The Official Terribleminds Writer’s Guide To Blogging About Blogging


Blogging cannot get more useless when a blog blogs about blogging, and even worse, here I’m going to blog about some blogs that have in fact already blogged about blogging, and that’s so much blogging it hurts.

Did you follow that? Me neither.

Point is, Kristen Lamb wrote that writers should not blog about writing.

Then Austin Wulf said, writers should too blog about writing.

Then Albert Berg said, good points all around but Kristen might be right, now let’s everybody have a tickle.

And now, here I am.

Blogging about bloggers who have blogged about blogging.

Which is why you’ll notice a trickle of treacly blood exiting my ears.

Obviously, I am a writer (duh) who frequently blogs about writing (duh) though one might not refer to this specifically as a writing blog. Thus, I feel compelled by my deranged mind to talk a little on this subject. I figure, I’ll grab the snake and force him to bite his own tail and yammer about my blogging style here at Jolly Olde Terribleminds, and you can take this information and make love to it…

…or shove it instead up a donkey’s corn-chute.

Your call. Please to enjoy.

First: This Blog, Right Here

I started this site over ten years ago. Probably 12, by now. Before it was WordPress it was a straight-up HTML site designed by a friend and it looked pretty cool at the time, but as new browsers hit the ground, the site refused to play well with them. So, to read the site on, say, Firefox, you had to highlight invisible text and pray to dark gods and mist the screen with bergamot oil just to read what I was saying.

It only worked on Internet Explorer, which is like saying, it only worked on a computer powered by coal.

Two years ago I switched to WordPress. I opened the site up to comments. I began tracking views and page hits and what-not. I also started blogging every damn day, seven days a week.

I don’t say this to brag, only to show the growth of the blog and its readership, but: in June 2009, all month I had 922 unique guests here at the site. That number began doubling until it reached what the site had in June of 2010, which was 15,000 visitors. On June 9th of this year, the blog had 18,490 looky-loos just on that one day. Now, that was a bit extreme, admittedly, and unusual here, but even still, I’ve been getting 70-90k per month, and this month already I’m on track to see the biggest flock of readers yet.

So, am I doing something right? Well, that’s debatable. Quantity is not quality, after all, though I should note I’m quite happy with the quality of readership here. You all seem lovely. Except that one guy in the corner fondling himself. *is handed a piece of paper* Oh. Oh. That’s a mirror? Huh. Awkward.

I’m happy with the blog and its contents.

Rule One: Blog About Whatever The Fuck You’d Like

I agree with the spirit of Lamb’s law, but not the letter — I do not think that blogging about writing is a bad move for writers. The spirit of her law is more that a writer should blog about all kinds of things, not just writing, and further that a writer should not feel compelled to blog about writing by dint of being a writer, and to all that, I agree. But I’m not comfortable saying a writer shouldn’t blog about writing — whether just a little or all the time — if that’s what what makes you happy. Because that’s my ultimate law of bloggery-do: blog what you want because you want to.

Blog about: writing, editing, books, films, games, child-rearing, whisky, snake-breeding, illicit botany, wicker furniture, hookers, microphone fetishes, or the Many Ways To Murder Your Mailman.

Blog about what interests you. About things that rouse your passion, that tickle your saucer nips, that make you do a little ants-in-your-pants prancey dance. That interest and passion will translate to the blog and carry over to the readers. Don’t blog about stuff because someone tells you to blog about it. Further, don’t not blog about something because someone tells you not to.

(And can we just pause for a moment and talk about what a wretched turd-yawn of a word “blog” is? Why has nobody come up with a better word yet? Seriously? Internet, come together in this. Get down in the comments and come up with new words for “blogging,” yeah?)

You might be saying, “But that won’t garner me audience. If I’m a writer of science-fiction who blogs about knitting, that doesn’t build my platform. I should be blogging about science-fiction!”

No, you should be writing science-fiction. Blog about if only if you get jazzed about doing so. See, here’s the thing. A blog audience is not automatically your creative audience. Some crossover exists, but consider: 70,000 people visited this blog last month, but I did not sell 70,000 copies of any of my books. Did I sell 10%, or 7,000 copies, then? Mmmmnope. More like “less than one percent.”

And I’m happy with that, for the record.

All blogging is just squawking into the void. It’s free. It’s a soapbox on which you stand and bark your brain-think into the world. Be yourself. Talk about what you want to talk about. Authenticity and interest will garner readers well beyond plopping out rote, formulaic posts because they are somehow “expected.”

