Several of you have written asking me to share some of my ideas and tips about blogging, so here goes.
Observation leads me to believe many bloggers do not know a good sentence from a turnip. If I find myself rewriting someone else’s sentence instead of reading their blog, I quit reading.
Another observation I have made is many people who consider themselves writers do not know how to tell a story. Now, I am not talking about Mark Twain kinda’ storystelling, just the basics.
Writing is difficult—those who would have written “writing is hard”—just proved my point. The task is difficult; the object is hard—eighth grade English class.
If you want to write well, be prepared to work. One of my favorite sayings is “if I had more time I would have written less.”
My overriding rule to myself is not to be redundant. If all I am doing is writing about the same topic as others, or offering the same perspective, I am just wasting air. I go out of my way to be contrarian, and I do so for the same reason.
Just because Word or dictionary.com warns you that the word you just typed is not a word is irrelevant. If it helps tell the story, use it. Also, only people with small minds believe there is only one way to spell each word.
I write conversationally, and I do so purposefully. I find it helpful to use tools—analogies and allegories to tell a story, to set a stage, or to draw in the reader. I use other such devices, but I do not know the names of devices any more than I know participles.
There are those who would guide your writing by telling you to make an outline before you type your first word. Bollocks. I don’t make an outline before I speak to someone, so why would I do so when I write to someone?
Now that I think about it, the last sentence sums up how I write. I write to one person; you, not to an audience. I guess I write this way believing that I will never get the words right enough to please a thousand strangers, but I can probably get them close enough to please one person.
I use the same approach for public speaking—I never use notes, figuring that if I don’t already know the material well enough to speak extemporaneously—I just spelled that correctly; surprised the heck out of me—I ought to let someone else speak. Some people think that is really brave however, others just think I am being lazy.
Getting ideas can be a bit of a bugger. I find the writing comes easier than the ideas. If you have kids, write about what you observe and then try to tie their antics into the story you are telling.
I keep a Word file titled ‘blog ideas.’ I email myself ideas and new words, and jot down things on scraps of paper. Keep a jar of adverbs on your night-stand ‘cause you never know when you may need them. I know the New York Times is written at the level of a ninth grader, but I give my readers credit for being more curious that the average ninth graders.
If you find yourself wanting to slam someone in your blog, slam yourself and figure out how to tie that in to the point you are making. If you slam others, you will lose others.
There are those who would have you believe that your writing must pass the artificial tests prescribed by the politically correct mentalists, and that your writing must wrestle with really big questions–like whether Joyce ever used a semicolon after 1919. I have never had a politically correct moment and do not intend to start any time soon. You can get away with this by using humor, but using humor is even more difficult than knowing what a participle is—sorry for the preposition.
If any of this is helpful, feel free to steal it. If not, thank you for reading.
Like the part about writing to one person…hmmm who will that be today? Better replenish my jar of adjectives too. Blogging is hard for those of us who missed the eighth grade lesson.
Wouldn’t it be great if blogging was in the curriculum back then?