Three More Blog Commandments

October 30, 2009

Blogging can kill you.

Really, I mean that. Don’t let it happen to you.

Wednesday, I shared with you 3 rules in keeping a blog that gives you what you want. I was so excited to get feedback from all you bloggers, especially some brand new bloggers who are just starting out telling their stories. Today, I’m finishing up my week of celebrating my year of blogging with three even more important rules to keep when telling your story on a blog. In fact, these aren’t even rules, these are commandments, the thou shalts of blogging.

Telling Your Story: Three Commandments

If you want to write a coherant blog that others will probably read, it will take time. For me, it involves keeping a notebook of little ideas which may never be used. It’s writing posts three times a week, which takes about an hour, if I’m feeling creatively juicy. It’s responding to comments and visiting new commentor’s blogs as well as visiting my favorite blogs.

Actually, writing your blog could turn out to be the least time-intensive activity in blogging. You can spend endless hours keeping Wednesday’s Rule Two: “Make Friends,” trying to keep up with the rest of the blogosphere. This commandment’s also different from Rule Three: “Don’t Make Noise,” because you can spend lots of time blogging though you aren’t writing on your blog.

And all the while, your spouse will be wondering why blogging is so much more important to you than sleeping regular hours or watching Dancing with the Stars as a family, and will perhaps wonder if you have met a sultry Italian blogger with whom you are having a steamy online romance. Blogging is a convenient hobby because the computer is always near. But for the sake of yours and your family’s sanity, you must contain your blogging into blocks of time, and then not touch it. For me, this is the hardest rule to follow.

The things you own end up owning you, including your blog. Pretty soon, you’re not writing your story. Your blog is writing you. You’re looking at the world through a lens of ‘would that make a good blog post?’ If you let your blog run your life, you will burn out, get writer’s block, or cause your spouse to throw your computer out the window.

This leads me right into my next commandment.

Thou shalt do very interesting things.
While it’s important to keep up with the blogosphere’s activities to keep the inspiration going, it will only take you so far. If you are starting to resemble a pale-faced teenager living in his parent’s basement, butt fused to his chair, you will still probably run out of interesting things to say, not to mention self-respect. It’s a scientific fact that prolific writers are totally full of themselves, so a lack of self-respect would be quite detrimental to writing.

Personal stories are often some of the most interesting, entertaining, and human of all blog posts. Creating personal stories requires leaving the blog long enough to do normal human activities, like going out in public. Remember: Stories happen when you aren’t looking for them.

If you don’t do very interesting things, you won’t be a very interesting person, and you’ll get writer’s block.

One last commandment…

Thou Shalt Improve Thyself
It’s pretty much a waste of time to practice the same notes on a piano for years. You need to keep pushing yourself to get better. Blogging can be a daunting world. There’s a lot to know. You don’t have to know it all at once. But there are answers to all your questions out there. So improve your craft.

Improve your writing. Learn how to write ideally for a blog. There are lots of websites that will tell you some ideal formats for blog writing.

Improve your blog design, if you’re inclined. This one’s important to me as an artist with no web design background. My blog is my little garden that I keep. I know it’s not the prettiest thing around, but I try. Blog sites like WordPress may be the sexy prom queens, but even homely old Blogger can blossom with the help of sites like BloggerBuster.com. People are always coming up with new ideas to improve blogging, so you never have to let your site get dusty and frumpy with age if that’s important to you.

Improve yourself, outside of blogging. Read a book, exercise, learn to cook, whatever. If you’re a Christian, deepen your faith life. Blogging should never come at the expense of yourself.

What commandments would you add? What has been the hardest for you? What has helped you the most in your blogging hobby?

Don’t forget to spread the word about my big prize giveaway too! Looks like I’ll be giving out a few prizes, but I want to give out lots more, so tell your friends!
Thou shalt not let thy blog control thyself.