5 Things I Think About Before Hitting the Publish Button

canstockphoto9909736I am morbidly fascinated with a Freshly Pressed post this week entitled “23 Things To Do Instead Of Getting Engaged Before You’re 23”. It is getting a great deal of attention and many of the comments are overwhelmingly negative and hostile. I get the basic idea of what the writer is trying to convey, but it just doesn’t resonate with me. Instead, it’s become my version of reality TV, watching this writer get water boarded online.

canstockphoto16835765I might have written a similar post at her age, except I only had a typewriter and would have had to throw mimeographed copies off the roof of a building to trick someone into reading it. Technology has made it possible for us to write for a larger audience, sometimes an audience that we never considered or intended while writing a post.

The author’s particular subject matter – the choice of not getting married at a young age has apparently hit a nerve for many people. There is something to be said for getting married, if that is your desired aim, when you are more mature and have had some experiences (a state completely unrelated to a biological age, I might add).

However, this writer’s observations regarding what’s wrong with getting married young, were derisive, full of stereotypical references to being trapped and pulling out the old “knocked up and fat” trope. It’s no wonder she’s raised some collective hackles. If getting attention was her goal, no matter the tone of that attention, she has been a smashing success.

As personal a journey as blogging is, the very public aspect of it should give us pause, before spewing our guts out into the world. Yes, it’s perfectly fine to have an opinion and yes, it’s perfectly fine to share it indiscriminately. But is it worth sharing? Have you really thought it through? Is it a knee jerk reaction, a rant, a long form expletive, with nothing to support it? What does this opinion really say about you and are you ready to defend it?

Not everything is worth saying out loud or online. I’ve griped about Facebook and Twitter before, but it’s the instantaneous, broadcast nature of these platforms that foster an environment of thoughtless drivel. The 2 seconds of gratification you got blasting about how so and so is a slut and how you think those people are stupid, is a lifetime of everyone knowing that you are a complete dipshit. Breathe, take a second, maybe file it away for a day or a decade.

These are the things I think about before hitting the Publish button on a blog post:

Content

Do I have a point or is this an endless ramble? Endless rambles are unsatisfying reads. Have I really thought my perspective through? Would this be even slightly interesting to another human? What are the counter arguments? Am I able and willing to respond to them? Is how I’m saying something interfering with the meaning I’m trying to convey?

Flow

canstockphoto1229476Is this easy to read? I read my posts out loud before publishing. Often I make changes based on how awkward sentences or transitions sound. I don’t want to torture readers and I’d very much like them to come back. Reading blogs is an unpaid enterprise, so I don’t want to make people work that hard.

Length

Is this digestible? I tend to write longer form posts, but I also hack the hell out of them to keep them under 1000 words. Some would argue that’s about 1000 words too many, but that’s what I need as a writer. Tangents unrelated to the subject get chopped. Adjectives and adverbs get eviscerated. Repetition and tangled imagery can work for poetry and lyrics, but it can make for ponderous prose.

Spelling, Grammar and Accuracy of Information

canstockphoto16849626Spelling and grammar serve a purpose. It facilitates communication between wildly different specimens of humans. I’m fed up with the term “grammar/spelling Nazi”. First of all, your spelling and grammar are a reflection of you. In current vernacular, please own it. Go crazy and possibly fix and learn from it. Secondly, the term Nazi is a very specific, historical reference and in no way related to properly using an apostrophe. I make writing mistakes, but I also try very hard not to make them.

I was caught out once using an incorrectly attributed quote. Ouch. And lesson learned. The magic internet isn’t always right. Use multiple sources to confirm and if you can’t, don’t use the information.

Time consideration

It takes me anywhere from 3-4 hours over the course of several days to finish canstockphoto9393891writing a post.  It gives me time to do all of the above and to argue with myself whether or not it’s even worth putting out there. I think about what might happen after I hit Publish. Do I have time to be responsive to comments? Is this effort worth the time and is it worth it for readers?

Sometimes I don’t know the answers, but I do know that it’s important to ask myself the questions before sending my words out there.

What do you think about before hitting the “Publish” button?

