Your Mom Was Right About Honesty

Your mom or whoever told you honesty is the best policy.

My last blog surprised me with the response. I wanted to write something since I hadn’t in a while (Something I’m trying really hard not to do) and my social media blah was on my mind. So, I wrote my mind, hit publish and said, “Ah, that felt good.” (Just like that) Well, not only were the comments awesome, but I received positive messages on Twitter, Facebook and a really cool email. I don’t think I said anything super profound, just being honest. To me, that’s the best kind of blogging.

The other day, Piper Bayard posted a question on Facebook that went like this:

When a blogger has a personal challenge going on in his/her life, does it serve you as a reader to know about it? Are you interested in sharing someone else’s trials and journeys, or do you prefer things to be a bit less personal?

I chimed in basically saying that personal stuff on a blog is the best way to go for a few reasons:

1. (The obvious one) No one can write you better than you. Kait says it all the  time here that we’re marketing ourselves, which makes perfect sense because how else can we be unique? And there’s a lot that makes up me as I’m sure there’s a lot that makes up all of you. So, why limit our blog posts to a few select topics? There’s lots of talk about target audience and what they’d like to read. I sort of think readers don’t know what they want to read. They know what they like, but it’s our job to decide what’s reader worthy. Big difference.

Another factor for the blogger is individual comfort level. Some people will be more an open book than others, but how much of your life you share isn’t the issue. It’s how you share the information you’re willing to share, which brings us to point two:

2. If you’re a blogger, you’re a storyteller. Think about that person you know who always has interesting things to talk about. Now think about that person who talks your ear off to the point that you’d literally give him your ear to talk to rather than stick around for more. Everyone loves a good story and if you’re a good storyteller, it won’t matter what you blog about. The only criteria, structure wise, is to have a beginning, middle and end. And this doesn’t have to be paragraphs of text.

Go read some of Lauralynn‘s posts. Some of them are ONE paragraph, but are still stories. They don’t always have a theme or moral (I don’t think that’s purpose of blogs in general) and that’s okay. She writes these little snapshots of her thoughts well and when a new one pops up in my inbox, I have no idea what it’ll be about. I just know I’m in for a good story.

3. Intelligent honesty is gold. I say intelligent honesty because there some who will write awful and hurtful things and claim, “I’m just being honest!” or “I’m entitled to my opinion!” as a justification for basically being an asshole.

I’m not going to explain how to be intelligent with your honesty; either you know how or you don’t. To the bloggers that do, don’t be afraid to write something you think will turn off readers. Readers are pretty smart. They know the difference between nonsense and a well written opinion. Guess which one they have more respect for? Yes, there’s always the chance of being attacked on your blog. Strong opinions can attract a strong response.

A great example of what to do in one of those situations is How Long Should You Make a Guy Wait? by Natalie Hartford. Natalie had a definite answer to her question and not everyone agreed with her in the comments. Even when some of the comments got nasty, she still treated those guys with respect and actually managed to find some common ground with them. She might’ve lost some readers, but I think intelligent honesty brings in way more new ones.

4. If you prefer to write a specific topic, can you personalize it.? Take reviews for example. Lots of people, including me, do them. I could do a straight review, which is fine, but there’s also many other writers doing the same thing. And I really don’t blame someone for going to Entertainment Weekly for a review instead of my blog. So, maybe I’ll focus on a particular scene or what I got out of the movie. There’s probably less of that going on and as long as I stick to the above points, I’ll have something worth reading.

So there you go. The secrets to blogging success. Thankyougoodnight.

On a completely different note, I’m halfway through my buddy Claire Legrand’s debut, The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls and I LOVE IT so far. It’s categorized as middle grade, but unless you’re allergic to awesome storytelling, it will appeal to the non-middles graders as well. You can also read the first chapter for FREE! on her website. Here’s the blurbage:

Victoria hates nonsense. There is no need for it when your life is perfect. The only smudge on her pristine life is her best friend Lawrence. He is a disaster—lazy and dreamy, shirt always untucked, obsessed with his silly piano. Victoria often wonders why she ever bothered being his friend. (Lawrence does too.)

But then Lawrence goes missing. And he’s not the only one. Victoria soon discovers that The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is not what it appears to be. Kids go in but come out…different. Or they don’t’ come out at all.

If anyone can sort this out, it’s Victoria—even if it means getting a little messy.

3 comments on “Your Mom Was Right About Honesty

  1. Andrew, thank you so much for mentioning my blog! Sometimes I wonder if what I’m saying is interesting to anyone. You’ve made me feel much better about it. I just write what I’m feeling at the time. Things get in my mind, and I want to get them out there. 🙂

    I agree so much about honesty. You have to be yourself, put yourself out there. Different people have different comfort levels about how much they want to share. I’m kind of an open book. I try not to be controversial, though. I hate conflict, so there have been posts I wanted to write but have refrained because I didn’t want drama. So the intelligent honesty makes sense, too. Even if you’re just being honest about how you feel, you’re going to catch flak if it’s the least bit controversial. But you need to be nice about it, even when you want to smack some of the commenters. LOL. I just try not to put myself in that position.

    So you’re really liking Cavendish? It’s on my TBR list. I’m curious to see what role the bugs play. 🙂

  2. Whenever I sit in front of a blank wordpress page, and I’m unsure how to start, I think, “Just be honest!”

    You have laid out everything so well here! Yes to all of it. No need to make a blog just about writing or a blog just about publishing. The most interesting blogs are the honest mish-mash that comes from just blogging and sharing thoughts.

  3. @LL- The bugs play a VERY creep role. I recommend the print edition. The publisher did a great job with it.

    @Nina- Yeah, I look at blogging like journaling.It’s for me first and hopefully the people reading it get something out of it.

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