Why I allow comments. And why you should too.
When I first started blogging almost 5 (!) years ago, I listened to the advice of other bloggers and kept my “allow comments” button turned off. I was told that I would get swallowed up in reading the comments, get irritated by the ones I didn’t agree with, not be able to sleep because of people that poked fun or found typos, and so on. “Reading/responding to comments can be a full time job,” it was said, “and blogging is already a pretty big time suck!”
Then, one day, I just realized that concept didn’t make sense to me. This blog, especially, is not about pushing content. It’s about conversational content. It’s about hearing from you, whether you agree or not, and continuing the conversation so that it fulfills my mission statement: to amplify the conversation about theater.
See, think about it this way . . . if two people are talking about theater at a party, a few people might overhear them and want to join in. If ten people are talking about theater, then even more people will join in. And if twenty people are talking . . . and so on and so on. And the more people talking, the more people going. Simple.
So, I switched them back on. And, because I’ve got the smartest readers on the planet, the comments are awesome.
And then, something really cool happened.
I learned . . . a lot . . . from reading them. I realized what subjects you liked. And what you didn’t. I learned what data you needed, and what you didn’t. Simply put . . . I learned how to write better blogs. And I’m learning every day and with every comment.
Which is why I believe all writers out there should “accept comments”, not just blog writers but playwrights and screenwriters, and Wikipedia article writers. When you finish a draft, get lots and lots of friends to read it. Get lots and lots of enemies to read it. Frankly, I’m thinking about starting a website called YouReadMineAndIllReadYours.com which would be a quid pro quo site that guarantees you a read and comments as long as you return the favor.
And it’s not just writers. Theaters, Box Offices, Restaurants, Airlines, etc. should all not only accept comments, they should encourage them. Don’t just put out a suggestion box, beg your customers to fill it.
All feedback is great. As long as you a have thick skin and know how to filter, because no, you not only don’t have to modify what you do based on every comment/note, you shouldn’t. At the end of the day, it’s your blog/play/whatever, and you have to write what you want to write the way you want to write it. (A filtering tip I use is that if I hear the same comment three times, I know I’ve got an issue that I need to look at.)
So thicken up your skin, and turn your comments on no matter what you write. There are very few artists out there that are good enough to succeed without feedback.
And frankly, they’d be even better if they got some.
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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.