Blogging Principles: Being specific

Click here to check this post out on my personal website.

I haven’t written one of these in a while. If I was being smarter, I’d wait until a Beatless recap episode before publishing this post, but I can’t help myself.

Previously, I talked about the format of a blog post, so I want to talk a bit about my approach to content. When I’m writing any post, there’s one particular thought that I’m always keeping in the back of my mind: Be specific. Admittedly, I’m still working on improving at this, but it’s one of my bigger writing goals.

So, what do I mean when I say this? Put simply, it’s just a matter of asking myself why I think the way I do. I want to avoid becoming someone who always expresses vague feelings or thoughts. I’m the type of person who likes to trace the logic behind anything, so I endeavor to provide as much detail as possible.

One thing that I hear often in discussion is “it’s just my opinion”. It’s something that I hate to hear and I think it’s related to this topic. Of course, people are absolutely entitled to their own opinions. But there has to be a reason that you’ve come to that particular conclusion, and saying “it’s just my opinion” has completely shut down the discussion. I don’t care if you have an interesting opinion. I care if you have a good reason for your interesting opinion.

For example, it’s just my opinion that mecha shows are really interesting. For the most part, I hold this opinion because I like watching robot battles. If I were to go deeper, I would probably say that it has to do with my early exposure to shows like Gundam. The fact that I watched a lot of Power Rangers as a kid is probably also a large contributing factor. I’m not saying that you should be prepared to give this kind of analysis for any random opinion that you have. These are just the kinds of things I want to think about.

The end result is that most of my episode posts are just a list of points. My approach is to come up with a list of things I liked and disliked in an episode, so I can try to go through why I felt that way. It also gives me a convenient list of reasons why I might like or dislike a show overall.

In the interest of full disclosure, I also want to point out that I find this approach frightening. From what I’ve seen, it’s difficult to attack a broad opinion such as “I like this show”. The more specific a claim gets, the more refutable it becomes. If I say that Steins;Gate is the most scientifically accurate time travel series in existence, I don’t think it would be too hard to come up with a contrary argument.

But I’m honestly fine with this. I want my opinions to be founded on good reasons. If you present an argument that I think is reasonable, I will change my mind. I really hope that I’ve done a good job of expressing this mentality in my comment responses. Our opinions are our own, but changing them doesn’t mean that we lose something.

So, that’s my spiel. Let me know what you think. Or you know…change my mind.

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Blogging Principles: Picking and Choosing Blog Post Formats

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I’m going to start this post off with a disclaimer. My goal with this post is not to give some special insight into how you should write posts. I don’t have that kind of expertise. I’m just putting my thoughts on blog post formats out there. I hope it’s helpful, but I’m also interested in how others approach this concept (to see what I could learn from it).

The Summary Post

When I was starting out, my style of posting was pretty simple. My entire post was devoted to talking about what actually happened in the episode. If I was feeling adventurous, I’d add the odd comment or quip. It’s a pretty easy way to start out if you don’t know what to write.

I think this style of post gets its fair share of criticism. Admittedly, it’s probably well-deserved. I’m very aware that it’s a pretty low amount of effort. I certainly made things worse by posting all of my summaries as large blocks of text. But even though I’d never go back to writing posts like these, I would argue that they still have their place.

I’ve always found that I tend to read Wikipedia summaries very often when I watch Western shows. Why only when I watch Western shows? It’s just because anime episode summaries tend to be less available. I do this because I want to see how someone else interpreted the episode I just watched. Which parts did they think were important? Was there an obvious big picture piece that I missed? I’d say summary posts serve a similar role.

The “Analysis” Post

This style is probably my least favorite of the post formats that I’ve used, even if it’s the one I used for the longest time. It was kind of a natural progression from my previous style. At a certain point, I decided that the reader probably doesn’t need to be told what happened in the episode. I personally tend to avoid reading blog posts until after I’ve seen an episode, so it seemed like a reasonable conclusion. So, I just cut the summary from my post.

