Question For Bloggers As We Trudge Through National Blog Posting Month

quote I was watching Criminal Minds last week and they ended the episode with this quote from Cyril Connolly, “Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.” I’ve been thinking about that a lot. It seems a little extreme in terms of a basic Choice A v/s Choice B concept. But I’m sure we can all admit that the best situation is to write for the public and maintain your concept of self. I think that’s what blogging gives a lot of us. When the act of writing itself only costs you time and minimal amounts of money (depending on your platform/hosting choices); then being forced to write for the public to achieve (or possibly maintain) some sort of financial success does not usually happen. But it did get me thinking about the choices in a more theoretical sense.

We all have our own boundaries as writers. Things we’ll talk about and things we won’t. I have no problem discussing my reproductive cycle, but I won’t talk about my divorce. I have no problem complaining about the state of my boobs, but I’m not going to bitch about real people in any way that could hurt them if they stumble upon my words. (And I assume everyone will eventually stumble upon my words, it’s the safest mentality.) Some people don’t talk about or post photos of their kids at all, while that is about 80% of what I do around here.

To me…those boundaries still allow me to reveal myself to my audience while still giving me some sort of creative outlet. But some people feel like that setting limits on what they can/can’t write about cramps their creativity. If they can’t talk about how much they hate their sister’s husband because it will hurt someone’s feelings – especially if that’s what is in their mind to write about – then what’s the point? If you can’t reveal your whole self and your whole life…then some people feel as though they’re lying to their audience.

It’s an interesting thing to think about. I think every blogger is different. I like the idea of documenting my life in a lighthearted and kind way. I get bitchy and angry enough day-to-day, I don’t feel like I need to write with that same tone every day. But some of my favorite bloggers use their blogs as outlets for their irritation and misery. And I sometimes envy that. Then there’s the big things that happen in my life that I can’t/won’t really talk about. Sometimes I feel like I am misleading people, but I’m also trying to protect the people in my real life. How do you bring those two things together? I’m sure LilZ wouldn’t mind me telling you that we fight often. I mean, we have an astounding relationship for a Mother/Teen, don’t get me wrong. But I worry that sometimes I don’t paint a very real picture of how things work when I just show you snapshots of trips to see Santa. It’s not always that easy. But our clashes are one of the many things I feel like are too sacred to be blogged about, and that won’t ever change.

So — what are your boundaries as a blogger? As a writer, do you feel like the limits your creativity or challenges it? In terms of your “self” – do you feel like abiding by these boundaries may give a distorted view of yourself to your audience? How do you feel about that?

17 thoughts on “Question For Bloggers As We Trudge Through National Blog Posting Month”

  1. I love the way Criminal Minds finishes with some pearl of wisdom.

    I’d like to think that I write for me rather than my audience – but then again I do ask the question – should my posts be more structured and of length – or are short posts better?

    I guess though that could be me analysing what I write and trying to critic it – sometimes I don’t make sense and I jump from one thing to the next but thats me – I do jump from one thing to the next! lol

  2. My only boundary (at least on my primary blog) is that I will not, under any circumstances, write about work.

    On my blog that is specifically intended for my family, I do not swear or talk about drinking. I know it is important for my parents to have this pristine image of me and there’s no need to ruin it by telling them how f-ing hungover I was last week. Ya know? But if they did ever find my primary blog, they’d be completely shocked. (And I out of the will.)

  3. I definitely prefer to err on the side of happy when it comes to blogging. Of course there are lots of things I leave out, but I think the key is that my general personality comes through.

    Next year will be my 6-year blogging anniversary, so I obviously can’t kid myself that I’m only writing for myself. However, I do still think of it as a journal and I’m disappointed in myself when I have light posting months, which means I don’t have as detailed an account of what I was doing then.

  4. I am my own Audience of One. And that is it. If it is not something I want to read about 5 years from now, then I probably should not write it. I used to be anonymous and I did snark on other folks. It did not make me feel better and am glad I do not use my blog as a forum for that any longer. Well, except for my gassy cubicle neighbor who I titled The Big Burper. She EARNED that title.

    When I was going through the post-partum depression, I mentioned to another blogger that I did not write about it much because my husband did want me to. The blogger angrily replied that it was MY blog and that I should write about it if I wanted and that my husband had no right to dictate what went on my blog. I felt sad for her that she had that attitude. My husband is the center of my life and I have to respect his opinions first and foremost when it comes to my writing. Otherwise, I am saying my writing is more important than him.

    Kim, you are giving LilZ an important lesson in life. Sure, he may not mind now if you dish on your squabbles with him, but you are teaching that some things are left sacred within a family. You have respect for your relationship with him and he knows it because of your actions.

  5. I don’t talk about my marriage in any meaningful way (beyond saying it is wonderful). I might give an anecdote here and there but I don’t get into the nitty gritty. I know my husband has shared my blog with many co-workers so that he can show off our kids and both our mothers check in – I keep that in mind anytime I talk about my marriage.

    I’ve gone into detail about my first marriage. I don’t discuss relationships with friends or family. When I worked, I rarely said anything but kept anything work related incredibly generic. When I offer my opinion on a topic, I try not to be offensive but I refuse to water it down to the point of being meaningless – I never forget it is MY space and I can say what I want…I just try to be respectful about it.

  6. I won’t write anything about my family that I wouldn’t say to their faces.

    And I don’t talk about things that would be hurtful to friends. Events, and such. Because honestly? I shove my foot down my throat in person often enough, I see no need to flagellate others in print too.

    And I won’t talk about my vagina. Mostly, because I don’t want my kids to ever read about it.

