Quick Favor


We’re packing up before heading out tomorrow on our three-week road trip to the East Coast. First stop will be three nights in Chicago. My hope is to put up some Picture of the Day posts along the way,

but first:

I’ve got scaffolding in place for the Writing for Social Media class that I’ll be teaching online this Fall semester; now I’m at the point where I’m writing up weekly announcements and assignments, and I’m struggling as I try to explain what makes for a “good” blog post versus a, um, “crap” blog post.

Since most of you who leave comments are bloggers (or, clearly, blog readers) yourselves, I wonder if I could ask you to reflect back on your own experience with writing and reading blogs. Are there posts you’ve encountered that stand out to you as something superior? If so, why? What is it about a post that makes it memorable? Can you give me any specific examples, from actual posts?

On the flip side, when you’ve come across blogs that are painful to read, that perhaps feel like a waste of your time, what is it that turns you off? What leaves you shuddering or vowing never to return? Again, the more specific, the better.

Thanks in advance! The success or failure of a blog post is a hard thing to articulate to students, I tell you…








17 responses to “Quick Favor”

  1. chlost Avatar

    Here is an example of a post that has stayed with me for at least a week: http://blog.joeblairwriter.com/2012/07/to-where-you-are.html
    The writing is amazing…deceivingly simple, it is describing a universal situation (the death of a friend), and had me in tears.
    The bad posts that I’ve read I have tried desperately to erase from my mind. One of the universal traits, however, is bad grammar/spelling. I know I am guilty at times as well. But some blogs are overflowing with it.
    Have a great trip. Can’t wait to see the photos!

    1. Jocelyn Avatar

      What a post you directed me to. Wow.

      Here’s where my eyes filled: “And then I never saw her again. And I never will see her again.”

      Thank you.

  2. Jeni Hill Ertmer Avatar

    I can think of several blogs/bloggers who write some fantastic stuff. Here’s one: http://oldereyes.wordpress.com/ (Sorry but I don’t know how to make it clickable in a comment.)
    Forks Off the Moment -http://hihidi.blogspot.com/ -is another good writer.
    This one -Somewhere on the Masthead http://masthead.blogspot.com/ -is one of my favorites.
    and this one http://intomystic.wordpress.com/ -those four are among my favorites who probably would appeal to most any reader. There are a lot of others that I read very regularly and follow to make sure I don’t miss a post but that would take up a whole blog post. Although, I’ve been know to pretty much do that-make a blog post out of a comment on another’s blog at times!
    Or, for a lesson in “what not to do” or “How not to write” you can always point to my blog -a lesson there for openers in the excess usage of exclamation points for openers!!! Plus a way to see disjointed, rambling writing at what is probably its finest. To my credit though, I know the difference in the words “there, their and They’re, as well as its and it’s and several other homonyms that frequently get misused and drive me close to berserk or at the very least, to find a nice cold brewski when those offenders get too numerous for me to calculate any higher!

    1. Jocelyn Avatar

      You bring the best energy to both posts and comments, Jeni! Never underestimate the positivity you lend to all online interactions.

  3. Julie Sucha Anderson Avatar

    Universal truth, yet personal. Story structure – although I appreciate random as I can do that really well. Humor. Compassion. Passion. Humor. No clutter (or not a lot of it as I have a great deal of trouble getting my words out, a lot, often.) A mix of long and short posts. Humor. Learning something I didn’t know before. Going somewhere I haven’t gone before, even if just to a corner store.

    If someone responds to what I write, I spend much more time reading their posts – even if it is poetry which truly intimidates me. Returning the personal. Appreciating their time.

    Hey, I was in your fair city for four hours a week ago last Tuesday. Took the little cruise on Lake Superior and around the harbor. Ate a walleye sandwich (less the bread) at Grandma’s. Thought of you. Safe travels.

    1. Jocelyn Avatar

      Oh, I would so totally have driven down to the Vista Queen to say a quick howdy to you! I’m glad to know you were here, though.

      And I appreciate your insights (so, um, “humor”?).

      I’m with you on the poetry thing, too. I never know what to say.

  4. Julie Sucha Anderson Avatar

    P.S. I like good grammar and spelling also. So, should that have been “fare” and not “fair”? Anyway, I thought it was a lovely city.

