This post is also available on Gemini. The HTML version you're reading right now is specially crafted with some cute text effects, though, so there's no need to switch protocols unless you really want to.
Why I'm writing this
I received an awesome email last week from somebody who was struggling with writing their own blog posts. They had identified challenges they wanted to overcome, and they asked for advice on if I'd dealt with those challenges myself.
I really appreciate that they reached out! I started thinking about how I should compose my reply, and then realised that other people might find my words useful too, which is why I ended up publishing this post! (Fun fact: This was the third paragraph of the post I wrote, and I wrote it in past text.)
Who are you writing for?
There are many ways to divide and categorise kinds of writing. One possible division you could make is between writing that's private and writing that's to be shared.
The word blog is derived from "web log" - a log that's on the web. The medium of a blog post implies that your words will be shared with others in some form.
It doesn't necessarily mean that you're writing for others. Artemis offered me an interesting perspective on this. Despite their blog being readable by anyone, they are the person writing, and the writing is explicitly for them.
Well, I sort of lied: the division of whether your words are for yourself or for others isn't actually a binary. You can compose your writing in several ways that make it more for yourself, or more for others, or even a bit of both.
If you're writing with others in mind, you might wish to make adjustments in the language you use in order to explain some concepts better for the readers who aren't in the in-group. If you're writing from your heart for yourself, and publishing your words as an afterthought, you might adjust for this by using a pen name and not providing a way for readers to respond. You can do these things to different degrees. For example, a blog where you talk about difficulties you had styling your website could be filled with jargon that only makes sense to you, or you could explain some of the contexts and reasoning behind your styles, or you could write it as a full tutorial for beginners.
All of these writing styles are totally okay! Before you start writing, though, you should think about who your audience is this time, and to what degree your post is for them, and choose your words and style based on this.
Why do I write for myself?
I write for myself because I find that processing, organising, and structuring my thoughts into prose means that my ideas arrange themselves in my mind better, and I have a fixed reference that I can look at later if I want to.
You can that I was writing primarily for myself in my very first blog post.
I also write because it's fun, provided I treat myself well enough while writing. See the section on "fun" further down.
Why do I write for others?
I began writing for others because I realised that other people might find my words useful too.
Before I made my blog, I found that I was talking to my friends in chatrooms about the things I'd been doing, and I really enjoyed sharing my life in this way. But my friends are split into several chatrooms, so I'd have to share my thoughts in all of them if I didn't want anybody to be missed out. Some of my friends aren't in any chatrooms, we just have direct messages.
I realised that if I organised my thoughts into a structured post, I could send the post link to all of my friends, plus anyone else I wanted who might be interested in the ideas of a specific post, without needing to repeat myself! And we could still talk about the things after I shared my link.
It does make things feel a tiny bit impersonal and parasocial, though... I'm not sure what to do about that. I wonder if there's a better medium for this purpose. I'm not sure.
Here's an example of I post that I wrote because I wanted other people to read it, because I was really really mad about something and needed to vent.
Regardless, I still enjoy sharing my ideas with the wider world, and people have told me of the positive impacts or new directions my words have had on them! That's so cool. Thank you all. I love you so much.
The most important thing about writing, whether it's for yourself or for others, is the message that you convey.
Something that the modern web seems to have forgotten is that they need to actually write something of value under the layers of presentation. It's about writing! This is why I consistently enjoy reading personal and indie blog posts. They are always about something meaningful rather than trying to entice readers based on the value of their mouse click. This is a low bar to clear - you can be assured that anything that you write online will have value. :)
That's what I'd consider to be the core of a "good" post - something that is at least a little meaningful to you. (This is "writing for yourself".)
And yet you'll find that, most likely, other people will find your words meaningful too. If whatever the topic is is interesting enough that you managed to compose and publish a page about it, then in my experience, it'll be interesting enough for other people to read.
For example, I don't know anything about motorcycles and I'm ordinarily not excited by them. When I stumble upon somebody online who's excited by motorcycles and talks about them, in a manner that's accessible enough for me to understand with little knowledge of the subject (this is "writing for others"), I really enjoy reading their story. It expands my perspective on the world, I learn new things, and I genuinely find it fun to read from people who are passionate about their topic.
