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Noises From My Thinkybits, Part the Onthe

I think part of the problem facing LiveJournal is there's a certain unapproachability in the "giant, blank screen" format. Yesterday I started trying to compose a long-form thought in Twitter, which is madness at 140 characters a pop, but a certain sort of inevitable considering how relatively low-overhead posting to Twitter is. Not a lot of choices to make: no mood, no title, no avatar, no tags... just toss down 140 characters and go.

But, y'know, screw that. I miss long-form thoughts. I miss reading them, I miss writing them. I miss having them, for crying out loud. I feel like I need a mental defragmentation, a return to having deeper thoughts that require more effort and more commitment. My mind is fractured and my thoughts are scattered, simultaneously over-stimulated but craving true engagement. Twitter is not a cause of this phenomenon, it's a symptom. I come not to bag on Twitter, Twitter's great for what it is. I come instead to bag on myself for eating mental candy all day instead of actually using the writerly mind I was gifted with and spent so many long, hard years cultivating.

So! Let us dust the cobwebs off the ol' brainpan, shall we? I hereby give myself the assignment to do more story writing, more long-form blog posting, and more doing some real thinking instead of just reacting to stimuli. Since you have to quantify these things for them to actually mean something, I'm going to call this three substantial pieces per week, where a "substantial piece" is defined by 200+ words on the topic at hand. These pieces may be blog posts (such as this one), work on stories (there are a few upcoming anthologies that have tickled my fancy), or whatever else suits.

If there's anything you would care to read from me, by all means let me know, I'm always fishing for ideas. In the meantime, I have a few topics in mind for upcoming noises from my thinkybits, including...

  • Suburban Jungle Status Report: My thoughts on the new comic a few issues in

  • Searching for Buried Treasure: What good, if any, can be salvaged from the wreckage of D&D 4E now that it's safely behind us?

  • Convention plans for the upcoming months

  • Fandom in the post-forums age: where is community to be found?

  • Citations from the sexy police!


...Okay, I might not do that last one.

Seriously, tho, what do you think, reader? Is the long-form dead, or just pining for the fjords?

-The Gneech

EDIT: Add "LiveJournal Has a Tumblr Problem" to my list of things to write about.

Comments

( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
AxiomAxiom
Nov. 18th, 2014 04:33 pm (UTC)
I miss LJ too. I had one for ten years. Hundreds of entries. But now it's gone. I love Twitter, but long-form has its joys. --Axiom
the_gneech
Nov. 18th, 2014 04:51 pm (UTC)
Long-form seems like it would suit you well in your more "wax poetic" sorts of moods. :) Twitter, on the other hand, is the perfect medium for bon mots.

-TG
skyshear
Nov. 18th, 2014 05:41 pm (UTC)
Funny that you bring this up, because I've been having similar problems lately.

I don't think that longform is necessarily dead, just maybe taking a nap for a little while. This I think is because right now we're in a society that thrives on at-the-moment information and thoughts. We get snippets of information from twitter and the news. We condense massive articles into small wikipedia pages for easy reading. All this encourages the short attention span that we see a lot these days. It encourages us (Yes, even us writers) to put our thoughts and ideas down in these short little bits and pieces because of the perception of who the heck's going to have the patience to read all of it? Do we even have patience for writing some long winded response in the first place? Putting together a long response for something takes a certain amount of effort that I think we're just not used to doing throughout our usual hectic, daily lives.

Twitter isn't the cause, but it IS encouraging the symptom and making it worse. Case in point, this is probably the longest response I've made to something you've ever said. Only because we usually talk through twitter. ;)

Though I'm right there in the same boat with you, and I'll probably try to challenge myself too.

Also, WHOO! SEXY POLICE! Now with more sexy and less police!
sirfox
Nov. 18th, 2014 06:12 pm (UTC)
On times when i've really had some complex thoughts to hammer out, even LJ's character limit ran dry for me, and i had to make part 2/3 whatever.

That said, i comment here about a zillion times more often than i post. Most of my posts have gone towards the slightly more active G+. (boy that's saying something)

SJ/RoughHousing : you had mentioned some art overhauls, style reworkings in the mix. Would you like to collaborate on a few sketches? I could make some redlining / anatomy suggestions.

