Layout Image

Writing with comments in mind: how to create the space

I’ve written before about the multiple benefits of comments on blogs. 

It’s one thing to say it (know it, feel it) but another to do what needs to be done to encourage your readers to take part. 

Comments and conversation are central to Liz Strauss’ blogging philosophy and I was struck by her recent post on the four keys to reader comment and conversation. 

The four points she identifies are:

1 Come down from the podium. Talk to me like a person who can listen. Let me be as smart as you are, even when I don’t know what you do.

2 Leave what you say a little unfinished. Then I can add a word in. When a talking person fills in every idea and detail before anyone else talks, that’s called a speech. The response becomes applause or that awful noise.

3 Blog your experience. I’ll respond to what you tell me. I don’t have to agree with you for what you say to resonate.

4 Hold up your end of the bargain. Respond to my comments as you would my conversation. It’s only polite.

I was particularly struck by number 2, leave what you say a little unfinished, because it’s so different from the way we normally write. 

Challenging to the way we (all?) like to position ourselves as ‘expert’ in some way. 

Challenging to the way we write, with a beginning, middle and end.  With a structure, and organised composition.

And very different from writing a beautiful piece of prose and then sticking some questions at the end and hoping for the best.

I asked Liz about this point and was struck by her reply (check the comments for the conversation).  She said:

Leaving things a bit unfinished is the toughest challenge because it’s counter to everything we’ve learned about writing well.  It helps to think that when we publish for print that is the end, but when we publish a blog that is when things start. The blog post is like a well-done final draft ready for an audience to offer additions.

It’s a interesting, if challenging thought, and a good way - I think - to approach blog writing.

When we publish is when things start.

Share on Twitter


  1. peter says:

    Good advice which I try to follow

  2. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Hi Peter

    Thanks for calling by.

    What I liked about this particular piece of advice from Liz is that it was specific about ‘how’ to do something, rather than just more advice that we ‘should’ do it.

    It’s good to hear you’re already putting this kind of approach into practice.