The paradox of blogging

English: Graphic from the licensing tutorial

A blog looks like a nice thing, but it’s actually very rough when you experience it. If I said that, I’d be echoing Benvolio in Romeo and Juliet in the very first scene of the play. Except that he said love instead of blog.

Sigh.

My blog is so mixed up. No central theme so far, no single tone, not a sign of my brand. My feelings towards my own posts are increasingly resembling Romeo’s oxymoronic feelings towards love, I’m afraid (why am I waxing Shakespearean today?).

Why then, O brawling love! O loving hate!
O any thing, of nothing first create!
O heavy lightness, serious vanity,
Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms,
Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health,
Still-waking sleep, that is not what it is!
This love feel I, that feel no love in this.

I have such an imperfect understanding of what might succeed.
I’ve put in a lot of effort on a blog post and it’s received a lukewarm response. And I’ve written on a whim while I’ve had just a few minutes to spare and it’s become popular. In fact, my most “liked” post was written while waiting a short while to go out somewhere.

Yet I know hard work matters.
In two ways. If I keep writing, I know a certain number will turn out good. But I never know whether the one I’m currently writing will or not.
But I know that the quality of the average post will improve with time the more I write.
More people will read if I keep at it long enough.

But there aren’t any real indicators of what people like.
More “liked” posts aren’t necessarily always better by the tenets of good writing I know. Better posts don’t always necessarily generate the most comments. Sometimes a great post leaves nothing more for people to say while a less perfect post provides openings for people to comment on. These indicators are not always the best to go by.

Yet, I know readers sense good writing from bad. They somehow always do.
Readers, collectively, have a strong nose for good writing. It does not matter who wrote it, what the point of view was, what tone or genre. If it’s good and it has a way of getting reasonable exposure, readers will show they’ve liked it and enjoyed it.

Then, there’s the process itself.

I never know when or where a good idea might strike me. In the grocery store, in the elevator, on the bus, when I’m sleeping.

Yet, I need to sit down somewhere to catch those ideas in front of a computer. But sitting down quietly is no guarantee that those ideas will come.

89 thoughts on “The paradox of blogging”

  1. Great post. See? You never know? All that advice about how a blog should be this or a blog should be that, and all that brand building stuff, is all so calculating and marketing 101. I like it when a blog is the blogger – if you like one you’ll like the other and stick around for more, and it’s authentic, not just posturing for sales or whatnot.

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  2. Overthinking — that is why, I think, some well-written posts, with a lot of hard work poured into them, receive lukewarm responses, if at all. When we write when we have no time to think, rethink, and overthink, when we write between doing this and doing that, we write from the core, so there that’s our soul on the page. This is plain conjecture, though. This post is great — it also doesn’t mean we should write only when the mood strikes. Writing is a discipline more than a whim. Your proposal that a well-written piece leaves nothing more to be said and therefore yields not enough reaction or feedback is a new idea to me. I never thought of it that way and now that I think about it, it makes so much sense. Kudos to you!

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  3. All of writing is a paradox. Intensely personal, and yet we write to be read. While I enjoy a few blogs that are extremely focused on a specific subject, the blogs I enjoy most are the ones where I get a sense of the person behind it, and none of us are one sided. πŸ™‚ In other words, I understand moments of doubt, but I enjoy bottledworder. πŸ™‚

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  4. Doubt has a common thread, but some are gifted even in their doubt to elevate words and phrases to soothe the muse within our minds… You have that gift, and it is my wish that it never goes away.

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  5. that is so well expressed! It’s so frustrating to have a beautiful notion at 4 am then have forgotten it by 7 am, when I have sufficient hand-eye coordination to write it down somewhere. I tried to be positive about a broken night’s sleep last night, thinking I might at least get a post out of it, and got complete random nonsense in the head for 2 hours.

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  6. Good post. The way I see it, there’s no reason to feel the need to restrict yourself when it comes to what you should or shouldn’t write about. It’s your blog; as long as it’s reflective of what you care about, then that’s all that should matter. Think of it as an extension of your personality and write.

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  7. Validation is always nice, but the point (at least for me) is to write, then get it out there where someone may read and hopefully enjoy it. And like you inspiration has its own timetable. There is no forcing it.

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  8. I love your blog. You write what so many of us are feeling. With all the awards being tossed about and all the likes, sometimes, for me, it is difficult to decipher what people truly like to read. Please keep doing what you are doing. You inspire so many of us.

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  9. So true. And Shakespearean.

    I think we all want to share something with the larger world. We want to matter to someone other than ourselves. Does it matter if your blog bounces from topic to topic, from theme to theme? I believe that if you stay true to a purpose, it does not matter.
    Keep writing, some of us will keep reading.

