Posted in Of Bloggingly

Of Writing and Pictures

This blog post is more of a question, than a musing. I just want to know, from the writers out there – do you ever feel adding images takes something away from your writing? As in, does adding images to your blog post often shift the focus of your blog post from the writing itself?

I’ve written a couple of posts on this before, usually concluding what the rest of the internet agrees on – images help draw people in, as any average person browsing the internet would be more drawn towards the image, and possibly read the text that comes with it, than be intrigued by the text alone. Which should be fine, as long the written experience dominates the visual one.

I’m only talking about those of us who primarily blog to write, and not to promote a product, or some visual output of their own, such as photographs, drawings etc. Many bloggers do add pictures they’ve made themselves, without it being, intentionally, “artistic”. It is often just to prove a point, or discuss that picture in detail, but, if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, these are not the things I’ve been talking about.

You see, I’m old-fashioned in some ways, and old habits die hard. I was taught in school to start with a ‘sixer’ in my writing (This is cricket terminology. A sixer, or a six, is just a very good thing.) and more or less, depend on my opening lines to get people interested. I’m a cranky old person now, and a part of me still can’t let go of the feeling that an inviting opening paragraph should be enough.

I recently changed my blog design theme. Mainly because I was bored of my old one, and because this new one satisfied the stationery-loving geek in me. In my last blog post, Of Making Lists, I even added a number of pictures, and not my usual, singular, opening one, just to see if it makes the blog post a more pleasurable reading experience. But, as I always fear, the pictures bettered the writing, which can only mean two things: a) the writing wasn’t as good or b) the pictures were too good.

It is humbling, you know. I am not visually gifted, but I am drawn to something visually appealing as much as the next, non-artistic person. Some of you might know about my preference for cartoons, if I can find a good, royalty-free one to go with my blog posts. But, I don’t want my writing to be competing with it! It should support, enhance, not out-do.

My blog has evolved a lot in the last two years. I could be doing a number of things to make it better, and bring in a larger readership if I was more dedicated, but I’m proud of the fact that I’ve been prolific for so long. I write, on an average, two blog posts a week. And the writing is the main thing for me, you know. It is everything. It’s why I live, the purpose of my existence. I’d rather let it be my main thing, and earn my audience here because of it, than just provide some pretty pictures I had nothing to do with.

For that blog post, I did tell myself, “People should be reading it for what I’ve written! They wouldn’t ask for pictures if this was a book, or even a newspaper column.” But, I immediately had an ego check and told myself, “Then why don’t you put it in a book, Virginia Woolf?” To which, there is no answer, of course. All likes, comments, follows and whatnot are appreciated. Thank you very much.

So, writers, I ask again, what do you do if images interfere with your writing, if at all?

Related Posts:

Of Images and Words

Of Blogging and Pictures


Writer, Blogger, Kate Bush Fanatic

24 thoughts on “Of Writing and Pictures

  1. I struggle with the imagery thing. A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post that I was so proud of. I literally spent almost all day on it. I opened up the trusty notepad and drew up a bullet point of sub-topics I wanted to make sure to hit. I then fleshed that out with talking points for each sub-topic. Then, that evening after thinking about it through the day I went back over, made sure I still agreed with the flow of the post.. I then spent 6 hours fleshing it out, reading, editing, re-reading, and even read it to a friend before I posted it. This was the hardest I’ve worked on a post in my short time on WordPress trying to be an actual blogger.

    When I was scanning through it, despite the fact that I did chop up the post into different sections with different headers – I did think about how it looked like a wall of text and that this day people don’t want to actually invest in reading, they want to have their thoughts in short easy to digest dosses. (Yes there are some of us that will still actually read and think if the content itself is compelling, but I fear we’re a dying breed).

    A lot of the feedback I got on the Daily Post community pool was that I should have made the blog a series because it was too long, or I should have added pictures to make it more interesting. Of course, I did get plenty of comments about how powerful, insightful and great the content was.. But I’ll admit the commentary on it not being appealing hurt a bit, after how much work I spent.

    So now, I do try to add some pictures in… It does make the blog more visually appealing… But.. idk, part of me wishes I didn’t have to fancy stuff up to “trick” people into reading my content.

