Yesterday I wrote a post about the worst reasons to start a blog.
Usually my listicles touch on “serious” writing topics but poke fun at the silly things writers do or try to make light of the very real struggles most of us face. We’re overwhelmed enough, I think most of us need to laugh at ourselves way more than we do.
For the first time, that style fell flat for the chosen topic, at least on one point. I wanted to both explain that point further and apologize for causing confusion. I’ll start with the apology.
My “listicles” started out as a weekly Saturday post to give readers something quick and lighthearted to kick off their weekends. I enjoy writing these posts, and readers (I assume) have enjoyed reading them.
Long-time readers of this blog know that I am a no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is kind of advice-giver. Because my goal in posting on this blog is to help writers figure out what they want out of their writing lives and push them toward making those things happen for themselves, I don’t sugar-coat anything.
In long-form posts, this style works. That format gives me time to explain why I disagree with certain pieces of writing advice and how I think the general population of writers need to change their mindset to accomplish a certain task. It gives me the chance to say “this way of thinking is stupid” and then follow that up with “but I promise I’m not a terrible person please let me show you what to do with this information I’m a professional writer I know what I’m talking about.”
Usually I am very careful about doing this in a shorter, less “formal” format. In a short list of ideas I try to include an even shorter explanation in parentheses if I think a statement could be taken the wrong way.
I did not do this with one of yesterday’s points — at least, not well. And that failure to communicate clearly turned into a mistake. I really wish I’d taken the time to do it differently.
In that post — These are the 12 Worst Reasons to Start a Blog — #4 reads: “Because you probably can’t get published without one. (You can.)”
I know what I meant by this. But more than one person reached out to me on Twitter concerned about what it might imply, and that caught me off guard. But I don’t blame them. It’s my fault, not theirs. I’m sorry I got lazy and didn’t explain further. I regret that.
Now let me elaborate, as I should have done in the first place.
There are many reasons people start blogs.
Not all of them are good ones.
The best way to start a blog you aren’t going to continue posting on is to do so for unsustainable reasons.
In my opinion, starting a blog because you think it’s the only way to get published — but not actually having much interest in keeping up with a blog for the long-term — is a terrible reason to start a blog.
The words between the dashes are what yesterday’s post was missing.
BLOGGING IS A GREAT WAY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF GETTING PUBLISHED!
IT’S HOW I GOT MY FIRST WRITING JOB!!
But. I ALSO started a blog because I wanted a place for my thoughts about writing to go. By that point, everyone already had a blog. I knew that. I wanted to give voice to the emotions and thoughts and ideas in my head and a blog became the result. (Putting ideas into words isn’t just a snappy tagline.)
Blogging with the hope of getting published should not be your ONLY reason for doing it. Because it might not help you get published at all. And is it really a heartfelt blog if you aren’t doing it because you want to help someone or share your thoughts or join in the conversation about a niche topic?
You need more than one source of motivation to write a blog you will be proud of and can dedicate long-term time and energy to.
THAT is what I was trying to say.
Are we all good now? All confusion gone? Can we make s’mores and sing stuff and laugh even though our mouths are full of s’mores?
I’ll be more careful with my listicles in the future. I promise.
Thank you to everyone who reached out to me about their concerns both on and off this blog. Please always keep in mind that even though I’ve been writing for a long time and sometimes give good advice about it on the internet, that doesn’t mean I’m perfect. I will never try or pretend to be. I’m just like you. I write fast and don’t always take the time to make sure everything is as clear as it can be.
That’s a bad habit. I’m doing what I can to replace it with a better one.
Happy writing. <3
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.