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  10. My blog is largely as I would like it to be, but I do sometimes wonder why people read it knowing that so many of my posts will devolve into melancholy or sad memory, although these things are meant to illuminate the joy now. (I once asked my then-boyfriend if my blog’s readers were perhaps emotional masochists.)

    In my case, it’s typically the light-hearted poststhat get the most attention. I went through a period where I tried to write only light-hearted for that reason, but then that constraint made my blog feel less than authentic to me. So it was, as always, back to the balancing game . . .

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  11. Even if you think your blog is mixed up, what you say seems to resonate with a lot of people. And not just today’s post, either, but on a regular basis, your posts connect with people. That says something. It all comes down to WHY you blog. I have three separate blogs now. One for my writing. One for my environmental concerns (it IS what I’m going to school for, after all). And one that’s about my journey to find my true self. That one is more like a journal than anything else. All three serve there purposes. Whether others read them, well, that’s not the point.

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  12. I read this post and said, “That’s me!” My blog claims to have a theme (and actually the theme holds me accountable because I want to actually live that theme, of living life as a single flow rather than as a series of compartments) but it all seems like a mishmash to me! I still feel I have something to say regarding the theme, but frankly, I’m just glad I have it as a dumping ground so I can write what I please and improve at writing. There’s a small group that reads it so that makes me happy.

    I agree with the others that your blog is you and you are a writer that speaks to me. I subscribe to very few blogs – yours I subscribed to because I want to read what you have to say. And I enjoy the way that you say it.

    One thing sure speaks to me with regards to your success as a blogger – you get a LOT of comments! So obviously I am not alone in enjoying your posts.

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    1. “your blog is you and you are a writer that speaks to me”–I think this idea is helping me think through the blog towards a structure. Thank you.

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  13. It might help if you ask yourself why you are spending your valuable time blogging.

    My blog is merely a written record of what I write and why, and what I’m experiencing while I do it. I don’t worry if other people are reading my blog or how many people are “liking” my posts.

    The purpose of my blog…It is a kind of journal about my writing, topics related to writing that I’ve been thinking about or struggling with. It is available for others to read if they desire, but I write it for me. I try to blog once a week, but if I skip a week I don’t worry about it, and if I want to blog more, I do.

    I suppose, if I ever write something that people talk about, they can read my blog and say… “Oh, that’s how it all happened.”

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  14. you say your blog has no central theme, and yet I find myself agreeing with everything you say. Perhaps your theme is “things my readers will agree with”!

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  15. Your post echoed almost exactly what I was feeling this morning. Like you, I’ve spent many hours crafting some posts, and dashed others off in a few minutes. I’m a new blogger, and I’m not certain that my posts are reaching anyone, or that they mean anything to many people at all. Yet, I love writing blog posts. They are a creative outlet for all of the thoughts swirling about in my brain, and they so different from the more academic style writing that I normally do.

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    1. Yes, this is so diff from the academic style. Yet, I feel like unless the deep thoughts underpin the light style, they can’t survive long. That’s a challenge because the success of the short, catchy posts can get addictive.

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  16. My blog doesn’t have a central theme either and sometimes I worry about this. But my life doesn’t have just one theme or idea and my blog reflects my life so I guess that’s just how it is. Great post!

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  17. Writing is always reflecting the writer, and also the mood at the certain time.
    If you are blogging every day, the posts will always differ with the mood of the day. Or the inspiration.
    It’s a very different way of writing than for instance writing a novel.

    My experience is that writing almost every day generates a couple of views a day. And even surprisingly many likes. I haven’t published my blog in any particular way, and it’s not very popular. But I have a strange feeling that it has it place on the interwebs anyway. If only one person thinks what I’m writing is worthwhile, then I’ll continue. And I’ve been blogging for almost a year now.

    I think that posts that generates most hits and likes are the easiest topics, and the shorter, catchier ones. Just because most people get them.
    Long, pondering posts might be interesting, but its very nature will put quite a few readers off. Not because it’s bad, but because it’s not what everybody is looking for.

    I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. Keep at it!

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    1. Many interesting observations. I think the one I found most interesting was the one about changing views with changing time of day.

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  18. Stay you, whatever you has become since starting, stay true to it. That’s my philosophy and I can’t say it’s successful but it is me and if we aren’t here for our unique voices or eclectic works, what else… oh yes! The wonderful readers, commenters and brilliant fellow bloggers. All the more reason to stay you πŸ™‚

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  19. A great post and I agree entirely – my blog started life as one thing and recently seems to have morphed into something else entirely. I go for long periods with no inspiration then suddenly have so many things I want to write that I can’t keep up in the limited time I have. And, like you, it is often not my best work that attracts most attention. Bizarre. You are obviously doing something right though to consistently attract so many followers and comments – do you think you could bottle it and sell me some?

