Why blogging is not writing

(Blogging for authors) blogging not writingWhen I started this blog, on a dare, nearly 12 months ago, I thought blogging was just writing on the internet. If you read my first post (it’s here, if you haven’t had the pleasure), you can see my approach in all its glory. It’s like a truncated magazine story. Written, at the time, for no-one (except my ever-supportive family, of course).

I confess it took me a while to work out that blogging and writing are two different things. Not completely different. Blogging does, by its very nature, incorporate writing. But there is so much more to it. Six months in, when I caved and took part in my first meme, I talked about the fact that they were one aspect of blogging that confused me. To quote myself:

“So I did what I always do when confused, which was to ignore the situation in the hopes that no-one would notice. I figured I’d just keep on doing my thing on my blog, sending it out into The Great Wherever (TGW) and that would be that.

But the thing with blogging – the great thing about blogging – is that it’s not just about sending your thoughts into TGW because – and this comes as a surprise to a newbie – TGW writes back! What with all the popping into other people’s blogs that you do, and all the popping into yours that others do, you become, well, neighbours. And neighbours interact. Just like in the good old days when one, gasp, actually spoke to the people next door, so it is with blogs.

So I can’t be confused and ignoring people any more. They’ll think I’m snobby and stop asking me to barbecues.”

The Great Wherever writes back. It not only writes back, it invites you into the lives of people on a daily basis. You are essentially reading their diaries – some more personal than others, some more honest than others, some more touching than others, and some that make you laugh out loud. You hear their voices in everything they write. And they comment on everything you write.

When you write something for a magazine or newspaper, you might receive a ‘good job’ from your editor, and then never hear anything of the story again. When you write something for TGW, you know immediately how it’s been received. If you’ve hit the nail on the head, the comments will flood in. If you write a dud, there will be a resounding silence (to whit: this post).

No other form of writing is this immediate. So connected. Or, in so many ways, so satisfying.

Tonight, one member of my particular corner of The Great Wherever is hurting badly. My thoughts are with her and her family. That’s the thing with blogging. Yes, it’s about the writing. But it’s also about the people.

Who knew The Great Wherever could feel so small?

 

Comments 84

  1. The Great Wherever is an amazing, magical place. People who would never normally share words somehow find a connection through them.
    It’s Hogwarts school of Bloggery.
    Blogwarts?
    Yeah, I’m going to bed now, lovely post Allison 🙂

  2. I’m still a bit of a newbie to the whole blogging thing, but it’s reassuring to read things like this and see how wonderful it can be! I look forward to meeting more of my neighbours. Maybe even have a fondue night or something…

  3. Wow. Such a beautiful post. And i’m still fairly new, but it gives me hope to stick with it and hopefully my readers (and commenters) will continue to grow and give me feedback).

  4. I write nonfiction on the internet for a living, and I keep several blogs. Like you, I’ve learned that blogging is not the same as just writing, and I love the sense of community.

  5. Great post Allison. They are a different breed. The community/instant feedback is the lynchpin to blogging. Seeing how the internet rallies when people are in times of trouble absolutely affirms it to me.

    Having said that, I do think it is possible to blog in various ways, none better than the other. There are some blogs I comment on where I come back every time for the beautiful writing. The author never or rarely comments in the comments section and does not comment back. Am I offended? No. Because I love their writing. Also they have a massive readership. It’s not how they’ve chosen to do it and I lean towards this way of doing things myself.

    It is lovely when you get a reciprocal comment but I’m not a fan of commenting for commenting sake and then the original poster replying to that comment. I would rather strike up a conversation on twitter. And I still don’t like memes.

    But yes I agree that that’s the buzz of it all. Otherwise you may as well write in a diary.

  6. I’ve been doing this for a year and a bit and it is a funny thing, this blogging.
    It’s just another form of women chatting (do men blog as much I wonder?) It’s a kind of therapy too I gues. Anyway I always get a laugh or an aw shucks from yours, Al. Thanks!