Please don't be worried about trying to make a "good" post! You can write for yourself, about something you're passionate about, and that is a "good" post. I promise you that if you enjoyed writing it, other people will enjoy reading it too.
And if you enjoyed writing it... well, isn't that good in its own right?
But what if my post is bad? aka, self-confidence
If you're writing for other people, it can be very tempting to think that your words are not interesting and that other people do not want to read them. Those beliefs are totally false.
Your thoughts are good, your words are good, and I would love to read about them!
If you write just for youself, you're totally valid too!
These statements are true.
I think that the reason that I'm not afraid is, well, that it's not scary even if it did happen.
By making the act of writing itself fun, it means that I'm not bothered if people don't like my post. I have no way to know what people think of my words unless they contact me and let me know (that's why receiving emails about my posts is always so welcome).
If somebody reads my post, doesn't like it, and clicks away, that idea doesn't matter to me because I'll never know about it. I still received personal enjoyment from the act of writing. This is why I think it is important that, no matter what, you should take steps to ensure that you do enjoy writing.
And as I say, if you write something you're passionate about, and you enjoyed writing it, then I bet other people will enjoy reading it as well.
Making the writing itself fun
Writing can take a long time. It's important to enjoy that process for the sake of it! If you have a keyboard that feels nice to press, and an application that you enjoy writing words into, then that's an excellent start!
The tactile part of writing, feeling my fingers hit the keys, watching each letter appear on screen, is satisfying to me in its own right. If by the end of a paragraph I don't like how the letters are arranged into words and the words are arranged into sentences, it still never feels like a total waste of time because I enjoyed pressing buttons.
I'll let you in on a secret. I barely proofread my posts. By the time I reach the end and have written out all the sections, my brain is exhausted and I never want to take the time to go back through my own words. I don't find proofreading to be a fun part of writing! So I mostly ignore it and don't do it. And I believe that's okay. (Although I did get a second pair of eyes for this particular post, and they suggested improvements to a couple of the sentences.)
There are a few posts I've started writing that have just been left in the drafts folder before I managed to finish or publish them. I'm not upset by this; I still appreciate the value of those drafts and I don't see them as hindrances or failures. I enjoyed the tactile part of writing my words, and the ideas that I did manage to write about are now more organised in my own head. I can also see these drafts as opportunities that I may be able to finish in the future!
...and an application that you enjoy writing words into...
I personally love to write my blog posts in Textreme 2, a really pretty writing application. It's silly and childish and it's fun. Textreme 2 legitimately is half the reason I'm able to write so much, because it makes it more enjoyable for me.
(If you think it would help you too, and you're not able to afford a copy, let me know and I might be able to buy it for you!)
Another way to make the writing process more exciting is to play media around you. I find that videos distract me too much away from my words, but I really like putting on music to listen to. I don't often listen to music while I work, so it's a nice and motivating change.
Go write something!
Start with a small idea. Figure out roughly how many paragraphs you'd like to write. If your topic would benefit from being structured, put down some headings of the key points you want to mention. Then start filling in the gaps.
An idea being small does it not make it worse. It will likely make the writing process more enjoyable for you, especially if you can start and finish in a single session.
If you enjoyed the writing process, then that's good writing because it was good for you.
If you end up writing more or fewer paragraphs than you'd originally planned to, that's not a problem at all. This very post ended up being far, far longer than I expected! And I'm glad about that, because it means that I got to properly explain my thoughts on all the sections I had planned, and hopefully my brain didn't get lost too far down the river.
If I had written fewer words than I had expected, or I found myself unable to fill in some of the section headers, that's okay too. I would be proud of myself for the things I did write, because they are still valuable, and writing them has benefited myself as well as, I hope, any readers.
If you publish a piece of writing after you read my article, send me the link! I will read your article and I will almost certainly like it :)
I may possibly write a couple of sequels to this post.
- Where do my blog posts go? (Publishing, website design, being visually appealing, being different, and why gemini...)
- How do I put my posts together? (Ideas, trees, laying out section headings, filling in the gaps...)
But that's all for now. See you next time!