  7. I didn’t start out with a lot of boundaries, and I’d talk about anything: work, family, that bottle of wine I polished off before dinner last night….I always told myself I was doing so anonymously, of course, but then I realized I didn’t like that about myself. So now I still sorta pretend it’s anonymous, so I’m not afraid of talking about ANYTHING, but I try to stick to the common rule of “if my mom/friend/brother found it and read it, s/he wouldn’t find anything about herself that would hurt his or her feelings.”

    To maintain this, I’ve actually gone back and erased some old posts that I wrote when I was more raw and less able to filter my words.

  8. I try not to write too much about my husband. Sometimes, he needs to be included for the sake of the story but it’s a very rare occasion when he is the story. I also won’t post a photo of him (the same goes for other members of my family, too). The site is my thing and including him in it when he hasn’t asked to be just seems an invasion of his privacy. My kids, on the other hand, don’t have a say in the matter. heh. If I didn’t write about them, then I’d have very little to say.

  9. There are not many topics that are off limits on my blog. Anything I write, I’ve said to other people. I have a few things in regards to my marriage that I don’t share because it isn’t fair to my husband. I have a few things that I don’t share because my family and stalkers like to use it against me. But otherwise, I’ll talk about sex, marriage, parenting (even the ugly sides), and life in general.

  10. Years ago I heard an interviewer with some ladies at a scrap book retreat. I don’t scrap but I took interest when one of the ladies said she loved it because it allowed her to turn that vacation where the children bickered the whole drive and it rained non-stop into something lovely. Years from now she didn’t want to recall the bickering she wanted to remember the board game tournaments they had in their hotel room. I think blogging is the same way. I’m going through some tough stuff with my kindergartner. I don’t need to blog about it directly. I can blog the good stuff and in 10 years I’ll either remember the private stuff on my own or I won’t which means it wasn’t so important to the narrative of my life. Boundaries are good. Children bahve better with them. Bloggers apologize less to the people in thier lives with them.

  11. Great post… I’ve only just stumbled across your blog, through another (although, don’t ask me which, as I follow a few, lol).

    I tend not to mention people by name, especially my other half, and children (well the 2nd hasn’t got a ‘real’ name yet). I like to write about anything that is happening in my life or my head… which I always assumed was ‘not a lot’… yet I seem to have a constant stream of ‘thoughts’.
    I rarely say anything on my blog which won’t have already been said in person.

    I’ve enjoyed reading your blog, and I think you have a gorgeous family. :)

    Beth

  12. I have tried blogging a couple of times, but I keep giving it up. My counter showed some coming by, but rarely any comments so I felt like I was talking to myself.

    One of the comments mentioned their blog being like their journal so it sounds like a good reason to start blogging again. I am reading Dave Ramsey’s financial book and want to implement some of his ideas. My blog can be how I keep up with my progress!

  13. HI (LURKER ALERT) – My blog is read by very few and they are all family or close friends. I started it to keep a digital baby book of sorts, that was in the beginning. Then I realized how much I liked writing and how good it felt to “Get it all out!”. Then I got a divorce, I put my blog on hold and got a plan together. I literally had to stop writing for a while until I set those boundaries for myself. I sort of put myself in several sets of shoes and thought about how I would feel. I am constantly telling my 6 year old to do that when dealing with other peoples emotions so I thought it was time I took my own advice. I do mention the divorce but only the good things – my ex and I get along really well so this part is easy. Sometimes if I am going through something bad with him, I write a post and save it in drafts. I have several of those. ;) I post a lot of pictures of my daughter, try not to reveal our location, I only write about family if it is on a positive note. If there are feelings I feel I need to get out, I put them out there but leave out names. The people I am writing about know who they are but I don’t write anything I wouldn’t say in front of my Mother or to their face. I am like you – I envy those who can put it all out there. But I don’t want to hurt anyone and I also don’t want to stray too far from what the blog is truly about – my precious daughter. It was started for her and although at times it is more about me, I really just want her to know as she gets older, what our lives were like while she was growing up. I soooo wish my Mother had kept a journal. I would cherish reading it right now. So I think your kids are really going to LOVE you later in life for what you have done. Long after you are gone, there are literally HUNDREDS of your stories for them to read and pass on. You are doing an amazing thing (much better than I am) and it will be an amazing gift to leave behind. I have been reading you for a long time and I don’t comment often. Just wanted to let you know I love your pictures and your funny stories. Carry on!

    Lorie

  14. I had a friend tell me once, “You know, you tell a lot of stories, but you don’t say much,” which has ended up being a lot like how my blog is written. I tell stories of things that have happened and express ideas I have, but I hold a lot, a LOT of stuff back. I’ve got a couple of “secrets,” you could say, even. I have a habit of revealing huge stories/situations/circumstances after they’ve passed.

    Also, I am like you – when you write something, assume everyone is going to read it. EVERYONE.

    Basically, I try not to write anything that I think I may regret for any reason. I’ve not always been successful at that, but I do my best.

  15. I feel like in some way, we all write for other people. Otherwise, why hit publish? But, I think for a lot of bloggers out there they write as a way to express themselves outside their family life.

    My blog is something I’ve shared with my friends and family, and sometimes I do regret that. There are fairly frequently times when I wish I could write about something, whether it has to do with sex, or honest feelings or whatever, and I just can’t. Sometimes I want to write more about my family – my parents etc, but I can’t do that because they might read it. I am fairly honest about my own feelings on my blog, but my feelings about others often have to be left out. Most of the time, it’s fine, but sometimes I really want to vent OR I really want advice, and I can’t get it.

    For the most part, I’m happy with my blog, but I sometimes wonder what my blog would be if I’d kept it a secret.

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