At home in Fort Worth...
I have noticed several posts lately in which the writers give tips for good blogging. Since that seems to be in vogue, I’m going to offer a few of my own. I think I’ve learned a good deal about writing blogs from reading posts—both good and not so good—of many other bloggers. Although I read posts on other subjects, RV blogs are the only ones I follow through Google Reader.
The number one criterion for a blog to make my reading list is this: It must tell a story. And I don’t mean a travelogue—you know, one that contains a zillion photos of scenery and a narrative that could have been copied from Wikipedia. Thanks, but I’ll just read Wikipedia, I think. What I want to read is about the writer’s feelings and sensations about his or her experience. This is no different from what makes people want to read a good book—to be transported through the written word to live vicariously in the writer’s experience. It doesn’t even require great writing artistry or a compelling subject. What is happening is not as important as telling what you think or feel about what is happening. If it makes you happy, tell how happy and why it makes you happy. If it’s funny, exploit it for all it’s worth; readers love humor.
Besides the dreaded encyclopedia-style travelogue post mentioned above, there are others that drive me batty:
1) The family gathering—innumerable photos of every relative breathing, from newborn to nearly departed, all of whom are known only to the blogger.
2) Basket weaving or beer bottle collections—a complete photo guide to performing some 19th century craft, or endless posts about an obscure hobby that may have 37 adherents in the whole country. If you’re going to do a how-to series, that's fine, but realize this will be something most readers will zip on by.
3) Wild animals, birds, pets and flowers—everybody loves them, but please…'less is more' applies here. I just don’t need to see an elk from every conceivable camera angle. If one feels compelled to include dozens of these photos, why not just put them in a library and provide a link for the three people who want to look at them?
There are those folks—including me—who have said they publish a blog for their own record or just so the family can keep up with what they’re doing. I think they (and I) are kidding ourselves! If those were our only intentions, why would we be publishing it to the World Wide Web where a billion people can read it? I think every blogger likes to be read; however, not all of them write about what someone may want to read.
Here are a few more tips that may be taken for whatever they’re worth:
- Try to be positive; there’s enough negative news already. However, if something happens to you that others can learn from or avoid, don’t hesitate to tell about it.
- If something is just so crazy good that you know others will love it, go ahead and rave about it. Just don’t get carried away; not all that much falls into the crazy good category.
- Avoid politics, but an occasional rant—about anything, so long as it isn't personal—can be entertaining. Warn readers beforehand and apologize afterward.
- Avoid preaching, but acknowledge God’s handiwork and blessings from time to time.
- Write from a humorous perspective and look for humor in all things, especially yourself.
- Tell readers about your health issues, but try not to dwell on them.
- If you leave a blog comment, make it a bouquet and never a brickbat. There’s always something good to say about every post.
- Try to remember to include your location at the beginning of each post. Most writers don't do this, and I forget sometimes. But it surely takes the guesswork out of it for readers.
- After I write a post, I get up and walk away for a time; then I come back later and re-read it before publishing it. I’m almost always glad I did.