Why Blogs are the Brain of the World or, the Story of Write to Done

By Mary Jaksch

When you start a blog, it can seem as if you are a tiny island in the vast ocean of the Internet. But you soon realize that you are part of a interactive network and lively community.

Why blogs are the brain of the world
NeuronsIf you think about the network that blogs form, and imagine a graphic representation, you can see something familiar. Because each blog with its connections looks like a neuron in the brain with its many synapses. Each ‘thought’ or post in this ‘ueberbrain’ triggers other neurons and results in a new ‘thought’.

Write to Done has grown into big blog because many people have inspired each other to make it happen. It’s an illustration of a blog as a brain. Here’s the story of WTD:

Write to Done was started by Leo Babauta on the 9th of January, 2008. His first post How to Write Without Distractions contains this memorable quote:

Writing is a fairly lonely business unless you invite people in to watch you do it, which is often distracting and then you have to ask them to leave. – Marc Lawrence

 

Luckily all of us here at WTD are writers so we can keep company – without distracting each other.

I was very excited when I saw that Leo had started a writers’ blog. I must have been one of the very first subscribers of WTD.

Soon afterwards I offered Leo a guest post. When he said ‘yes’, I ran around in tight circles, screaming so loudly that the neighbors rang up. At that time, my blog GoodlifeZEN still had less than 100 subscribers, so it was a great opportunity for me to have Juicy Writing: 5 Ways to Glue Readers to the Page published.

Leo went through a very busy patch in June and July of 2008 and I started lending him a hand at WTD. In the end we agreed to share Write to Done, and I subsequently took up the position of Chief Editor. You can read the story of how that happened in my article Why Leo Gave Me His Blog At the time Write to Done had 4,500 subscribers.

One of the most interesting experiments I undertook as a new Chief Editor was to interview Liz Strauss: The Secret of Being a Successful and Outstanding Writer

We devised a great way to do the interview by approximating a face-to-face conversation by email. I sent her one question at a time, she would answer. Then we would sent follow-up remarks and questions back and forth, until it was time for the next question. It was a time-intensive way to conduct an interview, but it created a rare human depth.

While Write to Done grew at a steady pace, Leo’s central blog Zen Habits experienced a meteoric rise.

Here are two posts that show up why Leo is one of the most experienced and successful bloggers worldwide:
The Anatomy of a Post: How to Get Blog Readers to Play Attention and Concise Answers to Your Top Beginner Blogging Questions

Working shoulder to shoulder with Leo at Write to Done gave me an amazing chance to learn from a master blogger. I began to dream about creating an opportunity where other keen bloggers could also learn from Leo.

In October of 2009 the dream became reality. Leo and I launched our first A-List Blogging Bootcamp. It rocked! Many of the participants were Write to Done subscribers. Quite a few have since written guest posts for Write to Done.

Talking about guest posts, I recently got an email from a new guest poster, saying: “Write to Done is a fantastic place to land a guest post because you take the time to train inexperienced bloggers.” It’s true, I enjoy coaching rookies on how to become confident and successful guest posters. Recently I replied to a new guest poster like this:

“Sure – I’m always happy to look at a guest post. Let’s think of this as a training opportunity. The first thing you need to learn is how to sharpen your pitch. Now, let’s pretend you’ve never written to me. Write me a good pitch – make sure you include a couple of links to your best posts, and a guest post or two so that I can see your style. Also, add the four following steps…”

After four weeks the end result was a very successful guest post.

I love the Write to Done community! Comments are supportive and friendly. There’s no bitching or ranting. Everyone is upbeat and helpful.

Write to Done is now hovering on the edge of 16,000 subscribers.

We are celebrating this new milestone with a makeover. It’s a family affair: Eric Hamm has kindly given us a copy of his beautiful Frugal theme with the Zen Habits skin. Leo created the mnmalst header.

It’s time for thanks. I’d like to thank Leo for believing in me, and for being a great partner and friend. My heartfelt thanks also to our many great guest writer. And to you – our wonderful readers – I’m grateful for your loyal support. You make Write to Done the inspiring place it is.

All of us together make Write to Done a part of the brain of the world.

Mary Jaksch is Editor-in-Chief at WritetoDone.com and Creator of A-List Blogging. After creating two super-successful blogs of her own, Mary has dedicated herself to teaching students to grow profitable blogs that attract attention. Take her fun quiz to see how much you know about what makes a blog successful.

Do you want to become an outstanding blogger? We’ll show you how. Join the most comprehensive training for bloggers on the Net, the A-List Blogger Club. Click below to find out more:

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24 Responses to “Why Blogs are the Brain of the World or, the Story of Write to Done”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Karol Gajda says:

    I don’t have anything of consequence to add, but I just wanted to say thank you Mary. I’ve been reading WTD for about a year now and it has been a great go-to when I have a writing question.

  2. TessG says:

    Many congratulations on this new milestone, what a great creative space this is.
    I love what you say about the blog as brain. My “brain” has met up with other “brains” both in the virtual and real worlds – I’ve met some wonderful people I would never otherwise have come across.
    Think I might borrow your analogy when trying to describe this strange activity to my non-bloggie friends who wonder what on earth I’m doing!

  3. Carey says:

    Congrats!

    WTD is one of my favourite blogs on writing.

    Although i hardly comment on the blog i simply adore each and every post here.

    Thanks and keep up the great work!

  4. I love that analogy of blogs as a brain (tho’ some parts of the brain are a bit demented :))

    Your post and WTD’s steady growth reminds me of a recent post by Pat Flynn on quantity vs. quality in blogging. WTD definitely focuses on quality over quantity, and, as a reader, I appreciate that. I think WTD’s steady growth reflects the development of true fans, so I anticipate WTD will be around for a long time. Keep up the good work!

