How not to blog.

August 16, 2011 § 15 Comments

I just got back from speaking at a writers conference—and listening.

I discovered that I’m doing this blogging thing all wrong.

A blogger should post 3 to 5 times a week.

The posts should be snappy and short, say 300 to 500 words.

The blog should be part of the writer’s image-building strategy called a Platform.

A smart author strives to become a household name like Coca-Cola or Cheerios.

In addition to the blog a writer should have a website, should Tweet, should have printed materials…

The list was more extensive but at that point my brain seized.

I left the conference wondering whether I was, a. Lazy, or, b. Unambitious.

I decided to go with unambitious. For about 10 years now I’ve made my living as a writer without a day job. I do what I love and have time left over. I’ve achieved my ambition! I’ve arrived!

But even though I don’t want to be Cheerios, I do want my thoughts out in the world as part of our collective discourse. This blog is my bid to do that. It allows me to write straight-up essays. Not clothed in story, I show you my beliefs; the wire hangers on which all my stories depend.

It serves another function as well. I don’t know about your brain, but mine is like that drawer in the kitchen you throw things into: rubber bands, string, unpaid bills, that ball point pen that works if you hold it at just the right angle–and a million dollar lottery ticket.

It is only by writing that I can organize and assess all the random things I’ve tossed in there. This blog helps me to know my own mind, and identify that winning lottery ticket.

Keep it short? My posts almost always exceed the 500 word limit. Most things worth thinking about are too complex to express in 500 words. And since words are free, what the heck.

As for the dictum to post 3 to 5 times a week. Ahhhhhhh! If I did that there would be no time to grow vegetables, sing Motown, pat my dog, write stories, or debate the sorry state of the world with my husband.

As for Tweeting? Let’s not even go there.

I post once a week, faithfully. Bet this is my Catholic upbringing showing through, like counting off rosary beads or lighting candles. Whether my posts are good or bad, they are reliable.

Don’t correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe you get points in heaven for that.

One of my favorite things about having this blog is reading the responses they elicit. If you read this blog and take the time to comment, big thanks. Without you it would be like shouting into a canyon and hearing no echo.

By the time I hit the “Publish” button for this entry I will be in Maine with my brother and sister and the rest of the family—that’s why the illustrations for this post look so cool. I am not knocking ambition or authors who have the grit and chutzpah to self-promote, but time is limited.

What do you think? Maine or self-promotion, raise your hands.

All righty then. Maine it is!

Consider this my postcard to you.

Having a great time! Wish you were here!

(Five hundred and forty-seven words. Dang–so close!)

Tagged: , , , , , , ,

§ 15 Responses to How not to blog.

  • craig reeder says:

    don’t change what you’re doing, and DON’T LISTEN TO THE EXPERTS!
    how many of them have ever written a Crossing Jordan? Hmmph!


  • Ks Kublin says:

    Wish I was there. Thanks for the postcard.


  • Linda Guy says:

    Your blog is perfect! Always different, always fun!


  • Even if you wanted to brand yourself – it’s difficult to package writing like people package Co Co Puffs. It’s worth trying to explore – since genres each have audiences. Even the popular detective novelists are not really packaged like cooking products or root beer. Maybe I should be making root beer – I can write my articles on the labels.


    • Thank goodness we are more difficult to package than Co Co Puffs. And you are right, there is an effort to be made that could be worthwhile; self interest is not all bad. Part of my reluctance is that I am no good at it.


  • judyransom says:

    Great post, Adrian! Was the speaker on crack? Getting a new post 3 times a week from someone would be rather annoying, don’t you think? I asked Matt Mullenweg, WordPress founder, at a conference how long a blog should be. He just said no more than 700 words. I don’t know where that “blog law” came from, though! You ought to be able to do your blog the way you want to do it, because after all, it is your blog … a wonderful reflection of you! You’re so right about comments … they are applause to a blogger!


    • Judy, I think you break the rules too (which I appreciate). And you are right, three posts a week from anyone would be like watching someone pop wheelies and yell “Look at me!” It would definitely get old.


  • Yikes – 3-5 times a week? And only 500 words – mine are more like 900+! but then, I like to talk and share stories.

    Baptists get stars in their crowns, by the way. (It’s an old hymn thing!)

    Don’t change, A. I vote for Maine!!!



  • Tgumster says:

    As you know, I am building a blog, in my own way and in my own time. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the architecture of my blog–the way it looks–is similar to yours, sans the incredible photography of Ray as I come to your blog for his work, too. However, if he needs another blog to post his work…yes, that is my hand waving!

    As you know, I spend a lot of time online. In that regard, I’m well-traveled, which does not make me an expert, just experienced. While I read many blogs, I subscribe to two: yours and Kristen Lamb’s. Like you, she is comfortable in her own skin, which is, perhaps, the heart of blogging–what holds your readers close–not how many times a week your blogs appear or how lengthy they may or may not be. It’s that you love what you do, and that is all that has ever mattered.

    My vote: as Maine goes, so goes this writer.


    • I’ll look forward to your blog, in your own way and time. I will enjoy visiting the inside of your head with you choosing the subject.

      I passed your compliment on to Ray. He really appreciated it.


  • I like your analogy to the cluttered drawer. That’s me also. A good deal of my “intellectual” writing is done to explain things to myself. I call it analysis but it is realy drawer organizing. I used to love reading Plato’s dialogues. Answering your own questions I’ve always found interesting. It can be more fun and much easier than trying to answer questions from strangers. If you don’t come up with a good answer, you can change the question. I think if people tried to answer their own questions by first writing out their question and then writing out their answer, a lot of stupid questions would be eliminated. If I were a teacher, I would make all my student write out their questions. In most cases the answer will be discoved in a good question … making the question then unnecessary. I would have a quiet classroom wouldn’t I?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

What’s this?

You are currently reading How not to blog. at Adrian Fogelin.


%d bloggers like this: