Negative/Positive Balance in a Blog - CycleBlaze

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Negative/Positive Balance in a Blog

Steve Miller/Grampies

In writing a blog, one could tell and call everything as you see it. That could include calling out rotten, ugly things, or mentioning it when you feel crabby or discouraged. And on the other hand, when things seem totally wonderful, you could burble away about it.

Another approach is to not burden readers with your complaints, or problems, and to basically limit the reportage to an optimistic, positive point of view.

For technical completeness, if you happen to be a pessimistic person, or are travelling through really crappy places, you could produce a rather, or even very negative report all the time.

If a writer - how do you prefer to play it?

If a reader - how do you prefer to read it?

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1 month ago
marilyn swettTo Steve Miller/Grampies

I don't mind reading about everything in a journal - good and bad, and as a writer I put both into the text. That's just life on the road and some days are tough, but then you have these wonderful days!

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1 month ago
Suzanne GibsonTo Steve Miller/Grampies

I try to keep in mind that I am writing the journal for myself, if others enjoy it all the better. Of course it's not that simple - I am influenced by the fact that others are reading what I write. So I do leave out some of the petty and unkind thoughts that cross my mind in trying situations. Bitching is not the same as making critical observations. On the other hand if the going is rough and you have just about had it, I find honesty is more interesting than a Pollyana text. Maybe the keyword for me is authenticity. So I guess it's a fine line between cranky, subjective comments out of frustration (which get tiring) and an honest commentary on how you feel (which enlivens the narrative).

 I have no  idea if I answered your question. 

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1 month ago
John PescatoreTo Steve Miller/Grampies

As a journal reader, I like to read the same as I like to write. That means mostly not writing about negative people, negative road signs, bad service, crappy rooms, etc.  

The internet and social media have learned that the best clickbait is negativity - one "shocked face emoji" gets 3x the clicks of one "like." But, in my real life I'd say positive experience runs more than 10x negative experience on trips - I'd rather over-emphasize that ratio vs. highlight the nasty negative nattering nabobs I do run into.

One (kinda) exception: I always include, and love reading about, bike problems and  failures! I'm kinda fascinated how many moving parts there are on our bikes and how rarely something really goes wrong - always fun to describe and read! I'm always impressed by the workarounds touring cyclists come up with....

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1 month ago
Bob DistelbergTo Steve Miller/Grampies

As a reader, I definitely prefer a journal where the author keeps it real, sharing both the good and the bad. For one very practical reason, some of that bad stuff is useful for somebody else following that same route, things like bad shoulders, rumble strips, nasty drivers, dogs, unpleasant accommodations, etc. For another practical reason, some of those journal readers may not be bike tourists now, but are considering it. You don't want them thinking that every aspect of every trip is all sunshine and gentle downhills. 

I think Susanne hit it when she used the word authenticity. The best journals let you know how the author really feels on both good days and bad days. I love it when I've followed a journal and at the end I feel like I really know the person, even though we've never met in person, and probably never will.

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1 month ago
John EganTo Steve Miller/Grampies

It is the rare bicycle tour that does not have both good and bad.
Some days are simply magical.
And other days are utterly horrendous.
That is the nature of the beast we call "touring".

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1 month ago
Gregory GarceauTo Steve Miller/Grampies

After a quick review of all my journals, I've come to the conclusion that they have the perfect balance between negativity and positivity.  I have to believe most of us feel that way about our journal pages, otherwise we wouldn't have written them the way we did.

I can see how others might view my journals as being predominantly positive though.  That's partly because bike tours themselves are predominantly positive experiences.

Here's another thing: when I'm sitting in front of my laptop or notebook at the end of even the most miserable day of cycling, safe and comfortable, with beer in hand, all those troubles are forgiven.  They just don't seem all that miserable anymore.  I have happier, funner (sic) thoughts on my mind, so I tend to downplay my in-the-moment hatred toward the busy highways, steep hills, narrow shoulders, deep potholes, drenching rains, nutso humidity, etc.  (That admission certainly casts doubt on my authenticity.)  Every bike tourist in the world has experienced those things--often to a much higher degree--so I'd rather not make a big deal about them.

And to me, things like hard mattresses, uneven tent sites, bad motel breakfasts, overcooked hamburgers, rude & unhelpful service providers, and cold showers aren't even worth mentioning.  They're all part of what I signed up for.

No doubt, if I were to take a closer look at my journals, I'd find exceptions to almost everything I just wrote.  One time I really ripped into an entire town just for the 30-minute experience I had there.  It wasn't fair, and I've felt bad about it ever since.  (Though not bad enough to remove it from my journal.)  I'd also find that I've gone overboard on headwinds and bugs.  Sorry, but those things deserve every word of negativity I can muster for them. 

From a reader's perspective, I don't care if a journal is mostly negative or mostly positive, as long as it's interesting, well written, and it entertains me.

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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Steve Miller/Grampies

I don’t consciously write to give a full, rounded description of places we’re traveling through, so I’m not really trying to show the good, the bad and the ugly.  I’d say that I write primarily to reflect our experience, good or bad; and since I’m incorrigibly optimistic and since as Greg wisely observed bike touring is an inherently positive and rewarding way of seeing the world, I think our journals are generally upbeat.  It doesn’t hurt either that Team Anderson is extraordinarily lucky - somehow we seem to keep staying healthy and getting the best weather around, and when things aren’t going our way we have the mindset, resources and flexibility to change plans on the fly pretty easily.

I think one big factor here too is what you choose to focus on.  The world is both a beautiful place and an ugly one at the same time, pretty much wherever you go.  People are willing and eager to help, or people are crap.  Roadsides have trash, but the farms and houses behind them have unique character and beauty that reflects their occupants and local culture.   The terrain is plain, but the lighting and the sky are riveting.  I think by nature I focus on one and not the other, and that’s what captures my attention enough to take a photo or write about it.

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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Gregory Garceau

And trees.  You go entirely too far overboard on your distain for view blockers.  Other than that I think your journals are pretty perfect and a delight to read.  You might try adding a touch of humor here and there to liven things up though.

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1 month ago
Mike AylingTo Steve Miller/Grampies

Only a reader atm. I agree with everything already posted on this thread. All the current journals that I am reading are well balanced.

There was a journal of a tour in Europe some time ago by afaicr an American writer who complained non stop through his trip. I read to the end hoping for an attitude change but it did not appear.

I no longer follow that author.

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1 month ago