Truth is, since most people have multiple things that enflame their mental loins, you don’t have to worry about having One Kind Of Blog. “This is my blog devoted to knitting vagina cozies” is far less interesting to me than, “this is my blog devoted to the shit that comes out of my head which you may or may not appreciate because as it turns out I’m a complete and complicated human.”

(That again gets to the heart of Lamb’s post.)

Blog in a way that appeases you first. Otherwise, the blog is just a daily lump of stress.

Rule Two: Don’t Be A Dick

When you blog, don’t be a dick. See also:

Don’t be: an asshole, an ass-hat, a shithead, a fuckface, a scum-gargling cock-waffle, a jerk, a jerkoff, a jerk-faced jerkopolis, a douche, a douche-swab, douche-nozzle, double-douche, a doucheologist, a crap-faced stinky-butt, a bully, a prick, a sonofabitch, a bastard, a sonofabastard, a brat, a big ol’ meanie, a pig, a racist, a sexist, any anything-ist, a Nazi, a homophobe, a homophone, a homonym, a homo sapiens…

… ooh, I think I got off the rails there.

Point is, don’t be a dick.

Be tactful about things. Try to be nice. You don’t need to be funny — just don’t be dour and mean. Approach your audience with respect by not flinging boiling urine in their eyes when they come to read your work.

A slight tweak on this: you can be a bit of an asshole (Sweet Sally Struthers, I sure am) provided you do so with self-deprecation and humor in equal measure. I think. Then again, I might be wrong about that. There might exist a secret room of Wendig Haters out there plotting my demise. I’ll just don my tinfoil hat here to block out their hateful frequency, and we’re all good.

Rule Three: No Rule Three Exists, Please Turn Around And Go Home

You’re saying, that’s it?

Two goddamn rules?

Yes, that’s what I’m telling you.

And you’re saying, “But, this is about blogging for writers. Surely you have some specific information that will help them be better writer-blogger hybrid creatures?”

Ehhh. Well, sure. I have some caveats and corollaries. I try to avoid negativity. I don’t recommend writers be reviewers all that often. Blog as part of a community, not separate from it. You can use your blog as a self-promo tool provided that’s only a fraction of your content. Blog often to establish readership routine. Make a blog that’s appealing to the eyes. Own your blog and your domain (remember when Blogger shit the bed a month or two back? Yeah, seriously, own your stuff).

I don’t consider these hard-and-fast rules so much as they are suggestions, though. The only rules are the two noted above: blog how you want to blog, as long as you’re not a big honking dickhead about it.

Q&FuckinA

I don’t know why you’d have any specific questions about terribleminds, but I’m happy to answer them if you do. Same goes for suggestions you may have — the site can and should be improved from time to time (and soon as I have some, HAHAHAHA, time, I plan on attacking a laundry list of challenges here at the Ol’ Bloggery-Hut). Got something to say or ask about the site or its content? Do so with my blessing.


51 responses to “The Official Terribleminds Writer’s Guide To Blogging About Blogging”

  1. Rule One is the best rule. I’d encapsulate it as “be yourself.” Readers of your published work might not necessarily be readers of your blog, but if they do cross over it’s good for them to see their new favorite author for who they really are. Provided they’re not a dick, and if that’s the case, see Rule Two.

  2. Wendig, you’re the man. I’m part of the new group around here for the past month, and dude, I’m glad I found you. Blogging is, yes, a horrible word, and horribly hard for me. But I think it’s just because I’ve been trying too hard. Not blogging about what gets me doing the happy prancey dance, or whatever you said up there, I’m too lazy to scroll back up and get it just right. But my point is, thanks dude. This post helped me a lot.

    • @Brandon: Go forth and blog happy.

      @Josh: Definitely. The crossover is there, no doubt. I just don’t think a writer blogging has to worry so much about blogging in the same orbit as his other, professional writing. Though, in reality, most of the time one will do so anyway because if one writers *and* blogs in a way that makes that person happy, themes and throughlines will be present.

      — c.

  3. I love your site. I love your blog. I want to do what you do. I’m trying, but already getting stuck with the damn design. Ah well, patience!!

    I agree about not being reviewers too often and keeping things positive. But the problem is what I REALLY am passionate about and want to talk to death about is…well…taking apart stories that don’t (or did) work. And there’s some negativity in that. So I’m thinking…damn.

    Hopefully I can balance it out with more positive rants than criticizing ones.

  4. Actually, your blog is the one I most frequently cite as THE example of a writer blog done right. I am a HUGE cheerleader of yours because your voice is so fun, rich and authentic and I have bought copies of all of your books. This is one of my favorite blogs namely because I have no idea WHAT you are going to talk about next. I LOVE the surprise. Yeah, sure you talk about writing, but I just love the new posts about B-Dub, too. The thing is, your content is always fresh and filled with passion because you haven’t painted yourself in a corner when it comes to topics.

