Blogposts are better than essays

Adam Novak
5 min readJan 9, 2023

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I recently finished my final class in college requiring essays. That means I will not have to submit another traditional academic essay for a long time.

Meanwhile, I’ve also gotten more into writing blogposts over the last year. My 2023 new year’s resolution is to write one each week.

My professors would be glad to see that I’m still writing. But I won’t be writing traditional essays like the ones they assigned — I’ll be writing blogposts.

Hold on.

Why am I choosing to write blogposts and not essays?

I have spent most of my life perfecting the academic essay. Introduction. Thesis statement. Body paragraphs. In-text citations. Conclusion. Works cited. Why am I abandoning this for a style I don’t have official training in?

This also made me wonder — why do I generally enjoy reading blogposts but don’t bother to read high school or college essays?

I spent some time thinking and came up with a few reasons why blogposts are better than essays.

1. The content is more interesting

When you write a blogpost, you’re choosing what to write about. When you read a blogpost, you’re choosing what to read. Meanwhile, in high school and college, you often end up writing essays on topics you don’t really care about at a length you don’t have the capacity to write for. A dispassionate writer becomes an uninteresting writer.

2. The writing is more digestible

In a blogpost, you don’t feel the need to prove your intelligence to a professor through overly complex language. That kind of pompous writing is usually used to cover up the fact that you don’t know what you’re talking about. Arguments and ideas end up better communicated in blogposts because the writing is simple and concise.

When I look back at essays I’ve submitted throughout college, I cringe at how smart I try to sound and I sometimes can’t make out what I was trying to say. When I look back at my blogposts, I feel better about myself.

You also end up writing blogposts in a more entertaining way. Professors are forced to read essays, but people choose to read blogposts. In order to keep people engaged, the writing should be more engaging. This aspect is usually left out on the rubric.

3. The structure is more original

With a traditional academic essay, everyone is forced to follow the same mold. Every paragraph is 4–7 sentences, every paper is 4–7 pages. This is not the case with blogposts. There, your unique style can take shape.

What about letting the writer take some creative control?

A paragraph with one sentence.

Or a paragraph with two sentences. Woah.

This would get me at most a B+ on an academic paper.

But it makes for a great blogpost.

Plus, in a blogpost there’s no cumbersome citation requirements. I can simply add a hyperlink to the original source and I’m good to go. Not only are hyperlinks easier to add, they’re also more accessible — a reader is more likely to click on a hyperlink right above their cursor than to dig into the appendix (I’d be curious to see by how much exactly).

4. The results are more tangible

By writing content for a blog, you give it the ability to be discovered.

When you write an essay, you just turn it in to the professor. Maybe, just maybe, you later decide to submit it to a contest (I would guess the rate of this is low).

When you write a blogpost, you publish it on a website or established blog platform. You can then share that link with others and distribute it through social media. Others can stumble across you writing and share it with their friends.

This happened to me last year. I wrote a long blogpost on my experience living at a Buddhist monastery and shared it through LinkedIn. My friend Nathan read the blogpost and was so inspired that one year later he sat a 10-day silent meditation course.

Aug 21, 2021
May 17, 2022

If I had just wrote an essay on the experience and turned it in, I would have gotten an A, but Nathan wouldn’t have had this life changing experience.

Importantly, none of these advantages of blogposts mean that they are of less substance. There are plenty of essays which are cringe or inaccurate and plenty of blogposts which are logically & factually sound. Writing about things you’re more interested in with less structure and less jargon doesn’t mean it’s less credible. It could actually mean the opposite.

So it begs the question. Why are students still mainly writing traditional essays? Sure, it’s still worthwhile to learn that writing style—it’s useful for certain contexts, especially academic ones. But does every literature, social science, and liberal arts class need to follow this mold?

Why don’t professors have students write blogposts instead of essays?

Ultimately, the only way to know what’s best is to experiment and see what happens. Professors should see for themselves if blogposts really are better than essays.

Case Studies for Reference

I have taken several classes at USC where the students have the option to produce a creative project instead of writing a final essay. Many students take the creative option, and what they produce seems more impressive than an essay they would have otherwise written. When people have more freedom over what they create, and when they know it can go into their portfolio — whether an artistic portfolio or their blog — they seem to care more.

Take the pottery students analogy. Two groups of students practice pottery for 100 days. Students in Group A work on perfecting one single piece. Students in Group B create a new piece each and every day. By the end of the 100 days, who has created the best piece of pottery? The students in Group B do. It turns out that you become a better artist by producing in increments than obsessing over perfection.

If we apply this logic to writing, we should make students write more, smaller pieces, not just write the perfect essay a few times a semester. Over the course of a semester, you would probably become a better writer by writing one blog post each week (a total of 16 blogposts) than if you wrote one formal essay per month (a total of 4 essays)—the usual classroom requirements.

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Adam Novak

Monastic Living | Language Learning | Responsible Technology