I’ve come to believe there are genuine differences between a blog, column, an article, and an essay. I’ve only been writing for a few years and before that it was just business letters and before that it was essays for school. Now all I hear about is blog, blog, blog. I’ve read nothing about the differences between them (not that it hasn’t been written). So, I have developed my own rules, as it were, and my own definitions, which I will posit now. NOTE: I invite anyone who writes to weigh in with their thoughts – see end of article for details.
Develop is really too formal a description — it’s more like it’s evolved for me over time as I write them all and decided for myself what the differences were. Following are my thoughts on each. Let’s start with the blog.
When I blog, I follow these general rules. I keep the length between 250 – 500 words. I care less about perfect sentence structure and grammar, though I always spell-check. I like my blogs to be funny, whenever funny is relevant. I use colloquial language. I might even swear, though generally I avoid that given my brand as a parenting writer and radio show host. But, most of all, I have fun. I think blogs should be fun and funny! Blogging isn’t work for me. For examples of my blogs, you could read those in the blog section of BruceSallan.com.
Moving up the food chain, then what is a column? In my opinion, a column is longer, 750 – 1250 words. It has story structure, a beginning, middle, and end. A theme is set up, developed, and paid off. I pay special attention to spelling, grammar, and even have the AP Style book to use as reference, which I’d never consider using for a blog. For my “A Dad’s Point-of-View” weekly columns, I even have an editor who gives me feedback, is anal about correct use of English, and offers me a wonderful sounding board for improvement as well as catching mistakes that otherwise I wouldn’t really care about as much in my blogs. It takes more time and effort to write my columns.
Article (and Essay)
Okay, then what is an article? An article usually involves more research than I might do for either a blog or column, though both of those may also involve research. It’s harder work (which is why I do less of them–lazy guy that I am). It is generally even longer than a column with a range of 1,200 – 2,000+ words. Often there will be sources I will cite as with my “The State of Gender Affairs” article. I take more care and thought. I will put it aside and revisit it, whereas with most of my blogs, I write them in one sitting. Writing an article requires more discipline. I don’t like discipline. Also, since most writing these days goes unpaid, I’d rather not put in that extra diligence without compensation. I think of an article and an essay as more or less the same. An essay, however, may tend to run a bit more scholarly.
I tend to be more proud of my articles/essays, as my internal pride is often measured in relation to the amount of work I’ve put out.
Those are my definitions of a blog, a column, and an article. As already mentioned essays are, to me, pretty much in the same realm as articles. I welcome your thoughts?
Later and elsewhere on Boomer Tech Talk, we will provide tools, tips, and How-To’s on how to set up your own blog or website. The Boomer Tech Talk online magazine is on the StudioPress Genesis Framework. Every web-site requires a structure and, like most things tech, it can be easy or difficult. Stay tuned for BTT’s advice on getting your own blog and/or website going!
My next big writing venture is my (first) book and that will be a whole new set of disciplines, lots more work, and serious research and editorial help/review! We’ll see what lessons that teaches me and I’ll let you know!
Writers – A Challenge, An Opportunity – What do you think? Whether you call yourself a writer, a blogger, a journalist, author, or anything else, what do you think of these definitions? Insomuch as I took advantage of my own article, here, to link/promote and otherwise self-aggrandize myself, I invite YOU to do the same! Please post an example of your own work by posting a link to YOUR writing, in our comment section below. Whether you agree or disagree with my definitions, or whether you think your work is a blog, article, column, or essay, please take advantage of this invitation and share your writing with us and our readers. And, by all means, share your thoughts as well. Please declare what you define your post/link as. If you disagree with my definitions, I’d love to hear! Let’s have some dialogue (ahhh, that means you, too, screenwriters)!