Monday, 28 November 2011

Misc Monday: Post Planning

Those of you who read my blog regularly may have noticed the utterly random schmozzle that I call blog posts. Whilst gluing together words to make sentences with some meaning, I started to wonder how so many of you manage to write such fun, succinct, informative and unabashedly honest posts and reviews.
     Normally, I'll come home from work and after counting off the days until the weekend I'll remember that I should try and stick to my blogging promise of at least one post every 2 days. What follows is a frantic dash to try and write a readable post in between watching various cartoons and unmissable TV.
     I've read a great many reviews during my long stalker hours and I really hope that the bloggers who write such reviews have spent a long, long time on them. If not, I think I need to reevaluate my commitment to this blogging business.
    As with everything I do, my intentions are always good. I fully intend to read books objectively and write super professional and unbiased reviews. Somehow, in between the reading and the review, my emotions get involved and what comes out is usually a list of all the things that irked me about a book. There are so many bloggers who can dislike a book and yet convey their dislike in a logical and a unemotional way. This doesn't seem to be my forte.
     After many hours of dissecting the reasons behind my apparent lack of professionalism, I've come up with these explanations:

1. I am not a professional critic: Nor do I intend or claim to be. I read books and write how I feel about them. Once upon a time, I analyzed books as part of a subject at school and it ruined many classic books for me forever. Until someone decides to pay me a full time salary to read and write book reviews, I maintain that I can be as unprofessional as I like.

2. I like reading negative reviews: Good reviews are fantastic, but let's face it, negative reviews make us laugh. I find that I learn so much more from a negative review than I do from a positive one, simply because when people don't like something, they tend to be much more passionate and colourful in the choice of language and depiction. Super professional reviews don't have the same pizazz for me.

3. Time is of the essence: I like to procrastinate. It's taken me almost two hours to get this far in the blog post because I've been looking at FB, Goodreads, NaNoWriMo and doing various other things to waste time. Before I discovered the dot point review system, it would takes me ages to finish a book review because I was so busy trying to write a Pulitzer prize winning essay. This is not effective time management.

4. We don't need no education: There have been times in these last few months when I've felt as if reading and blogging have been part time jobs on top of the full time one I already have. This is a big no no for me. I don't ever want reading to be a chore like school was for me, so if I have to give up professionalism for fun, then so be it.

5. Supply and demand:  Sometimes, I see all the review books and requests that other bloggers get and feel a bit envious. These times, I wonder if I too could be reaping the ARC rewards if I put a little more effort into my reviews and posts...then I look at my TBR pile.

How about you guys? Do you ever struggle to write professional sounding reviews? Do you put off writing reviews because you don't think you can say what you want to without sounding like you're ripping into a book? Please tell me I'm not the only one!


  1. YES! With NaNo going on, I've been recently attempting to write out reviews to post up next month and they just SUCK. I waited too long between reading them and writing the review. And one of them was a NetGalley book that expired, so I'm having to tap into my memory. The thing is, I'm usually talking in generics more than negatives. The way I write it can sometimes sound like I barely read the book.

    One thing I started to do (which helped a little bit this month) was while I was reading the book, I would write down my feelings about it up to certain points. One book that I'm currently reading, I wrote down the words "powerful and raw" because that's how I felt at the time. This way when it comes time to write the review, I remember how I felt then and can explain it better in the review as to why.

  2. Erm...I don't really do professional. I enjoy playing with words and formats, and I find it easier to motivate myself to write reviews if I can keep things interesting. Routine and I do NOT mesh well.

    That being said, regardless of format, I do attempt to keep my reviews focused on the book/story rather than the WRITER. I think this is really important. I may have serious issues with a STORY but that does not mean I think the writer sucks.

    Now that I'm finished NaNo, I'm trying a new system - I spend Monday mornings (my late start day at work) pulling together review "skeletons" - blurbs, links, images - and jot down a point-style list of things I want to mention in the review (likes and dislikes) so that when I get home from work during the week and I'm exhausted, the "hard part" of the review is done.