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  20. This may sound ridiculous, but what I’ve read of your blog has always seemed to centre around a particular theme to me: your theme is you, and you are your writing. You are so evident in your posts, and it doesn’t feel like you need to adjust and box yourself into a defined, overriding theme. Celebrities are their own brands, and you’re doing fairly well for yourself as a blogger. If you like what you’re doing, don’t change and label it just because a slightly tidier-looking blog might be nice.

    Just my very humble opinion, sorry again if it’s a bit odd. I’m glad you blog; it’s lovely to read.

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    1. You’ve actually helped me think this issue through much more than you know. I’m still thinking, so don’t have an adequate response to your response yet, but thank you.

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  21. My blog is the same way. That is partly why it is called Jumbled Writer. It is just a mess of everything I am thinking. Where will this lead to? I have no idea. Hopefully more than just jumbled, dissapointed readers. Keep on going with the blog.
    –JW

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  22. Today is my 28th day of posting. I agree with you wholeheartedly, as my own blog doesn’t have a theme. I even wrote a post to ask for help, which didn’t seem to work at all. That said, write anything that intrigues you, things you like, things you don’t like, just, be honest.
    You seem to have hit the nail on the head with this post (yep, I love metaphors), but I’ve learned that not everyone is going to like or comment on everything you have to say.
    Just keep doing what your doing, I’m sure in time the blogosphere will open up for you. πŸ™‚

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  23. I don’t think I’ve ever met a blogger who really knows what they’re doing (me included). It’s nice to just write about everyday stuff and people seem to like that. I really liked this post because it speaks to everyone whose ever had doubts about their posts. Very enjoyable πŸ˜‰

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  24. I know it hurts when we pour our hearts into something and it gets very little response. Sometimes it’s just circumstance ( holidays, work schedule, school finals week etc etc) and that post goes over looked. Sometimes its lost in the reader. But blogging really is like Russian roulette. I think the key to blogging is just being brave enough to play the game and ignore the stats and numbers. It ( the numbers) will come when you least expect it.

    You are doing great in trying to better your blog with stuff like your post asking for advice. Keep doing things like that, Go straight to the source and find out what it is they are longing for.

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  25. Really enjoyed this post! You are my new hero blogger. I hope this comment will ease some of your waxing. (So long as the waxing is unproductive.) A self-aware author already has it made. In the end we have to write for ourselves. Well, in the end we have to do pretty much every verb for ourselves, but I think you know what I mean.

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  26. Sounds like you and me are in one boat, navigating the ups and downs of this blog bayou.

    I know I put my heart and soul into certain posts and get; meh…and, like you, others that are written with mere minutes to spare are received with much more enthusiasm. Go figure.

    I think we just have to write for ourselves, hone our own style and brand as you call it, love our own writing and we will, slowly, but surely paddle out of this bog and end up on land, where we’ll be greeted with understanding and acceptance. A girl can dream… ;0)

    I think you’re doing a great job. Keep on rowing!

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  27. That bit on WordPress where you put in, “in a few words” what your blog is about, that goes under the site heading, can be pretty transitory too – I’ve already “amended” mine once already! Great post (and I’m always a fan of the diversity!)

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  28. The faster you write and post, the closer you come to truth. Too much thought dulls the edge, numbs the readers mind. My best stories are the ones I write before I’ve finished the morning’s first cup of coffee.

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  29. Glad to hear that you don’t think you have a theme either. That frustrates me about my own blog. I started it to provide raw material for a book I was going to start — then I started the book and decided it was still half baked and maybe I even had the wrong recipe. But the blog took on a life of its own. Yours is one of my favorites, and one of the first I followed when I started blogging nearly four months ago. Glad you are a partner in this insanity. Happy new year!

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  30. I try to read at least 10 new blogs a day. I’m always amazed at how little traffic some blogs get or how few likes some posts receive that are really well written. The same is true for the opposite situation. I can’t understand why some posts have dozens of likes when the content isn’t well presented. I know that not everything will be to my taste or liking but some stuff is just bad. I’ve written stories that I thought were really good, that actually brought tears to my eyes when I read them back aloud to family members. Of course these particular stories have deep personal meaning for me and clearly didn’t ring true for others. Sometimes I think that if a story is longer than a couple of paragraph people don’t want to take the time to read it.

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    1. Yes, short time-span in terms of attention is an issue but I guess there is some readership for longer works too. Maybe signposting might help (I’ve thought about trying it)–something that might warn readers that what follows is a longer work and so only those interested should come to it taking some time aside before starting to read.

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  31. My most popular post is a frivolous one I did about the World Series in less than 5 minutes. The post I spent 3 days researching to have my facts, figures and thoughts in a row has exactly 1 like. It also has 2 views. The other one I have lost track of how many likes and views it has.

    I also do not have a central theme. It is mainly about little old me and my observations and opinions of this mortal coil. Oh well. We shall persevere!

