Hello, Cassandra’s readers!
Hello Geoffrey, you say.
Miz Jade is on her second day now of a whirlwind blog tour. That was not a phrase that actually held much meaning for me when she first used it, but she was kind enough to explain it to me, and it’s sort of been like that since I got started over on Misanthropology101 — Cassandra left the first comment on my first post, in fact (well ahead of my deadbeat friends), so it’s an especial pleasure to be visiting her blog in turn.
Cassandra invited me to say “something about writing communities and internet presence,” and I promised to give it a shot. She’s vastly more qualified to speak on the subject than I am, but I’ll try to lay some things out without lapsing into too much navel-gazing (people who really want to gaze at my navel can always visit Monday’s post at Misanthropology101, but I swear I didn’t time it that way deliberately).
Anyway, it all comes back to skills learned in kindergarten, or at least the sort of skills that other people say they learned in kindergarten (I learned that even if a kid was bigger than you a brick was still functionally bigger than him, but I was picking up exactly the opposite of the skills you want for getting along in online writing communities). Share and share alike, disseminate every interesting piece of information you know to anyone who will listen, don’t show anyone your swimsuit bits — that’s the kind of thing I’m talking about. Unselfconscious spontaneous interaction is what the writing blog/forum scene is all about!
To be sure, there has to be a certain amount of practical content, particularly for blogs. If you want to connect with other writers, it does help to have “writing” in the blog tags somewhere — I assume that’s how Cassandra found Misanthropology101, back when it was first getting started. She’s very good about keeping an out for newcomers on the scene (another great kindergarten skill). But I’ve learned that people are less interested in day after day of nuts-and-bolts technical lessons than they are in “Storytime with Geoffrey” (also true of kindergartners, to keep the metaphor rolling). I like many of my posts about writing technique, and think them to be generally good advice, but they are not the heavy hitters in terms of comments or pageviews.
That is because blogging — and writing, ideally — is about fun and about interaction. If people don’t get both of those things, fun and interaction, they aren’t going to come back for a second or third visit. And there’s certainly a self-serving element to all of this; we want people to have fun because we want them to keep playing with us, i.e., keep reading our blog or referring it to our friends or what have you.
And that’s just fine. There is nothing wrong with wanting your blog to be more known, more visited, more popular, whatever. The trick is to remember that you want all those things because it gives you more people to have fun with, not because the numbers are inherently valuable. So by all means tailor your writing for maximum entertainment and engagement, pander shamelessly, post topless pictures of yourself — whatever you think will be enjoyable to share. But remember that it’s all kind of silly unless the ultimate goal is to meet even more people that you enjoy sharing things with!
One thing that everyone seems to enjoy is lists, so I’ll finish one (and maybe should have started with it, for the short-of-attention-span):
GEOFFREY’S GUIDE TO BLOGGING LIKE A KINDERGARTNER
1. Say hello to everyone, especially if they say hello to you first. Introduce new friends to your other friends!
2. Share all your thoughts! Unless they are deliberately rude or mean.
3. The more fun everyone in the group has, the more everyone will want to play again.
4. No, seriously, the brick is bigger than you.
If you liked this post, tell Cassandra! Also tell your friends, and drop by Misanthropology101 every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for many more absurd thoughts on the writing life. Cassandra’s guest post is of course featured today, and she is welcome back any time she likes — keep up the good work Miz Jade, and keep up the good reading all the rest of you!