Tuesday, July 12, 2011

How Much is Too Much? 5 Ways to Avoid Blogger's Remorse

Whether you write about cakes or cars, funny stuff or politics, every blogger faces the same dilemma: finding the line between "charming personal anecdotes" and "TMI."

This is especially true when the bad things in life wallop us unexpectedly: an angry e-mail, a sudden financial crisis, a death in the family. Suddenly we're at a crossroads. To share, or not to share?

After all, odds are your readers are there because they like you, and probably wouldn't mind knowing you better. And, as writers, our knee-jerk reaction is to write. We use the written word not only to express ourselves, but also to slough off excess sorrow or anger. For us, nothing is more therapeutic than dashing off a post in the heat of the moment.

On the other hand, most of us aren't out here to blog about conflict and grief; we're here to blog about cakes, or geeky stuff, or finances, or what-have-you. For some of us, it's even our livelihood. And to put it bluntly, nobody likes a Debbie Downer.

So where's the line?

Over the years I've seen bloggers both rise and fall to the occasion of handling hard times. When it's handled well, I've had my respect and admiration for a writer increase tenfold. When it's handled poorly? I cringe and watch the melee from the sidelines, wishing someone had been there with a quick word of caution before "publish post" was clicked.

So, in the interests of seeing less crash-and-burn blogtastrophes, here are a few of my own words of caution, learned either first-hand by experience, or second-hand from the sidelines.

1) "Shut up and smile" is NOT the answer.

Look, we're writers, and we're human. Showing our readers that we face the same crappy stuff they do from time to time will not only foster better relationships with them, it's also the only honest, honorable thing to do. The key is simply choosing those times wisely, and sharing in a way both you and your readers will be comfortable with. So don't quash your feelings, use them wisely.

2) Write now, post later.

By all means, write that scathing rebuttal, or describe your day spent crying into a pint of ice cream - but when you're done writing, wait. Emotions are fickle things, particularly anger. Take a few hours to cool off and/or gain a little more perspective before committing to a published post. Remember: once on the Internet, always on the Internet.

Case-in-point: A blogger with some of the best writing chops I've ever seen destroyed her blog and substantial following with an increasingly bizarre barrage of posts detailing both her and her husband's infidelity - calling out "the other woman", etc - and culminating in what she later claimed was a drug-induced hallucination about attempting to kill her dog. Even deleting those posts within a few hours wasn't enough; it was a very public, very messy breakdown.

Within days all of her sponsors had fled, along with even her most devoted followers and any chance of having her book published. The last I checked she now works two jobs to support her family, and no longer writes online at all.

Obviously that is an extreme case, but the moral is: don't do that.

3) Try to see things from your readers' point of view.

Our emotions color everything, and shrink the world until all we can focus on is our own immediate crisis. Sure, you may be wracked with grief, or reeling from anger, but odds are your readers are not. Throwing a big jumbled ball of negativity on them will be out of character at best, and a shocking turn-off at worst. If you don't feel objective enough on your own, enlist your spouse or a friend to pre-read.

4) Rewrite

Once you've waited a few hours or a few days, go back and adjust. Odds are you'll need to soften the language, since we tend to write in extremes when our emotions are in the driver's seat. Ask yourself, "What in this post could come back to bite me?" Are you portraying relatives or friends in a bad light? Are you starting a war you'll regret?

Then consider how you're portraying yourself. Do you sound catty? Vindictive? Whiny? Just looking for sympathy? In other words, will your readers still respect you in the morning?

With these questions in mind, rewrite, rewrite, rewrite.

5) A little humor goes a long way.

As a humor writer, I freely admit I'm biased here. However, nothing softens the sting of negativity like a little wry self-deprecation or irreverent one-liner. Yes, your readers are there because they like you, but like it or not, they're also there to be entertained. Don't reward their loyalty by dumping a bucket of ice-cold horror on them - give them some virtual breathing room by granting them permission to laugh.

Here's a positive case-in-point: I follow a few fashion bloggers, most of whom are just pretty faces in pretty clothing to me. However, when Keiko Lynn detailed the painful few days she spent nursing her terminally ill horse, suddenly she gained a new dimension in my eyes. Now, did I expect that kind of sadness on a fashion blog? Of course not. However, the human connection Keiko forged through that post made me a more devoted reader, and I respected her all the more for it.

