Saturday, July 30, 2005

blogs and writing skills

What writing skills are needed to be a good blogger?

It depends on the type of blog, goal and purpose of blog, audience of blog, and personality of blogger.

Personal blogs typically need a very casual, intimate, and friendly tone of voice.

A business blog generally needs to be more formal, objective, and serious in tone.

But perhaps we could formulate some basic blog writing requirements that apply to most blogs.

12 Vital Writing Skills
for Bloggers:

1. Brevity: ability to write briefly, succinctly, not verbose, not too wordy, not beating around the bush, but: getting right to the point.

On target. Communicates with economy of verbage. Quickly. Efficiently.

Clarity: write exactly what you mean, with words, definitions, and references your readers will understand, trust as credible, and be already familiar with.

Be as simple as possible, unless there's a good reason to use veiled speech.

Convoluted or otherwise deliberately garbled or over-intentionalized messages have a use. As in metaphysical whisper-transmissions that would be dangerous for average people to flippantly or casually mis-apply, if this message were rendered directly, or more literally.

Be sure to explain any words or concepts you think some readers, especially of other languages, might not understand well.

Honesty: be true to your self, don't pretend to be something you're not, say exactly what you really think, not what you think others will want to hear.

Fast Readability: write so your stressed-out, rushed readers, users in a hurry, fans with other things to do today, can quickly get the facts and opinions you want to convey...

...with appropriate heads, subheads, listed items, bold, italics, colored type, spacing between paragraphs, short paragraphing.

Personality: write in your own authentic style, write like you talk, write like you think, use all your individualistic mannerisms and catch-phrases.

Quote your own slogans and slang.

Just relax and let your distinct tastes and experiences flow forth autocratically and idiosyncratically.

Spontaneity: let your writing flow naturally, without censoring or suppressing, rush like a river, gushing out of you non-stop, not worring about anything, feeling every word ooze out like toothpaste...

then go get a cup of coffee, come back, and look at it...

start revising, adding, deleting, consolidating, referencing, footnoting, asterisking, listing, numbering, separating, paragraphing, subheading, clarifying, expanding, contracting, hyperlinking.

Authority: when you state a known fact, a firm belief, an opinion, an idea, be sure to present it powerfully. Not timidly. Not apologetically, unless it's in sarcastic self-effacement (one-downing).

Provide valid credentials, training, range of experience, references, etc. to support your position.

Variety: try jazzing things up, doing the unexpected, be mysterious.

Maybe produce a series of comical posts to lighten things up while remaining in your general topic area.

Post photos and art. Try drawing and captioning a cartoon.

Do an audioblog, podcast, videoblog.

Explain RSS, how to select or switch a blog template, or your experience with Internet 2 to your audience.

Ask your readers for their insights and opinions. Do you regularly encourage feedback? Or do you just assume that simply having a Contact page is sufficient?

Select a topic that's obscure or difficult, or do research on a question you've had, hunt for oddities, seek the bizarre.

Shock and amuse, don't just blabber on and on about the same old crap all the time.

Controversy: be brave and tackle some topic that people are arguing heatedly about, or come up with your own topic that you think will stir up some debate.

Rock the boat, defy the status quo, be contrarian, rise up out of the mainstream.

Concentrate on a neglected aspect of a thing, and make a big fuss about it.

Challenge the accepted viewpoints and prevailing trends.

Philosophy: sprinkle deeply pondered phenomenonological insights, or epistemological questions into your posts.

Take something more seriously than average people do.

Radically and unflinchingly question the very roots of your industry, hobby, or profession, think of things others have not covered sufficiently.

Ask "Why?" and "What For" and "Who Says?" and "Why Not?"

Creativity: try to present things in a unique and unusual way, experiment with poetry or a scholarly style, play with extremes, read other fine literature and learn new techniques, improve your descriptive writing or your emotional responsiveness.

Read classic poetry, drama, and novels. Let the literary giants influence you, incorporate aspects of their styles. Or create a style that's a reaction against a style you wish to parody or condemn.

Tenacity: hang in there, no matter what.

Keep writing, don't give up, don't let flamers or trolls make you upset. Stay positive and dedicated to continual improvement.

Focus more on your progress as a thinker and writer, than on who is pleased and who is not pleased with your blog.

Forget audience numbers and grind away at perfection and completeness, however you define them for your blog.

Do your best in the writing of your blog, and sooner or later, quality readers will discover it...and gradually will become loyal and commenting fans of it.

[signed] Vaspers the Grate aka Steven Streight

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