What happens when you can’t think of something to write, you’ve committed to writing every day, and you can’t imagine breaking that commitment? You write about that topic!
Ok, just kidding (kind of).
I’ve been thinking a lot about the difference between vlogging and blogging, especially in this area. In a vlog, it seems much easier to go in without a topic, spout some stuff off the top of your head, and edit it into something (hopefully). Indeed, for about the first 9 or 10 months of making videos, this was what a large portion of the content I made was like. Many of the vloggers who are actually successful have an ability to do this and make it interesting, or may even script these unscripted style videos. To be gracious to myself, I’ll call me ability to do this well “debatable,” though that statement itself is likely debatable.
With a blog, just writing something random without a purpose or a “stream of consciousness” flow that isn’t thought out and scripted seems to be breaking the format of a blog. This may be a reflection of my academic writing foundation, since Google defines blog as “a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.” “Informal or conversational” would seem to imply that this thread could be stream of consciousness and covering multiple topics, not just one primary thesis point.
To me, though, the conversational style of content lends itself better to vlogs than blogs. It is almost certainly the case that I believe this because of how I consume these media, and how I function in general. The only way that a written thing can seem like a conversation to me is if it actually is a conversation: a text, an e-mail, a note – something like that. A blog post seems to be more related to a book or a paper in this conversational regard; I don’t feel like I’m having a conversation with a book when I’m reading it. With a vlog, a person is looking at me and seemingly addressing me. Even though I know they’re not talking to me, it is easier to think so because I can see and hear them, and more often than not they are addressing me.
As I think more deeply about the “conversational style,” I may actually need to backtrack on my initial thoughts about blogs. I can understand how an author writing to an audience could be thought of as having a conversation with said audience. Narrators aren’t speaking to themselves; they’re speaking to their audience. Blog writers aren’t speaking to themselves; they’re speaking to an audience. Even academic paper writers are writing to an audience. Whether someone actually reads this work doesn’t take away from the intention that someone will read the work; that is, the conversational style still exists in the absence of an audience.
Perhaps the more difficult part, the part more affected by by academic foundation, is the “Informal” piece. I think most of us are trained how to write very specifically in school, and this has been the format I’ve used for writing across all of my writing, from academic papers to this blog. Since I was trained and have functioned this way, breaking out of that (or at least thinking of breaking out of it) seems to go against everything I know (going back to my struggle with rules).
Vlogging on YouTube seems to have changed as well, at least in video quality. Since vlogging wasn’t something I was paying attention to as it was developing, I’ve only really experienced the “start” of vlogging (or, perhaps more accurately, the start of a number of different channels) in retrospect. It’s interesting to see the progression of the video quality, to watch people develop and grow over time, and to see where they are today. This is even more interesting to me as someone who’s started making videos a decade after many other people. While many would say not to compare myself to other people, especially to where they are now, the amount of high quality content available at this point is something I think about often, and how that content affects my channel. Learning how to make high quality content seems even more imperative at this point because of everything currently available. I also often wonder where I could have been had I started when other people were starting.
This is another place where blogging and vlogging differ for me. I have major concerns (which I think is the right word) about making video content that don’t translate at all to my blog content. I’m certainly looking to learn and grow in both places, but in a production sense writing is easier because I have been doing it longer. Questions about quality are certainly still rattling around my head with respect to both content forms, but I have less of a question about actually being able to produce written content (besides the continuing quest for topics to write about).
I think the questioning of my own abilities also cuts more deeply with video content because I feel a deeper connection to other video content. Aside from consuming my fair share of YouTube content, I’ve always been interested in and loved movies and film, and YouTube seems to be my way to connect with this from a content creation standpoint. I also have the desire for people to see the best thing possible, and differentiating between the best thing ever and the best that I can do is never an easy task for me (thanks to my perfectionist tendencies). This feeling has seemed to oscillate between video and written content for me, though, and I’m curious as to whether that correlates to the consistency or volume of what I’m making at any given time. Creating more often certainly creates the need to focus more on getting the content made than on constantly worrying about what’s good or what I can or can’t do.
Hopefully there was some connection between thoughts there, or maybe this was a continuing preliminary foray into an informal, conversational style. I do expect to be back tomorrow with a (reasonably) more thought out topic, so stay tuned for that.