I've been told my own memorial post about Sweet Baby James achieved something similar on Cake Wrecks. Was it shockingly out of place on a humor blog? Absolutely. However, with rewriting and a lot of thought and by ending with a smile, it let me share what my heart demanded while also sparking an avalanche of reader response (I still hear from readers about James), only one of which was critical.

Which bring me to: yes, it's a gamble. Yes, you risk exposing your weaknesses and open yourself up to criticism and ridicule.

But if it didn't carry that risk, would it really be worth writing?

Let me end by saying there are exceptions to nearly every "rule." Sometimes you can't wait. Sometimes you can't crack a joke. Sometimes you just have to express yourself in a raw, shocking, get-it-all-out-there-before-you-explode kind of way. However, even then, I truly believe keeping these tips in mind will help you express yourself in a way that both you and your readers won't have cause to regret.

So tell me, guys, what did I miss? How do you handle sharing the "bad stuff" online? Any additional words of advice?


  1. Re: #2 - This person is actually posting again. She started after stopping, stopped again for a while, and just started again this week. (She was still in my feed reader, so don't think I'm a crazy stalker or something. ;) )

    I can't tell you how many times I've written a draft and then not published it (or written an email I haven't sent). The other day, I went in and deleted a bunch of old drafts in my long-forgotten blog. I realized that I didn't particularly want to remember those moments when I drafted in frustration or anger or fear, so I just got rid of them all together, never published.

    These are all good reminders, and I always love it when bloggers let us into their lives a bit. It reminds me that we all have frustrations and foibles, even those who are internet-famous. ;)

  2. I appreciate your post... Not only the fact that you think all those things through before you write, but that you care enough to share the advice with us. It's a weird relationship - this blogger/reader thing is personal and public at the same time, and the feedback is immediate. Not for the faint of heart.

    As Ron Burgundy would say, stay classy. :)

  3. Wow. Great advice. This ought to be part of every blog-hosting site's "Blogging 101" resources. I know I will be keeping a copy of this post close to hand as I write my new blog.
    Word verification: "Caldcras" - the crusty stuff one must scrub off one's cauldron before it can go into the dishwasher.

  4. Excellent post! I "solve" this problem by keeping two blogs: in one I write everything that ever occurs to me on a daily basis. In the other I put the stuff I actually want people to read.

    Seriously, though, I make frequent use of the "Save as Draft" button. Most of the time I never publish my drafts. I re-read things and discover that I don't really like them as much as I thought I did.

    Also, the story about the blogger who had a public meltdown... WOW. I can't imagine doing that, let alone witnessing that. How sad and bizarre.

  5. One tip I'd give would be: "Be a duck." Let it roll off your back like a water on a duck.
    When someone posts something hateful, mean, derogatory, or slanderous, just let it go. Be thankful that you don't have to confront that person everyday because they sound like an awful individual who can't get any attention except when tearing down strangers on the internet.
    I've seen too many stupid arguments on blogs, news sites, etc. because people just feed the trolls.

  6. Very well written. I love reading your blogs because I connect with you on a personal level, not because I am obsesed with cake or steampunk. I don't expect you to always be pooping rainbows, cause lets face it life happens, the occational post about a less than happy topic is aok. However I find it super frustrating when bloggers go from having a great blog to making a place to air thier dirty laundry, make up things about other people and air other peoples dirty laundry. If I wanted all the drama I could watch daytime TV. I also get frustrated when bloggers try to assume that they have total anonimity but most of thier readership is people who know them personally or have a personal connection to them. Your commentors will out you anyways.

    The only thing I would add to you list is if you post something contraversial be able to deal with any backlash. If you can not take it do no dish it out.

