If you understand me, then you’ll probably understand why I have a blog.
Over the years, I have realized that there are a few things that are true in blogging, writing, and finding your place on the internet. I didn’t realize they were true when I started, which is probably why I’ve started so many things over the years, and left so many things unfinished.
Rule #1: Don’t Write for Other People.
I don’t write for the masses; I don’t write primarily for other people at all. I write primarily for me. I believe that is the first rule of blogging. The most important reason that you write must have something to do with you, and nobody else.
Some might view this as a very exclusive rule. They hear, “only the real writers need apply,” and it seems to rule out so many people who don’t think of themselves as natural writers. Only those with that special ability to say things beautifully and concisely, with that special flair for mesmerising prose or lifelike description, can become bloggers.
But blogging has less to do with what you have to say, or how you say it, as it does with why you say it. You must say things that are important to you. This is the first and most important rule. If writing is not important to you, then it doesn’t matter if people read it or not — you won’t write very much. And if you don’t write very much, then blogging isn’t really the place for you.
A Word or Two About Blogs
The above sentence needs to be unpacked just a bit before I move on. There are a couple of facts that need to be disseminated, just to make sure this post is understandable, and they are true regardless of what I think or what I write. In the big scheme of things, while I believe the rules stated in this post (with the big “Rule #…” headings) to be true, the rules are ultimately my opinions about why and how blogging works for some people; these facts are not my opinions. They are things that bloggers need to learn in order to make their mark on the world.
The first fact has to do with the nature of a blog. A blog is technically (usually) just a website or a section of a website that is refreshed regularly with new content, or “posts”. The posts usually have something about them that binds them together, such as a common theme, author, or viewpoint. For example, this blog is updated it several times a week with new content from one author, me.
The second fact is that there are many types of media, and the blog is one type that was created for and thrives in the internet. Media is the plural of medium, which is why those intellectual-snobby types always follow the word with the verb “are” (instead of “is”, as I just did, albeit correctly), creating a brief moment of confusion in most of us before we go on to the next word. The reason the word is used is because it refers to media (think, “mediums”) of communication. Another medium would be video, which also thrives online.
Rule #2: Blogs Were Made for Man, not Man for Blogs.
Now that I’ve stated those two facts, maybe you can see that there are a few things that are always going to be true about good blogs. Search and you’ll find plenty of lists, long and short, of the so-called golden rules of blogs. But the thing to remember about them is: there are several ways to express yourself — if blogging doesn’t fit you, then don’t do it.
Don’t try to create a blog that is “different” from all other blogs. If you don’t express yourself well in a format that necessitates sitting down every day or two and typing for a couple of hours, then it might not be best to start a blog with written posts. Don’t think that the only way to have a presence on the Internet is through writing a blog.
BUT. There are other types of blogs out there — blogs that use few words, or even none at all. There are photoblogs and videoblogs (or vlogs), with wordless posts that simply contain content made by the author. Then there are how-to blogs, business blogs, movie blogs, engineering blogs…
Blogs are a tool for YOU. If they help you express yourself, then you should use them. But if they don’t, then don’t think that you have to fit your writing or art or personality into one. If they don’t help you express yourself, then don’t use them — just having a blog won’t make you smarter, happier, or better.
Rule #3: It’s Always Easier to Do the Wrong Thing
Most of us can remember being directed by teachers or parents at some point to “go the extra mile” or “do the right thing”. We must be told to do the right thing because it doesn’t come naturally — it is simply always easier to do the wrong thing. It’s easier to litter than to throw trash away. It’s easier to skip school than to make good grades. And it’s easier to get people to read your blogs by writing spiteful and disrespectful things than by writing things that help people.
There are two people your blog posts can help: you and your readers. Some posts are like therapy. They help you form an opinion or solve a problem. They give you closure on a significant experience. Other posts share your experiences so that others can glean from them. They share insight with the world. These are the ways in which writing can improve the Internet — both for you and for other people.
However, it is easier to get readers by writing insulting posts about Presidents, celebrities, enemies, or friends. There is no end to the degrading filth that pervades the blogosphere — and I’m not even thinking about pornography. There is nothing wrong with expressing dissatisfaction or disappointment in the blog format, but when a blogger stoops to the level of defaming their subject, using name-calling and misinformation to help their case, the world has actually been made worse for those readers unfortunate enough to stumble upon that corner of the Internet. While such sensational writing draws attention to your blog quickly, IT IS NOT ART, and while you may think you are developing writing skills in the process, your skills have only brought shame to you and your blog, as you have used them for the purpose of belittling others who in reality are not worse than you.
This post, like all others on this blog, is therapy for me. I write for myself, about things that are significant to me, and about people whom I care about. It is a means of expressing myself, and of letting my personal story speak for itself, without tearing down the stories of others. I hope that it can be of use to some who are struggling to find their place on the Internet.