80 Comments on “5 Things I Think About Before Hitting the Publish Button

  1. I totally agree with you, and pretty much think (or try to) of all the points you’ve mentioned. It’s a funny thing about the ‘ranting blog’. I had one a while back. Mine was about brands and advertising — a subject I know very well because that’s the business I’ve been in my whole career. I got modest response and gave it up after a few months. It got really tiresome being angry and frustrated. In hindsight, it was probably more tiresome reading about me being angry and frustrated. I was striving for Andy Rooney. Didn’t happen.

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    • I’ve had a few of the rant posts myself, publishing with a slight tinge of discomfort, but weirdly enough, people seem to enjoy those more! I’ve really been thinking about the nature of blogs and how it is something akin to standing in the middle of a crowd and blurting out an opinion. The FP post I referred to is getting swamped with traffic from every side, but some of the comments were so awful, I wondered how the writer was dealing with all of that and I wondered if she had any notion of the firestorm she’d be starting.

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      • Well, you know what they say: “Misery likes company”. In my case my audience turned out to be peers. I guess they didn’t like being criticized (hehehe).

        But I think you bring up a very good point about the young blogger. I wonder if she did think about what she might be starting.

        The young kids today are so social media savvy, I’ll bet she did. She is probably an aspiring journalist or screen writer who is hoping this blog — and the controversy it could stir up — will make her famous and sought after. Maybe she wants to be the next Candace Bushnell or the 20-something’s Oprah.

        It’ll be interesting to see what happens.

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        • You’re probably right about that post writer. I can’t relate to this idea that there is no such thing as bad publicity, but we’ve seen it over and over – intentional and sometimes dishonest attempts to grab attention.

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        • Unfortunately it happens all the time. I don’t like it either. It is dishonest, disingenuous and very manipulative.

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  2. Michelle, I also tend to need a bit of time to polish a post, but many bloggers use blogging for other reasons. Hence the post-a-day prompts. Oops, I just caught myself in a sentence fragment. I like a little informality in my blog posts, but I don’t like easy-to-have-caught-typos and misspellings. Sometimes the blogs features typos and little thought get the most “likes,” something I will never understand. I’ll go check out that FP post. I did just read another one called “She Walked Barefoot in the Snow for Me.” I liked that title because I once walked barefoot in the snow for someone.

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    • There is a certain aspect of blogging though, no matter the intent, that can’t be ignored – it’s public and accessible by anyone. The post I referenced is getting intense attention because of the subject and because so many of the attitudes she expressed were not thoughtful. If her post is representative of who she is, she strikes me as a rather unpleasant person. Was that her intent? Or was it just an angry, off-the-cuff rant?
      The spellings and typos issue is somewhat separate except that I do think it reflects the writer as well. An occasional error is understandable as we all have done it. When I see constant errors though, it tells me the writer doesn’t care about his or her work, or, in fact, the readers. Maybe it’s something as simple as courtesy and respect when you are asking (by using a public forum) people to read your work.

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  3. It depends on how I’m feeling. If I am really angry and knowledgeable about the subject, I am pretty comfortable hitting publish. If not, I let it stew.

    But I am also anonymous, so if I irk someone they can’t find me. Except through comments.

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    • I can feel fairly self-righteous on a lot of subjects. But something has happened over the course of the last couple years that is frustrating. I tend to turn things over a lot more and I’ve become this weird, rather moderate person (except if you try to hug me). If I’m truly angry about something, I write about it. If I haven’t reached a more reasonable conclusion by the end of a writing session, it gets put away for awhile.
      On the other hand, I know that no matter what anyone writes, there is always at least one person out there willing to be pissed about it. It’s a rather freeing notion.

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  4. I would also agree with the other commenters – I consider my emotional state while I was writing, and I try (albeit not always successful) to have some sort of positive note in my writing. I have found myself dwelling on something which usually comes out as ‘bitter’ in my writing. Usually, I try to read my post in a detached manner before I publish – to see if my emotion is coming through as authentic and not preachy or in a nagging manner. Sometimes it works, and sometimes, not so much. 🙂

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    • I don’t necessarily try for a positive note, but I do try to have a point. I will work on a post over the course of several days to try, as you do, to get some distance or perspective. Sometimes I’ll read something I’ve written and get into a “but…” argument with myself. That usually is an indicator that it’s not ready to go live. My biggest worries are that on occasion, I come across as a know-it-all or that a post is too much about me, me, me. I work on that, but still try to retain my voice.