  7. While not a "professional" blogger, I do have a little blog that keeps me in touch with a host of friends and family across the country. It turned out to be a great way to share news when I was diagnosed with Lymphoma a couple of years ago. It was a very sudden and quite unexpected turn of events (no symptoms really and found quite by accident) so I was afraid of freaking out everyone. I was freaked out enough! But everyone wanted to follow my treatment and progress and it did cut down on having to be on the phone all the time so I blogged about it. I learned to temper all the medical jargon with humor and even happy observations about the process. In turn, not only did my audience not get depressed reading about my cancer but I saw the bright side of some of the most horrific days I have ever experienced! I found when you're trying to keep your readers from sinking into despair, it has the same effect on you as the writer. I try to remember that when I'm having a bad day--how would I describe it to someone so that they would be "entertained" and then that's how I view it!
    Keep up the great work, Jen. You always brighten my day!

  8. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I just (re)started my blog and I *know* you're advice will be invaluable for me down the road. I will be bookmarking it for future reference!

  9. @ the viking - I was just skimming through the very bottom of my RSS reader and saw the same thing! What are the odds??

    And I've done the same thing with my old drafts, going through and cleaning them out from time to time. Heck, I have at least a half-dozen languishing from more emotional events over the past six months. Plus one with some crazy rainbow eye makeup pics that I thought better about sharing. ;)

  10. As a reader, not a writer, I generally enjoy when I can get to know the bloggers I read. I don't need all the details of their lives, but it's nice to know the context. I appreciate it when a blogger posts an intro or warning if the post is very far outside of what I expect to read. For example, If I'm reading a humor blog specifically for a laugh, I know to come back later if I'm warned that today's post is not about something funny.

  11. I read another blog written by an artist, and her dog just died. It was so raw and sad that I had to stop reading it and go back to it later. But since she's always writing about her family and pets are family, I didn't think it was out of place.
    I feel the same way in some degree about facebook. Having recently gone through the sudden loss of one of my best friends, I feel weird not saying more about how much I miss him, but I also don't want to seem like I'm just looking for sympathy. Thanks for the tips, Jen, and both your lovely blogs.

  12. I think you really covered a lot of ground! And you did it without overwriting or preaching. Because a lot of your readers are writers, and HEY, that's pretty cool, and now I'm feeling all meta-blogger and stuff.

    Anyway, to add to your positive example list, I'm a dooce.com fan, and I'm watching in awe as Heather and Jon Armstrong manage a tide of support AND haters talking about Heather's trip to Bangladesh in support of Christy Turlington's No Mother No Cry foundation.

  13. Well said, Jenn. I've encountered plenty of cringe-worthy TMI out there in blog land, and it's permanently driven me away from a few blogs I would otherwise visit.

    And you're right, it doesn't all need to be happy happy joy joy either. There's a lot to be said for sharing both the good times as well as the bad, as long as it's handled with a bit of grace.

    Thank you for the great advice. This post should be mandatory reading for all bloggers out there!

  14. Omg Jen you don't even know. You know that blogger you mentioned that had the meltdown with the dog thing? She actually came to an ONlINE FORUM that I frequent because we had talked about her and she followed the link back to us. It was crazy and the mods ended up banning her! So maybe another rule is don't trace back all your links and try to defend yourself because you'll just look even crazier than you did on your blog!

  15. Thank you for posting this advice...as a beginning blogger, this will come in very handy. I really enjoy your blogs, and appreciate the opportunity to learn from one of the best :)!

  16. My thought as a blog reader: Feel free to not approve the nasty troll-ish comments. I as a reader won't be upset or think you're 'censoring' your blog or 'afraid of criticism'. Blogs are like a house party, in my mind - the writer provides the setting, the topics, and the entertainment. They also set the tone and the limits of the party. Rude guests can be shown the door. The polite guests will thank you for it!

    (It's a bit different if you're writing about controversial topics where you expect to have a lot of heated debate going on in the comments. But then, most people who write blogs like that enjoy the back-and-forth.)

  17. I found this post very informative and thought provoking. If I ever had the nerve to start a blog, I'd copy and use this advice, definitely. Also, I wondered what prompted this post today. Trying not to catastrophize [which I'm really good at] but hoping the road is rising up to meet you today.

  18. Well written. I'm a humorist myself, and so when I do write a rant or share a hardship, I make certain to do it with the mightiest sword in the arsenal...laughter.
    And scotch.

  19. My one suggestion is before you publish consider how relatable your issue is.

    If it's the loss of a loved one most people will understand that.