    I probably SHOULD plan more in advance, but at the moment, I generally only think a week or so ahead. I *try* to avoid reviewing all the same genre in any given week, and I generally hit books in a first-come-first-reviewed fashion, but it's still open to my whim and mood.

    Finally - to conclude my novel of a comment; apparently NaNo opened the floodgates of blabbing - a review is just an opinion. A "profesional" review is just a more formal opinion. So long as you provide reasons for your opinion, your review is valid. :)

  3. LOL! I think you know I could care less about being professional. I write what I felt whether it's good or bad. Plus the mean reviews ARE so much more fun. ;)

  4. Jessica: I'm really behind in my reviews too and you're right, it's hard to remember all the vital details. I've started taking notes as well but that's starting to get into homework territory!

    BJ: For the most part, I try and keep my reviews based on plot as well. But sometimes, though I never say so, I wonder what some writer's are thinking when they create such awfully weak heroines. Good on you for winning NaNoWriMo! I'm still 10,000 words behind and my chances of catching up are slim. Still, it's been a good learning experience.

    Jenny: That's why I love your reviews :) I want to hear what a blogger really thought, not a bunch of words which sound great but actually equate to nothing.

  5. I know I do! My problem is that I feel like I am always repeating myself. A lot of times I really enjoy a book, but I don't know how to say exactly how. Yea the characters were great and yea the writing was good. But you can only say that so much. So what else? It takes me a long time to write some reviews just because I simply want to say Great book! lol

  6. Michelle: Same. I feel like I repeat myself all the time when I write glowing reviews and I hate it because it feels like I'm not doing justice to the book. On the other hand, negative reviews are so easy to tailor.

  7. I just write my opinion on a book, trying not to be a total douche about why I didn't like it with the most exuberance possible. When you don't like a book, you have to defend your position, but do it in a non-defensive way, or you'll get reamed by someone. It sucks.

    Since you're not a professional reviewer, then you don't have to write professional-type reviews! You can say whatever you want about the books you read, so that's liberating, isn't it?

    If all you want to do is write a list of what things didn't work for you, then you should just do that. It's a perfectly legit way to write a review, and I always appreciate when people do that. I want to know if I'll be reading something I shouldn't waste my time on.

  8. Professional sounding reviews? LOL I gave up on that a long time ago! x) When I first started blogging, I thought that bloggers had to be professional and informative about everything, so I tried to write my reviews like that.

    But then I realized that those weren't really the kinds of reviews I liked to READ; I liked the fun, colourful, and passionate ones best! Not the extremely negative and author-bashing ones (some of them are fun to read, but others are so mean that they make me cringe because I keep wondering, "What if that was my book?"), but the easy to read & fun ones. The ones that make you smile and want to read it, or not want to read it depending on the circumstances. And that's how I like to talk, so that's kind of how I write my reviews! :)

    But writing reviews is so much harder than I would've ever thought from reading them LOL! Sometimes it takes me HOURS to get my thoughts into words, and even then I'm not satisfied! x)

    Another awesome post, Lan! I love it!

  9. Hey, I like your reviews and think you're doing a great job! I'm a horrible procrastinator too, and in fact should be working on catching up on my reviews instead of bloghopping! *L*

    We aren't professionals, so don't have to write professionally. So long as we're honest, it's all good! :)

  10. I think I will begin this by saying: YES YES YES!!! I think if you have recently read my page you will see all the missed deadlines for reviews. (I have been reading the same book for the past like 3 weeks...not normal for me but I tell myself that I need to focus on my homework and if I'm reading I can be doing homework so I end up doing neither..ha) I will admit, I do my posts in something like 30 minutes (I hope it doesn't show) I just take all the thoughts in my head and spit them out and hope it sounds okay. If it doesn't, I usually don't care because, like you said, this is supposed to be fun and not a job, and I refuse to make it like one.