  5. Who says writers are all bitchy and ego-centric! Good to see we’re not all loners – and we can actually build a community.

  6. Nice story of such wonderful growth… keep up the good work.

    Blogs as the world’s brain? Still puzzling over that one. Nice thought tho’

  7. Write More says:

    I like the web/brain analogy. The neurons hooking up in different directions and making connections that were not obvious at first.

    Thank you for your work on this blog. I always enjoy reading your posts.

    Tammi Kibler

  8. Samar says:

    What’s interesting to me is the detailed replies you give on the posts. As someone who’s on maternity leave from freelancing, I’ve been digging into the archives of blogs I like to read.

    Write to Done has some excellent posts. I especially liked “The Perfect Pitch: How to Land a Gig or Job Every Time”. Not only does the article have useful information, but your replies to comments are full of advice too.

    Since I’ve been looking into guest blogging to keep up with my writing, the post was really helpful. And even though it’s an old post from 2008, I’ve bookmarked it to go over again.

    Congratulations on the new theme!

  9. Ciawy says:

    Congratulations Mary and Leo on this milestone. Each milestone is worth celebrating. Thank you so much for writing great advice and I’m learning a whole lot from all your posts.

  10. CoachBarrie says:

    Mary,

    It’s so great to have this valuable writing resource right at my fingertips. Thank you for mentoring writers and providing useful and provocative information that challenges us to be better writers. You are certainly an inspiration to this new blogger!

    Barrie

  11. Doug Armey says:

    Mary & Leo:
    Thanks for all the great input at WTD an A-List Bloggers Club. Your help is invaluable. And all of the moderators and others who answer questions on the forum are terrific. It has been worth every $. Wow, this sounds like a plug. I guess it is.

    Doug

  12. Lisa says:

    Mary, congratulations to you and to Leo. The A-List Blogging Bootcamp was the best ever and I’ve been devoted follower of Write To Done ever since.

  13. Congratulations to Leo and Mary for having such a fabulous blog on writing and giving so many writers, including myself, a place to share our own insights on the craft we so love.

  14. Hulbert says:

    Hi Mary, I like your analogy with the brain neurons. Each thought triggers another thought to happen just like how neurons work in the brain. As for the result of the guest post, I’m not sure if really took four weeks, but it was definitely longer than I expected. I’m really glad to have connected with you as I see you not only an expert in blogging, but as a person who’s passionate about helping others succeed. Thank you Mary for your wonderful inspiration.

  15. Wishing you lots of sucess in all your joint ventures to come, Mary! Allowing me to guest post here at Write to Done connected me to a wonderful network, and I’m very grateful. The new theme’s brilliant. Eric’s Frugal works really well here.

  16. Interesting point you make about brains – and by one of those strange coincidences ties in directly with something in a book I was just reading:

    “I liken Web 2.0 to the workings of the billions of neurons in the brain. Neurons have the amazing ability to gather and transmit elec- trochemical signals and pass messages to each other. This is not unlike the deep-linking architecture of Web 2.0. The 112.8 million blogs and their participants, the hundreds of social bookmarking sites and their users, the dozens of social networking sites and their millions of members, and the numerous authority sites are intercon- nected in an intricate lacework of branches resembling the treelike projections of a neuron, called dendrites. When a thought enters the brain, it causes a cascade of electrochemical signals in the neural net- work that are transmitted through the dendrites to other neurons at lightning speed. Likewise, when information is strategically placed into the Web 2.0 architecture such as a blog, for instance, that infor- mation gets transmitted throughout the intricate sharing, trading, and collaborating network of Web 2.0 at an astounding speed.”
    It’s from A book called “Web Copy That Sells” by Maria Velosa

  17. I totally agree, blogs do function like a brain in that, there’s a huge network that interact together. You read one blog and then you find a great link to the next and to the next and so on. Congratulations on the work well done here at Write to Done! It’s an inspiration for us all.

  18. Patrick says:

    Have you ever read any of the World Brain essay series by HG Wells? He was talking about this splendid idea 70+ years ago! It’s amazing to see science fact and philosophy of the past working it’s way into our world! I can’t help but smile!

    Thanks WTD. :)

    http://www.rockhopperdigital.com/reading-list/reading-list-world-brain-the-idea-of-a-permanent-world-encyclopaedia/

  19. Bjorn says:

    Write to Done has been instrumental in kindling my passion to write again. Though not a journalism graduate, I became a writer because I have a passion to do it. I am grateful to have stumbled upon this blog. This site really helps me in a big way.

    To Leo and Mary, Congrats!

  20. Amos Keppler says:

    Your analogy of blogging and the brain is great and undoubtedly correct, even though there are many different brains out there, fortunately.

  21. I’d agree with all this and would just like to add that not many editors would go to the effort to nurture writers like you do Mary. I’ve been lucky enough to benefit from your editing tips and the time you spent working with me to polish my WTD guest post was special. Thank you and a huge congratulations too. Glad to see all your hard work and professionalism have paid off. 16K subscribers speaks for itself really. Well done!

  22. half says:

    This blog bring some very intresting points, thanks for passing thes infor to us

  23. Marci says:

    Thank you for sharing the story of the evolution of the WTD blog. This is the first blog on writing that I’ve found to be very useful and compelling to read.

    I like thinking of blogging as a community of writers. It does make it seem much less lonely. Writing in this medium is much different than writing my thesis!

  24. dee young says:

    It’s good to know we’re not alone out there. I look forward to sharing.