you got some facts wrong… seriously, feel grateful, because mistakes can always be corrected. 

Just update whatever post you wrote that had a few mistakes, make sure you thank the person for correcting you, and be grateful for having learned something new. Your understanding of the subject, and the world in general, has just grown.

Don’t worry that, now that you’ve made a mistake, all those people reading your blog took off in disgust. Some might stop reading, sure, but if you thank the person that corrected you, update your original post, and show that you are the kind of person that reads comments and wants to know what is right or wrong, and are learning from your readers as well, most will stay around. 

Your attitude, personality, and voice are yours and yours alone, and those are the reasons most people keep coming back. 

Now, as far as your grammer and spelling….

Screw ’em.

Seriously, don’t even worry about it.

Will spelling mistakes and grammer errors drive some of your readers crazy?

Hell yes!

Focus first and foremost on the meaning you want to get across, and in sharing it in your own voice. Conversational discussions don’t follow grammer rules, and you don’t write in the same voice as other people. Abuse triple dots for pauses all you want, use silly smily faces, care not for the worries of grammer nazis, and give of your thought more to the important things, like actually having a point to this damn thing somewhere, and saying it in your own voice. 

Once you’ve got your post done and you’re happy with it, sure, use spell check on it. When you’re writing very, very well and in your own voice, you’re in the groove and things are flowing, then go start worrying about spelling.

Spelling is important, and so is grammer. People can be so immersed in a story or article that a sudden mispelling is actually jarring. It throws them out of the moment, and back into an awareness that, oh yeah, this is some schmucks’ blog. Having a moment like that broken by spelling mistakes sucks.

That’s especially true of writing stories. A lot of mine are posted long before spell check is done, and re-reading my own stories on the PBeM I can see how disorienting it is to be visualizing a scene and boom! There’s a horribly mangled word, right there, throwing me out of the story.

So sure, go back over your work looking for spelling mistakes, if you’ve got time. Do it while re-reading it to see if it flows in your voice.

But don’t worry about it, don’t allow your fear of grammatical and spelling mistakes to stop you from writing. That’s the real danger.

The meaning of your posts is what you want to get across, and the voice you are speaking with is one of the reasons people keep coming back.

Long after you’ve forgotten you wrote about something, one of your readers may have walked away thinking about things in a new light, because they’d never seen that one thing from your particular point of view.

That person isn’t thinking about the way you mispelled “Mangle” that one time, in band camp. They carried away, and are thinking about, your idea.

That’s what lasts.

I’ll share an example that matters a lot to me, of how spelling and grammer are transcended by meaning and ideas.

My favorite poem is by Richard Lovelace. I’m adding it here for you to see what I’m talking about.

Tell me not, Sweet, I am unkind
For, from the nunnery
Of thy chaste breast, and quiet mind,
To war and arms I fly.

True, a new mistress now I chase,
The first foe in the field;
And with a stronger faith- embrace
A sword, a horse, a shield.

Yet this unconstancy is such
As you too shall adore;
For, I could not love thee, Dear, so much,
Loved I not honour more.

I love that poem dearly, but the first time I read it, it didn’t exactly flow smoothly in my understanding. I had to work through it, figure out how it should sound aloud, see how the meaning tied together.

If it were analyzed purely based on modern spelling conventions and phrasing, I’m sure it wouldn’t be handled kindly.

But spelling and grammer have nothing to do with why I love the poem.

It’s stayed with me over the years for the meaning of the words, the power of the ideas, and how they resonate with me.

If you want to write a blog, do it. There are several “How to get started” articles and posts out there to help you through choosing software, modifying themes, picking a name, and getting your posts seen.

But when you’re starting out, forget about things like themes and stuff. It’s all about the writing you do, what you’re saying, and how you do it. Most people will use a feedreader and never see your pretty theme or fancy sidebar.

What they will see is your writing, naked on a page. Your ideas. Your meaning. And how you choose to express yourself.

Make sure when they’re seeing you stripped naked… that it’s really YOU. Your voice, your personality, all natural, no bullshit, and all original parts. :)

And drive your post towards your meaning!