    1. That is exactly how I feel! And while The Daily Post is a great platform to discover and be discovered, as well as get advice, most of the advice I get is ‘write less, use easier words and add multiple pictures’. I just think it’s not possible to do that all the time, because you do have a certain style for the things you write, and if you had to go by that mould, you’d hardly put up anything! I’ve managed to be prolific these two years because I’ve taken risks with what I publish here, instead of trying to make more universally appealing content. I do have a handful of readers who have grown accustomed to my style, and I’m really grateful for that. I’m open to evolution and experimentation, but also protective of some things I won’t change!

      I’d ask you to wait to find readers who will be open to your content. It took me a while to find consistent readers myself, despite posting consistently. But, there are readers out there who are interested in ‘reading’ and don’t care for images or length.

      1. This is true, I really should just be true to my instincts and write for myself and not others. I know that should always be your goal – but I’d be remiss not to say that I want to share my thoughts with people. I want to know there are people in this world who like or enjoy what I have to say. Makes someone like me feel a little less alone and un-anchored in the world. Though admittedly I can’t achieve that by “selling out” so to say. I suppose it all boils down to the fact that I just haven’t found my niche – and I’m not sure I ever will. Though, I have only been bopping around here about 2 months. Prior to here I was on LJ for several years, but it wasn’t what I’d call a blog, so much as a “dear diary” thing for me. You see all these advice tips on wordpress about finding your niche and appealing to that audience, whether it be personal posts, poetry, fiction, social commentary, fashion, etc. And I’ve never been one to plop myself into one category – which I’m sure you’d see if you browsed my small library…. So… I don’t know, at this point I’m just babbling, lol. Sorry!

      2. No, not at all! I think it’s perfectly all right to not have found a niche, and to want to write for others. I have experienced both, and though it means inconsistency in readership, what matters is that you write at all. As I said, give it time, write about what excites you instead of what you think you should, read blogs that you find intriguing, and I’m sure your blogging community will grow! I wrote a post a while back accumulating all the advice I’ve to offer based on my experience. Here’s a link if you think that it might help you somehow:

  2. Being a ‘visual’ blogger as you noted above, and writing about the emotional pull of a photograph I found this a very interesting post. So I’ll bypass my regular blogs since they fit in to that distinction and focus on the handful of fictional stories I have written. The first two were photo challenges from a fellow blogger, so I had that ‘crutch’ to be able to use to support the writing. For my fiction series I did a few weeks ago, I seriously thought about not having any sort of imagery whatsoever. I suspected that if I did that, I would be free to write something that for me was unique. After I wrote the first part, I thought, you know, maybe I should just include a photo of the inscription in the book. Not because I felt the story called for a visual element, but just because I thought people might like to see it. Using your suggestion, I added photos of the book itself but I did not feel like it was a visual aid to the writing. I considered them separately. In my mind a visual element may help draw people in to WANT to read however. Say you are in the book store looking at a table of new books. If books were purely based on the back cover blurbs, I doubt people would buy many books. Instead, stores face the covers out, and book publishers have clearly learned how to find interesting images to help them sell books. With E-readers it is of course different, but with physical books the visual helps. As to blogging, I follow a lot of them, and I will say that an image of some sort enhances, or at least makes me want to investigate further. Its probably not fair, but when some bloggers have nothing to grab my attention in the Reader to draw me in, I may pass it by for a post that has a cartoon, or a photo, or an illustration. I think we have generally speaking become an age that requires visual stimulation to go with the act of reading.

    1. That is so true. Whether it is ‘right’, is perhaps not something to be judged. Even a 200, or 150 years ago, bookshops looked rather plain, with mainly clothbound, or leather hardbacks, in muted colours. There were colourful, illustrated books, but the cost of production made them rarer fare. There’s no denying the power of a colourful, memorable book cover, given by the number of coffee table books that are available on book covers in history! Much like an album cover, whose importance I won’t ever argue with, book covers play a role in the consumption and appreciation of a book that can’t be denied. But, and only if, it is done well. Only if it enhances, and supports the book, and doesn’t make a promise it can’t deliver, or distracts from the actual content. I’ve come across so many contemporary books (and blog posts) that fit that description. An image sticks much more strongly that even the most well-written words, and can take away from the writing. I’ve sometimes felt embarrassed to read books I enjoyed publicly because of the cover! My point is, it’s not as easy as it seems. There are some people who do it well, but it does take time. And, I’m afraid I shall sound snobby, taste.

