When I was young, I dreamed of going into the newspaper business, becoming an ace reporter and eventually, after years of hard work, winding up with my own nationally syndicated humor column. I wanted to be the Erma Bombeck and Dave Barry of my generation.
And then along came progress. One day I woke up to Al Gore inventing the internet, followed by people reading their news online which was then followed by the blogs, which are, essentially, columnists.
I picked myself up from the rubble of the destroyed path to my dreams, brushed myself off and set out to acclimate myself, a 20th century newspaper humor columnist, to this strange new world in which technology had opened the door for any writer to write, publish their work and be read by anyone anywhere in the world.
I asked myself, Do I have what it takes to muscle my way into the ranks of professional bloggers?
Turns out, I don’t. I don’t have what it takes at all. I’m horrible at blogging. Horrible. I think I do the writing part of it okay, but there’s so much more to it than the writing. I am drowning out here in this sea of potential called the World Wide Web.
It can’t be as bad as all that, some might say. Well, to show that it is as bad, I’ve assembled a list to catalogue my failure:
The Top 10 Reasons why I am a Blogging Horror Show
- I have a broken coffee mug
I’ve noticed so many bloggers have, somewhere on their page, a beautifully ethereal photo of their perfect coffee mug right next to a journal with a fountain pen or a laptop with a small vase of flowers, captured in the new light of dawn. How are these coffee mugs all so ideal? I’ve never thought to go on a hunt for the perfect coffee mug. I’ve never given my mug that much thought. I got mine for free from my bank. It has their logo on it. I belong to a great bank, but no matter how great they are, a bank will never be ethereal. Their very business is earthly. But even if my bank changed its entire business model to deal in the exchange of grace and mercy instead of money, my mug would still fail to pass muster in the coffee mug blog photo world on account of its broken handle.
My mug exhibits a business rooted in materialism (though with excellent customer service) and it has a broken handle. However, if I were a good blogger, I would be able to spin something about how the damaged bank coffee mug is a metaphor for my own brokenness and how, though unwhole, I can still live out God’s purpose for my life be it containing an energetic spirit or pointing to the riches in life.
But I’m not that clever.
- I Can’t keep blog posts short
I’ve read many, many articles on blogs and there seems to be a consensus that blog posts need to be short. I suppose it makes sense. With all the screens in our lives and the various forms of entertainment they bring with them, fruit flies have longer attention spans than the average modern human. Readers like things short and sweet.
I try. I really do. I tell myself, no more than two hundred words but before I know it, my coffee mug is empty and I’ve written a small novella on why lawn guys shouldn’t take advantage of people’s niceness by continuing to do lawn treatments even after the homeowner cancelled the service because the lawn guy was a little too enthusiastic with his sprinklings thereby killing off half the perennials in addition to the dandelions. Yet he keeps showing up making the nice homeowner feel bad about not sending payment since, technically, a service was rendered even though she was pretty sure there wasn’t an actual weed called Creeping Plantar Fasciitis that needed to be treated for.
See? There I go again. Even this list was supposed to be a quick write up but last I checked, it was over 2000 words!
- I have a hard time posting content regularly
Another tip I’ve read is to make sure to post regularly. Once a week, twice a week whatever it is, stick with it and try to keep it on the same day and at the same time. Blog readers like the consistency.
I cannot, for the life of me, make this happen. I can’t implement a schedule anywhere in my life. Not a daily schedule, not a meal schedule, not a school schedule, not a prayer schedule, not a chore schedule. I can’t even keep up with the scheduled holidays on the calendar. I haven’t sent out last year’s Christmas letter, which I still do plan on sending out, once I get to it.
My life is complete chaos. I’ve tried posting according to a schedule. I even typed it up, laminated it and hung it on the wall, which studies indicate increases follow through by 79.8% and yet circumstances always arise that keep me from sticking to my schedule. Circumstances that usually involve all the other schedules not working. For instance, this top ten list is taking me forever to write because I have to keep taking breaks to tend to children who refuse to stick to the sleep schedule.
I like to think I’m using similar psychology to those who program slot machines. My inconsistent, random payout (in the form of blog posts) keeps the reader helplessly coming back for more.
- I don’t like to share anything personal
I am very uncomfortable sharing personal details with my husband, never mind with total strangers. I’m a little jealous of the complete transparency with which some people live their lives. There is nothing about them that anyone within seven degrees of contact doesn’t know, including their cycles! I can imagine living that way is very freeing.
I’m a bit more buttoned up.
Someone could ask me how my day went and if there were no major disasters and everyone was still alive I’d say, “Pretty good.”
If there was a fire at some point my answer will get downgraded to, “It was okay.”
If there was a visit to the hospital it will get downgraded a little further to, “Meh, It was a day.”
Even when I want to try and be a little more open, I’m not usually successful. Once I tried to tell my husband I loved him but all I could manage was, “I luh…”
“You luh?” he asked.
“I luh-ost something.” I said, trying to cover.
“What did you lose?”
“Any self-respect I had.” I said, completely dejected.
He grabbed me into a hug and said, “I love you too.”
- I’m horrible with technology
I’m not kidding. My mother is better at technology than I am. Also, every one of my kids, including my infant. Also, my dogs. Well, one of my dogs. The other one never went past flip phone technology (and she’d just die of embarrassment if she knew I was telling people).
