Writing Comments vs. Posts

A line in Bhagpuss’ recent post on the subject of when to comment vs. when to turn it into a post and balancing the two, finally pushed me over the edge to sitting down and writing this out. Bhagpuss had noted in passing an observation that had been building in potential significance as a potential source of deeper insight into writing and my approach to writing.

In fact, in my experiment with writing this post — an undiscussed element of what I was looking at was how to capture some of the comment writing experience. Namely, as Bhagpuss said, “It takes me about five per cent of the time to write even a lengthy comment than it would to put a full post together.”

Writing a comment tends to just flow. Even long ones pour forth from thought to virtual-page. There is no second-guessing or rewriting of whole sections. They just… go.

Nyoooom. The speed of comment writing visualised.

Contrast this with writing posts, where rewrites occur haphazardly on the fly. I can jump at random back to the opening paragraph to touch it up five paragraphs into the work. Whole sentences will be wiped and rewritten in an attempt to make them ‘better’.

Best of all is when changing the structure of a sentence and then leaving artefacts of the previous structure behind. While not the source of 100% of the grammatical issues you’ll see in my posts — it’s probably right up there at 70-80% or more. I’m making a rather conscious effort with this post not to do any of the things I’m talking about while writing it, I should add. And it’s certainly speeding up the process, but it doesn’t quite feel natural yet.

And in fact, after the completion of that paragraph? I just noticed myself pausing to read back through what I had as a whole so far. This is very likely the cause of my editing and jumping around a post on the fly, actually. ;)

Another reason — and I just did this one now too, hah — is I’m very distraction prone. A comment in Discord, a random thought to google. You name it and I can break the flow, then necessitating finding my place again.

In any case. Back on track. I wonder how one might capture some of the efficiency and speed in comment writing. I think the difference in expectations between the two is a factor. Certainly in my mind, during the act of writing a comment it seems far more transient and throwaway — even though there have been times where what I’ve liked what I’ve put into a comment more than some posts!

Something that comes to mind here is a comment from Jeromai, about appreciating the ‘rawness’ of his writing. That over-preparation can end up diminishing his overall regard for a piece of his work.

Although really — it all comes back to the same conclusion as before. I need to get better at writing out complete first drafts before worrying about anything else. Just boom. Write. Turn the editor off. Tap some keys. Make some words. Maybe allow for some critical assessment at the end.

Comment writing proves to me this is possible. It’s just a matter of putting it into practice in a different, higher pressure context.

Blaugust Day #7: Finding a Topic

Technically, this week of Blaugust is all about Topic Brainstorming. Other than a sort of topic-adjacent post on regular features I’ve struggled with this one. In large part because I don’t really have a structured means of sitting down and coming up with post ideas. SDWeasel sounds to be in a similar position.

Ideas are plentiful. They’re all around. In other words:

Ideas Can Come from Anywhere

The trick is to capture the ideas as they occur. You can’t trust that they’ll still be rattling around your brain later when you come to write. Or at least, I certainly can’t.

SDWeasel uses a physical notebook. Rambling Redshirt uses Evernote (along with a bunch of other incredible tools, check out his entire Blaugust range of posts so far!)

Myself? I tend to make drafts directly in WordPress. The draft might contain as little as a title to jog my memory on the idea or it might have bulletpoints on thoughts that I intend to cover. Ideas can age though, and depending on how long a draft sits around — it may end up never being used, or more commonly — morph into an almost entirely different idea by the time the post is published.

In any case, the point is — capture your ideas somehow. If they morph or even if they end up being thrown into the trashcan by choice, that’s still better than having lost one to the tip of your tongue forever.

Some things that might get you started though, and the wellsprings eternal that I constantly dip my idea-ladle into:

The Game(s) You’re Playing / The Projects You’re Working On

Image links through to one of my ESO play session write-ups. … I really need to get back to ESO one of these days.

This is a bit of an obvious one perhaps, but I have heard concern raised that their gameplay just really isn’t that interesting, or that no-one would care.

But do iiiiit. Everyone has different experiences and takeaways from what they’re doing. What one person notices right away as important might take another entirely by surprise. This can be an excellent way of learning more about you as a person, and what you value, too.

If you already know you’re going to do a post on a particular play session, then this would be a time I’d highly recommend taking bulletpoint notes! They help a lot when it comes to recounting the story. :)

Other Bloggers

This one links through to a post spawned from ideas across multiple blogs and posts. It talks to how we evolve as gamers over time, and how our preferences can sometimes unconsciously run away from us!

Blogging is a team sport. You may not think so at first and make no mistake — I’m not saying there isn’t a huge amount of individual effort required. There is.