Salvaging 4E: most of the helpful mechanics made it into 5e. This leaves modules/maps, which can be translated easily enough, and perhaps the 4e magic item trove can be a bucket of suggested powers/abilities to transfer over into the 5e system. The 5e items i've seen so far are oddly specific in their abilities. I'm looking forward to the 5e DM guide to see their chapter on magic items.
the_gneech
Nov. 18th, 2014 06:59 pm (UTC)
the_gneech
Nov. 18th, 2014 06:49 pm (UTC)
A comment from SlypenSlyde, posted elsewhere and copied here w/ permission:

It's kind of funny because answering this has to be done long-form. I'm actually having the same problems with it that I always have with long-form posts.

First, long-form posts take me a lot of time. I'm 15m into this one and on my third draft, having already produced 4 pages of text. They take a lot of time because the larger length justifies more editing effort. I don't want to just vomit my thoughts out, I want to make sure they matter. But for the kinds of things I don't want to discuss on Twitter because of nuance, properly forming a post with that nuance is exponentially hard and I often give up 4 hours in on my 5th or 6th draft. Even more often, by the time I feel like I've properly organized my thoughts and produced a nice post, its length is ridiculous or so much time has passed no one's interested in the conversation anymore. Further, there's almost always no follow-up. There are several reasons, chief among them that there's no universal commenting system and, even if there were, responses to long-form writing tend to require long-form thoughts. I'm very, very averse to creating new accounts on new websites now.

Twitter offers some trades. I can boil my essay down to the outlined points and deliver them when I know the people I want to engage with are online. Maybe of my 3 major points only 1 is interesting. I'll know this immediately becasue it will be the one people respond to. I already know I have an audience because I already know who is online and I likely had the thoughts because people are discussing the topic. Or I can judge that, since no one's responding, my ideas are falling flat and weren't as cool as I thought. I can give up before getting too far in, and if I shift gears most people won't even know I started a longer thought within 10m.

The trades aren't even. Outlined points don't have as much emotional impact as a well-written story. It's easier for shorter thoughts to carry unintended meanings. Conversations on Twitter fizzle quickly and never really go very deep. I don't think it's better. What I do like is I can throw out that one seed of an idea to Twitter and maybe inspire someone else to write about it. Because these days anything that takes more than 20m is likely to die to my crippling quality control.

This very short post took me 45m. That's a lot of work. I would've made the following tweets instead if it didn't feel like spam:

"Long-form posts take long enough to get right I often lose interest before I'm done editing."

"Unedited long-form posts make me feel dumb, because I often get hit with a really simple rebuttal."

"Twitter's shorter-form posts make missing something obvious feel like it has less penalty."

"Except I tend to get derailed by simple comments on Twitter thoughts."

"I do get better, faster, more reliable interactions on Twitter."

"Those interactions are what I crave when I create anything."

"But I don't really feel like anyone REALLY knows me if they only ever talk to me on Twitter."
jamesbarrett
Nov. 18th, 2014 07:48 pm (UTC)
pining for the fjords. I used to write more myself. Then it felt like no one was listening anymore and I kinda stopped writing anything that didn't engage me so much that it made it to the page. My lj ove the past year or two is full of just those things that made it to the page. All my other thoughts echoed into the silence and were lost. I feel sad now.
laurie_robey
Nov. 19th, 2014 11:31 am (UTC)
No one's going to write your stuff for you, because no one can. It's yours. So if you want to write it, write it. If you want to be read, that's a whole other discussion. Have you tried joining a writing discussion group or meet-up? You thrive on being around other people, so maybe you should find a group on http://www.meetup.com/, even if just for fun. There are all kinds of groups on there, including gaming and writing.

Just a thought that struck me.
kylet
Nov. 18th, 2014 10:23 pm (UTC)
Livejournal is pretty dead. Whether or not Twitter is directly to blame, its existence will make it impossible to resurrect anything else. It's pretty much like Furaffinity--regardless of quality or preference, there's nothing to entice people to move off of where all the lovely, lovely traffic is (people SAY they like Weasyl better, but all my artist friends trying to sell anything say there's not enough traffic for sales). So unless there's some mass-migration off Twitter, it's staying, and I'm pretty sure the migration ain't coming back here--too many outages/crazyRussianpoliticalhackings/etc.