    If it's you are being prosecuted for tax evasion well that's not something most people have experienced.

    You can write about something that isn't universal but your readers may not warm up to the subject if they can't relate.

  20. Dear Jen,

    You had my admiration for Cake Wrecks: loved your writing style and sense of humor. But, you won my heart with Sweet Baby James.

  21. @Jordan, I actually have a second fb page, with no friends on it, and privacy locked down tight for just such instances. My blog is about my work, and general stuff around me more than just about me, but when I'm feeling insecure, resentful or jealous, or just plain sorry for myself, it all goes on the hidden fb page. (:

  22. Excellent post and good reminders for everyone! I think these tips are also good advise for social networking sites such as Facebook, etc.

    Well said, ma'am, well said!

  23. I was going to add this to your list, but Kelly H. took the words right out of my mouth: BE A DUCK. Let things roll off your back like water off a duck's back. Remember the reason you're blogging in the first place and why people follow you. It's okay to show emotion now and then, but that's not the reason why people are there to hang with and learn from you.

    I run the blog For the Tennessee Walking Horse. I don't make money off of it--it is merely there to educate the public about the illegal practice of "soring" this breed, which is causing pain to a horse's legs using chemical or mechanical means in order to force him to step higher in the show ring. It is the only type of abuse against horses that actually has a Federal law against it, and it is still being done after 30+ years of the law being in place. The desire for this breed's industry to keep this method of "training" horses is absolutely shocking, and the fights people get into on both the blog and the FTTWH Facebook page are insane.

    My goal is to post facts, but I also post my own opinion as well. And I can get absolutely irate with these idiots. I certainly have had more than a few times where I've "outed" people on what they've said and punched holes in their logic. But since my particular cause can have lawsuits concerning slander attached to it, I follow these overall rules to keep myself in check. I imagine this could work for any political or moral-heavy blog.

    POST FACTS. Back up everything you say with facts. You saw a video on YouTube of a horse being sored? Go find it and post it, don't just say you saw the video. There are university studies out there that say why X is bad? Go find them and post them.

    DON'T use the term "you" when talking about people that do something that is either legally bad or that you believe is bad. In my particular case, I use the term "the industry" because there is an entire industry built around abusing horses to win prizes and ribbons in the show ring.

    NEVER accuse anyone of doing anything illegal, even if you see them doing it right in front of you, unless you can prove it. However, you can leave their name out or say things like "this is what I witnessed."

    KEEP EMOTIONS IN CHECK. Knowledge is power, and that's how we win this battle. I have had to keep my getting upset and people attacking me and calling me names and threatening to sue me by not saying anything on the blog or page itself. I save that for emails to my friends who are also dealing with this same fight.

    My blog isn't a place where I can let my emotions go and talk about something unrelated, but I still have to watch what I say. So of course, I always use the rule to write it first, leave it, then come back later and reread and rewrite. That is the best thing I can ever do in general with my life when dealing with the written word.

    Anyway, that's where I come from. :) I really liked your list, Jen--I'll definitely use those.

  24. P.S. If you are still getting flack from 'the King cake' issue, you were totally justified in publishing that as well as all subsequent publications.

  25. This reminds me of the film The Social Network and how essentially at the end the lady says to him if you hadn't of been so angry and spouted stuff off like that at the beginning it wouldn't be as easy for people to sue you and then show you in court in a bad light because the internet is forever!

  26. I have to be honest. It is killing me to not know who #2 is about. Yes, I know John and Jen will not let anyone post who it is, and I respect that. Just being honest. :)

    That being said, I started reading Epbot because I like Jen. I think it's a good idea to have two blogs--one "work blog" and one personal. That way if you post stuff that people don't like, it doesn't effect your income. At least, I would hope that it wouldn't.

    I agree with the viking, though. I have written emails before, edited them, left them for several hours (or days), only to come back to them to edit them again. Sometimes time gives us the best perspective.

    BTW, "psychotic blogger tries to kill dog" yields no Google results. ;)

  27. First of all, I love both of your blogs. I follow blogs of all genres, seriously, ALL. My one piece of advice: Don't blog drunk (or while under the influence of whatever). That is all :)

  28. I'm not being flippant here: this should be a pop up when someone creates an account on blogger. They should be required to prove they read it by taking a quick test. THEN their post button could be enabled.