But communication in the community is like a constantly fertile garden of ideas. However that communication occurs: Other’s blog posts, direct conversation in the likes of the Blaugust Discord or the resulting discussion in the comments it can spark fantastic work of your own.

Absolutely spend the time you need to, to ensure you’re happy with your own blog and your own work output. But wherever at all possible, allow for time to support — and in turn be supported by — the wider blogging community around you.

News & Events

A brief (non-spoilery) look at TennoCon 2019, and my love for the New Player Experience cinematic.

This isn’t an area I delve into terribly often myself.

I figure for the actual news itself from an informational perspective, there are far better sources for it than I. Sources who are often time the firsthand or primary in the news, and can get it out there faster.

Occasionally though, there is enough impact, thoughts or feelings around a piece of news that it feels appropriate to share a take on it. That take or impression becomes the focus of the post, rather than the news itself.

On the events front — these can be big or small. Upcoming holiday style events in your MMO of choice, perhaps. Or the much bigger events — BlizzCon, TennoCon, etc — if it’s a game or thing you’re passionate about, then sharing your passion on what you discovered or learned can be really engaging both to write about and for others to read about.

Capture Your Ideas as and When They Come

That really should be the key takeaway message. It doesn’t really matter how you do it. Find something that works for you and your lifestyle.

Ideas are everywhere. It’s retaining them beyond the initial pop-in to your mind that can be tricky. :)

Finding your Motivation to Blog

Blaugust 2019 is almost upon us! The Annual Blogging event to welcome brand new blogger blood into the fold and revitalise the old with a month of focused posting. You can still sign-up to participate and jump into the Blaugust Discord!

If you’re considering starting a blog — and you want it to last more than the average of 100 days — then I think it important to discover your motivation. Not because there are necessarily any right or wrong answers. But rather so that when the going gets tough you have something a little more concrete to pull out and examine — and hopefully — see you through the other side.

It’s OK to start on a whim and discover your motivation though. Or to start with one motivation and discover another.

That’s essentially what I did with Time to Loot. I thought I’d returned for the reason of covering a singular title that had somehow busted through my armor of jaded cynicism and turned my hype dial to 11.

Anthem: It’s a bit over 6 months on now. Maybe time for a re-review? … Nah. Let’s give it a year.

I’d initially registered a very Anthem specific domain. But even if we had found Anthem to be everything we hoped for — going with such a specific name would have been a mistake. And also? Anthem would have been my ‘what’, and not a longer term motivation or ‘why’.

Incidentally, Belghast has a whole post on finding a blog name and blog purpose (from a content type perspective) now. But that is a bit of a different discussion from the one I want to follow.

Namely:

The Content You Cover Isn’t Your Motivation

Or at least, for most of us it won’t be. If you’re blogging about environmental issues or for political activism, then it might be. But for those of us covering gaming, general geekery or even writing and the like — the content we cover is just a vehicle.

Our ‘why’ might be to improve our own writing. Or to document a learning journey. Or in the cases of social issues and similar — perhaps the ‘why’ is to inform and affect change.

My own motivation I didn’t discover until I’d been back at blogging for a month or so.

First — the elephant in the room: I’d be a giant pants on fire liar if for a moment I tried to claim I didn’t want to build a readership. Of course I do. But I feel pretty strongly that this needs to be a background reason and not the primary driver.

For me discovering my motivation was akin to an epiphany. I’ve been on the internet a long time, and have been playing games for the vast majority of it. I have memories of amazing events going back to Asheron’s Call, or heck — even perhaps playing as a clan in QuakeWorld: Team Fortress.

But that history is nebulous and undocumented.

There are people I have lost touch with that I valued a great deal but are now lost forever to me.

I don’t want to look back in 10, 15, 20 years from now and feel the same pain, having made the same mistakes as I have over the last 20 or so. That’s my motivation. That, I think, is the key difference between this blogging effort and my past efforts.

I can’t predict the games or content I will cover, but I can be confident in my motivation and desire to keep a record of it to live on throughout.

So that’s mine. It might be yours as well. It might not be. There’s nothing wrong with having a dream of one day being able to monetise your blog and have it supplement or even replace your income. There’s nothing wrong with simply wanting to become internet-famous, either. But will that see you through the tough times of getting started when it feels like such goals are a million miles away?

If there’s one takeaway from this:

Your motivation for doing this crazy blogging thing is a ‘Why’ not your ‘What’.

Your content can change. You should pretty much count on it changing.

Ask any long term blogger and most of them will tell you their blog has been repurposed or reimagined to some extent over the years it has been alive.

This isn’t to say your ‘Why’ can or never will change, over the long term we tend to shift and change as people after all. But they’re not the same and understanding your why, is something I firmly believe to be required to create a blog that lasts.

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