A couple of days ago, I read this fabulous article “How To Think Like A Writer“. It was one of those wonderful articles that you need to read more than one and each time, it makes you think deeper about the topic. I heartedly recommend that you read the article. There are great points and elaborations on the points made.
A summary of the points appears here:
- Study the greats.
- Observe everything.
- Write from your own truth.
- Make writing your top priority.
- Find your creative inspiration, wherever it may be.
- Know what you’re getting yourself into.
- Find space for solitude.
- Psychoanalyze yourself.
- Take it one day, or sentence, at a time.
- Compete against only yourself.
- Just do it.
- And do it with joy.
I can’t argue with any of the points or the explanations in the article. I think that all bloggers need to read and think about these things. If they made great writers great, they can certainly make a blogger better. As we know though, blogging is a different media and some of the rules of the game are different. To the list above, I would add the following for those who write to blog.
Thanks, Carolyn Coles, Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
- Write for today.
You’re not writing the next great bestseller. Particularly if you’re blogging about technology, things change almost daily so you can’t wait to “get it right”. Get it down and out reflecting your thoughts of the day. Give yourself license to change you mind and change the blog post tomorrow if you find that things have changed.
- Make your writing manageable.
You’re not writing the next great novel or a research report. You’ve chosen a single topic on which to focus – focus on it and get to the point. A rule of thumb says that you’ll lose readers if your post is more than two screens in length. If you need more room than that, consider writing two posts.
- If appropriate, include a visual.
If blog readers like it short, they also like a visual or two to break up the reading. If you’re an educational blogger, consider student work. If not, how about some creative commons content? Or pictures you’ve taken yourself? Or a screen capture? Or insert a video?
- Think ahead.
You’re always thinking, right? Why not have a document on your computer (or in the cloud) of ideas that you’d like to write about someday. Maybe an idea hit you while you’re watching your kids play baseball. Or you’re walking the dog. Or, you’re in the middle of writing a post and you’ve already thought of a followup. I have a document in Evernote just filled of ideas that I think might be a good post for “someday”. It sure beats sitting down and writing from scratch.
- Blog regularly.
One thing that you’ll find about blog readers is that they’ll come to recognize your writing patterns and look forward to them. Commit, via your blog, to posting weekly or bi-weekly or whatever your routine will be so that your followers know when to expect your next masterpiece.
The great authors mentioned in the original article didn’t have the advantage of Twitter, RSS, Google +, Facebook, eMail or any of the electronic social tools that we have. They had to go the tradition route through a publisher. You can make the world know that you’ve written something the instant that you publish it.
- Celebrate comments.
The currency of the blogger is the comment. Celebrate when someone leaves a comment. Let the author know that they’re appreciated by responding to their comment. The love/love relationship fuels the blog and further interactions.
- Be interesting, be yourself.
You’re a unique person. Therefore your blog should be as interesting and unique as you are. The blogging world would be pretty darn boring if every blogger wrote the same way.
- Provide value to your readers.
We do live in an “instant” world. For the most part, visitors to your blog aren’t recreational readers! They’re there because reading your blog enrichens their life or their profession. You’re blogging for a reason – why wouldn’t that reason be to help others by sharing your thoughts or experiences?
- Read other blogs!
You’re an honest person – you’re not out to steal content. (You could reblog their post if you wanted to…) Instead, read some of the great bloggers on the web. I think that you’ll find that they have their own unique style; their blog has a unique look; they use graphics with a consistent level of appearance; they build their own audience. There’s also nothing wrong with using the content from another blogger as a launchpad for a post of your own. Agree and extend their premise. Disagree (politely of course) with their premise and explain why your insights are better. Your own blog will get better and gain respect because of it.
- Just be you
You’re who you are. You have your values, likes, ideas, opinions, … Why wouldn’t you leverage your blog to tell the world just who you are?
Bottom line – learn from the greats and make your online presence your own. Your blog will become a labour of passion and you’ll become increasingly creative and reflective. You can’t do much better than that.