    -Barbara Anne

  29. @ Erica T. - Surprisingly enough, no one has attempted to name the blogger in question here - and depending on how it was done, I probably wouldn't prevent anyone from doing so. That said, I don't want this to turn into a bashing forum, either, so maybe it's better she remain unnamed. (If you're really that curious, just e-mail me.)

  30. Social anxiety keeps me in check. Although, this ends up in the completely opposite but just as damaging (at least to me emotionally) me holding it all in, like a little stockpile of emotion ready to blow when the dog or husband least expect it!

  31. my blog isn't one that offers a theme such as cake wrecks, cute overload and others like that. i don't write scintillating posts about the latest pop culture, fashion or political trends. mine is a slice of life type blog, where i write about how i feel, what i'm doing and what i think. if i get hostile comments i have no qualms about simply deleting them. i prefer not to feed the trolls.

  32. Good advice, Jen. After my own personal experiences over the years, I'm very mindful now whenever I feel the urge to comment on the web. You never know who might be reading and how they are going to read it.

  33. I don't know, those hallucinations sound pretty interesting. Maybe I should mix some in.

  34. This list is a good thing to keep in mind and I'm sure that I've broken every single of those rules when I was writing my husband's blog. :) However, it had a very particular audience: family, friends and other patients. I was brutally honest and forthcoming with most of our journey and the emotions I was feeling as a caregiver. However, I was honest as that was something I needed to see in other cancer blogs, instead of the lofty, head in the clouds, posts. Also, I used it as free therapy. Not what I would advise at all for bloggers with a following other than friends and family - but it worked for us.

  35. Yes, watching someone (especially someone you know in real life) have an emotional and moral breakdown on thier blog, and end it with a massive hissy fit all over blog and facebook, is really very painful. However we now know who this person really is and that maybe we don't want said person near small children.

  36. My blog began as a place for me to vent. Then, because I posted it all over the place, people I knew started finding it. And some of the things I said bit me in the butt. Now I watch what I say. Carefully. I miss the freedom, but I also understand that some things are better left unsaid.

  37. this is great advice for regular facebook, twitter and text users. wait, relax, breathe, think and then post it for the whole wide world!

  38. Wonderful post with all great tips! I have no advice since I think you've touched on all the really good important tips. On my writing blog my mission is to stay positive, but to be honest.

  39. as a craft blogger and reader, I also feel the need to point out that you should watch the uber-positive stuff also. I follow one blogger in particular who I've almost dropped because of the constant "up" posts about the newest thing she got free and/or her most recent "haul" from a craft store. In current economic times, nobody wants to constantly hear about how much money you spent or how much free stuff you got. That's actually one of my favorite things about THIS blog - lots of "how can I make this myself" goodness!

  40. Hey Jen, you are a perfect blogger. Just the right amount of humanity, wit, charm, sarcasm and awesome humour. Don't ever change a thing! Mel from Oz

  41. Great advice Jen! I read a lot of craft blogs & there are a few things that really irk me & often result in me clicking the unsubscribe button.

    Frequently bitching about your day job on your blog. I really don't feel that it's appropriate, you never know who's reading.

    Complaining about your customers on your blog. If you run a blog as a method of promoting your etsy business or small business, don't post negative comments about your customers, no matter how horrible they are. When I see things like that I have no desire to ever buy anything from that person.

  42. I usd to read a very controvercial blog (initials VA) and was a very loyal reader until she decided to focus more of her time to her other projects and left the moderation of the blog in the hands of someone else. Pretty soon the content was lame and the writing started to get boring. I doubt many of her other readers hung on since I am more forgiving than most. Handing over the reins of your blog to someone else should be another "do not do" for bloggers. I know John will sometimes post for you, but at least he knows your style and has a great sense of humour. I don't think the guy who took over for VA had even ever read her posts.

  43. Personally, I miss her blog and think she was very talented.

  44. Regarding the writing of emotion driven posts, here's background on how our actions get get hijacked by our emotions, literally bypassing the reasoning brain. Interesting.


    too lazy to log on

  45. I definitely try to keep from blogging or tweeting while angry. In my case, the people closest to me are the people who would upset me the most. This means my wife and kids.

