Meta CbN Part 1: Making a Good Blog

Fri Oct 16, 2009 at 6:30 am in Self-Reflection

Merlin Mann wrote a post called “What Makes for a Good Blog?” last August 2008, and I liked what he had to say. I found the post again recently, and wondered if I fit the criteria here at CbN. Since I’m going to be packing and not crafting as I prepare to move in the next 2 weeks, I’m going to get a little meta on you. I’m going to put this blog through the wringer of Merlin’s thoughts about what a good blog is. After all, if it’s no good, what’s the point? Part 1 commences.

  • Good blogs have a voice (Try Being Interesting).

When I find an interesting-looking blog, I stick it in my feed reader. The reader strips the blog of its formatting, sidebars, whirlygigs, doo-dahs and furbelows and turns it into pure content. If, after 2 weeks of reading pure content, I can’t remember why the heck I added the blog in the first place or who that person is, I delete it from the reader. To keep a blog, the writing or photographic or whatever style of a blog must stand out enough to remind me me who writes it and what sort of blog they’re writing.

I hope my peculiarities are evident, that when people get to me in their own readers, they can distinguish me from the potted plant in the corner. I don’t know how you see it, as my own voice is rather distinct in my head, but I certainly don’t try to bland myself up. I admit CbN is not my whole self, but I don’t think that diminishes the me I put here.

  • Good blogs re?ect focused obsessions (Almost nuts, but without digression).

That’s definitely the case here at CbN. I am obsessed with making stuff, because it’s my creative outlet, and I literally do it at night after work. I don’t focus on any particular craft, because learning is as important to me as making. I may seem to digress sometimes, but everything I put here is at some level about being creative in the time that belongs to me. Posting about crocheting is easy, but often vacation is relevant also, such as when I had the overwhelming urge to cook when I learned my dog was sick at home. Crafting is my outlet, in a way that my other obsessions like science fiction or medieval history are not. Crafting is what snuck past the hobby border, whispered over the obsession line and right into to I-can’t-live-without-it Land.  I have to make stuff in order to be sane.

  • Good blogs are the product of “Attention times Interest. (Where’s your story arc?)

I think he means that a blog should show a progression over time or development in the subject matter. If it’s written by a real person with actual thoughts, it should be following some unknown trajectory through sharing the owner’s interests, the metamorphosis of their particular obsessions, and what inspired and encouraged them along the way.

I try to do this. I post my inspirations, my process, the struggles, the disappointments, the weird stuff, the mistakes and the finished products. Creativity is a process of  turning previously unrelated items into something new, and I’m very interested in how that happens for myself and others. My favorite craft blogs show that process, and I want to show mine here. I don’t have any cliffhangers, but hopefully there’s still a bit of wondering what comes next.

I posted about the birches quilt many times, not to bore anyone to tears, but so I could show it was more than the finished product. It was my second purely decorative, expressive textile piece. The subject was a memory, the materials had stories of their own, and it was produced through a long creative process impacted by my experiences and thoughts over the time I made it. I wanted to document that.

Over a longer arch, my craft skills have improved since I began, and I have new interests, goals and ideas in my life. I don’t post about the same things I once did, I’ve shared painful losses, kitten adoptions, my imminent move. I am planning the 2nd reinvention of this blog soon to reflect where I am now.

Next up – more questions …

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I definitely judge by voice. If I can’t tell which stitcher you are in which mid-western backwater with the kids? dogs? cats? then I probably remove you too. You must have a distinctive voice because I’ve been reading you since…my first or second NaBloPoMo? (And you’re in Texas, not the midwest, though I think I remember you started there.)

Anna — Fri Oct 16, 2009 at 9:59 pm (link)

[...] Continuing bravely on here with this obsession, but I should add an aside. In the past 2-3 years I’ve learned about a part of website development called content strategy. I love it, and I’ve done some CS work, but I’ve learned the most about what’s important in content strategy (quality content) while writing this blog. It ties into the next three of Merlin’s thoughts: [...]

Crafter by Night » Meta CbN Part 2: Good Blogs Care — Tue Oct 20, 2009 at 11:52 am (link)

It was my first NaBloPoMo(Fo) in 2006, anyway. Your voice is definitely distinctive! I know nothing about cross-stitch, really, except that it’s a craft and I like all of those, but I always enjoy reading your blog.

Miriam — Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 9:50 am (link)

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