Give me a typewriter, a film camera, an X-acto knife and a mimeograph machine and I’ll have a pretty respectable newspaper laid out and a run of 200 or so printed by the end of the day.
Sit me in front of a preformatted, plug and play web page and I won’t be seen for weeks. I’ll be stuck in front of that computer screen muttering things like, “What on earth is a child page?” and “Where did that thing go that I spent all morning writing?” and also “#$%@&*@#$!”
- Bad post timing
When I do manage to get something written, my post timing is the worst. I have this horrible habit of not paying attention to the news of the day or even what day it is until it’s half over. This has led me to post things on Christmas Eve, during major news events and most recently at the start of Memorial Day weekend.
The research I’ve done as to which day of the week is the best isn’t much help. There are arguments for each day being superior to the others. Except Friday. And guess which day I end up posting the most?
- I’m not good at being serious or insightful
I want to write beautiful things that stir the hearts of total strangers and make them think deep and weighty thoughts. I would love to join the company of greats like Fulton Sheen, G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, Saint Augustine, Thomas Merton and Flannery O’Connor but, alas, it is not meant to be. For I can not write anything serious.
When I do try, it sounds stilted and just pretty awful, like I’m trying too hard to be profound. It’s as though any talent I have for writing disappears until I finally give up and let the jokes pour forth from my pen.
Since I was nine years old, I’ve always wanted to write the next great American novel. It took many years and much frustration until it dawned on me that my serious writing was not improving. In fact, it was quite possibly getting worse. The humor, on the other hand, just flowed naturally.
I finally faced reality and accepted that I would never write a novel that would change people’s lives or be taught in high school or college literature courses or that would require Cliff’s Notes to help discern all the hidden meaning. I would never be a great writer. I would never be the honored guest at wine and cheese parties that could dress however I liked because people would overlook my eccentricities on account of my genius.
Happily, there is an upside to being a no-talent hack. I fear being a successful serious novelist would have made me an intellectual, an elitist or both. Intellectual elitists tend to lump everyone into groups and make judgements about people based on those assigned groups. I think, as a group, intellectual elitists are uncharitable, out-of touch snobs who look down on everyone. So I am glad my inept writing ability has kept me in the hoi polloi where we don’t judge people based on their socio-economic class.
However, trying to succeed in the blog world with shallow observations about life while everyone else is making deep observations is proving to be a bit of a challenge. Other bloggers lead their readers to truth, beauty and contentment while I lead my readers to wonder if it’s actually a monkey writing my blog posts or if maybe there should be some limits on free speech after all.
- I’m not good at sharing feelings, or even really having them
Perhaps I’d have an easier time writing profound and heartfelt posts if I had “feelings” or “emotions” or even a “heart.” Sadly (for other people; I’m just kind of neutral about it), I am lacking all of these. Though I have gotten pretty good at faking human emotion in person. Face to face, I can pass as a “feeling-ed American” if I have to (unless there is hugging involved).
However, in writing, it’s more difficult because you have to come up with the motives behind the feelings instead of just reading the social cues of the people around you and attempting to mimic their emotional responses. This makes it difficult for me to share the fake feelings I’ve carefully crafted and honed over the years to blend in with normal people and it certainly makes it difficult for me to connect with readers, unless they are Vulcans.
- I’m a minimalist.
This doesn’t really have anything to do with blogging but like being a vegan or doing Crossfit, being a minimalist means I have to mention it every chance I get.
- My social media skills are lacking
I mostly grasp the concepts of Facebook, Pinterest and email (though I’m not sure if email even counts as social media) because I’ve used each of these platforms with varying degrees of success. The rest of the social media world I only know about from hearing bits and pieces from people who are more tech-savvy.
Twitter – I know that you are only allowed so many characters per post, that there is something called a “retweet,” there is something called “trolling” and that it’s possible to block someone (not entirely sure what that does). Twitter seems to be the UFC of social media in that I’m always reading about Twitter fights, spats and wars in news articles. I’ve also noticed a lot of people get fired from their jobs thanks to their tweets.
Instagram – I think I understand this to be like Facebook but you can only use pictures? And people’s Instagram posts also show up as Facebook posts? And there are filters?
Snapchat – I have almost no idea about this one, except that the youngins like it. Is this the one where the posts disappear?
Tinder – Some sort of dating (?) website involving the need to swipe right.
Grindr – another dating (?) website for florists, home decorators and people who are neat, well-dressed and with great hair.
LinkedIn – some sort of employment networking do-hickey.
MySpace – the precursor to Facebook that nobody is on anymore.
Youtube – this one is all videos kind of like MTV 30 years ago.
I know I need to learn my way around these things and to learn about “analytics.” I read an article on “analytics” once and how to use them to make your business better and I came away from it more confused than before I’d read it.
I’m trying to learn about “driving traffic,” “social metrics,” “bounce rates,” “stickiness” and “A/B testing.” All of these terms make me look up into the air, squint and say, “What?”
Why can’t I be sitting at a desk, tapping away on a Smith-Corona with a cigar-smoking editor periodically poking his head through my doorway yelling at me about deadlines?