    My wife and I have our share of disagreements and during them they seem like this huge issues that may never be resolved. (In reality, our issues are minor compared to what other couples face. Emotions always inflate the magnitude of things.)

    Writing a long post slamming my wife might be emotionally cathartic (and I've got to admit that it's crossed my mind a few times), but it won't help matters in the long term. In fact, it'd just make matters worse. My wife would be more angry at me (and rightfully so) and I'd come off looking like an idiot.

    The most I might do is write "the post" in a word processor (no chance of accidentally hitting "publish") just to get the feelings sorted out. Then "the post" would get shown to nobody at all.

    Actually, I do the same thing in real life. When I get angry, I get quiet for fear of saying something rash that I don't mean or that makes things worse. It's not until I calm down that I feel safe talking about the issues.

  46. All good things to remember. Too often in this modern internet-centered society we forget that our online blog is NOT our personal diary that we lock up and tuck under our matress so that little brother won't see it. I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to post something scathing on facebook (no current blog - too busy with life) because someone royally ticked me off. And right now it's not hard to do with pregnancy hormones raging. But at the end of the day I remind myself that a good cry and scream and a bite of chocolate in the privacy of my own home is more therapeutic than ranting and raving online and letting others think they have control over me. I rise above. I wish to be seen as a regal royal queen and not a selfish spoiled princess.

  47. This was a great post for a new blogger like myself. I've considered both of your blogs a source of inspiration to me.

    For me I tend to write a post and then have my husband or someone read it over before I 'go live' with it to make sure i'm not rambling and the jokes I thought were funny are funny and not annoying or crass. Cause sometimes I am annoying and crass :) Also i'm the queen bee of typos to the point where grammar/spell checkers just don't' work for me anymore.

    I want people to comment more on my blog but find that most of my followers are commenting on my facebook or sending me emails (since I know 8-% of them personally). Any suggestions?

  48. thanks for the advice. I guess for me it all depends on what the blog is trying to address. I started a blog after my niece was murdered. People wanted to hear my pain/anger/grief because there isn't much out there for those left behind (due to violence). So, I put myself all out there. I'm not a prof, but have been asked to turn my blog into a book... the long process has begun! However, if I was writing about being a mom I would write much differently! You need to know your audience.

  49. Good advice - I don't have anything to add to it. I agree with including a bit of humor or self-depreciating comments if you post something that is negative or heavy. It will make you more relateable to your readers. Thanks for sharing this! Your wisdom and experience are a big help.

  50. my advice would be (to the proverbial "you"): as a blogger you're likely not a journalist or a whistle blower; so don't write an emotional post to point fingers and name names. Depending on what it's about, it's a good way for you to lose a lot more than an audience. You could lose your day job, your friends, your family... So, I totally agree with the advice of writing now and deciding later.

  51. I generally don't post about the serious stuff. My blog is my controllable space where everything smells of vanilla and cinnamon and I don't have to let out that I currently have a rash that makes me look like the elephant man.

    On the other hand, if I let out some of the tension in my writing, maybe I wouldn't have a rash that makes me look like the elephant man. Something for me to ponder!

  52. To morph a quote from a man with a groundhog in his lap, "Don't write angry!"

  53. This is why I don't blog.

    Well, I do - I have a historical blog about soldiers in the Civil War - but why I don't air my personal stuff on the Internet.

    I have friends for that. And while some of my friends are people I've met online - hey, it's the 21st century - I still don't relate personal crap until I know them better.

    I really don't understand the need for airing one's private matters in public. You wouldn't go to the mall and stand on the fountain and shout out your woes, would you?

    The Internet is far more public than that, and it's forever.

    So while I think this a good list of how to air your private matters in public, I still wonder why so many people feel the need to do so.

  54. I'm involved with three blogs at the moment. Most stuff is straighforward and goes straight online or as a scheduled-post. Drafts are usually things which need polishing, notes for expansion into an article, or things to sleep on for rereading. I recently had a "life event" and have managed to keep it out of the blogs simply because it's totally off-topic. That's easier to do when blogs are tightly focused on one subject than when they have broader topics or a chatty personal style which tends to include personal details.