  5. Murr Brewster Avatar

    I’ll be paying attention to see if anybody has some suggestions that I can feel bad about ignoring. I would say that most things can be said better in half the words. If a post crawls past 1000 words, I find myself scrolling to see how much of an investment I’m being asked to make. I’m not proud of that, but there it is.

    Joe Blair never misses.

  6. Murr Brewster Avatar

    And let me add that Joe Blair frequently writes longish posts, but they’re extraordinary.

    1. chlost Avatar

      Murr, I may have found Joe Blair through you. Thank you for that.

  7. Jenn @ Juggling Life Avatar

    It’s the voice for me–I have to feel the person’s personality jump off the page. That said, I can’t do it if the writing is crap.

    You and I both know that we could sit down in a coffee shop and talk for 10 hours straight because we already know who the other person is through our blogs. We are honest voices.

  8. Meg Avatar

    I cringe at overly self-laudatory posts. I have quit reading several blogs because of that. I look for something more than the diary entry; something with heart, that provides a window into another person’s life but in such a way that it resonates with something in my own. That must be why fashion blogs don’t work for me. I can overlook the occasional grammar/spelling error, but consistent sloppiness will send me traipsing onward.

  9. Erin Avatar

    I don’t know what it IS exactly that makes Stacey such a great blogger. She’s smart, funny, thoughtful. I’ve searched but cannot find my favorite post of hers, but this one is right up there. It’s hilarious: http://anymommyoutthere.com/2008/06/it-just-keeps-getting-better-and-better.html.

  10. Friko Avatar

    Quick favour? Where to start. I’ll have a go.

  11. Friko Avatar

    Presumably you are not talking about specialist blogs, i.e. photographic, culinary, political, interiors, poetry, art, etc. Those can be excellent, of course, as well as painful.

    My favourite blogs are by writers, reasonably good writers. I dislike sloppy writing, spelling and grammatical mistakes; even if the content is good, this kind of carelessness puts me off. Even blogging ought to be done to the best of your ability. Actually, that is a major point for me, the quick, throwaway, “can’t think of anything better to do” posts appear to show contempt for the reader. Perhaps I’m a little harsh here.

    I like variety too, although many bloggers prefer to know in advance what they are going to find. I enjoy coming across blogs which are thoughtful and detailed, humorous without being sickly, i.e. witty; if it grabs my attention, I will read a long post, but a thousand words is about enough for one post, even an excellent one. If it doesn’t, I give up before getting half way through. Frequent and regular posting get you the most followers, as do flattery and platitudes. There are blogs which consist of an endless repetition of ‘sayings’, quotations, homilies, they are usually successful. Maybe because they are undemanding. It is possible to manipulate readers by working out what they want and feeding them accordingly. It’s dishonest, but it gets you noticed.

    I think it’s very important for the serious blogger to find out why they want to blog. What is important to them. What they want to achieve with it. Do they want to practice writing or create an online social life. Display their great talent or waffle with like-minded bloggers.

    There are several things blogging has taught me: because I post photographs, I see things differently; because I become personal in my writing, I tend to analyse feelings more; and because I like to explore human nature, I watch people far more closely.

    I have to go back and think again about the blogs I like best. Yours is one of them, by the way.

    1. Jocelyn Avatar

      Thank you for this response–much of which I will pass on to my students. It is wonderfully honest and helpful, especially the parts that indicate it’s not necessarily “better” to feed readers easy reading but, rather, to write for oneself in a way that includes and challenges readers.

      This comment was well worth waiting for.

  12. pia Avatar

    I found your blog through Bone’s. In the interest of disclosure he is one of my best friends; we became friends because I was supposed to be a “hot, big” blogger. That was over seven years ago. As I always returned comments then I began reading one post then another–I must have read 25 that first time. (Don’t tell him I don’t want his head to swell.)

    He told beautiful stories–about his life, about a woman who owned a store in his town. I love good Southern writing and Bone never disappoints.

    I like bloggers who take chances. Bloggers who aren’t afraid to be different and let their real voice come through. Not every post has to be a polished gem but every post has to show something of the blogger.

    My life has changed incredibly in the past seven years. I moved from Manhattan to a small coastal city in South Carolina and became a professional blogger for a magazine that I had always loved reading in college.

    Sometimes everything that’s happened in the past seven years is too much for me and I retreat into Bone’s world where I sometimes cry but more often laugh

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