      I definitely think the pictures helped with the story you wrote. I requested the pictures because I have seen that Modern Library edition before, but in a grey cover. It was satisfying to see a green cover one! I discovered this book that has pictures of inscriptions in it. Would you be interested in it? I’ll find out the name then.

      1. Definitely interested in the inscriptions book, thank you! Thats a really great point about the way books used to be before ‘marketing’. There are some publishers here who really seem to do this pairing well, and i fall in love with the cover at the store before I even decide if I want to read it! Like everything else its an evolution and as you say, it does not always work! I’m glad you made that suggestion and it was different for you. Maybe they made it green because it was Irish! I’ve also read a few books where I feel compelled to cover it up as much as possible!

  3. I set it up so my profile pic will accompany blog posts when I share it, if I don’t have anything set.

    I love taking pictures of the sky, so this week, I set a ‘feature image’, that will show with my post, but isn’t actually IN the post.

    1. Ah, so like a featured image? Does that show up on the Reader? I’ve never really done that,even though it would have gone quite well with my previous blog theme.

      I love taking pictures of the sky too!

      1. If you set a featured image, that’s what will show up with the shared link.

        And if you go to WordPress Setting-> WP Admin -> Settings -> General
        and set your Blog Picture/Icon (upper right), that will show up if you don’t set anything else for the blog.

  4. This is a good topic to discuss! I guess I’ll share what I see in my own Reader. I follow some blogs that do post a lot of eye-catching pictures to go with their posts. And these blogs tend to get 100+ likes. Sometimes, there isn’t even any words to follow the picture. It’s just a picture. And they’ll still get 100+ likes. (Even if it’s questionable as to where they got the picture from. Copyright issues and all that jazz. I usually go with Pixabay or I just use my own pictures. This way I don’t have to worry about someone coming at me for stealing their picture.) And then I follow some which are more like your own blog, that may use a picture or two but also have real substance to the words in their post. And I really enjoy blogs that are like that. But I do realize that it is easier and quicker to like a post if it is just a picture instead of spending 5-10 minutes reading a blog post. I think with sites like Twitter and Instagram, people are becoming conditioned to receiving information in faster ways, and may not have the patience to spend more than a few seconds on any particular post or site. Anyways, that’s just my two cents. 🙂 Just keep doing what you are doing. I certainly enjoy it!

    1. Hey Tamara, sorry I’ve been really sloppy with replying to comments lately, mostly because I’ve been so tired and busy the past couple of weeks! I’m even writing this to share my Backstreet resurgence with the only music non-snob I can think of in this situation! Just wanted to tell you, thank you. I’ve been checking myself from singing along and dancing along too loudly, because people around actually know the words and roll their eyes and look at me weirdly! But, am discovering their music with adult eyes, and have made a few observations that might even make it into a post! But, let’s leave all that analysis aside, and let me thank you for this “Backstreet’s Back!” phase right now! Two questions – favourite track now and favourite track back in the height of the mania?

      I completely understand that the instagram aesthetic definitely has carried over here lately. It was different two years ago when I started because there were blogs that were popular but weren’t so visual. Personally, as a reader, sure I like a brief piece that WORKS. Otherwise, the same rules for reading books and newspapers apply – if it’s intriguing, I’ll read it. All of it. I might not leave likes and comments because I may even be too engrossed with what I’m reading. If there is a “sixer” somewhere, in the title or the opening lines, and it is well-written, then I will keep up. When I started, I did not want to add pictures at all. Especially, if I did not take them. But, some blog posts became ‘pictorial’, i.e., I needed pictures to make a point, and so I started doing it. I do enjoy it, trying to find a copyright-free visual that fits with what I have to say, but it hurts if it overshadows what I have to say. And its not the readership I covet either. Sure, it would be nice to have viral posts, 5000+ followers, 100+ likes etc. But, if it doesn’t happen for what I’m here for, what’s the point? I don’t need that validation, especially when it’s not something I made!

      I guess I’m reiterating what I wrote in the post anyway lol. But, when I get feedback like this, I feel like paring down on the visual, or to stop writing here altogether, because what’s the point. Am glad to have readers like you though, who don’t care either way.

