Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Who Wants to Be Popular?

"I'd rather be right than popular." Somewhat the words of George W. Bush.

"I'd rather be alone for the right reason that with someone for the wrong reasons." -Leah Thompson's character from Some Kind of Wonderful.

I'm a people pleaser, so I want to be popular.

There, I said it. No offense to then President Bush...dude, you were president and popular enough to win the popularity contest we call POTUS while not being the crispest chip in the bag.

Certainly no offense to Ms. Thompson who was and is undeniably hot and an actress who has likely won her fair share of popularity contests.

Your question is going to be, "what's your point?" (Yeah, read your mind as easily as you read my blog)

Well, I want to be a popular blogger. I want to be read by everyone, shared by everyone, and then read by everyone else...and their friends. Heck, I even want the creepy stalkers of those friends to stalk my blog.

As a blogger, I've talked to plenty of people who write for themselves. They need an outlet for feelings or thoughts. They want an escape. Words like "cathartic" are used frequently. I frequently want an escape, but less often it is to writing. Sure, I have some random thoughts that escape my mind onto the pages of my blog here.

Popularity often comes with a cost, like making a kid dive into a quarry that is only two feet deep, oh wait that's a movie. Popularity is hard to maintain. Popularity begs questions like:

Does desiring popularity change my writing?

SHOULD it change my writing?

Should I abandon my personal persona and take on someone new?

Should I start cursing like a drunken sailor on shore leave?

I'm currently separated from the love of my life, yet I can't let that change my voice. Kicked in the crotch by love, I should be singing Soprano (the singing kind, not the TV Mafia kind) , but my writing isn't affected. Ok, that's not true. I haven't been writing as much recently at all lately. But I'm not planning to write about pain here. Except normal kicks in the crotch and possibly setting fire to my foot, but not emotional pain.

My past efforts at becoming "successful" at writing have involved entering contests. I even did the challenge where you write a post every day for a month. Talk about phoning it in with some "I did it" filler posts. After yet more random contests, I stumbled upon Yeah Write and entered their contest a few times. I finished dead last twice (out of fifty entries) and began to reconsider my writing style. I couldn't be that bad, right?

Why wasn't I better received?

Was my blog style more "been there done that" or "bazinga?"

I finally came to the "obvious" conclusion that it was a gender thing, or that's what I rationalized in my head. I couldn't compete against mom bloggers who had more material and were looking for others to sympathize with...or so I supposed.

Dude Write
That lead me to the ultimate popularity ploy...starting my own clubhouse. Just because I couldn't make THIS cheer squad, didn't mean I couldn't start my own cheer squad...wait, that's another movie. Anyway, with the help of my buddy Youngman Brown, we discussed and brainstormed and finally began Dude Write. We wanted Dude Write to become an amazing place for the long forgotten male writers of a new generation to seek audience and perfect their craft. Selfishly, I wanted others to like me, to see me as an equal, to eventually crown me as champion and king!

I've learned to live with disappointment. As much as that Droopy the Dog-like statement is fun to say, it isn't true. I learned that I need to work on my writing. I need more polish (that's polish with a small 'p' which is to say I don't need sausage) after I write. I also learned that I like my star shining to help others shine brighter. I get immense satisfaction when someone accepts their win with humility and posts their (Youngman Brown created) Man Card with pride on their site. You know... that fine line between Chad 'Ochocinco' Johnson's Riverdance celebration of a touchdown and the simplicity of the "act like you've done it before and hand the ball to the ref" of Walter 'Sweetness' Payton (RIP).

What about you, has a desire for popularity changed your writing?

UPDATE! I AM Popular, now! 

Dude Write


  1. I get this! You wouldn't believe how much I get this. Honestly, I wouldn't mind having more popularity in the blogging world. I love the followers that I have, and I am so grateful that they continue to return whenever I post. But, I wish that I could write something better for them.

    I think it's a tough thing. It's difficult, and entirely too time consuming to try to post a piece that is "top line" every time, and follow up on the comments, follow and read those that comment, and try to keep up on commenting over there as well. And network, and so on, and so on. I do this to escape, not full time. I have a family to provide for.

    I toy with ideas of trying to dip my toe into other writing competition things, but up until now, Dude Write is all that I've entered into. And while I appreciate Dude Write immensely, I often feel like the best I can do there is middle of the pack. I think the mommy bloggers would chew me up and spit me out.

    I'm coming up on a year at this. Of actually putting thoughts into text, to attempt to entertain people, The posts that I first did are different than the ones I do now, yet I believe that I'd rather just evolve, than try to be something I'm not to gain readership?

    I don't know what makes people popular? I've dropped in on some of the most popular mom bloggers, and to be honest, I've at times, been more impressed with the work coming out of Dude Write. Other than, it's 'just the guys', I can't figure out why more bloggers don't show up there. But regardless, it's an awesome thing. You need to be proud about having a hand in creating it.