  11. Do my reviews sound professional? I don't think so, after all I only started writing reviews this year. I have to strongly agree with BJ. When I write a review it is about the story, not the author. I don't spend a large amount of time on them either. I finish a book, write a review, read over it making corrections here or there, then post it. If I don't I will start to tear it a part and it will never see the light of day.

    Other posts are inspired from opinions I want to express. I have always wanted to share my views, and hear others. To me it is something that makes the world better. I do it about entertainment mostly. That is why my blog is Books'n Stuff, lots of stuff floats around.

    As for NaNo, I am at the fail line, again! My motivation for the story ran away, and was replaced by finishing an old short story that never found an ending.

    I always enjoy your posts, reviews, or opinions, and I love me some discussions!

    Beth ^_^

  12. To me the best reviews are not necessarily the most "professional", but rather the most useable. By useable, I mean I can read it in less than 10 minutes and feel informed about the book and whether or not I might like it. The most important thing is to be able to convey WHY you did or didn't like a book, as specifically as possible. If you're doing that, you can be as professional or unprofessional as you like and I'll still read your reviews.

  13. I totally know what you mean. And honestly, sometimes if I REALLY hate a book, I won't review it at all. Not because I mind being honest about my opinions, but I do like to find at least one or two things (however small) that I liked. And if I can't even find those, I figure the book's not worth the time it would take to review it.

    Generally, I don't think we need to worry about sounding professional in our blogs, because everyone reading them knows blogs are mostly about opinion--good or bad. I do think it's good not to totally trash a book or an author, but if I don't like a book very much, I think its totally okay to say that however I want to.

  14. #3 is a problem for me too - there are just too many distracting things to check on before I end up actually starting to write the post I planned.

  15. I sometimes get so jealous/frustrated over other bloggers. Then I just have to remind myself: I'm here to do MY thing. People who love my blog are going to love it for that reason. :)

    And oy, time. I need SO much more of that.

    Molli at Once Upon a Prologue

  16. Hey Lan,
    I feel you. I always try to keep it positive on my blog yet add some little irks at the end, but there are times when a book just doesn't do it for me. Sometimes it's even a book everybody and their mama seemed to love LOL! Usually, I'll still do the review just try to focus on the positive. (I'm not the fastest reader, so usually I'll review whatever book I've read). But I only post once or at the most twice a week. I look around at the other blogs that are posting daily, and I'm like, "HOW is that possible???" I think they must just have those posts already drafted or something. Anyway, what I'm saying is I have a hard time to sometimes. Staying nice yet telling the truth, but I do try :)
    Hope you're having a great one!!
    Ninja Girl

  17. I feel like I've been away for so long. Darn computers and viruses.

    So reading some of the others comments I have to agree I feel like I just start repeating my self over and over again. (Maybe, that's why I haven't been able to write reviews lately) Even if I dislike a book I try really hard to be nice about what I say and overall just say that just because I didn't like it others probably will.

    On the professional part of the question I'd say that blogs are mainly just our own opinions about things so we should be able to write however we want.

  18. Your post really hits close to home as I have contemplated this issue before, the whole professional vs. unprofessional review thing. I think the thing we both have to realize is that everyone's reviews -- even the so-called "professional" ones -- are only opinions. "Professional" reviews are written more formally, I suppose, but in the end, are still just opinions. So I don't think there's really such thing as a professional critic in the "whose opinion counts?" sense.

    I have also thought about, "Well, if I write emotionally, and it happens to be a negative review, what if publishers don't want to give me ARCs or galleys anymore?!" After much thinking, I realized, "Who cares?!" It's not like they can STOP me from reading their books. Sure, I can't read it before it's published, but is that really that important? I guess that is a personal preference and I won't judge anyone who enjoys reading books before they are officially released (there is that certain thrill one gets from knowing they're getting the story before anyone else), but for me, personally, I just want to read, and I also want to share my opinion, so I'm just going to do what comes naturally!

    I agree, negative reviews are more fun to read, but I've read many positive reviews that are hilarious as well! I think it just comes down to being passionate about books and a deep desire to share your opinion! :)


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