Why to Blog
Every now and then, someone tells me they would like to blog more, but feel intimidated. They don’t know what to blog about, feel like it’ll be a time sink, things like that. So I thought I would share to four main reasons why I blog.
Blogging Makes You Smarter
Well, not really. But it does cause you to put to concrete words vague thoughts you have. I talked about this this the past, about blogging half-ideas and the like.
Most of the time when I blog, I have some topic that’s either popped into my head or I’ve verbally talked about while working on a project. So I figure “can I wrote 800-1000 words on that? Maybe less, maybe more?” And then as I sit down, I think “holy shit, I didn’t realize I knew/thought that.”
This makes me, in some ways, my primary audience for my blog. In many ways, this is my personal master class on game design and text design, much like how (and this is just me thinking aloud) Vincent Baker’s blog is his personal master class, useful for him.
As a personal class, comments from others are super helpful — they help me understand where I’m misguided, where I’m not going deep enough, things like that. So having something public adds to this. After all, I am not as smart alone as I am with a dozen people discussing something critically.
(As a side note, that’s part of what I love about conventions.)
Blogging Makes You Quicker
I’m at the point that I can take a topic and write 800 words on it fairly quickly. Most of that is from building skills when it comes to informal essay writing, but it’s helped me learn the art of writing and being comfortable with being wrong. When you’re constantly writing first drafts, you get used to writing them.
I don’t give myself much time to write a post. At most, for a meaty one, an hour. After that, if it’s not done, it gets shelved for a future date — and sometimes those don’t even get published, because I have already taken away quite a bit from making concrete in text my vague idea. And there’s always a new vague idea to explain. But because of my time constraint, I work to produce quickly. I sometimes outline, writing headers first — and I guarantee you that outlining is a tricky skill to master.
Blogging Gives You Material You Can Use Later
Sometimes when I write a post, I’m forming ideas for something I’m going to use later. Pretty much every horror gaming post is that, for a game I’m dying to sit down and make. It’s a place where I can test out little ideas and (potentially) see how people react to them. Some of my Fate posts are working their way in Fate Core, for instance.
Now, I know the whole thing in fictionland about how you shouldn’t publish short stories on your blog because they you can’t resell them, as that counts as first publication. So if that’s a concern for you, don’t publish those. It’s not a concern for me, because I’m not putting my fiction on my site (and frankly, I’m my own publisher when I want to be, so that part doesn’t matter).
Blogging Can Start Your Mental Engine
I’ll get to a point during my word day when I’m staring at something I’m suppose to be working on, something that’s on deadline, and I’ll be drawing a blank. Could be writing, could be editing. And I’m just frustrated at absolutely zero progress. My brain isn’t in that working gear, and not every task comes with a font of inspiration.
When that happens, I stop and turn to my blog. I use writing here to get me into a working frame of mind. It’s like getting a cold engine going — by the end of the post, I’m generally warmed up and ready to tackle the thing I couldn’t figure out. Sometimes I’ll write about what I’m working on: subject matter, text issues, style concepts, something related. Sometimes I’ll write about whatever seems to be distracting me from doing the work, just to get it out of my system
(I’ll also try working on something else, rather than blog. Whatever will get me started.)
Blogging Makes You Known…But Not Right Away
I said four reasons, and here’s a fifth. But it’s not a fifth reason to actually blog, it’s just a reason many people start to in the first place.
Here’s the thing: it takes longer than you think to build up an audience. Longer to get them to comment, and learn what they’ll comment on. Most visitors either read and nod, read and close it because they don’t agree or don’t care, or they click on a link and let it languish as a browser tab or in Instapaper, not actually reading it because other stuff comes up.
So if you’re blogging in order to get people to see your genius, I guess that’s cool. But expect a long road of disappointment…or come up with personal reasons that add to your life beyond fragile Internet micro-fame.
I started this blog because I watched Rob Donoghue get even sharper as his blogged every day. So I wanted to grow similarly. I’d say I’ve done pretty well so far, but the road ahead is long. And it’s awesome.