Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Scattershot Approach : NBI

Shintar of Going Commando has a post up for NBI 2016 which is filled with really excellent advice and suggestions for the would-be "narrow-focus" blogger. Much of it is equally relevant to those of us whose approach to blogging is somewhat more, shall we say, scattershot.

"Scattershot", as it happens, was the name of the first Op Ed column I ever wrote for a fanzine, way back at the beginning of the 1980s. It seems my attitudes and approach to life haven't changed as much over getting on for four decades of supposed adulthood as I might have fooled myself into thinking.

J3w3l has also written a post for the NBI in which she talks about the importance of having a suitable space from which to blog. My own "nest" isn't  quite as chaotic as the one in the photograph that illustrates her piece but it does reflect my scattershot outlook to organization.

I tend towards design by accretion. My workspace is a concrete palimpsest and my blog posts are sliding block puzzles. This paragraph is being inserted retrospectively to give some much needed structure to what had become a scrambling sprawl.

Onscreen Image Papertiger Sound - Tiny Robot Love
That's a thing about blogging. It's not technical writing (Hi Aywren) nor are you writing a novel (hat-tip to Superior-Realities). You don't have to stress over structure or angst about architectonics. Bang it out, heave it around, gussy it up at the end.

In the end I pretty much only have one rule about what I post on my own blog: does it entertain me when I read it back? If it amuses or interests me then I believe there's a fair chance it will do the same for others.

That's why, reading Shintar's suggestions, one early paragraph really resonated with me:

I continue to be surprised by the amount of gaming blogs I see that hardly ever talk about what their writers have actually been up to in terms of gaming. I suspect that some might be afraid that mere descriptions of their latest online adventures might sound too mundane or even boring, but part of the fun of practising your writing skills is making the mundane sound exciting

I couldn't agree more. As a reader I relish bloggers who write entertainingly and enthusiastically about the games they play. If those are games that I play as well then that's a bonus but I devour every TAGN post on EVE and every installment of Bio Break's retro gaming series with as much enthusiasm as though they were writing about GW2 or EverQuest.

If you write entertainingly people will want to read what you write. It really is that simple. Well, it's that simple provided you can get them to look at what you write in the first place, but that's what the NBI is here for. You don't have to be grammatically perfect or poetically profound. Your authentic voice will forgive a multitude of technical flaws although if you prefer to be deliciously arch, well, that works too.

So far 2016's intake has been small but the blogs that have joined have all been very interesting reads. The latest addition to the Class of 2016 is Mignon of Cookie Cutter Monks. I think that's our first ever tumblr blog but I could be wrong...

And now, in this Live demonstration of  blogging (working without a net here, people) I'm finally getting around to what I intended to post about when I finished my morning cup of tea and opened with that link to Shintar about an hour and a half ago. What I've been playing.

Except, you know what? I think I'm going to stop here and split that off into a post of its own. You can do that sort of thing when you have a blog. You should try it sometime. Yes, you!



  1. A: Thanks for the plug.

    B: I must admit I am one of those people who is hesitant to discuss the details of my latest gaming sessions. I just don't think it's that interesting, unless something particularly special happened or it reveals something unique or interesting about the game in question. Being a very average player who mostly just levels alts, runs dailies, and does the occasional dungeon, most of my adventures would make for pretty dull reading, I suspect.

    1. I think a straight-up account of most of our sessions would make for dull reading. It's the personality people put into how they tell the tale that makes the difference. The prime example I can think of in MMO blogging was Prinny of That Was An Accident. I used to feel like I'd been on some of her raids after I'd read her posts and yet she was just doing LFR in WoW most of the time. Shame she's stopped blogging.

    2. I find that focusing on mistakes and failures make for more entertaining reading/writing. Nothing is as tedious to write about as a dungeon run where we cleared all the trash and killed every boss on the first try without loss.

      But the epic tale where you screwed up on the yard trash, died to every boss at least twice, forgot some quest objective and had to back track through respawns, and only got the final boss down with a single person left standing on the eighth try when you were going to call it a night but decided to give if just one more try... that is at least a little bit more interesting. Though then people will comment about how you suck and are stupid, so there are always trade offs.

    3. Also, thanks Google, you are literally the worst.

    4. I don't know what's up with comments. I get a ton of duplicates which, obviously, I can clean up so just let them ride til I get to them. Never used to happen. When I post my own comments here now it breaks the page and I have to close and reload! I changed absolutely nothing so it must be something at Google's end...

      On the substantive comment...

      In the end it's up to the teller to make the tale so in theory it shouldn't matter but I agree - it's a lot easier to get an entertaining story out of a disaster than a triumph. Everyone loves a pratfall.

  2. Ahh, the great Bhagpuss linked to me and I managed to miss it! Good that Wilhelm linked back to this post in turn... thanks for the shout-out!

    You are actually one of the few MMO bloggers I can think of who does write a lot about what he gets up to - not necessarily in step-by-step accounts, but by always illustrating any subject you talk about with examples you experienced recently. (And I do think as an effect of this people respect you as someone who clearly knows a lot about a lot of different games.)

    1. Thanks! I'm very much a generalist rather than a specialist, I think, in that I know a little about a lot but a lot only about a little. That's probably why, although I've been writing all my life, it's mostly in formats like fanzines, forums and blogs. It's a strength here whereas it would be a weakness in longer formats.


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