Reply to Readers’ Comments

I no longer remember which of my colleagues at Live to Write – Write to Live first advised me to reply to readers’ comments, but it’s been great advice, so I’m passing it on.

Here’s why:

  1. It’s easy to send stories out into the world; it’s harder to know if they ever get read, and harder still to know if they hit home. When a reader comments, it’s like an out-of-the-park homer. Replying is simply cheering for the home team.
  2. When a reader’s comments offer me a new perspective, I thank them for widening my world-view. I live a somewhat solitary life, and I appreciate other’s opinions, life experiences and wisdom.
  3. When a reader reveals uncertainty about their writing, I reply with encouragement. I know both how easy it is to become discouraged and how important kinds words can be. Everyone has stories to tell; not everyone has the courage or wherewithal to write them down, let alone send them out into the world. Everyone benefits from kindness.
  4. Humans are a narrative species. We need stories. Stories are a way to build empathy, trade information, and resolve conflict. I want to do what I can to promote such peaceful behavior.
  5. Sometimes, this somewhat solitary writing life gets lonely, and hearing from readers has led to some on-line friendships. I’ve been in love with letters and intrigued by letter writing since I was a kid, and I like epistolary relationships. I still love snail mail, but email is easier and faster.
  6. Recently, an acquaintance I made through my blog turned into a face-to-face visit. Last week, this reader from England stopped by for coffee. (Read about it here.)

The chance to comment on a blog and reply to a reader’s comment is a gift of the internet. Yes, I received fan mail when my novel, Into the Wilderness, came out. No question, it was terrific. But I write novels slowly; I post blogs about six times a month. The frequency allows me to reach more readers between books, and these readers’ comments sustain me. So replying to comments only makes sense.

Thanks to all who read my posts both here and on Living in Place. This post is a special shout-out to those who respond with a comment.Deborah Lee Luskin

Deborah Lee Luskin is a writer, public speaker and educator who lives in southern Vermont. There are still a few spaces left for the WOMEN WALKING AND WRITING TO WISDOM WALKshop on November 4th. Learn more here.

43 thoughts on “Reply to Readers’ Comments

  1. Thank you Deborah! What lovely tips and all of it rings true for my experience of WordPress in just 12 months…new connections, new insights, widened perspective and warm and encouraging conversations with people from every corner of the world! X

    • Thank you for affirming my statements! You are not alone; many readers are commenting. This reminds me of a chemical principle I learned in tenth grade, although at this far remove, I’m not sure if it was about a super-saturated solution or a temperature differential. It had to do phase changes and adding a seed to a solution (super-saturated, I think). That seed was a catalyst for the phase-change, causing the entire solution to become a solid. I’m not sure if the science is correct, but the metaphor certainly is: It only takes a suggestion (seed) for people to agree. As we’ve seen in politics, the seed can be a bad one, unleashing hate, fear, prejudice and violence, or it can be a good one, urging people to write kind things on one another’s blogs – and start Love Brigades (there’s one in every state), and inspire activism to push back against those who want to tilt the playing field even steeper. Thanks again.

  2. I have come to realize that commenting on blogs and receiving replies from the blogger is as important as sending out a post. Perhaps even more so because it keeps you connected in a direct manner with other bloggers .

    Thank you for sharing this important idea. 🙂

      • Hi NadineMarie – Thanks for this insight. (Please see my response to Paul’s column). You’ve helped me see the ripple effect when readers respond not just to the writer’s post, but also to each other’s comments. Fabulous!

      • Well thank you so much. I’m sometimes astounded at how much I think of my blogger friends…when I’m not even close to a computer. Often when I’m out walking with our black lab, Cody, I’ll think of some point a blogger buddy has made and I’ll mull it over and often feel quite good doing so. Your recent post mentions that sort of relationship. We are close to each other. I’ve had a blogger friend to recently give birth, others have birthdays, get published, don’t get published! We’re all on the same boat.

        Thank you for your kind words. I’m so happy we’ve met.

      • You’re most welcome, Paul! The happiness born out of the meeting/connection is mutual! 🙂

        I was also just having an online conversation earlier with a fellow blogger about how grateful we are for the Internet and the connections and online friendships. As you said, the perspectives and energy that we share linger in our being long after we’ve read a post. I’m the same with you. I often find myself mulling over what I’ve read and feel grateful for the insights and wisdom of other bloggers. Just like what you said. I vow to take this to heart — “commenting on blogs and receiving replies from the blogger is as important as sending out a post.”

