i'm just a literary tease, my reputation's on its knees.

Trouble, Trouble, Blog & Bubble

October 12, 2004

Rebecca Blood, webmistress of Rebecca's Pocket, wrote The Weblog Handbook: Practical Advice on Creating and Maintaining Your Blog. Although the book is aimed specifically at people interested in creating online blogs, this book would be useful for anyone hoping to "become" a writer. The chapter on "Finding Your Voice" was of particular interest.

The idea of finding your voice is an important one for beginning writers. The natural impulse when a person first begins to write is to emulate the style of those writers whom you admire and have read voraciously. This is generally not done with malacious intent; it is part of the natural process of "becoming" a writer. Many beginning writers aren't even aware of it, only becoming aware when someone else points it out to them.

There are several important factors for a writer in the beginning stages of finding one's voice. I would recommend that any budding* writer read this chapter to read Blood's take on the matter. The point I found most useful was the section titled, "The Audience of One." I think this section makes a very good point. It is important as a writer, especially as an online writer, to write solely for yourself.

When you start to write to please an audience or start worrying about who may or may not be reading what you write, you are doing yourself and your writing a disservice. The point is that you can't please everyone all of the time. You can't even please half the people half of the time. The best you can hope for is to make sure that everything you put out there pleases just one person: YOU!

Never compromise yourself in order to please someone else. If you really think about it, that holds true not just for writing but for your entire life. (blah blah, I'll try not to wax philosophic... at least, not -this- entry.)

So, as a person who has been writing for the internet for a disgustingly long time, as someone who is older (and maybe a little teeny bit wiser?) than many of my classmates at Seton Hill University, I would like to offer a few pointers on how to avoid compromising yourself (and getting in trouble with your friends) via your online blog or journal:
Stayin' Out of Trouble Online

  1. Tell the Truth, Nicely

    Never write anything you wouldn't say to someone's face Don't write "such and such is such a jerk" unless you would honestly feel comfortable saying that to that person. It's perfectly acceptable to rant but if you do follow these three rules:

    1. Don't Name Names

    2. Change Identifying Characteristics

    3. Take A Breather First

    Save the raw emotional writing for your personal handwritten journal or diary. It's great to have a record of how you were feeling at different periods of your life, but do you really need to put your heart out there for the whole world to see?
  2. Your Mom Might Read It

    Don't write something you wouldn't want your mother to read. This includes your participation in illegal activities, the steamy descriptions of your hottt sex the night before, the details of your horrible childhood, whatever. Sure, your mom might be the world's biggest technoklutz, but someone else in your family might stumble across it and share. If you wouldn't feel comfortable having your parents, or anyone else for that matter, know something about you, don't post it.

  3. Be Leery of Details

    You might want to designate code names for your friends, for one thing. Other details you might want to consider disguising are: the name or location of your place of employment, the make or model of your car or the name of the street where you live. You should also consider be cautious about revealing your mailing address or phone number online.

    These are things you might not consider as you begin to write online, but these are the things that can get you in trouble later on, if a fan becomes rapid or something. It's rare but it happens. Trust me. (ick!)

  4. Break The Rules

    Break all of these rules at your discretion. Break them often, break them hard. The best thing about writing online is that there are no hard and fast rules. The internet is the ultimate disposable media. You can go back into your work and change information as necessary.

    Some of you might feel more comfortable revealing more information than others. Just be aware that if your friends are reading your writing and you write about them, believe me, they will be paying attention. And discussing your bedroom likes and dislikes can lead to dinnertime conversations about topics you'd just as soon not discuss in public.

    Remember all writing on the internet is "public" whether you are always aware of it or not. So expect the unexpected especially when you are breaking "the rules".

*haha, Evan, I said budding! ;c)

Moira at 06:32 PM :: Comments (4) :: ::

An excellent treatment of a subject near and dear to my heart.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at October 13, 2004 12:38 PM

I commented on a blog entry that Denishia wrote not too long ago. She did a great job of discussing privacy on weblogs. It is definitely something important a newbie blogger should be aware of.

You can check out her blog entry here:

Posted by: Valerie Masciarelli at October 14, 2004 12:06 PM

Dr Jerz - Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed. :c)

Valerie - Thanks for pointing out Denisha's entry to me. I hope that the people reading this article will click over to Denisha's entry to get her take on the subject. Thanks, Valerie!

Posted by: moira at October 19, 2004 06:47 PM

Ha, ha, Moira, I said "whithering"

Posted by: Evan at November 10, 2004 10:32 PM
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