I think this change had the immediate upside of forcing me to think more about what I’d watched, rather than blindly repeating the content of the episode. It was a very slow process, but I believe that I came out of it with a better understanding of where my interests lie. I can better speak to what I actually like in a show.

The reason I hated this format was that I didn’t really like what it became. As I wrote more posts, I started giving myself easy milestones to complete the post. For example, there was a long stretch of time during which I would declare a post to be finished if I managed to go over 150 or 200 words. The posts started to feel more formulaic and probably ended up being too concise to really say much.

The Reaction Post

For many of you, this style of posting may be the most familiar one. Admittedly, it’s probably my favorite. After watching a particularly rough first episode, I realized that I had way more things to say than I normally would. More importantly, I realized that these comments were largely in reaction to very specific scenes. Rather than describing the scene, I thought it might be easier just to post a picture of the scene and make the comment directly below it. As such, my posts became a series of images followed by reactions to said images.

The reason I liked this post format was because I felt like it played to my strengths. I feel much more comfortable reacting to specific points than putting together some kind of analysis. The images in these posts acts as a reference point for a particular point in the series, allowing me to talk about it specifically.

Moving Forward

If I had to sum everything up in an overarching lesson, it would be that I aim to experiment and try new methods. Recently, I’ve attempted to trim my posts down to avoid an excessive wall of images. I noticed that I had a tendency to “fill space” in my reaction posts with one-liners in some series while others would have full paragraphs for a single image. I’m now trying to force myself to come up with a decent paragraph for every series (at the very least). One day, I may move away from only using screenshots in my posts.

So, I’ll end on this: why do you prefer the style you use today for your blog posts? Is there a reason for your preference? The answer to that second question doesn’t have to be “yes”. It’s just something I like to ponder myself.

Blogging Principles: Motivation

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Since there’s no Re:Creators or Kakegurui this week, this post is going to be a bit of an experiment. I’ve been wanting to talk a bit about my own blogging principles and how I approach blogging in general. I do this mostly because I don’t think I have the credentials to give true advice, but I wonder if talking about my thought processes might be helpful.

To start things off, I want to talk a bit about motivation. I’ve been writing posts on this blog for quite some time now and I often ask myself how I’ve managed to keep it up so long. Of course, I’ve been interest in anime for a long time now, but I want to go a bit further than that.

To help out, I want to also talk about a hobby of mine, solving Rubik’s Cubes. Speedsolving, as it’s called, is something I picked up in high school, and it’s one of those things I claim as a talent. On the other hand, writing is an area in which I’ve notoriously performed poorly. So why is it that I haven’t done more than a handful of Rubik’s Cube solves in the past 3 years, but I can continue to write blog posts every day?

My answer goes back to my original motivations for starting this blog. I started my blog for two reasons: I wanted to start a website and I wanted to improve my writing. The second piece is the important bit. As long as I feel like I’m continuing to improve and learn, I will continue to keep this blog alive.

If my motivation was to create a popular website or one that made me money, I’m sure I would have quit by now. My stats aren’t exactly impressive. This is why I make the comparison to speedsolving. These stats are similar to my solve times in that I’ve reached many points in my blogging timeline when my stats have plateaued like my solve times. If I treated blogging like speedsolving, I would have have stopped for the same reason at those points.

I think the greatest reinforcement I’ve felt so far was in a recent encounter with my family. I was asked to write a tribute to my mother and how she affected my life, and my parents told me that my writing had greatly improved. Sure, this doesn’t seem like much, but my parents berated me constantly about my writing skills when I was growing up. So to me, this change felt like acknowledgement that I had actually accomplished something. That experience made me feel like this blog was worthwhile.

That’s pretty much all I’ve got on this. As my final point, I want to say that I still feel like I’ve got a lot more to go. I’ve been trying to engage with the blogging community more in recent years because I want to learn from all of the other styles out there. Anyway, let me know what you think of this post and maybe I’ll think of more stuff for the future.