Blog as if no one was reading (but hope they do anyway)

Shannon blogged on blogging the other day, and it got me to commenting.  Here’s what I told her: blog like nobody’s reading.

Many of us do–and I’ll confess I’m one of those.  This, of course, does not count for those who are blogging about issues like politics, church, denominational politics–you know, ISSUES.  But for those of us who write the personal and use the blog to sort through things like an electronic diary, I think this has to be an underlying rule of blogging.  Blog like nobody’s reading–at least for the first draft and before you hit “publish.” 

Perhaps I have a different take on it, having written about my family in a local newspaper for 7 years.  I understand the give and take of the public journal and some of it by making stupid mistakes and writing things publicly that should have been private.  But I learned.  And the great thing about this venue is the ability to remove posts once you decide you didn’t want to share that part of your self with the world. 

I guess it all depends on what you want to do with your blog.  I blog like I did when I wrote for the paper, except here I get to easily link to things, can write as much or as little as I want and whenever I want.  There’s no editor telling me I’m too political, no deadline, no nothing.  There’s also not the readership I had when I wrote for the paper. But there’ something here that wasn’t there: there’s a back and forth and support from other bloggers that I didn’t get in that other venue.

Your at face-value here. What you say is what you are.

So, be careful with what you say, but not so careful you don’t ever touch something deep or potentially prickly. Close comments if you write something you really don’t want people responding to because you just felt the need to write it out, work it out for yourself and you don’t want people giving you advice you won’t really follow anyway.  Write like nobody’s reading.  That’s where the best writing comes from.  No pretense, no snark, no need to be clever or cool.  Just write.

I was reminded by reading Biddies in my Brain about the writing exercise I used to give when I taught writing to students who weren’t quite ready for Comp 101 at the college level.  Most of them could write, they were just afraid of it.  Afraid they had nothing worth saying, told, often enough by a world that just doesn’t get it, that they had nothing to say.  Part of the requirement of the course (not my requirement, but the department’s) was for them to keep a journal. The very first journal assignment I gave them was to write two lists: “10 Things I Love” and “10 Things I Hate.”  I’m pretty sure I stole this from Natalie Goldberg, but my intent was to focus these people on things that mattered to them–passionately mattered to them.  Keep the list at the front of your journal, I told them, so that when you are stuck on what to write about you can peruse the list and find the thing that most matters to you at that moment.  The journal, I told them, was theirs to write whatever they felt compelled to write about.  While the dept. head at the time gave rules like no profanity and no pornography, I relaxed it a bit to say “if the word you really mean is a word you don’t think you can say, go ahead and write it.”  But, I added, I have to look at you in class, so I’d rather not read about your sex life.  Real or imagined.

I loved teaching that class.  My favorite thing was to see someone realize that the world was wrong, that they had something to say and they could say it well–with some encouragement and guidance.

So, I told Shannon to blog like no one’s reading as if I know a thing or two about what it takes to write a good blog.  I don’t.  This is hobby for me.  Like when I wrote essays and sent them to the opinion page editor and she printed them and I didn’t get paid a dime.  My words were out there and I was happy.  And then it led, eventually, to a gig that served me well.  And may do so again in the future. 

But for now? I’m blogging like no one’s reading, and, truth be told, my “hit stats” tell me I’m not far off the mark.  But those who do read?  They are precious to me and I’m grateful for this place, this time, this community. 

As the saying goes, blog as you would dance if no one were watching. 

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About TinaLBPorter

I write poetry and blog at www.tinalbporter.com. And I'm thrilled to be writing with you.
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3 Responses to Blog as if no one was reading (but hope they do anyway)

  1. uuMomma says:

    Thanks, jacqueline. Right back at you.

    Laura: I know. I know. Believe me, I know. One of the reasons I quit writing my column was to protect my daughters’ privacy. I had written since the eldest was in Kindergarten or first grade (can’t even remember). One rule I had for myself was to never use their names (much like I do here). I didn’t think anyone needed that info and I worried about pedophiles knowing more than they ought to. (I remember a story a lawyer I used to work for told me about his wife being home one day and some guy coming to the door asking for their daughter by name. The wife was suspicious and didn’t let him in, called her husband who called the police. The guy was scared off before they came, but when they got there they told her to lose the wooden welcome sign out front that spelled out every name of everyone in the family. They did, and whenever I see one of those cars with the sticker on the back with the stick family and all the names, I cringe, remembering that story and what might have happened if the mom/wife had been less attentive.) Anywho … be careful out there–IRL and online. Never know whose reading and what they know about you. I don’t talk about going out of town until I’m back in town. Don’t talk about husband being out of town til he is back, that sort of thing. Lots of this I learned while writing that column–some of it the hard way.

    Blog like no one’s reading, but keep your wits about you. Be safe. Be kind. Don’t tell someone else’s story without their permission. Don’t say more than you have to. Oops, I’ve already broken THAT rule.

    Thanks to both of you for stopping by.

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  2. jacqueline says:

    The blogs that I like most are the ones that allow me to feel part of their living room conversations. There is something lovely about it.

    When I was living in an intentional community (commune) I started a public journal at the desk where I worked. Anyone could read or write in it. Well, it sparked quite the controversy, but it freed people to put down on paper the thoughts that they had in a communal and sharing kind of way. That is the same way I approach my blog and what I love about yours.

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  3. laura says:

    Having just gone through a stalker thing last month, I must admit that blogging as though no one’s reading isn’t *always* the best thing – I did let a little too much of the personal out there over the past four years, and my stalker – someone who kind of knows me IRL – took painful advantage of that. Hence a second blog which is locked-down for friends only and contains my entire backblog from May ’04-Jan ’08. THAT stinks.

    That being said, I *do* write for an (imagined?) audience full-time now. I have points to most of my blog entries that are meant to drive themes home… and I am very happy with that in many ways – it is changing the way I write. It gives me a chance to make the personal political and I find that very liberating… but I must say I am much more careful in choosing my words these days. I hate the self censorship, but it’s probably better in the long run for me personally – and my career, too.

    That being said ::smile::, I loved the “Things I Like” exercise… so positive and uplifting. Need to do things like that more often on my blog – and in real life (heh – is there a difference?). Being able to see the positive even when the day stinks is such a blessing.

    Keep up the good work!

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