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  5. That’s an excellent set of steps before publishing.
    My biggest concern before posting is “Am I getting my point across?”. After that, I generally write conversationally and try to avoid being pedantic. If I read through it and it sounds like me, I’ll ask my wife to read it.
    She’s good at pointing out stuff I haven’t made clear or elaborated on.
    Usually, writing to posting is just a few minutes to me.
    My audience has been generally forgiving about the posts that really suck, hopefully because they aren’t that frequent, and some are good enough to make up for the bad ones.

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    • And that really is the whole enchilada – communicating clearly with readers. All of the things I mentioned can interfere with getting one’s point across. I get frustrated when people act like spelling, grammar and punctuation shouldn’t matter. It makes it awfully difficult to understand what they’re trying to say, without some of those guidelines in place.
      You do a great job for having only a few minutes from writing to posting. I like to torture myself for a few days, agonizing over word choices and commas.
      Readers on WordPress are for the most part a very forgiving bunch…except for that FP post I mentioned. Holy cow, serious ugly has been crawling out of the woodwork. I can only assume many of the commenters found their way from Facebook. It’s like the Wild West on that post!

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      • I thought about checking it out, but I have no dogs in that hunt, and think I’ll just ignore the fray.

        I prefer the thoughtful content, like what you have here.

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  6. I always feel it’s best to let a piece sit for at least a day before publishing. It’s true of any writing. You have to let yourself detach from it and then come back to it. In the editing I can always find some extra “oomph” to add to boost humor or reflection — stuff like that. On occasion, I have changed my mind on publishing something after it sat — a combination of a topic I really shouldn’t have gotten into and a post that I just couldn’t make come together cohesively.

    I love the Post a Day prompts from WordPress, but sometimes I feel like they’re for people who have time to do nothing but blog all day long. I have a full-time job (at which I am now commenting on this post! lol), and I feel like by the time I get the prompt done and have time to edit, the rest of the WordPress world is now three days ahead of me.

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    • I’m a moody person, which is terrific for reviewing a piece over the course of several days – I see it from several perspectives! I’ve abandoned more drafts than what I’ve posted for the very reasons you’ve stated.
      I’ll confess here that I am not fond of prompts and I tend to avoid serious blog scheduling. I do, however, get inspiration from other blogs, the news and just daily life.
      I think it’s amazing how often people who do work full time manage to blog. I was only able to do it after working from home and now, when I should be going full bore (pun unintended – ouch!), I’ve got enough side projects to keep me busy 24/7.

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      • Oh, and I loved your mention of “blogging” at 23 by typewriter and mimeographed copies. I did have my first personal computer when I was 23 (Apple Performa 6116), but I would not have had the patience for the dial-up modem to spin and spin in order to post anything on a blog.

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        • I honestly didn’t have a computer at home until I was 30 or so. My jobs required me to use them for many years before that, but I never felt compelled to have one. Now, it’s hard to imagine being without one and thank goodness for high speed internet access. That little spinning timer drove me nuts!

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  7. Yes what Carla said…. on any piece of writing for any reason, even a simple thank you note, I put it aside for a day or two, then reread it and edit. Well except for my comments on WordPress! LOL

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    • When I was younger, I was often a writer of angry editorials and letters and got into the habit of waiting, rereading and waiting some more. I think it has served me well, although at times I worry that holding back makes me somewhat less lively or creative in the final draft.

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  8. I am a seat-of-the-pants writer, so I hardly ever contemplate what I’ve written after I’ve written it. But, I do percolate what I want to write for quite a while on the back burner in my brain before committing to writing it. That’s how I write my novels, short stories, and everything else, including the thesis for my M.A. I read over the post for grammar and spelling, and then post it. Does that make me a bad blogger? I don’t know. What I’m writing about is personal, so I just write.

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    • Apparently I have to take the long way around to anything. Things can percolate for weeks before I write about them and then I spend days reviewing the draft. It’s really amazing the many ways writers/bloggers work. I don’t think there’s a good/bad scenario, although I sometimes grit my teeth about how long it takes me to do the same thing someone else can just do in a riff!