    Sorry about the long comment, it really made me think.

  2. Heather@StretchingMyWingsDecember 12, 2012 at 10:10 AM

    On one hand I am completely right there. I get a tiny twinge of jealousy when I see the "followers" number inch up on other blogs and not my own. And I ask the same questions. Do I change to gather more peeps or do I stay who I am because that's what attracted the peeps in the first place? But on the other hand, and it is my own fault, I don't blog consistently nor do I comment excessively so how can I gain followers? And I think that's key to increasing a following. Not by changing your writing or style, but by making yourself known. If they like your style they'll stick around.

    That being said, I really love what you did with Dude Write because, even as a mommy and a crafter, the internet is overwhelmed with the moms and it's really nice to get a different perspective. Out of my top five favorite blogs, three are written by men. So you and the guys keep doing what you're doing!

  3. My desire for popularity hasn't prompted a change in my writing but it has prompted me to create a blog as an outlet for my work. I couldn't get agents or publishers interesting in my writing and it was suggested to me that I forget about traditional publishing and create my own audience. I'm glad I did. But I think blogs are underutilized by writers. Most bloggers bitch and moan about things that are rather boring instead of using their posts to share fresh, well-written pieces that stimulate thought. I know I don't always reach this lofty goal but I do aim for it.

  4. Ken,
    I'm so glad my post resonates with you. I think that blogging may have moved down the road. It is very easy to start up. If you don't care about an audience, it is there when you want to write something.
    I think the concept of popularity is difficult to define for a blog. I have a few blogs that I enjoy and they've been at it a while. I don't really buy into "traffic" because my viral post isn't one of my best and doesn't have a lot of comments. Followers are simply someone who liked it at one point, perhaps for one post. I like to think comments like yours that show how you read the post and if I consistently had 20-30 of those I would be excited. Probably until I got used to that, ha.
    Lots of quality comments is good.
    People tweeting or sharing your posts is good.

    I believe to achieve you have to be topical and current (talking about how the world didn't end 3 weeks after the 21st wouldn't be.) Commenting on other blogs (and including a link to your blog) helps.

    Opinions vary of course.

    Thanks for the thoughtful comment!

  5. Heather,
    Thanks for continuing to read even when I've been quiet lately.
    I think you're right on about making a name for yourself. I've tried to remain true to myself and my style in my posts.
    I'm so glad that we've got women followers at Dude Write. It is so important that despite our limitation on posting, that limitation hasn't hurt readership. Honoring the ladies with a week every now and again probably helps a bit as well.
    You should continue to plug us to all the dude writers that you come across. Thanks again!

  6. It is a lofty goal to strive for isn't it, Chubby?
    As was echoed by a few, this is a hard and time consuming hobby to have. Seldom do you make money at it, so not too many will earn a living from it.
    You are right about underuse by writers. I imagine it would be a bit of a rights nightmare to try to protect your work in such a venue and to pour writing energy into a blog over say a novel would be a tough call to make.
    Thanks for reading!

  7. My problem is that I am so influenced with people that I will adapt to any crowd I "hang" with. Changing writing styles isn't the biggest concern, its keeping my identity.

    Same thing I guess. If you please everyone, how can you please yourself?

    Comedy is a popularity contest. I see lots of comics who have started the same time as me getting more opportunities. I can't help that because I have a full time grown up job where as most of the comics still live at home. I think if anything, its the right friends that can get you popularity.

    Like knowing the admins to Dude Write ;) They have helped at least a third of my followers find me. So if you see those guys, tell them they're awesome

  8. Yes. This is a problem I'm struggling with right now. I feel like I'm changing my voice to either be like others I admire or I'm tempted to create posts that aren't exactly fitting with my character because I see others getting a lot of traffic with these topics. This may be an ongoing battle with me, but I'm trying to focus on my closest audience that I enjoy entertaining, namely my family and closest friends. And if they keep laughing at what I write, then I'm bound to make someone else laugh too. Great post!

  9. Michael G D'AgostinoDecember 13, 2012 at 5:41 AM

    I've always desired quantity of fans over quality, which is absolutely the wrong way to do it. Whether it's my blog, my stand-up, my podcast or my Twitter account, I've always thought more is better. But what use is having 1000 followers who are only partially interested when you can have 200 who really truly appreciate your work?

  10. I can imagine if my livelihood was involved I might sing a different tune. For instance, if I was a published author, would I care if you bought my book because of the sexy picture of me on the jacket or what I wrote inside?
    But to thine own self be true is a good motto.

    I prefer: do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life.

    So I'd rather do something I love for less money than be rich. Those 200 people are going to know I love writing my way.

