PROVOCATIVELY SPEAKING

Fandango’s Provocative Question #174

The long deferred “long and short” of blogging?

I try to keep things short because my time is short and probably so is yours. That’s only true-ish. So much depends on if a subject grabs me. What grabs me? That depends on my mood and my mood depends on 🌥️ clouds floating by.

Do you have a preference with respect to the length of blog posts you read? Does the number of words in a post affect how you read it or even if you will read it? What is your average post length?

It would seem that my average writing length is between 350 and 480 words, but that’s an average. Since my photo and art blogs use very few words, my “real” writing length is probably longer by about 150 words.

Length is closely connected to subject matter. I want to include background information when appropriate. History needs extra words to provide context. Politics? If it’s my opinion (only), after editing I typically max out at 500 (or fewer) words. Personal stuff? I never know where it’s going until I get there. Things like this post, for example, can get pretty long. Digressions and rambling add lots of words. Brevity is more about tight editing than intent. I start out writing long posts and pare them down by half before publication.

Do I read long blogs even when I am short on time? Yes but I know I have time for only a few long posts in a day. Much depends on what grabs me. What will grab me? No idea. Every day, every hour, every passing mood lives in its own space.

My informal rules are:

  • Don’t start a long post unless I have time to finish it. If I don’t think I have enough time, I’ll mark it, star it, and plan to go back. Sometimes I get there. The rest of the time, posts disappear in an endless morass of incoming emails.
  • If I start a post, I will finish it. Too many time glancing at the first few paragraphs means I’ve missed the point. This has proved embarrassing.
  • Keep in touch with faithful followers. They aren’t just people who comment. They are friends. Stay in touch.

I read long posts and articles when the subject is interesting. I read thousands of words yesterday on new archeological discoveries at Stonehenge. I saved the article and hope I’ll get back to it.

I get two newspapers — the Washington Post and New York Times. I don’t have time to read them, so I pick and choose. I don’t feel compelled to finish newspaper articles. Authors usually make their points in the first few paragraphs. That’s how news is written for exactly this reason. The rest of the article are statistics and explanations. I get newsletters too. When the subject interests me and isn’t depressing, I’ll read it until I think I’ve gotten most of the important information or it ends, whichever comes first.

So many of my choices are based not only on reading, but on what else I’m doing. If I know I need to leave time to take or process photographs, I know I need the right time. I also need to leave time to cook, do at least minimal cleaning, hopefully write something, and maybe have a conversation.

I remember when I stopped working and thought how much time I would have. Hah! These days, I wonder how I found time to go to work and have a life. If I think about it, when both of us were working, we didn’t have much of a life. There were years when we barely enough had time to wave, give a quick kiss, and race for the car.

I love retirement 💕



Categories: #Blogging, #FPQ, #Photography, #Writing, Anecdote, Provocative Questions

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22 replies

  1. I’m fairly new to the avalanche effect of emails. They take up a portion of my ‘blogging time’ and sometimes posts fall by the wayside as a result. Also I believe in answering each comment personally, because to me that’s just good manners, but I fear that is going to undergo some radical changes. I’ve learned, that for the bigger posts I now write, I cut the content into smaller paragraphs, easy for skimming OR reading outright. I see your very valid points!

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    • Most of the email I get isn’t comments. Some is, but most of it are solicitations for donations to Audubon, National Parks, Durrell, or something green. Regretfully, I pass and delete. A million more are from the Democratic party. I gave $3 to the Obama campaign in 2008 and no matter how many times I unsubscribe, eventually they come back. I also get solicitations from AARP, Planned Parenthood, and other liberal groups, probably as offshoots from the Democrats. AND then there are news articles from the Post, NYTimes, and National Geographics — and messages telling me what to watch from every streaming TV station to which we subscribe and many to which we USED to subscribe and some who would like us to subscribe. Oh, and bill payment updates and other money-related stuff.

      Somewhere in there are emails from humans who either read my blog or are answering a comment of mine and occasionally, A FRIEND!

      I answer all comments unless they are about old posts. Then I only realize there’s a new comment when I see it in “comments.”

      I just got a message from Microsoft asking if I’m still using the same email because I guess they’ve piled up again. If I don’t clean up the mess every day, by day three it’s well over 500 and longer than that? Oy vay!

      We’ve been without wi-fi most of the day. Charter has been up and down. Heat. It’s bad. And getting worse. They keep promising rain, but so far, we just have a few clouds and some wind.

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  2. I used to save a lot of long posts to read later but I never got around to it, so these days I’m more selective. But I would feel guilty never bothering with longer ones as I’m conscious I sometimes inflict long ones on my followers 😆 Like you it varies by subject matter. My posts tend to be heavy on photos or on words, but rarely both!

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    • I try to find time. I don’t always, but I’ve also gotten very selective. I know I’m not going to read all of them or even half so I try to pick three or four and with luck, I actually get to reading them. I have trouble finding time to read my OWN posts or, for that matter, edit my own posts. If I didn’t limit the amount of time, I would never do anything else. I’d be online all the time — writing, editing, commenting, reading, processing photos, posting photos. I’d never talk to anyone or do anything. To me, that’s far too much like work. If that’s what it takes to be a popular blogger, I won’t be popular.