    Thanks for the shout out and keep doing what you’ve been doing.

  5. Thanks for posting those early numbers. It’s nice to see the progression you went through in building your reader base. Sometimes it’s easy to think, “Oh yeah, that Chuck Wendig, he’s got TONS of readers. But I’LL never be that popular.”
    Only it took you time to build that fanbase (and, I imagine, to hone your blogging voice) and anyone else who wants to have the same kind of success needs to know that it’s not going to be quick or easy. Thanks for the encouragement, and the advice.
    You da bomb.

    • @Albert, Kristen —

      Thanks for popping by, guys! Mostly, I think the thing with terribleminds is I blog about whatever I want to blog about. Search Term Bingo is popular amongst a small sub-set of people but actually gets tremendously low visits compared to everything else, and I don’t care. I love writing it. It cracks me up. So I write it because I want to.

      As for the numbers, yeah, it took terribleminds 10 years just go build to 1000 views a month. 🙂

      — c.

  6. I like how things are now. I like Flash Fiction Fridays because I find myself writing about things I hadn’t thought about before.

    I also like going on tangents: Lying hens (Craigslist), dogs chasing chickens (my youth), cougars (the cat kind) chasing more or less everything (my blog). You tolerate tangents really well.

    And I get a big kick out of B-Dub.

  7. “Blog in a way that appeases you first. Otherwise, the blog is just a daily lump of stress.”

    Which is why I cringe when we’re told to blog a certain number of days a week. *politely clears throat at some of the blogging bloggers who blog in the room* There a folks out there that prioritize their blogs before their writing thinking they need that audience before they’ve got product. Then there’s the crushing guilt when all goes to hell and you just don’t have the juice for output. (Yes, I’m mostly talking about myself here, having formerly been the former and now the later.)

    The intermittent, whenever-I-have-something-to-say works well for guys like Dan O’Shea. It’s a pleasant surprise when he blogs and I never not read him because he doesn’t post on a regular model. He can correct me if I’m wrong, but I doubt he’s worried much about audience building.

    So year, Rule One Point Five: Blog Whenever the Fuck You’d Like. Or not at all. That’s cool too.

    • @Kate:

      Ennh? Yeah? I agree to a point. I mean, if your job is to build audience for your writing, then blogging regularly isn’t always that meaningful. If your goal is to blog for yourself above others, then blogging regularly isn’t that meaningful.

      The caveat there is, if you want to build audience *for the blog,* then blogging regularly (if not on a schedule precisely) helps, in my opinion.

      — c.

  8. New word for “blog”:
    Void-squawk. Or chasm-rant. Or how about netspew?
    It’s hard, because it has to function as both noun and verb…
    Origin is from “web log”, correct?

  9. Your site is one of the few that I read regularly – the others being Neil Gaiman’s and a handful by friends and folks I know from the internetisphere. It helps that you post every day, so I know to be sure to read the update in the morning, and it has actually helped me thinki about writing – and “being a writer” – in new ways.

    I love the sense of community that grows out of sites like yours, and that you obviously take a lot of time to cultivate that relationship not only with your readers but to help them develop connections with each other. In fact, I wrote a story for last week’s prompt, and got some comments on it obviously directly resulting from being linked back from here, which made me squee with absolute delight.

    I had another blog (yes, that word sucks yeti balls…) that I was using as basically what I’ll call a “bitch wall”: I used it to update my best friend about day-to-day goings on, because we’re far away from each other, and she wanted to know what the haps were with her peeps. It started out fine at first, but then…eventually, every petty gripe and offense went there and what I had to say was not positive or helpul or even very interesting. So I stopped. I abandoned that one to the Blogger hinterlands and started over with a different purpose and attitude. The point to that whole story is that I didn’t follow Rule #2. I stick to being an ass-hat on Facebook now, instead.

  10. How about “snurg”? I totally made that up, it’s not an acronym. And it’s better than “blog.”

    For those who want an acronym: internet (synonym for “web”) + tally (synonym for “log”) = netally. 🙂

  11. Thank you for this, I used to question my blogging a lot. Then I stopped reading posts from people telling me what I should or should not blog about. (“but Aden you read this post.” Yes I did, because it’s Chuck dammit. Back the fuck off.)

    I am a big supporter of Rule #1!

  12. This was really helpful Chuck. As a reasonably new blogger (started last October… ish) I wasn’t sure if my blog is doing well or not. When I started I was getting maybe 10 or 15 views of my new posts. Now I get between 50 to 70, and my monthly views are up to 600+. Judging by what you say that isn’t too bad in under a year.

