Daily Archives: August 23, 2010
Hello friends! Welcome to the work week. I’ve got a serious case of the Mondays over here. Thankfully, Tuesday is just around the bend, so I’ve got nowhere to go but up ;)
Today’s post is a little off the beaten path from my usual content. Yes, no food or workouts to torture you with ;)
As many of you know, I was a reporter in a former life. I have a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism & Communications and worked full-time as a radio reporter before moving to Toronto.
Photo courtesy Charles Leblanc
During my 5+ years in the world of journalism, I did a lot of writing. A typical day had me writing two versions of five different stories. I wrote for newspapers, magazines, radio and even television. When people ask me how I find the time and motivation to blog, I just tell them that writing is a second nature to me. Even though writing no longer pays my bills, it’s something that I continue to live, breathe, and obsess over on a daily basis.
So today my bloggie friends, I am sharing my top tips to good writing.
Find your hook and lead with it.
Don’t just ramble for days and days, broaching several topics at once. Pick one thing that really stands out and address it in the beginning. Shape the main focus of what you’re writing about and let your readers know what it is!
Write about the things that affect people.
There’s no doubt bloggers love to yammer about themselves, but try to talk about things that affect other people too. Reviewing a brand of sneaker, sharing a recipe, providing motivation tips, these all help people in some way. Find topics that people will relate to. Write about something that will resonate with those other than yourself.
Read anything and everything.
The best way to learn about manipulating language is to soak in as much as you can by reading it. Don’t just read other blogs, take in some newspapers, novels, fiction, non-fiction. Find writers that inspire you, figure out what it is you like, and create a style that’s all your own.
Keep your paragraphs short.
Long blocks of text make my eyes glaze over. Write your 3-5 sentences, then move on.
Don’t give it up all at once.
Contradicts my first point, about giving up your hook at the beginning. But always keep a little back to keep your reader enticed. This can be as small as revealing a secret ingredient at the end of a post, giving a piece of surprise news, or breaking your information up into separate posts.
Using passive voice makes your writing sound long-winded and boring. Active voice is a lot more exciting. Active voice is when your subject is the doer of an action. Passive voice is when the subject undergoes the action. The best example of this is one I used a lot in journalism:
Active: “The government announced a new spending program today.”
Passive: “A new spending program was announced by the government today.”
Split it in two.
Sometimes we drag out sentences by using commas and the word “and.” Most of the time, they can be divided into two, cleaner, easier to read sentences.
Use brackets sparingly.
Brackets are confusing, why would you want to break up the flow of a sentence with extra thoughts? Most of the time what you want to say in a set of brackets can be worked into the normal paragraph structure. Re-think what you’re trying to say and say it without the use of brackets.
Keep it literary.
Blogging is very colloquial by nature. That’s part of the reason why people love to read blogs. But reading something that’s written in the manner of direct speech is torturous. Anyone who’s ever had to transcribe something will know this. It’s okay to keep your writing casual, but remember that writing and speaking are two different languages.
Include a picture.
Like I said, too much text is boring. Break it up with something that’s nice (or delicious) to look at! :)
If you’re going to take any of these tips to heart, pleasepleaseplease use this one. I want you to delete at least one word from every paragraph from now on. Do you really need to say “that” in every other sentence? What about the words “pretty,” “some,” “about,” “also?” When I re-read my blog posts before publishing, I go through and delete at least 10 erroneous words, as well as 5 erroneous exclamation marks and smiley faces. When it doubt, chop it out.
Question of the Day: What are your favourite writing tips?