A Musical Approach to Blog Writing

by Bill Brenner on September 2, 2015

I’m often asked how I came up with my process for writing and promoting my blog posts. Each time I offer a musician’s analogy.

Mood music:

I write posts the way a musician writes a song: scrawling lyrics down on napkins and notepads, perfecting the chorus and bridge of each song by playing them over and over, tweaking them as the mood dictates.

Sometimes I’m writing a one-off post and sometimes I’m writing a series, just as the musician writes¬†a single song or an album’s worth of music. The posts I’ve revolved around the artwork of EddieTheYeti is a good example of the latter.

If I write something I think is particularly good, I’ll post the link to it in different forums across the Internet to bring it to share it with as many people as possible. Sometimes I’ll do that kind of promotion for a day or a week. Sometimes I’ll share links of older posts, bringing them back when they fit a given situation. Whenever the anniversary of the Manson Murders rolls around, for example, I’ll repost links to various related items I’ve written over the years. When the anniversary of a big event in my life comes around, I’ll repost links to what I’ve written about that topic. My older brother’s death is a good example.

Just as songs are meant to be replayed, so are blog posts. I remember reading an interview where Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richard said you’re only doing half the job if you put out an album but don’t tour to support it. That’s how I feel about blog posts. If you have a message to get out, you have to stay on the road, so to speak.

Some songs become popular long after they were released. Bruce Springsteen’s “City of Ruin” took on new meaning right after 9-11 — years after it was first written. I once saw Springsteen talk about that song in an interview. He said sometimes songs go away but come back when you need them. I once wrote a post about Mister Rogers telling children about how the helpers always show up after big tragedies like 9-11 and Hurricane Katrina. Not many people read it at the time I wrote it, but whenever something terrible happens — the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in late 2012, for example — lots of people read that post.

Musicians always have songs in the collection that they’re not proud of, so they obviously don’t get played live. It’s the same for me. If I write what I think was a shitty post in hindsight, I don’t bring it up again. But I don’t delete them from the blog. I wrote ’em and choose to own ’em forever, for better or worse.

Then I go back into the studio and write some more.

Bill Playing Guitar

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

jonee September 3, 2015 at 6:31 pm

You’re “organizational” skills are impressive. Really impressive.

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