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  32. I have discovered the same thing. I find it strange that posts I’ve hastily written in short moments life has spared me are my most successful.

    I suppose that just demonstrates how great ideas come when they come, leaving us unable to understand or predict. Perhaps they lurk in the far reaches of our mind that we only come to in hasty, rushed moments…

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  33. One of the paradoxes is writing for others (the market, audience, readership) while being true to yourself and writing for yourself. An artist without an audience is probably not the best, but neither is an audience without a true artist. When we are authentic, some people will like us, others won’t. To paraphrase an old pop song, we have to avoid becoming addicted to ‘likes’ in blogs as in the rest of life. Of course, our lives, our writing personae and our blogs are works in progress, works developed along with others whether we like that or not.

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    1. I enjoyed this post bottledworder and have thought many of the same things along my short four month blogging journey. Stephen James’ response is bang on though. Because it’s hard to predict what will resonate with others it’s far better to write for oneself; even though it winds up being frustrating and lonely sometimes. Write. Write hard. Write well. Just keep writing.

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  34. I’ve just started my blog, and I appreciate your candor in this post. I am currently relying in the fact that I will have no central theme for some time, but eventually, I will…I think. I have no idea what people will like, but I still feel as though I must write what I want…for now.

    I love your blog by-the-way.

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  35. I’ve found the same thing – it seems my quick posts get the most response. It makes me wonder if I overthink my posts. I do know that length matters – it could be an awesome, insightful post, but if it’s 1,000 words, no one will read it. Sometimes it’s hard to meaningful in 300 words πŸ™‚

    You may not have a theme going on, but I enjoy your thoughtful posts. I don’t always have time to comment on them (or I don’t have anything intelligent to add as a comment) but I do read them.

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    1. πŸ™‚ It depends. If you’re the kind who posts longer stuff, you will get readers who are looking for something different from those who are looking for short, quick posts.

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  36. I’m with you even though I’m new to blogging. I’ve noticed that I can’t predict response at all. Blogs I write and rewrite in order to keep my voice fresh and engaging are ignored. While short, off-the-cuff works will get more views and followers. I try to just focus on the writing and not obsess over reader #’s. Ha! It keeps me verbally limber though and I can tell my students that I practice what I teach☺

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  37. Hits a lot of notes for me as someone who is only a few months into this game. There’s lots of things I think I might write, butnim not sure they’d fit the niche I feel like I’m blogging in…but maybe they would and they would be great…? Who knows – but it is good to know there is plenty of company!

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  38. I think these paradoxes are what’s stopping me from posting right now. Any tips on how to get over them, other than just continuing the flow of posts, and hoping for the best?

    Also I enjoy all of your posts but one comment you made about sifting through dozens of blogs to find good writing really struck home. Currently I withhold my ‘likes’ and ‘follows’ until I find a blog I truly like and enjoy… it stems from some sort of arrogance and large ego, as I feel most of the time it’s just a hope of reciprocation, but recently I’ve been thinking about whether or not that’s just how the ‘community’ works… and I’m wondering if I should just jump on the bandwagon. What do you think about this?

    Also, though I think it’s needless to say, another great post. I enjoy everything that you write.

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    1. Hi – have you tried the Daily Prompt? Sometimes they aren’t very useful, but I think just going with the flow can lead you some interesting, authentic places. Also, people visit your post from that page, so it’s a good way to find readers who like your style.
      Everyone’s different on their “follows” and “likes” I guess, but I also don’t follow many people. I have too much to read as it is. Great writing is my measure for following, not necessarily theme.

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    2. Continuing the flow of posts is key but also participating in the community by commenting, liking and learning from other bloggers. I used to comment a lot earlier though I’m not getting that much time anymore. Also, I only post when I feel I have something valuable to say even if it’s a passing thought but I try not to post writing just for the sake of writing to appear on people’s feeds because that tactic works only short term but in the long run I think people will stop reading you if you’re just talking to fill some kind of gap in your flow.

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  39. You’ve summed it up completely and I agree on all aspects. The blogs I’ve written that I think are great get a marginal response…..it’s a strange world, this blogosphere. The only thing we can do is listen to those inner voices and write what we write. That is who we truly are, and nobody can change that. (and I love the voice recorder on my iPhone….it has saved random ideas on many occasions)

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  40. I’m the same way. My blog has no point, though it has become drastically better since I started it. I even took down some of my old posts because they were so bad, and I thought they were okay when I wrote them. Luckily I didn’t have much readership back then. And I also have no idea how to tell if a post will be good or if people will like it. You’re definitely not alone on that. πŸ™‚

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  41. When mindful I have a pencil and paper nearby, wherever I am. Otherwise I challenge the braincells to remember, with limited success. May you succeed and feel happy and safe.

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