Have I ever mentioned how much I enjoy being the idiot that refuses to conform to “accepted best practises for bloggers”?
Blogging is a fairly new form of personal expression. I know TJ has been doing it for decades, but it’s new enough that a lot of folks that are still blogging now had nothing to go by in the way of rules or guidelines when they started. You figured out what it was while you were doing it.
As with everything else, if one person does something, three other people will devise rules that simply MUST be followed. If you look, you can easily find dozens of blogs that primarily create and discuss “rules” for blogging. And there’s nothing wrong with that, since everyone is free to succeed or fail on their own, follow rules or guidelines or not, and can even decide for themselves what would constitute success or failure.
What rules and guidelines succeed in doing, is influence those newly come to blogging. Most folks want to have some idea of what they should be doing, tips and tricks and techniques for success, and it’s only natural to visit the “experts” and see what they recommend.
Among the tips I’ve read, you’re supposed to do short posts so as not to bore your readers with long walls of text, you are supposed to have lots of pictures mixed in to break up the wall of text and relax the eye, distract it and entrance it, you should have sections and break things up nicely and use headers and such, and you’re supposed to eliminate wishy-washyness wherever possible and use declarative statements rather than qualifiers to help draw attention.
Edit: You’re also supposed to use spellcheck, FYI. I don’t. Why? Because I’m an idiot. So I reread my own post 50 times and update something different each time. None of which helps the fact the first draft went out on feedreaders.
In my opinion, that is all excellent advice on writing attractive posts that are welcoming to the reader. It has nothing to do with the content of the post, it’s just helping to provide tips on making that content more visually appealing.
I have nothing personal against having pretty posts… but for me, it takes a backseat to the writing.
Since we are communicating over a digital medium, this may shock you, but I still buy books. Yes, the ones made out of murdered trees.
Call me a neo-luddite if you must, but I like them.
The books I love the most? They mostly have these things in them called “words”. Not pictures, not hyperlinks, no nice formatting. Just words. Words all strung together in sentences, and those sentences into paragraphs, and holy cats there are so many paragraphs they even have multiple chapters!
It’s craziness, I tell you!
Yes, sometimes I do write a long post, and occasionally I write what Jess tells me have come to be known as “bearwalls” on Blog Azeroth chat. Massive walls of text that I have been assured constitute a dizzying assault on the retinas of my poor, unfortunate readers.
And yet, I keep doing it.
This begs the question… why? This question mostly gets asked by some of my fellow bloggers, who wonder why I continue along the path of fail.
I’d like to answer that.
First, there is no incentive for me to do it any other way.
I’m not an elitist about it, I do know that my site would surely be much more popular if I paid more attention to being graphically pleasing, just as the blogging rules websites recommend.
And yes, I do want the folks who read this blog to enjoy visiting.
The thing is, I’m not interested in increasing pagehits. I’m not looking for being the most widely read umptyfrats. I don’t get more money based on having more bodies plunking their butts in front of the computer and navigating to thebigbearbutt.com. Heck, I don’t get any money. And I’m fine with that. I love capitalism… and part of capitalism is the freedom to choose to be nonprofit, purely from a love of what you do. Of course, a true nonprofit would ask for donations to maintain overhead like website hosting costs, but hey… I just figure I’m a nonprofit with only one corporate sponsor… me.
At least I don’t have to hold fundraisers and beg for money during kids shows like PBS does. “Now kids, if you like Arthur and want to keep watching it, and not have the show canceled, go get mommy or daddy… and tell them to bring their wallet.”
I feel that the folks that keep returning to the blog are mostly coming back because they like to read in general, are wierd in particular, and like to chat with the community here. That’s about it.
If folks that come visit the blog as it is decide not to hang around because there aren’t any pretty pictures… well, that’s okay.
We can choose to call you who remain the dedicated. Or the crazy, take your pick.
Second, this blog started BECAUSE I write bearwalls.
I started writing these long posts in a Yahoo Group for the founding guildies of Sidhe Devils, and they’re the ones who suggested long ago that if I’m going to write these massive walls of text, I ought to put them in a blog format. I’m sure they’ve long regretted that move.
I’m interested in writing, and in sharing my enthusiasm with friends… mostly for the game, but occasionally I share other enthusiasms as well. If this blog is really about anything, it’s about being enthusiastic and passionate, and sharing that with friends. Part of being friends is listening to what you think, learning from you, and trying things that you think I might enjoy, so I keep my eyes and ears open to what you are enthusiastic and passionate about in the comments and email, too.
The feedback you give me, the enthusiasms you have that YOU share… these are the most wonderful part of blogging, to me.
I’d never have heard of half the stuff I enjoy without you folks. That’s the truth. Nightwish, Flight of the Conchorde, Cruxshadows, Great Big Sea, and many, many, many more… my musical interests these days largely derive from bands that my readers have mentioned I might enjoy. Well, I have sought them out, and I’ve enjoyed them very much.
Likewise, readers recommend books, and I go read them. Libraries are wonderful things, and let me request and read the things you suggest that I never would have been able to afford otherwise.
Finally, I honestly feel that the whole point of blogging is communicating ideas and having fun while doing it.
Sure, sometimes I share pictures, or screenshots, or YouTube video links, or songs that I’m enthusiastic about. But it’s the writing I love. I have an intense love for and respect for the art of using the written word to communicate ideas.
In my heart, I feel that good writing should be able to stand alone. Pictures can be fun, and CAN add to the idea that you’re trying to express, but words should be quite capable, on their own, of expressing the ideas you hold in your mind.
If I don’t think that I have succeeded in bringing my mental image to life, of expressing exactly what I wanted to say with words, than the failure is in my ability to write, not in my lack of using the correct pictures to add context.
Every single one of you reads this blog for different reasons, I know. I’m sure some folks are only curious about information concerning Feral Druids (folks that I have been sadly disappointing of late) , or about the game of WoW itself. But others seem to hang out just for fun.
I personally like to think that the quixotic nature of my blogging attracts readers like Jess, folks that enjoy novels, involved stories, and being part of a continuing dialogue.
I think, and maybe I’m wrong, that by breaking “the rules”, I’ve been fortunate to become part of a much different community than I might otherwise have been.
If you want to feel special because of it, I won’t object.
After all, anyone that can work their way through an immense bearwall deserves the right to maintain their illusions for as long as they can.
Or is that delusions? I always get those two confused.