Writing about Writing: What Posts do you Struggle With?

Happy Friday everyone!

I’ve been on a bit of a blog-hiatus lately, thanks to work.  Last weekend I got a call Friday evening, just as the husband and I had settled into comfy clothes and opened up a bottle of win — my boss said “we’re working all weekend” and that was that.  To add to my angst, I feel like my ten or so hours at my desk every day this week means I just missed possibly the most glorious spring week ever had in the DC area.  Today it’s back to cold and rainy.

I know, grumble grumble.  At any rate, I’m happy it’s Friday, and after a grueling week, I’m  hoping to actually get some things written and posted this weekend.

I was thinking today about some of the posts I haven’t completed, and how some posts are so much easier to write than others. Do you have a post on the back burner that you’re struggling with, or one you have struggled with?  Does each one have its challenges or do the words just spill out as you type?  For those who post a lot more than I do, I’d love to know more about your process.

For me, book reviews have become pretty easy.  It’s not that I don’t spend time on them — I do.  I can do about two posts a week, given a normal work week (which this one wasn’t).  I spend about an hour writing a post, then I let it sit for a day or so, then I reread, edit, add quotes, etc.  Sometimes I spend a lot of time “researching” (which really means Googling) the book and the author.  Then I copy into WordPress, read again, add a picture, find a bunch more little things I want to change, tag, categorize, title, and voila – my post is posted.  I don’t strive for perfection, but I hope to write something moderately entertaining, meaningful, and error-free.

After almost two years of blogging, book reviews roll from my head to my fingers pretty smoothly.  I love writing them, and now a book sort of feels unfinished until I’ve written about it.  Sometimes I have no idea what I want to say about a book, and then I sit down and a review just comes out.  A lot of times I generate review ideas when I wake up in the morning.  Sleep does that to you, according to some of my books on writing. I love when I wake up with an idea for a post.

But I also want to challenge myself, not just in what and how I read, but what I write about.

There’s a post I’ve been struggling with the last month or so, and it’s the one about girls with Asperger’s Syndrome.  This book generated really personal and conflicting emotions for me.  It’s made me think a lot about my own personality and what it means to be a child who doesn’t fit in.  How do we know when personality traits are caused by something physical and when they’re just the things that make us all different from each other?  What’s the difference between that child who’s painfully shy or weird, and a child who has a neurological condition like Asperger’s?  And how does being diagnosed help or hurt a child with a “social disorder”? While I’m not suggesting I have Asperger’s, this book has probably done more by way of changing my views about myself than any book I can think of recently.  As a result it’s been really hard to write about.

The other problem is that mentally I keep adding to this post; I think I could write an essay or even a book about this subject instead of just a blog post.  Then I sit down to write and it all comes out jumbled. Still, I’m determined to condense, edit, rewrite, etc. so I can attempt to get what I’m thinking about into print.

Now I’ve blown the whole thing out of proportion, really, and by the time I post it will be terribly anticlimactic.

Writing about personal topics is hard for me but something I push myself to do.  I know that family and friends read this blog, and I’m not someone who shares a lot.  Anonymity would be so much easier.  When I first started blogging I thought I’d just send my blog out in the world and my many, many readers would never know who I was.  A blogging class disabused me of that idea.  The instructor told us, if you’re not willing to send your link to every friend and family member, you’re not going to be a successful blogger.  Now, with a book review I’m usually not worried about putting too much of myself on the line, although I do find I censor myself.

I’ve noticed with blogging, that the occasional very-personal post that you work on for days doesn’t necessarily garner much attention from readers.  I don’t know why, but the posts I’m always nervous about are the ones no one reacts to, like this one about not wanting children – where if I post a review of a Haruki Murakami book I get a huge response.

But blogging is about being thick-skinned, and knowing there are times people get what you’re saying and times they don’t even show up.  And that has to be okay.

I’d love to hear more about how other bloggers write.  What kinds of posts you struggle with?  How much thought, time, energy do you put into each post?  How personal do you go and what’s off-limits?   Do you worry about someone reading your blog who might be offended or upset?

Happy weekend everyone.  I just got a call from my boss who says “she hopes we get a weekend this weekend.”  I hope so too.

  13 comments for “Writing about Writing: What Posts do you Struggle With?

  1. March 17, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    For me it’s been totally the opposite! When I’ve written more personal posts, which I thought were more upsetting or disturbing, I got lots of response, and positive such. Now, I’ve just realized I’m a coward, because on my first ever blog i wrote more of that sort of posts, but deleted them out of fear. Fear of what, I don’t know. Maybe negative feedback, blog bullying and the likes, but I never got any bad reactions. And now I don’t write any personal posts of that sort. But that’ll change soon now that I’ve realized I’ve been a coward…

    • March 18, 2012 at 9:10 pm

      I did something like you did… my first attempt at a blog was uber-personal and I came to realize that 1) I couldn’t actually show it to anyone and 2) it probably wasn’t all that interesting to anyone but me. So the book blogging works well for me — a safe harbor from too much emotion and reading is the thing I love above all else (except people of course). Good luck if you try for some more personal posts! You and me both…

  2. March 17, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    First, I am SO sorry about your work load. My stomach dropped when I read about that call last Friday. I got all involunarily indignant on your behalf, and thought “OMG I would never put up with that.” But that’s silly…I’ve never been put in that situation, so I have no idea how I’d react (other than be resentful).

