Leave imperfections, tolerate incompleteness.
I often remove up to a third of my points so that commentators could make those points. If all that’s left to say in a comment is “nice post” you’ve failed!
Last week on Lid‘s guest post (What Public Relations 1.0 Teaches Us About Business Blogging), Deb mentioned in the comments that we shouldn’t write perfect posts, because that leaves commentators no room to say anything. I agreed and said that although it didn’t feel right to deliberately leave things out, it was the right thing to do:
If people leave comments like â€œI have nothing else to sayâ€ you overshot the mark. Leave spaces for people to jump in. Be deliberately incomplete. It feels wrong when you do it, but itâ€™s oh-so-right in the final outcome!
I don’t know who said that “It’s not the notes you play, it’s the notes you don’t play.” I’m not even a big jazz fan, but that idea has always resonated with me, because restraint and blank spaces in any art are the key. Creativity is channeled and made into a more powerful flow by constraints (note to self: write about this more, too).
If you say everything there is to say in a blog post, well, there’s nothing left to be said, is there? You left nothing for your commentators. Oops.
So how do you do this? Plan for it. Instead of writing everything out as you’re used to, just jot down the main points you want to make. Then go back and take some out. If you can still make a decent post out of it, go for it. It still has to hold together on its own even if nobody else jumps into the blank spaces you left for them.
Another possible way is by careful word choice. I just did it right there: were you thinking there must be other possible ways besides the one I’m mentioning? That plants the seeds in the minds of your readers that sprouts and compels them to comment. The word “possible” (and “impossible” too) gets people to thinking.
It’s not the notes you play… it’s the notes you don’t play.
photo by Polifemus