When blogging: feel inward, look outward.

My life is falling apart. My cat naps on my keyboard. I have a new lover (don’t tell my husband). My best friend died. I just climbed Everest. I live in a deep, dark hole and can’t imagine I’ll ever climb out.

Are you interested yet? Since everyone faces similar situations, you’d think they’d be great topics to blog about.

They are–depending on the execution.

We should blog about our personal concerns, our personal interests. But why would anyone care, just because we have some shared experiences?

Picture your blog reader as a listener. You’re in a coffee shop, talking. Does the listener lean forward, eyes on yours, waiting breathlessly for your next words? Or does the listener’s eyes glaze over? Does he or she sidle away, glad of the lucky escape from someone with such dedicated self-involvement?

I don’t mean we should step back to the point of being impersonal or cold-hearted. Blogs benefit from the self-revelation of the writer: the revelation of how the writer experiences life. Readers read to find a personal connection with the writer.

But we need to extend a hand to readers, not huddle in a private locked room. We need neither rescue nor a pat on the head. To be understood by other living humans like ourselves, we need to expand beyond ourselves.

How do we find this balance between the personal and the universal?

We should try to establish kinship.

When we blog about our lives, we should try to include the readers. Not by our topics alone, but also by our intent.

Though most bloggers are not fiction writers, the approach is similar to a fiction-writing technique. The self-revelation of a blog illustrates the blogger’s journey. As bloggers, we can use an ancient fictional tool: the hero’s journey.

As described by Christopher Vogler in The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, at the end of the quest the hero of the story can bring back what he or she has found and offer it to people, to those who listen to the hero’s story. What the hero discovers is vitally important to them. It will make their own lives better.

Write your personal journey for your blog, but bring what you’ve discovered on your journey back to your readers. Offer your discovery to them, knowing how valuable it is.

Hold on tight to what you feel inside, yes, but express it while looking outward.

As you write, be aware of the strangers there with you. They are strangers, but they want to be interested, sympathetic strangers. They’re looking for a connection with another human being. They need that connection as much as you do.

Look those strangers in the eye. Reach for their hands. You’re about to give them something priceless.

By S.J. Driscoll

25 thoughts on “When blogging: feel inward, look outward.

  1. I came here from Prudence’s blog. Congrats on your award! What a great post, and you’re absolutely right. I skim through blog posts that don’t for one reason or another tie me in emotionally. Or I skip reading them altogether. Even posts about writing need to bring me in on a deeper level (unless I’m looking for help in a certain area).

    • Thanks, April! Like you, I tend to skim blogs, and click away from posts that don’t seem to acknowledge the other half of the writing equation: the reader. I don’t need to be entertained. Too much entertainment’s available, anyway. People may be looking for something more. I certainly am.

  2. This is so true, Sally. As a blog reader, I want to learn something or be touched emotionally. When bloggers speak from their heart, I always go back for more. 🙂

    Thanks for the great post!

  3. Well put. Before the WANA class, I’d only ever written factual posts for the writing blog Lisa Wilson and I share. I still find the balance difficult because, as a reader, sometimes I do just want a factual post. And in my offline life, I’m a very private person. I hold things very close, so opening up my life and finding a way to connect with others is terrifying. Absolutely terrifying 🙂

    • Marcy, I found it hard to get over that fear. It’s easy to stay on the “just the facts” level because of that fear. Now, there’s nothing wrong with facts. But sometimes… who cares? Writing on the personal level acknowledges that we’re all human, and humans need more than facts.

  4. Wow, Sally, this is so beautifully expressed and so perfectly on the mark. It is one thing to have had similar experiences, but when the reader feels they have shared your experience, that’s when you connect.
    Thank you for an awesome post.

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