  7. I love this post – The Great Whatever, indeed!

    I actually think there is a bit of writing that goes on in blogging and that the voice of the writing depends on the mood, message, spirit of the blogger. It’s up to us what and how we create our blogs, and that power is one of my favorite things about blogging.

    Like you and the other people who have commented, I also love the community. It still astounds me that here I am living in the northern part of America and I get to be connected with such amazing people from all over the world. What a gift that is!

  8. The Great Wherever is so wonderful isn’t it? I am so spoilt by the immediate gratification that I can’t imagine ever being able to go back to sitting in a room and writing a novel with no feedback until an editor says ‘thanks but this isn’t for us’ !!

  9. Ahh, wise Fibro dweller. I am glad I am not alone in being confused about blogging.
    Its a lovely analogy – the blogosphere as neighbourhood. Where people lean over the fence to chat, share, keep each other company. I never imagined the Wild Wild Web could be living, breathing, feeling – but here it is.

  10. Perhaps I only think this to salvage some self respect over blog posts I have written that haven’t received a comment, but I can’t agree that the measure of a good post is how many comments you receive. Although I have discovered you can write in a certain way to ensure you receive comments. Perhaps it is like the ABC mantra that audience appreciation is a better measure than ratings.

  11. As usual, Allison, you’ve hit the nail on the head. I’ve been thinking about this lately myself. I blogged about a similar thing the other day but more that for me, blogging has given me back my writing and given me my honest voice. I think the comments (though I have very few compared to you and your followers) really are so inspiring. It’s so lovely to have an audience and get to know them. Normally, when we write, the audience is rarely ever met.

    I love the idea of fellow bloggers being our neighbours. It’s so true and so lovely. It’s amazing what relationships we can develop with people we’ve never met.

    I am soooo trusting that none of you are psychopaths! LOL

  12. Also, I must agree with Andrew. Comments are not always a measure of how good your posts are. And you shouldn’t necessarily write for your audience: I think sometimes you just have to write for yourself, and hope it lands somewhere soft.

  13. Hi everyone – thanks for stopping by!

    @Andrew and TRM – I agree that comments are not a measure of how great posts are, but they are one of the bonuses of blogging. The best blogs are those that don’t court comments – as @deerbaby points out – for comments sake, but I stand by my point that the level of engagement is one of the highlights of blogging for me. (PS: please send me the link to the blog you mention. And no, I’m no fan of memes either. 🙂

    I’ve really enjoyed reading all your feedback this morning! Thanks for taking the time to comment. 🙂

  14. I’ve had a similar experience to you Allison. I started writing and was kind of shocked to get a response. I was even more shocked when responded and I met kindred souls. People I’ve befriended in real life. Who would have thought?

    I’ve also met myself through blogging. Amazingly, by writing out my thoughts, dreams, ideas, frustrations and sending them out into the ether, I’ve found a spot just for me. A place where I can be ‘me’. Not just mother, wife, friend, daughter, sister. It’s a real gift.

    Funnily enough, I changed the design of my blog last year and the commenters have dropped away. I’m not too upset as the faithful still comment and I would still blog if no-one commented. It’s just interesting that it dropped off. I wonder if people got confused or simply didn’t like the new design. I’m sure I’m still writing in a similar way.

    Great and though-provoking post!

  15. A part of me wants to suggest that ‘writing’ is not the word you’re looking for here… because any words committed to paper or file are technically writing whether it is in The Wall Street Journal or the journal that lives at the bottom of my desk drawer.

    But certainly the point you make here is a good one. I thought it was rather telling when Gerry Harvey complained about the online response to the push to put GST on online sales. He noted that in the old days [heh] he might get a phone call or a single letter. The obstacles to interaction are greatly reduced on the Internet. I don’t need to hunt down your phone number or address (or purchase a stamp) to give you feedback, I can just tweet at you or leave a comment on your blog.