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      • But that’s the point, isn’t it? We’re all different; we do things differently; and we each have our own unique talents. 🙂

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  9. You are so right Michelle. I have successfully resisted the urge many times to jump aboard a hot button issue and lay it open on my blog. I am not given to rants online and really would rather build my audience with quality rather than sensationalism.

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      • Yeah, when I saw your name I thought now why have I not seen anything from her recently. Just trying to catch everything through the reader is haphazard I guess.

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        • Same here – in fact, I’ve been trying to figure out why so many blogs have dropped off my reader. I’ve started re-following. WordPress seems to be getting a little goofy over the last couple of months.

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        • Well I show that I am following you, so all should be good. I will work harder to stay a frequent visitor.

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  10. Yup! The article you refer to, while my gut response was to be incensed [and I’m perfectly single], my second thought led me to recognize that it was just as you say, “thoughtless drivel,” and not even worth the mental energy required to berate her. But you make some great points. I can relate to your thought-process for sure. Writing is certainly a form of therapy for many, very much a processing mechanism, but that doesn’t mean that it needn’t go through a thoughtful filter before publishing. I can completely relate to the need to “vent” frustrations out in written word for the sake of processing and as a healthy outlet, however I ALWAYS ask myself if the content is edifying and purposeful or not. If the answer is “no” then there is absolutely no need for it to be public. While I’m an advocate for transparency and honestly in one’s writing, there is still a difference [or at least there ought to be], fine line though it may be, between a blog and a diary.
    Thanks for sharing!

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    • “A thoughtful filter” – I like that. Everyone is so intent on “honesty” and “authenticity” that other virtues like civility and kindness are left in the dust. I think it takes real skill to express an opinion of choices for one’s own life without being derisive and snide about other people’s choices. Perhaps that is what I found so unappealing about that particular post – it had a mean streak to it with a touch of unattractive arrogance. She may have intended it all in humor, but the writing did not necessarily convey that.

      I am someone, like many writers, who processes ideas while writing, so rough drafts are just that. Sometimes I contradict my initial premise by the end of the draft, so it also serves as a learning process. I can’t imagine tossing that mess out on a public forum without some time, a little crafting and a lot of editing.

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      • Ab.so.lutely. I can identify completely. Often times I employ the filter of sheer time. If I sleep on it, will I feel the same way about it in the morning? Often times, the answer is no. And so, I edit and revise until I can come to peace with my answer. 🙂

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  11. Great tips. I think the length of time between writing and posting varies for me, and depends on several factors. Ultimately, I post when it feels right. I always proofread and still have errors here and there, but I think I try to give a reasonable amount of consideration to the items you discuss in most cases.

    I did read the post you refer to, though barely skimmed a few of the comments. I didn’t find it angry, I found it well-written and realistic, with a touch of humor, which is what I saw in the “fat and knocked up” statement. There are always exceptions, but I think for the most part, she was right on. I’ve found that how written work is interpreted often depends on the views and emotions of the reader, which makes all those checks and balances even more valuable when writing. Thanks for the read, looking forward to more.

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    • I post once I know I can’t edit anymore without changing things back to former versions. I have on occasion, worked hours on a post, only to realize I was trying to talk myself into posting it when something didn’t ring right with me. I hit the Delete button more often than the Publish button!

      I didn’t enjoy reading that post despite the solid writing. Humor is subjective, but I think the use of stereotypes is short-sighted humor at best and shortcut intellect at worst. The argument could have stood on its own without deriding others. Obviously there were a lot of people who enjoyed and identified with her perspective, though.

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  12. You are a smart lady. And yes, yes, yes! re the whole “grammar/punctuation Nazi” thing. It’s like calling people “fascists” because they disagree with you: it betrays a stunning ignorance of history, at very least.
    ^K.

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    • Stunning ignorance. Wow. You just described our current cultural and political climate in the states. I would also add the word “willful”. I probably shouldn’t respond to comments after listening to the news. It makes me morose!

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  13. I agree with all you’ve written. I like it if people read what I’ve written. I want to make it easy for them to read it, and please God let it be at least somewhat more interesting than ‘and then we did this, and then we did that, and then we had soup and beans for dinner’, etc. I also agree re punctuation, spelling and grammar. It astonishes me how few people these days seem to know the difference between there, their and they’re, or how to correctly use an apostrophe. (arrrrgh, tearing hair out)
    Just know you’re not alone in this Michelle. There are those of who really appreciate good writing, good content, and correct spelling and punctuation.