      1. I like your blog because you cover a lot of diverse topics. It’s never the same old, same old. And O.M.G. (prepare for fangirl moment) I would FREAK OUT if you did a post on the Backstreet Boys or just one on music from the ’90s. I’ve tinkered with the idea of posting music videos of some of my favorite artists with some snazzy title to go with it, but I always fear that no one would like it or they would think I have horrible taste in music. Ha ha!
        Favorite Backstreet Boys song from my youth and still my favorite from them is “I Want It That Way.” I know it’s one of their top songs, but I have such good memories attached to it. I remember getting home from school the day the song was released and waiting and waiting and waiting for it to play on the radio (no YouTube back then!). But I also like one of their lesser known songs called “That’s What She Said.” I think it was on their second album. I always thought it was a pretty song. And I am writing you a book here, but it is so great to know you are a fellow Backstreet Boys fan!

      2. I was definitely crazy about the Backstreet Boys back in the day! I remember once when “Quit Playing Games” was played on a request show on Channel V on Friday night. I knew there would be a repeat on Monday morning, and I knew I would be back from school because we were going to get our report cards that day. Which we did, and I promptly got a scolding from my parents, but all I could think about was watching the video afterwards, which I did! Kids today just don’t know what it was like in those days!

        I think you should definitely post videos of songs you like, though in my experience, people don’t really click on videos all that much here on WordPress. I’d share more too, if they did. I hope to include BSB in an essay discussing an element of women’s appreciation of pop music and culture in general, which has been an issue for a long time, and there are people who are doing something about it, so that people like you and me don’t feel embarrassed to tell people we love BSB! Do you know about the “Backstreet’s Back” sequence in the Seth Rogen film ‘This is the End’ where BSB did a cameo?

      3. I am going to have to check out this movie now! Especially if BSB make an appearance!

  5. I’m like you. I don’t actually like adding a picture to my posts but if you want readers you have to do it, or so they say. To keep the images from overshadowing my writing I use a lot of stock photos which they say is a no-no, but I’m no photographer, and this is the compromise.

    But then I started thinking about personal branding and eventually having a product to sell, so I am enlisting my photographer girlfriend to help out. To keep the images from drawing more attention than the writing, I will be making each one black and white and putting a colored overlay over them or something like that with the post title on top. I feel like putting words over the picture makes it clear that what I do is write and that the purpose of the image is to share my words.

    So yeah, I hate adding images, but if I have to do it, I’ll do it in a way that requires the least amount of work from me. Then I can focus on what I am good a—or trying to be good at—the writing 🙂

    P.S. I love your new theme, it’s cute 🙂

    1. Thank you, Lisa! I think you do your images really well, and they definitely add to your writing, and enhance it. Your blog theme also makes it a reader-friendly experience, so I don’t think you have much to worry about!

  6. I’m at the risk of sounding like a real prick, but shouldn’t your goal be to get the best picture that you can and then to add really good writing to it so that the writing just outdoes the picture anyway? That’s the goal, at least it should be. I know it isn’t that easy, but there’s this age old cliche about aiming for the moon.. blah, blah, blah…. You can’t afford to box yourself in. It is at this point that you need a bit of a paradigm shift: You are not a writer, you are a blogger. A part of blogging is the visual appeal of your blogroll, not so? You have to be more than just a writer. Pictures add a dimension to the blog post, especially if the picture is relevant (I think?). These are just thoughts, fundamental principles that I hope to follow. You can’t always be perfect, but you should at least have some picture of what you think is perfect is then you know what you are aiming for… Then you can strategise around it and as you hit and miss your ideal target you can rethink your strategy and hopefully set up a path to “continuous improvement”.

    1. Thank you for your comment! I thought about it a lot, and it ended up inspiring my post for today! I agree with what you said, and I understand where you’re coming from. Many of the social media personalities that I have enjoyed in the past have gone by these exact principles, so I’m not going to deny the fact that these provide an entertaining experience for the audience. But, I know myself, and I know the limitations of my abilities, and there are just some things I can’t do. I like to believe I am a writer, and only a writer, and I won’t waver from that whatever I do. Whatever new platforms emerge where I can share my writing. Sure, I won’t be against any other media, like an image or a video, that would enhance my writing. But, the writing comes first and last and everything in between, whether it’s good or bad. I started my blog to write, and I hope to keep it that way.

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