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An Undisclosed Number of Signs You Shouldn't Be a Blogger

Date/Time Permalink: 03/17/07 05:57:31 pm
Category: LINKS and Lists

Blogs are hot. I know that sounds less credible coming from a blog than if, say FOX News said it on TV. But anyway, everybody and their dog and their dog's fleas has a blog now. And sometimes I wonder: are there people out there blogging just because they think they have to? These are not 'reasons why you suck' or 'reasons why I disagree with you', but merely signs that maybe you're in the wrong line of work. Just one applying to you isn't Sure Doom, ringing five of these or more is a sign to perform last rights and close it up.

1. Your longest post is 50 words.
Or the equivalent if you podcast or vlog. A YouTube video or an image or a quote doesn't count as your own content unless - this is the nut of the matter - it was made by you. Even if you're posting just to point your readers at something worthy of their attention, you should have something more to say about it than "Best crowd pictures ever!" or "Funny video, you have to see this!"

2. You have a lot of posts whose whole point is to apologize for not posting.
When I read one of these, I usually delete that blog's RSS from my reader; because I know the blog is dying and I'd rather not be there to watch its last strangled gasps and death rattles. Blogs are songs that never end; you need commitment to keep them going.

3. You've posted more than 10 pictures of your cat (gals) or 3 pictures of your truck (guys).
The threshold is higher for cats since I know they're actually in charge, and it is expected when your cat has kittens. But mostly, these are things bloggers do when they run dry. Unless your whole blog is about cats and trucks in the first place. Even then...

4. Your blog has no focus.
Post #1 or the 'About...' section should contain a sentence detailing what this blog is about. At least write it somewhere, even if only on a post-it on your monitor. It's a cartoon blog, a recipe blog, a goth culture rap, a directory of wonderful things. It's fine to say your blog is just a place for you to yap about random stuff, but there's five million others out there who started out the same way and ran dry.

5. It's entirely a personal diary.
The exception to this rule is if you lead a really fascinating life. No matter what, hardly any of us are full of ourselves enough to go on disgorging their guts online forever without eventually running out of guts. At some point you run empty. Long before this point, your last reader will have left to go write about him-or-herself instead.

6. You aren't your own fan.
If you're serious about it, you will find yourself re-reading a lot of your past work. Analyzing what worked and what didn't, re-thinking your point of view on a subject, looking back on something really catchy that you posted and grinning to yourself - you were really on your game that day! If you can't stand to look at your own work, how will anybody else?

7. You have no heroes.
As in, somebody you look up to as a source of inspiration. These can be any of the A-list bloggers, news columnists, journalists, or book authors. Blog posts are cannon fodder; you have to keep finding new sources of material. An idol will compel you to plow forward.

8. You have no writing stored anywhere other than the blog.
Natural writers keep a folder of writing that isn't published. Scribbled ideas that occurred to you in the shower that you haven't figured out where they go yet, half-begun posts waiting to gel, finished pieces you snapped off that you're saving to post on a dry day, and so on. Inspiration doesn't naturally happen at 8AM Monday-through-Friday; but if you naturally jump on the times when you're full of ideas and write them out at a fast clip, you'll have a wealth of material to fall back on on days when you're blog-blocked.

9. You let this list stop you.
If you're really cut out for blogging, you won't be discouraged from it no matter what I say. Except see rule #10 below...

10. You just don't want to blog!
Here, here: dry your tears and listen. Yes, blogs are hot, blogs are 'leet, blogs are big media, everybody wants to be on the A-list. No, you do not have to have a blog! There's plenty of websites that don't use blogs. Case in point, and I'll quote the source directly since I will not sully my URL by linking to it:

"The Vogue web site is getting a long over-due makeover. A Vogue staff member, who wisely remained anonymous tells Page Six all about her latest demand. They are expanding the Vogue Web site and getting more involved with the Internet. But Anna hates the word 'blog' so much, she refuses to call anything on her site a blog and has charged her staff with coming up with a new word that isn't as garish-sounding. She wants it ASAP - in time for launch."

There, now, whoever this 'Anna' is: it's OK, Anna, you and the blogosphere just aren't cut out for each other. It's going to be a blog no matter what you do. And you will hate it, your readers will hate it, and it will be like the old joke about the Grateful Dead fan whose sentence was to serve eternity in Hell listening to the Grateful Dead without any acid supply so he could finally hear how much the music sucked. Besides, we don't need a Vogue blog. We already have one. It's called 'wired.com'.


My personal creative motto fits best here:
"If it wasn't fun for you to write, it won't be fun for others to read."

clapboard

UPDATE: Seems I can't insult Wired more than it insults itself...

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