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  3. I get newsletters like Heather Cox Richardson, Robert Hubble, Robert Reich to name a few. Those I read everyday. I also get the WPO, which I read selectively and often just part of the article. Then I follow blogs, which are my true favorites and the length doesn’t matter if I’m interested in the content, but the one thing I really like are the comments and often that is how I find other blogs I like.
    I find it’s harder for me now to read a book. I can’t seem to maintain the focus and I get sleepy, so blogs and articles are my go to, especially blogs. I’ve tried podcasts, but for me, too long. Some TV, mostly PBS, British and a couple of streaming services. I’m a widow, so I have a few like minded friends I go out with for wine, a meal and good conversation.
    Sometimes I think of doing a blog, but then… no…too many good ones already out there. I enjoy yours because of its varied subject matter and your writing style. And of course, I follow blogs who have the same ideology, basically as I do and I feel some connection to.

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    • I keep thinking if I wasn’t blogging, I’d have a lot more “life,” but I feel like my blog is my last chance to have a meaningful say in the world. Who knows? Maybe I’ll change someone’s mind or get someone interested in history or feeding birds or something.

      I’m doing a lot less than I used to. My stats have dropped hugely, but c’est la vie. I am not going to be glued to my computer all the time. Did that. Don’t want to do it anymore.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. i’m more drawn to short posts, and save the long ones for later reading –

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    • I suspect we ALL save the long ones for later. Whether or not “later” actually shows up? Well, that depends on so many other things including whether or not I’m too tired to keep going. I get tired sooner now than I did 10 years ago. Time is catching up with me.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I think I am rather similar in that if I start reading a long post that interests me I’ll try to finish it or at least read as much as I need to get the gist of it.
    I read posts from the Reader. I’m afraid if I got them as emails I’d be overwhelmed and give up trying to read them. If I see a post from a blogger I know will probably have a lot to say I’ll leave it for later. I mostly get back to them but I don’t try to read everyone’s posts everyday. I wouldn’t have time to write my own and then there is still cooking, cleaning etc.

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    • Ditto. I used to spend ALL my time online. But I was younger and I had more energy. Even five years ago, I had more pep than I do now. At some point, no matter how many things I’d like to read, I reach a point where I’m simply too tired to do anything more. This is turning into one of those days. The wi-fi has been off and on and very erratic even when it is supposedly working. I’ve tried to put up the same post half a doze times and the wi-fi fails me JUST before it publishes. Finally, I gave up and have spent the rest of the day in the kitchen, making potato salad and rearranging a closet so we can bring up a grill and take the slow-cooker downstairs until winter comes and we might need it again.

      I didn’t even take pictures because it’s too hot. I think the birds aren’t coming out of the shady woods. If this heat keeps up without more rain, I have an awful feeling they will start to die.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Heat is exhausting for birds and animals. If we have a hot summer this year, I think we will probably put out bowls of water for the possums and pademelons as well as the birds.

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        • I put out flat trays — baking trays — full of water. I think they find it easier to get to the flat ones, especially the very small critters. They can’t climb the sides of metal or ceramic dishes. What is really worrying me is that everything is dead, even the weeds. No flowers? No seeds which means there will be NO food in the winter — and most of the plants won’t come back in the spring because those that reseed in a normal year (whatever that is!) — won’t. And there is absolutely nothing we can do about it. This is when I start to worry about the aquifer. We ALL live on the same aquifer. All of this areas, parts of Connecticut and Rhode Island. No rain, nothing growing, no food and eventually, the wells start to dry up and that is scary because without water, we are homeless as is everyone else in the area.

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  6. Like Sadje, I save long posts for later with the intention of going back and reading them. Unfortunately, I rarely do. I think I have dozens of unread “long” posts in my saved posts and almost all of them are unread.

    The issue is purely one of time management. Between sleeping, preparing and eating meals, playing with and walking our dog, reading the newspaper and my iPhone’s newsfeed, and watching TV, there’s only so much time left to write my own posts and to read and comment on the posts of the nearly 200 bloggers I follow. Sometimes I feel like Sisyphus pushing a heavy boulder up a very steep hill.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a pretty good summary of life in the slow lane. There’s also the reality that I move slower than I did and I get tired sooner than I used to. I go to bed earlier AND I sleep later. I listen to audiobooks at night, so sometimes, I actually go to be a little earlier because I want to read.

      I often think about giving it up, but I like to write and I like photography — AND this is my last shot at having any meaningful input into The World. But I am doing a lot less than I did even a year ago. I want to have a little time to just enjoy the people still in my life while I still have them. And I like watching movies, even (gads!) listening to music — and talking to live people!

      I don’t save posts unless it’s something extraordinary for more than a couple of days. The number of emails I get is in the hundreds and when for some reason the Democratic party forgets that I unsubscribed them, suddenly, I have 1000 emails from every Democrat in the country with their hand out.

      I’m sympathetic to National Parks, Audubon, Planned Parenthood, Durrell’s Zoo, AARP and more. I just don’t have money. I give a small amount monthly to Cornell’s bird institute and that’s pretty much it these days. I’m trying desperately to put away enough money for oil and hoping the price drops so we can afford half a tank. It’s only a 220 gallon tank and used to cost $500 to fill it from empty to full. Now, it’s close to $1000 — a lot of money.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I save long posts and stories for later like you.

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