    When you look into the abyss (The Great Whatever) it looks back into you…

  16. What you described must be why I cannot stop blogging in order to work more on my novel! I need the connection and ATTENTION. We, bloggers, we are attention-mongers, no? And, BTW, what a great first post!

  17. Neeeeeiiiiighhhhh-bours… every body neeeedsss good neeeeeeiiiighhhhh bourrrrrrs. Ok I’ll stop singing – promise.. I love my bloggy neighbours. My real neighbours flick cigarette butts into my garden.

  18. Great Post. I, too, struggled with blogging at first – coming from a journo background. To write in the first person, about my life, was so different to anything I’d done before. I used to be afraid to even let people know I was a journalist on my blog in case they thought I was a wanker (which they may do anyway!!!).
    But, I have come to love blogging for the very reasons you have outlined here. The community I have discovered online has enrished my life in a myriad of ways.

    I am actually excited by the possibilities of the crossover between writing/journalism/blogging. I have seen a few bloggers find their voice and launch into writing and that thrills me.

    There was a great piece written on blogging & journalism by Annabelle Crabb – did you read it? I’ll try to find link.

    So very sad about Lori. heartbreaking reading over at her blog.

    x

  19. I meant enriched!!! (not enrished, but you knew that, didn’t you?)

    (Blogging may have enriched my life, but it has made me very lazy with spelling/grammar. The subs at work would crucify me for the way I write on my blog…)

    x

  20. Morning Al…

    I am totally with you on the way that blogging begins to feel like a village.

    And I realise I am fascinated (like an old village gossip!) to know the details of the dare that prompted you to start your blog…

  21. So true Allison. There seems to be an urge in people where ever they are and with whatever media, to have contact with other people and interact with other peoples lives. To Lori…our love and tears. To all those others in SE Qld and soon NSW in flood…sympathy, a shoulder to cry on…a place to share without judgment. There’s lots of love and encouragement to be had in this place…just like neighbours.

  22. What a beautifully written and thoughtful post. When I first started my review site I tried so very hard to keep it impersonal and removed, but as I continue with it, I find that my personality is very much coming through with each review and, of course, it’s increasingly influenced by the interaction with readers through the site, as well as over Twitter and Facebook. I’ve met some lovely people doing this, and I’m so glad I started!

  23. Looks like you’ve nailed this one!

    What has surprised me is how much I can feel for a neighbour I have never met, spoken to, rarely even ‘interacted’ with. It is the most warming revelation that this blogging business might even be a way of spreading love. And here I was thinking it was just a way of getting the writing bug out of my system!

  24. I agree with you re The Great Whatever and this wonderful sense of community that to me, actually seems to be building around us?

    I love the feedback that blogging gives as it, unlike writing, proves that I’m not alone. Writing is so solitary (not that I don’t love that too mind you).

    Some of the posts I’ve written that I feel were best “written” actually received little comment.

    I for one love being part of this little community. Great post.
    xx

  25. Hi Allison. I’m 4-weeks-old-new to this blogging world and I completely agree with you! I wasn’t exactly sure what or why I started blogging, mainly as a project for me to invest in and a chance to get some thoughts down on paper. But it is SO much more! I’m just loving the ability to be able to connect with people who obviously share things in common. And – there’s just nothing quite like finding a comment on your post!! They just make my day!! Looking forward to following you in 2011 x

  26. Agreed. I think so often we hear about the ugly side of social media, the fear that people have about having their information exploited online.

    I love how supportive fellow bloggers are of each other and I agree I’ve “met” so many people that I’ve connected with.

    Well said.

    Kirstyx

  27. TGW is awesome, isn’t it? It helps that your writing is fantastic – right down to the grammar. But you’re so right, the blogging world is about so much more…so glad I met you “next door”. 😉

  28. I often find myself chatting with one of the mums at school and saying ‘I have a friend who…’ referring to a fellow blogger or tweep. It felt awkward at first, like I was attaching more signifiance to something that was meant to be superficial (isn’t that what we’re told about social networking), but instead I’ve realised over time that I really have made friends, real friends, with many of my fellow bloggers.