  55. I think you do great. Is that person with the break up and the infidelity who I think it is?

    I don't know...I'm not into blogging personally, but I love to write. I follow both of your blogs, and The Pioneer Woman's blog, but that's it. I write in blank books and it's the only way I can clear out my brain. My son told me I should write a book, but the stuff I write is too personal, it's really for me alone and I'm not ready to share with the world, and doubt if I ever will be.

    BUT, what turns me off a potential blog or bit of writing is the mistakes...bad grammar, bad spelling...bad sentence structure. I guess that goes without saying? But it's impossible to see past the mistakes to makes sense of what was attempted to being said in the writing. (How's THAT for sentence construction???)

  56. P.S....I still think about Sweet Baby James!!

  57. I wish someone would explain the TMI thing to my SIL, who blogs mostly about my nephews. I want to know about them but not about, say, her latest UTI.

  58. For a long time, I didn't "get" the purpose of blogs, and disdained them. Then I stumbled across one that entertained me (and I have no idea what that first blog was. It could have been CW!) Now I have a few that I read with varying degrees of faithfulness--CW, Epbot, My Year with the Mouse, Bakingdom and Jorge Garcia's (from LOST) blog (most of which evolved from reading CW.) I have others bookmarked, mostly recipe blogs, but I just don't have the time or interest to read them all.

    I'll check out CaringBridge sites for people I know who are undergoing medical issues, but it never occurred to me to do the same when I was going through minor cancer. I'm not a blogger--I don't feel that I have anything entertaining to say, and crumble under pressure, anyway--but your guidelines are also good for emails. Many times I've composed an angry, sarcastic email (mostly to my son's teachers) only to let it rest, then re-read it and edit it later.

    Personally, I don't mind knowing more about those whose blogs I read, up to a point. By that I mean that knowing a little about personal triumphs and struggles helps me to get to "know" them and care more about what they have to say, without venturing into the TMI zone. I am also a prayer--a pray-er?--and often include online friends in those prayers. I have a friend who doesn't believe in prayer, but knows that I do, and is willing to let me pray for and about her. I think that's awesome.

  59. This is why I don't blog anymore. I went through some rough stuff in my life and I knew I couldn't fake like everything was okay and I also knew I didn't want to write about it (and people wouldn't want to read about it.)

    I hope everything okay with you, Jen and John!

  60. The tip I would add: If you are doing something nefarious that is illegal or borderline unethical, don't blog about it in the hopes that others will see your point and take your side.

    While this would seem to go without saying, you can't fix stupid. I had a friend that was trying to (intentionally or no, I was never able to figure out) bilk the welfare system and complained about how they were "cheating her" on her blog. A couple of her friends supported her, which shocked me. I sent her a private email explaining that what she was doing was tantamount to fraud and perhaps posting it on a public forum was not the best choice. She did eventually remove the post, but she lost her benefits appeal. What was used as evidence at her court hearing? Yep. Her blog.

  61. Is there some way you could alter that for my “adult” daughter to apply to facebook?
    That would be a big help.
    Thanks!! :)

  62. What a great post! Thank you! As a blogger I struggle with having a readership and I also struggle with words. I am not a witty writer, I just want to help people find ways to live healthier. I am often afraid of just posting information so I will instead rely on others posts, articles and videos to say it. I need to reach out and open myself up to people in order to achieve my goals. This is one post I am going to print and reread many times!

  63. I would say that sadness is a part of the human experience and there is nothing wrong with the need to share it..send it out in the void...seek compassion even from strangers...I agree with your advice and wanted to say that as a reader, if you don't share than how do we know when to lend a hand or heart or ear? :)

  64. Excellent advice, both from you, Jen, and from follow commenters. I started a blog recently and have been tempted to vent there because I don't think anyone will ever read it anyway! But then, I realize that I might be wrong about that; stranger things have happened.

  65. Love your advice, a few years ago I started reading Finslippy. I had recently experienced a miscarriage and reading her words as she went through the same thing was just what I needed to hear. Heartbreaking, sprinkled with a little bit of comedy, perfect!

