Hey guys - thanks so much for all the comment love on my last post! I'm a little worried about the enthusiasm and sincerity of some of the responses, though, so just to clarify:
The reason I posted that with so much tongue-in-cheek hyperbole is because I don't actually agree with that advice - or better to say, I don't agree with treating that advice as Absolute Commandments. Yes, blogging is a medium, and it's good to know how to shape your ideas to make them maximally attractive in said medium. But how you ever noticed how often people try to sell us "magic formulas" to fix whatever problem we're having?
"On page 3, introduce the Mentor, who will prompt the Refusal of the Call to Action."
"Step 2: make eye contact with the girl and approach her - don't let her make the first move."
"Then, after dinner, eat ten grapes and drink another 8 oz glass of water."
This stuff pops up over and over again, because our brains find it so damned attractive. "Don't worry; it's really not complicated," the sirens sing. "You only need to do these six simple things, exactly and to the letter, and all will be well."
And even though we intellectually know that if it really were that easy, everyone else would have already done it, our ego makes us believe that we are special snowflakes in a sea of weak-minded schmucks - that WE have this special secret advice now, this wonderful magic feather, and all we have to do is jump off the balcony and fly.
The siren song is a hell of a lot more attractive than the reality. Nobody wants to listen to the frumpy old mermaid who says things like, "Actually, it's really goddamn hard," and "Successful people can't really help you, because they don't know anything but what worked for them personally," and "If anybody actually had this shit universally figured out, they wouldn't still be shilling for people to buy their advice."
So if you really do want to think about what makes for a kick-ass blog, here is an exercise you can do. First, peruse these posts here, and read whichever one(s) catch your eye.
Amazon, Hachette, and Giant Stompy Corporations.
All the Love in the World is Useless. [TW: cancer, death.]
Writing Strong Women, Part I: How it All Goes Wrong
Games of Yesteryear: Final Fantasy III, or How Four Onion Kids Fostered an Obsession
Silent Technical Privilege
But but but - WHY Does Magic Have to Make Sense?
Then compare that to some of YOUR favorite posts (ones you've read, or ones you've written.)
Some of the ones I posted are from huge mega-successful blogs and authors, while others are small. Some are funny, some are ranty, some are thoughtful, and one is heartbreakingly sad. Each of them breaks some or all of the 'rules' I posted last week. But I will bet you a dollar that they all have at least one thing in common with your favorites: in each case, the author was writing about something that mattered to them, and did a really good job of putting their passion on the virtual page.
And that, reader o' mine, is why I strongly suspect that your blog doesn't suck. Even if you haven't gotten part 2 down yet - even if you're not sure how best to present your passion in this particular medium - if you are writing about something you care about, you are already halfway to greatness.
That is what I think, and that is what I am saying here.
5. Pry claws from back legs out of your arm. Go get the cat, pick up half-dissolved pill from floor and drop it into garbage can.