    Do you ever not cover a topic in your blog, or is it all fair game as far as you’re concerned? And do you “plan” posts, i.e. pre-write them and save them to publish later according to a schedule?

    • @Alexa:

      Sorry for getting back late on some of these questions. The Itty Bitty Dictator of the house has demands, y’know?

      I do sometimes not cover topics in my blog if I don’t think I can do it justice or if I think there’s just no good angle. Some stuff is great to live in my head or talk about with friends, but I don’t find negativity — especially about pop culture products — to be all that useful. It rarely generates positive discussion. It’s one thing to do critiques and to be thoughtful and to find some measure of balance, but straight-up HATED THIS, CRAP CRAP CRAP, usually just ends up ticking people off and making me look overly grouchy.

      And I don’t need to look MORE grouchy.

      — c.

  13. What a timely blog post this was for me today.

    I’ve been trying to be more consistent with my blog, but was wondering whether it is best to have a blog that deals with my main topic (editing) in a strictly professional capacity and leaves out the personal, or whether I might be able to successfully combine the two. At present I have a professional blog and another blog that deals with more heartfelt topics like family life, pregnancy, the random musings of a 30-something woman etc.

    I’m so used to keeping the professional and the personal separate, but I have noticed that the most successful bloggers are those who are just authentically themselves. While writing more personal posts still feels a little bit like exposing myself in a “Dear diary” kind of way on a daily basis, I think you’ve just answered my question for me.

  14. Hey Chuck, great post as always. I just had a question when i saw how many people you actually get on this site on a monthly basis. I’m not an expert by any means, but 70-90k view per month seems like a lot of people. Have you ever thought about hosting ads on this site? It seems like a half way decent way to make money if you have a fair amount of people on the site.

    • @Dan W:

      I guess 70kish is a lot of people? I dunno. I don’t have much to compare to. Not many bloggers publish numbers (understandably), so I’ve no idea if I’m in the low end or not. I’ve heard Scalzi gets 10k+ per day? I dunno.

      I don’t want to host ads here, though. I feel like it would cheapen the place. If terribleminds will earn out it’ll be through projects like PENMONKEY.

      — c.

  15. Dibs on “Illicit Wicker Furniture For Hookers” as a blue grass band name, (Better than my earlier band for heavy metal polka dance squad Cock Gobblers In The Key of A?)

  16. Hi from Samoa – I arrived at yr blog via Twitter, via Kristen Lamb’s RT – and Im sure glad that I did. Thank you for a fun and useful read. Im so glad that SOMEBODY as sucesful at blogging as you is saying – to blog about everything and anything that you want to. Because thats what ive been doing ( and feeling rather ‘unprofessional’ as I did so). I blog about the nightmare adventure of raising five children as well as writing and everything else in between – and never thought that people would actually like to read that stuff. And yet its the inyourface mother madness blogs that get the most traffic.
    I also liked seeing your numbers from where you were at to where you are at now. Thats encouraging.
    Im thrilled to find your blog and look forward to your next post.

  17. What You Said! Not that I get spitty and hostile and shoot fire out my eyes whenever somebody tells me what/when/how to blog. I do that in general.

    You and Scalzi are the only two people I know who’ve been blogging as long as I have, though I’m sure there are many other OGs out there. I started in the mid-90s with a hand-coded thing that was truly a product of its generation (no further detail required) and then went to blogger followed by my own domain 10-11 years ago. My current site has lain fallow after a big pruning, partially because I’ve gotten caught up in online loops, forums, twitter and etc., but also because it’s time to pay attention to that writer self-marketing thing, and I won’t be doing that under my web handle. Whether I’m churning out a post-a-day or not, being told by baby bloggers that I’m doin’ it rong really cheezes me off. Until I remember the relevant xkcd panel and let it go. Somebody else can stay up all night 😉

  18. I could hug you right now. Except that would make me a dork, so let’s just say…I wish I could pour you a drink.

    Because I needed this, right now. So many people talk about what you absolutely, positively MUST NOT or MUST blog about. It makes my head all spin-y. It’s not pretty. I’ve always thought that it’s best to just blog about…whatever. As long as I’m writing about something interesting that I care about, who cares if it’s my book or my cat? My Best Friend or the short story I’m working on? As long as it’s real, honest — that’s what matters.

    But, like I said, I’ve been told that’s the wrong thing to do (not naming names!). Funny, it doesn’t FEEL wrong. So, beard on, yes?

    • @Ali:

      To be clear, I accept both hugs AND alcohol.