  66. Very good thoughts. I see the same thing happen on web forums a fair amount--folks post a comment in the heat of the moment, then realize two hours and one firestorm later that they either A. really should have read the rest of the conversation first, or B. really should have thought about how those words would sound to someone else.
    Among quakers, we often speak of a similar process as folks discern when to speak out of the silence in Meeting for Worship.
    Don't worry, i'm not gonna get all hyper-religious here. I was just going to mention one of the parts of that discernment, where you try to figure out if the message you've been given is mostly for you or mostly for the group. Sometimes i have thoughts that i need to write down to get them out of my head...but having written them, i'm at peace and i don't need those thoughts to be shared. And sometimes it's anough to vent to an uninvolved friend and i don't need to post that scathing reply to the group.

  67. **sniff** and this is why I love reading both your sites Jen! As someone who just recently started blogging - I've kept it a private one, for the reasons you talked about. It is my outlet to purge the raw emotions and I can publish the post as soon as I've written in. There's a small satisfaction in seeing it... and even better going back months later and re-reading it, seeing the problem through calmer, clearer emotions....

    Keep up the great work!! No matter what, you have a very loyal reader on this end!!

    Christina in Windsor ON

  68. These 5 things are exactly what I think about every time I write an email. So even in our personal lives and professional lives as non-bloggers these are things we have to consider because emails are also always for forever.

  69. I think that's very sound advice. When I'm going through a rough patch, I tend to not blog about it right away. I'll write about it in my journal by way of getting it out of my system, but I'll wait until I've had time to process things a bit before mentioning it on my blog. And even then, I try to avoid going the TMI route. I do my best to put myself in my readers' shoes and ask myself, "Is this something I'd want to read about?"

    I definitely agree with you on throwing in a bit of humor/looking on the bright side bit; that really helps (and not just for the readers - helps me not focus solely on the negatives too).

  70. I was wondering if maybe you could share more of the blogs you follow.

  71. I don't know if your read him - but Randall over at xkcd did a nice job of sharing his pain. Here's his blog post about his fiance's diagnosis with breast cancer. And I like the way he says he had to share this because he wants to be free to write and draw about it later.

  72. this is hard, because people can experience earth-shattering things that affect their every waking moment for weeks, months, even years. It's hard NOT to talk about it on your blog.

    I write a DIY blog, and read a lot of DIY blogs. That being said, I do get turned off with TOO much oversharing. But, I can just scroll through it. People need to be careful, if they are really making $$ on their blog and want to continue to do so, they may turn readers off if they get TOO candid. then again, it's also a matter of "it's your blog, do what you want with it."

    It's a fine line, I think. I had another blogger friend encourage me to write more about my husband and child on my blog. so I can be more relateable, or something? I err on the side of caution and don't put too much personal stuff on the blog.

    If I'm reading a DIY blog, I want to read about DIY projects, not a ton of different stuff about their husbands and kids. I feel kind of mean saying that, but there you go.

  73. Hi Jen!

    I always find your posts so down-to-earth. I think the days of crazy oversharing on the regular are over on blogs (yes, I choose to be naive). But I'm also remembering the awful days of the "trainwreck" blog and think things have gotten a teensy bit better! I credit organizations that promote success and collegiality among bloggers as well as posts like this.

    Sadly I risked alienating a friend of 15 years over politically charged issues I was posting about on facebook, assuming everyone would agree with me. I'm a little more careful now that I know where they are coming from. Over the years we didn't realize how far apart we had become on certain issues. I mean, we both (perhaps misguidedly at the time) voted for Nader in 2000! But, joy of joys friendships evolve and are made stronger and richer by our differences (duh! I swear I fail at maturity). How's that for oversharing? ;)

  74. I know that this is late, but I've just started a blog (really did JUST start it yesterday) and was looking for tips when I decided to comment.

    Some of the comments on here remind me of a restaurant owner. Her buisness is Amy's Baking Company (ABC), and she and her husband think that ANYONE who dislikes their food or gives their restaurant a bad review is a "hater." They have a Facebook page and actually had a meltdown on there, then blamed it on someone who had supposedly hacked into their account. You may have heard of them, they were the only restaurant that Gordon Ramsey couldn't save.

    If you want more information try looking for them on Google. You'll find a LOT of their rants.


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