  11. Kate,

    So very true. I don't think trying new styles is a bad thing. St. Thomas Aquinas said, "it is not the thing turned to that is evil, but the turning itself." So, experimenting with a different voice in this case isn't bad, but doing so simply to get more readership might be.
    I had never written flash fiction, but I thought it sounded interesting so I gave it a try and really liked it. Now, did I add readers because I did so? I'm doubtful..and hopeful.

  12. I totally get that Rusty. I can see how comedy could be very competitive and you could feel like others are getting your laughs or more laughs. I think you're funny. I always wish you would write more, though sadly my reading of many blogs has waned with all the crapola going on right now.
    You doing Flash Fiction this month?


  13. I don't necessarily want to be popular, but I definitely want my blog/anything else I write to be read by as many people as possible... because I believe in what I write. That is to say, I am honest as I can possibly be.

    With that in mind, I think that it is important to be honest. My posts are usually humorous (or an attempt to be humorous) because that is the way that I look at things. But some of my posts lack humor completely and are reflections of the world. Those posts are sometimes a bummer, but I still post them because that's where I'm at on that particular day, on that particular subject. These posts probably hurt my chances of popularity, because people who originally came to my blog because it made them laugh, now find themselves bummed out because I wrote about how frustrating the American economy crisis is and didn't have a single moment of humor.

    But I don't really care.

    Personal opinions change. Characters change. Writing styles change. And if bloggers lock themselves down to sticking with the theme and voice of their very first "Hello world!" post, they're stopping themselves from developing as writers.

    That's just my opinion, though.

    On a side note, I think that we have developed a great platform for Dude Writers, and I am proud of us. As we said in the beginning of the project, we are a minority. That is why we created it. So all we have to do now is get all of the members of said minority to participate, and then we'll be in business :)

  14. It's nice to get this bit of personal insight about the driving force behind Dude Write. Regardless of the original motivation I truly believe Dude Write is a fantastic idea. Happy to be part of the team and here's to Dude Write making it huge in 2013!

    As for the whole popularity thing - hell yeah I want to be popular. If I didn't I would not own a public blog. I think that goes for most of us. It's always nice to have external validation of sorts.

    Hope your emotional turmoil only pushes you to grow and explore more exciting avenues as a writer!

  15. I'm a relative newcomer to blogging with a very modest number of followers. Like most others who have commented, I'd love to be read by many more people and I hope my following will grow. But I would always have to write about something that interests me, in a style that I find appealing - it might sound sad, but when I'm writing a humorous post (or at least trying to) I smile and chuckle to myself.

    Also, thanks for the Dude Write project. I feel like I'm among like-minded blokes!

  16. I try to write what my readers want me to write a lot of the time, and a lot of the time I think that what I'm writing is nonsense. While I don't believe one is cause of the other, I do believe that they have a lot to do with each other.

    I have in the past been disillusioned by the popularity contests that blogging promotes. I can't compete with women bloggers because no matter how hard I try I am not a woman blogger and I will never fit into their club perfectly. Being gay, I have more feet in that door than other men who blog but I still cannot enter the room. At times, I feel like I don't belong on either side of the blogging community.

  17. Scott, I can certainly sympathize with you. Personally I don't think my writing style fits the "blogging" mold (if there is such a thing). I have tons of Facebook followers that read (based on traffic sources), but most do not leave a comment on my blog. The only comments I generally get are from Dude Write or other weekly writing "contests" that I enter. It gets discouraging at times, but then I remember why I started my blog in the first place and that was an outlet for my writing, much like Stephen mentioned.

    You and Youngman Brown have done a wonderful job with Dude Write. It really does give male writers/bloggers an avenue to share their work with the world. I'm honored that you guys let me share in that experience.

  18. Honesty is always good, one might say it is a policy, nay the BEST policy. I think it is all about intent. If you write something funny because you feel funny (that didn't come out right) then it's honest. If you write something ranty, because that is how you feel, honest. It's when you try to take on a voice that isn't yours where the trouble begins.
    I'm glad you partnered with me on Dude Write!


  19. I see a lot more fiction in 2013, I need to use myself to finish a novel or two. I'm good at starting them, just epically challenged on finishing.
    I'm glad you came aboard!


  20. I'm glad you are enjoying Dude Write.

    Your style is very easy to read and you'll take off with more readers soon! WG

  21. Keep working at it, Stephen. Good writing is good writing, irrespective of the gender of the writer. I've read your stuff a few times now and I like it. It is honest and real.
    I think we're going to have some sort of constructive criticism week at Dude Write, trying to determine how to do it in a way that protects everyone. I know I like some good criticism when I know it is designed to help me.

  22. We are honored to have you. I think I might have an idea for a post based on this.

  23. Couldn't agree with you more on everything you said here.




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