Blogging: How to Release Your Inner Writer
Writing, like any other skill can be learned. It requires practice to achieve proficiency. While many of us are taught in school that to write well you must follow a set of rules, the reality is that writing requires practice. Tell your writing demons to be quiet since the secret to being a better blogger is to write more blog blog posts.
Here are thirteen tips to help guide your writing process to make you a better blogger.
- Exercise your writing muscles. Writing is a habit just like exercising. You need to do it everyday. Not only your blog and other work related content, but also morning pages as recommended by Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones, and Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way. This means putting down on paper whatever comes into your mind for a half hour to an hour every morning. (Note: This helps more than your writing.)
- Read extensively (and not just other blogs). Just as eating a healthy diet contributes to your wellbeing, reading influences your writing and blogging. It’s often better to read different types of books, especially the classics, and articles than the kind you write. This helps you not to channel your favorite blogger but rather to develop your own voice. If you want to challenge yourself, check out this list of the great books (or the original list from St. John’s College.)
- Capture interesting thoughts when you have them. No matter how good your memory, the reality is you won’t remember them later. Put them down when you have them. Use whatever tool works best for you whether it’s a small pocket notebook, a tickler file on your computer or phone or special software like Evernote.
- Brainstorm ideas for future posts. Help program your mind to start working on posts by taking time either alone or with others to come up with a list of working topics and titles. This way you get your mind thinking about them while you’re doing other things.
- Take lots of photographs. It’s not just Pinterest and Instagram that run on images. Having a camera with you helps you learn how to frame ideas. It’s also useful to capture information, whether it’s your scribbles or a whiteboard.
- Listen to The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’s author Stephen Covey and begin with the end in mind. Know what you’re looking to accomplish with your blog. Have an overarching goal as well as specific goals for each post. (Here’s how Stephen Covey’s habits apply to blogging.)
- Write your headline first. Headlines are difficult to craft. By starting with one, it subconsciously gets you on track. Then revise and polish it after you’ve finished your post.
- Organize your thoughts. Outline your information and ideas to provide structure for your post. Unlike junior high school English it doesn’t need to have every point carefully placed with a Roman numeral. Rather use a format that works for you whether it’s a list of points or a mind map or a series of images. Plan how your piece will flow from one point to the next.
- Start writing where the energy of your piece is. Now that you’re no longer in school, you don’t need to start your posts at the beginning. Put down the thoughts that are most powerful for you first. If you need to you can restructure the post after you finish writing.
- Take a break from your writing. Get out from behind your computer. Part of the reason many people get their best ideas while they’re in the shower is that it gives their mind time to work.
- Edit, edit, edit. Words don‘t flow onto the page or screen in finished form for most writers. It takes multiple iterations and changes to create a strong piece of writing.
- Have an outside copyeditor. Accept that it’s difficult to see errors in your own work. If you can’t afford to hire a professional, have someone who has good grammar and spelling check your posts. What makes sense to you, may not be clear to others. Posting poor writing turns off potential readers.
- Get feedback from other writers and bloggers. Hillary Clinton had it right, “It takes a village.” Writers need support from their peers. If you don’t know any other bloggers, try finding a Meetup. Also, take advantage of #BlogChat run by Mack Collier on Sunday evenings at 8:00pm Central Time.
When it comes to improving your writing, there’s no silver bullet. You need to keep showing up at the page and writing.
What’s your favorite trick to help improve your writing and blogging?
Here are some recommended articles you may find of interest:
- How to ensure writing inspiration strikes.
- How to create a writer’s voice
- Want writing ideas? Try 12 Attention Getting Back-to-School topics.
Photo credit: John Althouse Cohen via Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/johncohen/55582632/