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    • I think you should have no worries in terms of your content – your posts are always enjoyable reads and the pictures are fantastic.

      As a reader, I get very distracted by spelling and grammar issues. An occasional error can easily be passed over, but when there is punctuation or capitalization issues that affect the ease and rhythm of reading a piece, I am more likely to move on to something else. I do have to admit that the its/it’s mistakes drive me nuts, since it is so easy to test to figure out what is needed. I see that mistake everywhere, though.

      As I mentioned to an earlier commenter, writing properly seems like the courteous thing to do for readers. It’s not about being right.

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  14. I would add one more to my list of “pre-publish” contemplations: Because my blog is not anonymous, I work on the premise that anyone could read what I have written. My mom, my kids, my ex, my boss, etc. So I always stop and ask myself “is there anything here that should not be read by someone?”

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    • I wrote an entire post on this subject, yet failed to include it in my list! You are absolutely on point about this. I’m relatively anonymous, but my husband and some friends occasionally read this blog as well. My bigger concern is that I’m respectful of their boundaries. When I write about any of them, I check in with them before publishing or I keep details sufficiently vague.

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  15. I am always amazed at how long a post can take to “properly” write (both from a clean writing and interesting content perspective)! Good writing is important — bad writing is distracting. Reminds me of a recent “Grammarly” gem someone shared on Facebook: “Irony is when someone writes, ‘Your an idiot.’ Learn grammar. Insult properly.”

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    • I love that gem! I, too, am often amazed at how long I will spend on a single post. Sometimes I’ll hold onto a draft for weeks because of one stinky sentence. I have to believe at some point, I’ll get more efficient, but it hasn’t happened yet!

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  16. Hi Michelle,
    I wondered and thought the exact same things when I read that FP post. However, I alternated between wondering if the girl was being purposefully blunt, and feeling sympathy for her – either way it just seemed to me that she is overly sensitive about not being married and was perhaps overcompensating a bit (kind of like – thou dost protest too much?) Maybe she’s a bit envious of her friends who are in good relationships? Or alternatively, maybe she’s got good reason to be a bit pissed – women are very good at making other women feel insecure, particularly when it comes to relationships or having kids.
    In any event, it does come down to thinking before you hit that publish button! No matter what is the truth behind what she wrote, the fact is that that sentiment is now out there forever and now she’s gotta deal with the consequences! For that reason I try to stay away from posting anything that could be considered too controversial – although maybe that makes for a boring blog. 🙂
    Thanks for a very well thought out post 😉
    Sara

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    • I remember being in my 20s and constantly irritated by the numerous ugly dresses I was compelled to wear at some ill-fated weddings. I actually concur with the idea that no one should feel pressured to walk the aisle, but admittedly, for most of us, that’s an internal pressure and part of being young and trying to figure out where we belong and who we are in the world. I think she took a wrong turn with the sarcasm about other people’s choices, but it was simply a defensive, immature tactic. And she is entitled to use it, but backlash is to be expected.

      That being said, some of those commenters are simply awful humans, bereft of common courtesy or the ability to disagree with someone without being complete assholes. I hope that the writer has a good support network and a chance to distance herself from some of the nastiness. I disagree with much of what she wrote, but people have taken it so personally. There’s a whole lot of insecurity on display in that mess.

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Sara!

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  17. I was with her for a few paragraphs, but somewhere around the clichéd fat joke I had to abandon ship. I didn’t even think about wading into the comments, because at no point in human history has an internet article drawn 2000+ comments and somehow produced anything peaceful and constructive. Pass!

    This sort of cautionary tale is why I’m glad I didn’t have internet access in my youth. Two decades later I’d still be living down terrible super-hero fanfic or Young Me writing essay after essay about Why Girls Only Like Jerks. Thankfully, because the internet wasn’t there for him, those never happened and I’m a better person for it. (Sometimes I want to go back in time and smother Young Me with a pillow. Alas, if only catastrophic timeline damage weren’t a concern.)

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    • I laughed when I read this, Randall. I, too, am glad that I did not have access to a large audience when I was younger. Oh, the godawful depressing poetry and ugly political satire, not to mention the constant bemoaning of my relationship of the week. I would have shamed myself for life. I’m embarrassed to even think of it now.

