The Good Blog

I am ashamed to admit that I have been seduced away from blogging by Twitter – that’s my feeble excuse for not having written a blog for nearly a month. I’ve felt annoyed when some of my favourite bloggers (Lili Wilkinson and Penni Russon of Eglantine’s Cake to name and shame a couple) slowed their output in favour of the 140 character hit but now I understand the attraction. Yet Twitter can’t replace the solid ideas that you can embed in a good blog.

What constitutes a good blog and what are the justifications for keeping one? There are a surfeit of dull ones out there and I don’t want to add to the effluence in the blogsphere. But still I’m not sure of the form. Anyone who has read this blog regularly will notice that I’ve shifted away from regular book reviews and started posting my own news and ideas about books in general. I’ve fiddled with the design and layout, I’ve added boxes and reworded my profile. But I still don’t think I’ve hit upon what exactly makes a good blog – the sort of blog I really enjoy reading.

So here’s my short list of what are the most important elements of a good blog:

  • Regular postings (but not so often that the reader feels despair at keeping up)
  • Informative
  • Provocative
  • No more than 500 words in length
  • A dash of intimacy

I don’t think I’m scoring very well. I certainly aim for the first four but I’m not good at self-revelation, even though I admire it in other people and their blogs. I write because I like to think about ‘the other’ but I love to read blogs where the author references their life and family, the little intimacies that make them accessible and human. I struggle to pepper my blogs with references to my life outside books, worry that my kids would be deeply irritated to find themselves mentioned, and feel my family is too complex and unwieldy to reference.

Yet some days, blogging can feel like sheer self-indulgence. It’s the sort writing you do when you’re not really writing. The article you write without certainty of a readership, without financial reward, without higher purpose. Which is probably what most writing is like for most of us – but this morning I read Margo Lanagan’s blog and loved her comment about the process of judging the Vogel prize : “…the idea that if you fill 200 pages with words, that must be a novel. Oh ho, but it’s not, people.”

The idea that if you fill a page of cyberspace with a few thousand characters, you have written a blog is valid – but it’s not a good blog.

Kirsty is an Australian author of books for children and young adults.

“Books are windows into other ways of being.”

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