Okay, so you’re here reading a blog. Some of you have been here every week for nearly two years. You read what I post, you might read other blogs. You’ve committed a few minutes of your once-in-a-lifetime life to opening up this webpage and reading. (Thanks, by the way.) But why?
Reading blogs is one of the best ways to improve your… everything. This blog is all about writing, but there are blogs all across the internet with topics ranging from personal organization to business marketing. However, if you want to get anything out of a blog post, you have to know how to approach it. And that’s exactly what I’m going to talk about today.
Know what you want
First off, you have to know what you want from a blog, before you start reading it. Do you want writing help? Then this is the place to be. You want encouragement in your journey from other creative minds? Maybe you should look into Emily’s blog, she’s great at all that. (I’m kind of… not. You want help through writer’s block? My answer is: “Go write.” Not exactly, but close.)
Anyway, knowing what you want to learn from a blog before you read will help you in two ways.
It will tell you if you’re in the right place. Different blogs do different things. Here at the Woodland Quill, we do practical writing advice. If that’s what you need, then you’re in the right place. If you’re looking for pro kitchen organization tips, then I’m afraid you are in the wrong place. (But hey, even kitchen organizers can write a novel, so don’t go unsubscribing!)
Second, it will help you keep an active reader’s mindset, and not a passive one. Which leads too…
Read to learn
You don’t just want to sit down and skim a blog. I know most blogs (even mine) are set up to be skimmable, but that’s not really the point. Blog posts are short enough for you to be able to read through from start to finish. Know what you’re reading to learn and read with that in mind.
Also, keep in mind that most bloggers have something that they’re trying to say when they post. I don’t ever post on this blog because I have to hit a certain word count on my weekly routine. I always have something I’m trying to teach (or at least discuss) with you as readers. Sometimes though, I have a little trouble trying to put higher-level concepts into words. Bring your active reader mindset to the post and try to figure out what I’m trying to say. We’ll meet in the middle and you’ll get a lot more back for the time you spent here on my humble corner of the internet.
This is the big, evil, scary one. It’s also the most important. In order to get more from a blog than the average Joe (none of you are average, right?) you need to engage. That means going down to that scary little comments box, and writing some text in it. Scary, right? But worthwhile. Engaging with both the blogger (me) and other readers does a couple of things for you (in addition to the contribution it makes to my happiness.)
Sometimes I may have a blog post about something that doesn’t quite apply to your story, or at least not easily. Or sometimes you may be reading actively, but you’re still not quite sure what I meant when I said “narrator voice” or “intimate POV”. You could, of course, try to pull all the context clues together and come up with an answer yourself… but that’s the hard way to do it. The comments box is down there for questions. You ask, and I (or other readers) answer. And hey, then that information is permanently added to the post, and there for the benefit of all future readers, who will more than likely have the same questions you had.
Every week I have people come read my blog. (Thanks, by the way.) WordPress counts them for me: 1, 2… 23…48. They’re numbers. But you, you’re not a number. When you put your name (or a name, pennames are cool) in the form and drop a comment, you become a person. I can put a name to your number, and a voice to your existence. You comment often enough, and I get to know you well enough that I can think about you when I write my posts and try to make them relevant to you. (Like, you as an individual and not as part of the ambiguous cloud of writers.)
Also, creating relationships is pretty cool for me. I really enjoy getting to know the people who are clicking on me every week. They make me happy. And, in return, I like to make them happy. Whether it’s writing a long answer to one of their questions or critiquing a segment of their first chapter, I try to invest in my readership (and really enjoy getting my mind off of my own story to chew on someone else’s for a while.) So I’m not saying that we have to get to know each other, but there might be free stuff involved if we do.
Posts just for you
I kind of already touched on this, but I just want to make it clear. If you engage with me, I’m more-than-willing/eager to engage with you! That means that if you ask me a question, I will do my best to answer it. I’ve said it a couple of times to select circles, but I want to spell it out here: ask me your writing questions, and I’ll answer them. I might not answer them correctly, I’m just learning about some of this myself, but I’ll give it my best shot and get back to you. If I’ve got enough to say on the subject, I’ll write a whole post based on your question.
A WHOLE POST.
Just to answer your question.
(Maybe, IDK. No one has ever written me a post before. #throughthewardrobe )
Of course, none of that can happen without you dropping a comment down below. (If you don’t want to comment, but still have a question, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Finally, it’s easy. You don’t have to create a commenter’s account (at least in most systems) and you don’t have to pawn your soul off on the streets of the internet. Just your name (real or fake) and email (personal or junk) address will do. If you’re like me, I’ve set up an email just for blog subscriptions, so that I can still keep track of things I’ve followed, but they don’t fill my personal inbox with stuff that’s not pressing.
So there you have it, three easy steps to getting more out of your blog reading. So what do you want to learn by reading my blog? Do my posts teach that? Have you ever commented on a blog before? Have you ever commented on mine? (If you have, I know your name! In the least creepy, stalkerish way possible.) That’s all for today, I’ll see y’all next week! (Not literally but… you know how this works.)