      Youth is, as far as I’m concerned, a bit overrated – so many hard lessons to learn, with or without an audience.

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  18. I’m with Randall, thank goodness there was no internet when I was young. I’m glad to have been able to toss my journals.
    I read the blog post (and mentioned it to my 20 yr. old daughter, who said she had seen it), but I didn’t have any real feelings about it. I did settle down pretty young- I was 20 and my husband was 19; and we’ve been married 23 years and have four kids. We’re a success story, but we’re also an anomaly. I think people should do whatever works for them. My older kids don’t seem in any rush to get married, but if they did want to I wouldn’t presume to think I could stop them 🙂

    I appreciated your post- wonderful tips!

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    • I got rid of all my journals once I turned 30. Who needs proof of their own stupidity?

      To be honest, I think life choices like marriage depend solely on the people involved. I’ve met happily married people who were high school sweethearts and still seem to like each other and I’ve met forever single people in their 60s that seem pretty satisfied. Married, single, young, old – there just isn’t any one-size-fits-all rule.

      What I personally know is that getting married in my early 30s and having a child at 37 was exhausting! There’s some benefit to doing those things at a younger age for sure. The post seemed to trigger a lot of anger and I wonder if she had made it more about her own decisions, instead of promoting it as advice for everyone, if the response would have differed. It’s interesting to think about, but better to witness from a distance, because it’s pretty astonishing.

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  19. Great blog. Before posting a blog, and I schedule mine, I usually have spent at least three hours on. Some more. I take mine through three drafts, one to get my thoughts on paper, one to organize, one to polish. Even then I usually check in the night before a post goes live to make sure I haven’t created a mess. And still I miss things.

    Beginning tomorrow I will be using short stories as a prompt for a new short story less than 1000 words. Even though the new story was spontaneous it will be a second draft.

    Thanks for reminding us how important it is to choose our words and posts wisely.

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    • I have occasionally scheduled posts and I wish I could do it more frequently. It sounds like you have a solid system. I usually have one draft which I rip apart repeatedly over the course of several days. Rarely does a piece get released into the wild with less than 25 revisions. I am trying to repopulate my reader and added your blog. I look forward to reading your stories!

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  20. I usually read through a post several times, deleting the unneeded words and substituting short words for longer ones that mean the same thing.

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    • I thought of you while writing this post, because I find that even writing a personal essay blog necessitates using journalistic editing. One of the editing skills I’ve been trying to improve is the deletion of unnecessary words. I think, as a writer, it’s easy to fall in love with our own words, which makes incisive editing all the more important.

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      • It’s only in recent years that I’ve developed this obsession about striking excess words. All of us need an editor; and no one is very good at being their own editor.

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        • I would never want to be a final editor on any of my work ( with the exception of blogging), but I am definitely working on improving my editing skills. I’ve been using a book called “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers” By Browne and King and it has been helpful, making me much more aware of pitfalls.

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  21. Michelle, I feel your posts are very easy to read and your grammar, etc. a role model for us all. I think it’s wise to think it through. I always think is this worth someone’s time? There is so much stuff out there, I want to make what I publish count. That said, I’m not sure I always do that. I do try. Sometimes, I may feel the need to share and think that’s valuable too, especially if my community tunes in. But like you said, you never know who will be reading your posts! Happy 2014 to you! – Amy

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    • Thanks for your kind feedback, Amy. Sometimes I’ll write a post about something fluffy and I wonder if it’s worth posting to a public forum. Then I get some positive responses and I think “well, geez, don’t encourage me!”. I fear I’ll be like a little kid who hams it up. “Well, if you think that was worthwhile, watch this!” and before you know it, I’m posting more fluff.

      It’s interesting talking about one’s community. Sometimes I’ll read a blog and it’s very much an insider’s post – like starting a book in the middle and having no idea what is going on. I try not to assume too much about the reader, while hopefully giving a nod to people who have consistently read and interacted with me. It’s that balance of writing a book in a series – it should be able to stand on its own without having to read all the prequels. Now I’m off on a new mental tangent…must have more coffee.

      I wish you a wonderful new year as well!

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  22. First, I had to go read that FP piece. But I got bored half-way through and left without reading any of the comments. I’ll just take your word for it that it has some Gawker Slow-down appeal.