      🙂

      Blog like you wanna blog, y’know? It’s your time. You’re not getting paid for it. Own it like you wanna own it.

      — c.

  19. Good post. I’m a writer and I blog about writing. But I also blog about loads of other stuff. I review as well, but I generally only review stuff I like, when it comes to books. On a couple of occasions I’ve blogged poor reviews, but that was for very specific reasons. Generally, if I like something, I’ll review it on my blog. Unless it’s a movie. I cut loose on movies and let the hate flow.

    I also blog about genre-related stuff, cos I’m a genre writer. I blog about other story-related stuff cos I love stories, word-related things cos I love words, interesting language-related stuff cos I love language. My site is called The Word and that guides what goes there.

    But mainly I blog about whatever the fuck I like and I try not to be a dick. So yeah. What you said.

  20. Thanks for sharing the numbers, Chuck! I started blogging about six years ago, but I didn’t really take it seriously until late last year – with a manuscript doing the rounds, I thought I’d better give my website an overhaul, so I switched to WordPress and reorganised my blog. I also began blogging about my genre – book reviews, film reviews and general ramblings – on a regular weekly schedule, and I’m now up to 1200 visitors a month (and a decent sprinkling of comments), which I think is pretty OK. I’d love to be able to blog more frequently, but I have a contract for two more novels now (happy dilemma, I know!) and writing those is way more important than the blog.

    Anyway, BTFO – I’ll be back for more!

  21. You cracked me up. I love your honesty! Today is my first day in the world of blogging but with blogs like yours I am bound to be back. I have read so much stuff telling me what not to do I was overwhelmed. Now I feel confident to do what I thought all along – be me! Thanks.

  22. Thanks for the reply Chuck. No sweat about the reply time – you have to obey the master of the house after all!

    I totally agree on the negativity thing, especially for frivulous stuff. I do have rants on my blog from time to time but it tends to be about “big” stuff that matter to me, for one reason or another.

    Thanks for (yet another) incredibly helpful post.

  23. Found you through a writer friend who found you through a writer friend’s blog…so glad! Love your tone and outlook on the whole process.

    I’ve been blogging for almost six years and life, the universe and everything (and yes, I credit Doug Adams!), but only in the past few months have my numbers started to climb a bit.

    This whole must-do-THIS…and NEVER-do-that cycle drives me batty, and I don’t need help in that regard. Thank you for the affirmation (not too fond of that word, either) that doing what works for ME is okay.

    I’ll be back!

  24. I thought this was going to be another boring, back-patting post about blogging by a blogger who has a whole year of blogging. You made me start laughing right from the thing about computers running on coal. I ws there in the Browser Wars – an IE nerd too.

    I would add one thing for bloggers – don’t burn out. Pick projects that give something back to you. For some it’s cash for me it’s something else I have yet to actually label.

    Good for you to stick with it 10 – 12 years. I lost my oldest blog to domain hijackers years ago. Anyway, blab on.

  25. Bloggers…
    Bloggers who have readers….
    Are the luckiest bloggers in the world…

    You struck a chord with me here, Mr Chuck.
    Minor peeve about blogs–Have you ever stumbled WordPress? I swear to God, I don’t want to see any more pumpkin banana nutbread muffin steak marinade recipes. Christ. What is with all the recipe sites?
    Major peeve about blogs–If it’s not a recipe site, it’s a site about blogging, about promoting yourself and making money from blogging, and blogs about the articles you could write because the websites need content and they will buy your stuff, and here’s how!
    I don’t want to write a blog to make money. I do, however, want to write to make money. Is that wrong? Actually, I write for a variety of reasons, but sometimes the Stephen King in me comes out.
    I started my own blog as a way to *practice* writing, and explore a variety of techniques and styles. It has since evolved into an online journal where I write about the current happenings in my life and tell the stories from my past.
    The web isn’t private–but your blog is if no one reads it–
    Speaking of which–shameless plug here–dip into my archives to see what ridiculous life I’ve led.
    Which leads me to this:
    I get what you say about being a dick. People on the web think they are Anonymous, so they have what I call “Internet Testicles.” Like road rage, most of them aren’t like that in person.
    I really and truly *try* not to be a dick. But it’s kind of my nature. I’m sorry.

  26. […] I lied. It doesn’t sound easy at all. I mean, I do it all day long already over at the ol’ ball and chain day job, but blog every day on my personal bloggy experiment? Impossible! Impossible, I say! But that’s the key, it would seem. Or at least that’s one of the habits working for my favorite ‘terriblemind’ – all-around self-proclaimed penmonkey Chuck Wendig. […]

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