Writing (and blogging) with soul

In a recent radio interview, Dooce talks about how a blog must have soul to attract a loyal fan base. Just like with a TV show or book, the writer of a blog must develop characters that readers care about in order to draw the audience back day after day (or week after week, depending on the frequency of the posts).

I think that’s why I realized after just a couple weeks that my blog couldn’t be merely professional. Not only was it unsatisfying for me to write only about writing or reading, but I can’t imagine that those topics would satiate any normal reader for very long. (Whatever “normal” is.)

So that makes me wonder, who are my characters, and what about them is compelling? Of course, I think my friends and family are interesting — that’s why they’re my friends and family! — but do you? Should you? Have I done enough (or anything) to make them interesting?

I think that’s what I need to be more mindful of in the future, both for this blog and for my fiction writing (which features a slightly different kind of “friends and family”). Even if every post or story doesn’t flow as part of some larger linear stream, there needs to be some sort of narrative that holds it all together. There needs to be something that readers can connect to, follow, remember.

I’m not sure that every blogger puts this kind of thought into what they type into their content management system before hitting “Publish.” I know I usually don’t. But I think that’s part of what makes Dooce so successful, and unique.

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5 Comments

  1. diane

    I think that’s why I created a new blog in addition to my random xanga site. I post pictures and random updates so that my friends and family know what’s going on with me. I think it serves its purpose. My other blog is more personal and contains thoughts that I only share with friends. It serves a different purpose. Plus I don’t gauge my blog’s success by the number of hits I get. Just having friends and family read and occasionally comment lets me know they care about my life…and that satisfies me plenty ;).

  2. Plus I don’t gauge my blog’s success by the number of hits I get. Just having friends and family read and occasionally comment lets me know they care about my life…and that satisfies me plenty…

    It’s good that you can have that attitude, because I admit, I’m not completely satisfied with that and never have been. I guess I wouldn’t be a writer if I didn’t want people to read and like my stuff? So that mentality applies to my blog too.

    HOWEVER, there are lots of times that I consider starting a second, private blog under a pseudonym, so that I can write more frankly (but anonymously) about things in my life without getting in trouble or needlessly exposing anyone in my life (friends, enemies, or in between). Both because I want the freedom of speech, and because I sort of think it would be more controversial and thus more interesting.

    Buuuut I haven’t done it, and probably never will. Ultimately I just want to be me, and one of my core beliefs is that if I can’t be open and honest about something, I probably shouldn’t say it at all.

  3. lovely blog header and great post!

  4. Thank you! :)

  5. diane

    I think anonymity detracts from the personal experience, because it erases the elements of self. My stories have most likely been told countless times, but with different people and different circumstances. So it’s the people and circumstances that make the story interesting. And the most interested readers are those who have some knowledge of the people and things going on in my life.

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