    I love how we all work differently, how some basics are important to us all (grammar, thank you), and how we all bring our different sensitivities and requirements to our writing.

    Most of my posts take an hour or two. Most of them are short—around 300-500 words. Because of the subject matter, I don’t want to overload a reader with my mental illness escapades. A short taste seems tolerable to me. I read through a post several times before posting, but once it’s “live” I still edit it if I find typos or awkward sentences I missed. I do that with the fiction I post, too.

    I always try to reach a place of learning in my posts, a realization, a potential for growth, a shift in perspective. If I can’t do that, then I go for artistry. If I’m hopeless and despairing, then I say it with poetry. I may be completely wrong, but I figure poetry can hold the pain of the experience a little better and make it more palatable.

    The other thing I spend a lot of time on before I post is media. Do I have a piece of art that fits the post or do I need to surf the web for a photo? Do I want music? video? What will delight *me*? What will make *me* come back and experience this post again?

    Gosh, this was fun to think about, Michelle. It really clarified my priorities. Thanks!

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    • That post was a train wreck. My neck hurts from watching it. But I couldn’t look away!

      When it comes to grammar and spelling, there is an online contingent that thinks it serves no purpose. I am reminded of how “compromise” became a dirty word in politics over the last decade. What? Isn’t that a linchpin of politics? I think being able to communicate effectively requires common lingual ground (common lingual? I think there might be a dirty joke there) and that is what grammar and spelling provides.

      I have not mastered mixed media (okay, I haven’t really tried) and my brief attempts at poetry have been awkward at best. Knowing our strengths and weaknesses is pretty much a major stepping stone on the path to enlightenment, I think. I can enjoy and appreciate art and poetry (yours is intense but very well done), while not muddying the waters with my own attempts!

      I’m with you in terms of learning with posts. There’s something about writing things down that forces us to clearly enunciate what we think and believe. Sometimes I am surprised about my own feelings or sense of a subject when I write about it.

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  23. There’s only one thing I think about before I hit publish: Is this post funny?

    I read your post and I was reminded of a convo I had with another blogger about how long it took her to write a post. She’s a photographer, so her blog is mostly pretty pictures with captions yet I was still astounded when she answered, “To write? Only about ten minutes.”

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    • You have some innate writing skills at play then, because funny, in and of itself, would not be enough to make your blog as enjoyable as it is to read. I have always assumed it was a given that people would try to spell and punctuate properly, so it is not conscious thought on my part. After reading blogs over the last couple of years, I realize that I had to put it on the list.

      The difference in processes among writers, photographers, crafters, etc. is amazing. For whatever reason, I am like an anxious stage mother, going over and over my little progeny with a comb before shoving it out onto a public stage. Other people are like jazz musicians – able to improvise and riff in minutes, all while sounding completely self-assured and cool.

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  24. I just started reading a blog that is really interesting to me topic-wise, but has horrible command of the rules of writing—all of them. It’s very distracting and makes the blogger come across as sloppy, scatter-brained and lazy. I know those are all my judgments, but there you go.

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    • I tip a hat to my own laziness when I say, if I have to work hard to figure out what someone is trying to say…uh, I’m not going to work hard, I’m going to another blog. I’m pretty judgmental when it comes to writing – it’s the nature of having to critically edit one’s own work. It’s hard to keep those skills in a box. Feel free to judge me a jerk. I’ll own it.

      From the tone of my attitude, I feel a solid breakfast is in order at this point. I hope you are off to a lovely day, Sandy!

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  25. Pingback: The Price of Honesty | Turning Pages

  26. This is very similar to my personal checklist. Above all, the two things I really focus on are trimming the word count and then not obsessing too much about spending half an hour changing a word here and a word there.

    In the latter case, I’ve learned to recognise when I’ve reached the point where good enough is good enough.

    And I have *never* published a post which didn’t benefit from hacking out at least 10% of its word count – saying the same thing twice in slightly different ways, drifting off on tangents, too many flowery adjectives/adverbs, all that sort of stuff. If my first draft is 1,000 words, I rarely have more than about 800-850 by the time I hit ‘publish’. Less is more, as the old saying goes.