There's admittedly other long-form options out there. Tumblr seems to be the most common one I see, and the format is atrocious so I avoid that, too.

Okay, I'm not being too helpful, but you know my thoughts on Twitter, so...

[edit] Moribundness aside, those are some juicy topics I'd love to see you tackle!

Edited at 2014-11-18 10:27 pm (UTC)
the_gneech
Nov. 18th, 2014 11:13 pm (UTC)
So where do you go for your bloggy fix, if you don't like Tumblr? FA? Individual blogs? Just don't get bloggy fixes?

-TG
c_eagle
Nov. 19th, 2014 07:51 am (UTC)
Point well-taken re Tumblr ... but as one of your other commenters mentioned, it also is a rather annoying format .. (those endless loading pages.. rarrgh!) ... so for other sites there's still the straightforward Wordpress and Blogger/Blogspot... and Dreamwidth..
the_gneech
Nov. 19th, 2014 03:58 pm (UTC)
Those don't have the sense of community, tho, at least as far as I have seen. More like a collection of silos, y'know?

-TG
rowyn
Nov. 19th, 2014 08:29 pm (UTC)
Long form writing is not going anywhere. The basic concept of the "blog post" form is not much different than newspaper articles from centuries ago. It's not new, and it's not dead.

Sadly, the "community of people who write posts" may not make it, though. Early days of LJ were "everybody writes, everybody reads". These days, it feels much more like "a few people write, everybody else just reads". Even Twitter is like that to a degree. People come to be entertained, not to exchange ideas.

But if you want to write long posts about topics in depth, there are plenty of people who'll read it! :)
kylet
Nov. 19th, 2014 03:33 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately I pretty much just don't anymore, period :-( I get what I can out of FA and it's pretty sad.
the_gneech
Nov. 19th, 2014 03:59 pm (UTC)
Go not quietly into that blogless night! Rage, rage, against the dying of the write!

Or something.

-The Gneech
dewhitton
Nov. 18th, 2014 10:56 pm (UTC)
I don't care what you write about as long as you write.

I know *I* should write more than posts about beer. LJ is my only regular fora; I rarely use Twitter or Facebook, and hardly glance at G+.

I don't think the long form post is dead; there are so many Tumbler and Blogspot journals that it's difficult to keep up with people who interest me. Which to me is proof that people want to write.

LJ is the only one with the "Friends" link which makes it easy to read all the blogs I'm interested in.

Edited at 2014-11-18 11:05 pm (UTC)
c_eagle
Nov. 19th, 2014 07:47 am (UTC)
So much well-said stuff! ..... As the other commenters and so many who may only be reading.. I too look forward to the substantial substance in this very medium, yum!
laurie_robey
Nov. 19th, 2014 11:25 am (UTC)
Unfortunately, the rise of social media to the popular status it enjoys now has fragmented the audience even as it's grown exponentially. Facebook and Twitter both, in their attempt to monetize, have destroyed (in the case of Facebook) or are destroying (in the case of Twitter) what made them so popular in the first place. I'm sure they'll be around for a long time, just because once a company gets that big, it takes a long time for it to die, but it has happened before.

So now, you have the newer sites gaining popularity, and I'm sure there will always be people chasing the wave of interest a new site garners. That's an exhausting way to live, though, chasing the crowd. That leads to things like Kim Kardashian's fame and People magazine.

The people who have truly mastered social media, instead of having it master them, seem to be the ones following the "spoke and hub" model to promote something they're passionate about and that other people are also passionate about (e.g., Crush It). They've become known as subject matter experts who use their own blog as the destination for all their long-form content, and use the shorter social media formats to engage their audience members, who then naturally explore the blog because of their interest in the subject matter.

I applaud your desire to stop "eating mental candy all day instead of actually using the writerly mind I was gifted with and spent so many long, hard years cultivating," because I'd hate to see you not explore a talent you so obviously have and enjoy.

This is also the longest piece I've written on social media in quite some time as well. Meaty thoughts and all, you know.
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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