        The Internet indeed makes a writer’s solitary life less isolating, and for that, I’m ever grateful! 🙂

        Brightest Blessings to you, Paul! 🙂

    • Hi Paul. Your comment points out something so obvious, yet something I’d overlooked all these years: That commenting is not just between writer and reader, but also between readers (as you’ll see here, where NadineMarie gives you a shout). As someone whose been facilitating literary-based humanities discussions for thirty years, this should have been long-apparent to me. So here’s another example of a reader helping me see more clearly. Thanks.

  3. Blogging has been such an unexpected gift in this writing life. The small circle of people I have had conversations with here on the blog are the only writers I know. Without blogging, I wouldn’t have found my tribe. Thanks for the reminder about commenting, it’s easy to get lazy or just hit the like button in a hurried life. It’s important to hear other writers’ encouragement and advice, and to let them know you hear theirs.

    • I always enjoy hearing from you, Tina. And I’m glad that you’re finding encouragement from your on-line writing community. Keep writing!

  4. Thanks for this! The busier I am, the more I let the writing and responding to comments go by the wayside. When that happens, I miss the feedback, friendship and camaraderie that comes with it. You’ve done a good job of noting all the benefits of keeping that dialogue going.

  5. Sound advice indeed. I’ve found that reader’s comments have sent me trawling through the internet for more understanding and back stories for my posts but it improves my writing and builds relationships. Though I doubt that I’ll rest easy until I once again visit the outback to answer one dear blogging mate’s questions about Afghan cameleers in Australia!

    • Afghan cameleers in Australia? Who knew? You’ve now piqued my interest, so yes, please write this story for all of us!

  6. Thank you Deborah for expressing this post so well. I was advised to become a Blogger by a friend who understood that no one on the other side of world would even know I was a writer and had books ‘out there’ if I did not blog. Hear other voices and ‘connect’ I am grateful for this writers kind of connection page and love to blog and indeed ‘comment’ and be part of the journey of you all. Thank you. I enjoy and connect with what you share Deborah. Thank you. I am a bit unfamiliar with all the technology but was told that http://www.legacyoflimga.com can be accessed if anyone is interested in knowing a bit more about this Australian grandmother, who is writer and blogger, reasonably elderly and passionate.

  7. After reading again some of the comments on your page above I need to say WOW!. Yes learning about WordPress Blogging has literally changed my life. Blogging friends are part of my journey now and because I am a Christian a part of my prayer life also. I have come to care for them all. Each one is special.

  8. I’ve been slack with my blogging lately. Both writing my own and with reading others. Fact is I’ve been distracted by other hobbies but I always intended to come back as writing seems to be a primary desire for me.
    This is an important post because it reaffirms that commenting on a blogger’s post does provide a strong sense of direction for the blogger. Positive and constructive comments will encourage the blogger to continue down the path whereas negative ones may discourage. For some reason many of my blogs haven’t attracted many comments which may have contributed to me spending less effort on it. I often wonder if my posts are too banal. But thank you for this post. I think I needed to read it.

    • I’m glad that you found this post at a good time in your writing life. You say, “I wonder if my posts are too banal.” I wonder if you have any local readers or belong to a writing group or get any feedback so you can learn how to write what you think in ways that spark your audience’s interest. Just an idea . . .Good luck.

  9. I so agree with all you have to say about this. In fact, I tend not to make comments after awhile if the author doesn’t respond to mine. I also have made some awesome friends through social media simply by replying to comments.

    • This is important feedback that I hope others see and heed! And I agree: it’s absolutely cool to have cyber-friends. Thanks for your comment.

  10. I have a blog,and sometimes, I do not know if my story is being read or not. I appreciate your view. it is nice to get some feed back,but I found it important to not base my blog on just reader comments. I have been told,many will read your story, very few like or comment.

    • I agree with you, and think that it’s the scarcity of readers’ comments that makes them so valuable. Thanks for yours.

  11. Great advice. I like how you admit that the writing life is a solitary one, but you don’t let it keep you from engaging with others about your work. I find that comforting, because the internet can be an ugly place. I look forward to reading more of your work!

  12. It’s great to have a blog that guides you so well on how to write. I’ve been writing but there were many facts I was unaware of, but now I can learn a lot.
    I’m still a novice at writing but your words enlighten me. I know it’s a lot to ask, for you to read my blogs but could you read, at least one and comment your veiws. I am surrounded by people who have little knowledge of literature, not that they don’t encourage me, yet criticism and honest reviews from a connoisseur would make my understanding more clear.
    Thank you.
    #Sanguine LuL

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