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    • I am definitely of the mind that less is more. If I have to go on and on, I’m not being a good writer. I do tend to obsess over word usage, though and also perspective. It’s not so much that I fear offending anyone, as much as I wish to be as measured and fair in my approach of a subject as possible. I don’t always accomplish that in a post, but it’s so often the comments and discussions after that provide some great teaching moments.
      Reading other blogs really helps, too, in figuring out what is too long. If I am continually scrolling to just get through one post, I tend to lose interest very quickly and I assume other readers do as well.

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  27. All of these are important checkpoints before hitting ‘publish’. In my earlier blogging days, I found that I sometimes became the knee-jerk blogger. If I had a bad day, I’d write all about it. If I came across a bad person, I’d write all about that type of person. But as you said, is this really something worth reading? Do people care? Most likely, no.

    One of the parts of online writing that gets to me is that it’s almost too easy now to be instantaneous. Many words are not thought out or reflected upon before we click that ‘publish’ button (on blogs or on social media). Too bad these sites didn’t provide a pop-up that said: “Do you really mean what you’re about to say? Or do you need to take five minutes and chew on it?”

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    • I am beginning to think that I need to be a little more knee jerk and little less of an editing plod, but that would contradict my post. Sometimes the rawness and immediacy of a post can resonate with more people, but as a practice can bring down the quality of writing and necessary editing. So often I have written a reactive draft that, upon re-reading, really has no point and is more stream of consciousness writing. Thank goodness I have the sense to say “no” to myself (most of the time)!

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  28. It has to be interesting for me to read myself, and I have certain undefined guardrails that comprise my “brand”; the post has to be true to that. Good advice is to not publish everything you’ve written. For me, my own policy is to also not spend too much time on it. Print media feels more deserving of that level of refinement. This for me is a place to become a better writer, like a classroom. I feel they’re all drafts, my posts, some of which might turn into something else, somewhere else. I think a body can over-edit themselves to where they lose their crispness, but I don’t know of course exactly where that boundary is.
    I like the little images you use to accompany your writing, and especially The Green Study pictures of plants and so forth. You have a strong brand yourself. I liked this; thank you Michelle for provoking such thought on it. You get out of it what you put into it, I suppose. That’s bad syntax and I don’t care (emoticon here) – Cheers, Bill

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    • That’s a good point, Bill, about over-editing and I wonder if it does, as you suggest, take away a crispness or immediacy from the writing. I’ve tried to write without editing and whether or not it’s a compulsion (I suspect it is), I can never let things completely go on their own. It may be to the detriment of creativity, I don’t know.

      I appreciate your input about the “branding”. It’s funny, but when a familiar blog undergoes changes, I find it quite jarring, so I try to be consistent, even if doesn’t keep things “fresh and clickable”. There will always be the new and sometimes brief pop bloggers. I’d like my blog to be more like a comfortable chair that can be counted on. There, I topped your syntax by ending a sentence with a preposition.

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  29. This is a great article. I will be returning to it regularly. I am a relatively new blogger. Although my top priority is to refine my writing skills, right behind that is a focus on making sure each post will bring value or inspiration to the reader. This article reinforces that I am on the right track. Thanks!

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  30. I always think about grammar and usually still make a couple of mistakes. I tend to write from the hip and what comes out comes out. Sometimes I upload photos to my media library with no particular thought in mind and I hope for the best. I do appreciate a well written post though. You are always well thought out and you make me think – I appreciate that. Your craft shows in your posts.

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    • It’s good to hear from you, Lorri! I’ve been struggling lately with so many transitions and I think that is what is coming out in my writing these days. Your hopes for the best and from the hip tend to be realized – your posts are always delightful!

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      • That’s kind of you to say Michelle – I often look back and see what could have been stronger, but I know we are usually our toughest critic. It seems like a season of transitions – I need to hop back on the horse and start writing again. I did the Nano this year and blew it – I should have just continued to write and not put that crazy pressure on.

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  31. Pingback: The Green Study Potpourri (or What’s that Smell?) | The Green Study

  32. terrific post here. So much to take in, so many comments. I do like the idea of waiting a day or two, and revisiting what I write at that point. I nearly always find that my thoughts have changed on some part of it and rewriting is in order.
    I also like the idea of a prompt a day. Will check that out.
    Thanks for this!

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