    I love the idea of there being a blogging neighbourhood. I wrote last night about the blogging community and the strength of the support that it offers on so many levels. I love being part of it.

    Thanks for being one of my favourite neighbours. 🙂

  29. Gosh, that’s just so true. I think I started my blog to force myself into regular writing, but it soon became so much more than that. I have met and talked to some truly wonderful people via my blog, and I’m richer for knowing them.

    Wonderful post! 🙂

  30. Another very smart blog from you. Blogging isn’t the same as all the other forms (articles, columns, essays, books, etc.) and I’ve written about that exact subject. Very interesting.

    You, however, ARE a good writer!

  31. Excellent post! I’ve never thought about it like that before, but you are absolutely right! It’s the immediacy of the feedback.

    Which must mean that my posts are duds because I don’t get many comments….

    Oh, well, I’ll keep trying….

  32. omg. you are so great w/ this post. hunanity is cool and taking care of each other and checkin in is what makes us human! I love hearing these statements from other people, makes me feel like I’m doing alright.

    happy rewind

  33. I love this post – I read your first-ever blog and I loved that too, because at the moment it’s a lot like mine. I’m fairly new to the whole blogging thing and I’ve noticed that once you start reading other people’s blogs you see all the different ways people write. I’m still easing into it. Great post 🙂

  34. Happy re-wind. I’m loving the blogging journey and finding my blogging mo-jo! Posts like this are part of my ongoing learning to blog rollercoaster ride.
    thanks

  35. You hit the nail on the head re the difference between writing and blogging. Blogging is more of an exchange of ideas. I love the comments and actually live for them. Here’s another lesson I learned early on: when you get a comment you should respond to it. I didn’t at firsts and now I wish I had, but feel it’s too late to go back and respond now. Nowadays, I always respond, and I have really enjoyed making so many blogger friends. This is a great place to be, so thank you for your post!

  36. It is so immediate isn’t it. Even commenting on something say at the Sun Herald takes ages to come up and may not even appear at all.

    I do wish when blogging ever started but, they came up with a better name. See, my best friend and I always called doing a poo, having a bog (back in the day).

    Wonder what in hindsight they could have called it. 😉

  37. This is so true. The first time I noticed how connected I felt to the bloggers I had come to frequent was last summer. I blogger I adore was going through a family crisis – her daughter was in the hospital, it was an emergency situation. That woman and her family were in my thoughts all day just as if it was my girlfriend across the way. And i sincerely wished I could reach out with more than a cyber hug to give her support.

  38. It doesn’t always end with comments either; I know plenty of bloggers who’ve become RL friends and spend Real Time together.
    Bloggers send e-mails and cards and gifts and love when you need them, and give you the chance to do the same.
    I love the connections we make, and I love how beautifully you expressed your thoughts, Allison!

  39. aaah poop! Missed last night (AECP – another effin christmas party). But love this post. The whole community thing is what floored me about bloggers. I call bloggers modern versions of pen pals.

  40. I love the immediate response of blogging. I used to work in radio and in some ways blogging reminds me of that, write in a conversational tone, encourage “talkback”, I love the to and fro of discussion that a good blog post can create.

  41. You know what I’ve also loved? Reading down the comments here and seeing people who haven’t been around for a while. It’s reminded me to pop by their blogs and ask them how they are so thank you for that too :-).

  42. That is such a good way to explain it! I’ve hesitated for so long with my poor suffering blog because I thought I couldn’t write well enough, but now I see its more a matter of starting a conversation.

  43. Loved reading this post, particularly since I’m doing a course through the Australian Writers Centre to start travel writing for mags (hopefully). So I’d be doing things the opposite way to you. I hadn’t thought about the lack of response you get from a published article. Something to remember, and a great reason to stay motivated and continue blogging at the same time! 🙂

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