    Second, you know I struggle with writing. I counted the number of post ideas/unfinished drafts on my list the other day and lost count around 40. Maybe it’s because most of my posts are personal…but I get that “jumbled” feeling while drafting a lot of my posts. I’ve even tried making outlines so I won’t drone on and on, but I haven’t found that to be very effective either. I have a tendency to write for a couple hours until I’ve exhausted the topic (and myself), then research links, photos, etc, then spend almost as much time editing the text down to a reasonable length as I did writing all the text in the first place.

    The length of this comment provides evidence of my difficulties in this area! Hope you get to decide how to spend this weekend! And I hope you figure out the Asperger’s post, I’m interested in reading it.

    • March 18, 2012 at 8:58 pm

      Thanks for the sympathy! It wasn’t just the working all weekend part that was so bad, it was the how and why. I’m still annoyed that a good bottle of wine went to waste. But yeah, aside from fantasizing about quitting, or taking some six month sabbatical, there’s nothing you can do but suck it up.

      Thanks too for the thoughtful comment!

  3. March 17, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    I’m brand new to blogging and I’ve already pissed off two of my sisters. Slightly, we worked it out. I said that to a blogger in a comment and she replied that if I made someone angry I was doing my job. The thing is we all have our perceptions of how our childhood or an event went down. We may not agree on it. But we have to write it from our own perspective even at the risk of annoying someone. Though I stop short of hurting someone. That’s not good. Also, your Asperger blog post or essay if it turns into that sounds fascinating. Don’t let that one get away. Lastly, I decided not to have kids either, without a tug of war of should I or shouldn’t I. I wish there were more of us who felt that way. Too many have kids without giving it the slightest thought. Nice post.

    • March 18, 2012 at 9:01 pm

      Thanks for the comment and thanks for visiting! I know i have to get past the “what if I hurt someone’s feelings” or I’ll never write about anything real. I probably also need to accept that my parents won’t be shocked if there are painful things in my childhood. I’ll keep your comment in mind.

  4. March 17, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    Personal posts are hard for me when they’re serious. I did one recently and got a comment so harsh I thought about deleting the post. I felt completely misunderstood. Plus, I feel (rightly or wrongly) that most people want the fluff. Too serious and they stop visiting. So, I have a fair amount of unfinished ‘thoughtful’ posts.

    I’m with you on the book reviews. I read so much and have found that writing reviews comes more easily now. I enjoy them as well.

    Visiting from the Not A Mommy blog hop- and a certified book FREAK, so I’ll be checking back in often.

    • March 18, 2012 at 9:07 pm

      Thanks for visiting! That’s too bad about the negative comment, and it’s a shame to think people only want the fun stuff (although I’m sure you’re right). I’ll definitely check out your blog.

  5. March 18, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    Like Susi, I’ve found that the more personal and… painful a post is, the better reception it receives – the lighter, fluffier, goofier stuff doesn’t get as much attention. And I’d chalk it up to schadenfreude, but those posts also get the most comments. Blogging has really become a form of therapy for me; it helps when I can “write it out” of my brain, and knowing that someone somewhere might feel a little less alone because of my words makes the risk worth it for me. It’s still a tough leap to take, though. Off to read your no kids post! 🙂

    • March 18, 2012 at 9:13 pm

      Thanks Chibi for visiting! I’m always impressed by the bloggers who can really pour their hearts out. I know I’d be a better writer if I could. I think writing that’s personal really does help other people.

  6. March 19, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    I love this post topic. And can I say I’m impressed with the amount of work you put into your reviews, although that work does show. I have the most trouble with review posts and if something takes me more than an hour to write I know I’m struggling. Often by the time I finally get something written I won’t bother re-reading it. I know I should re-read because I always find things to change or typos to fix when I do.

    I’m always wrong about which posts will generate the most activity. Ones I put a lot of time into get very little notice while throw away ones seem to be a big hit.

    I enjoy personal posts because it gives you a chance to get to know that person. That said, I know what you mean by wanting to keep your personal life personal. And I try to be especially cognizant of this when posting about people in my life. I check with people before posting anything about them that I think they may not want shared.

    All said, I would love to see the Asperger’s post you’ve been working on.

    • March 20, 2012 at 7:30 am

      Thanks Alley! Your posts are always so much fun to read — I think it’s hard to put a lot of personality into a book review but you always do.

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