Writing Tips for Bloggers

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.

Enjoy!!

—————————————————————-

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.

xmas

 

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.

 

Be direct.

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! :)

CHOP CHOP.

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?

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Posted on August 23, 2010, in Fun and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 50 Comments.

  1. LOVE this post! Thanks for the awesome tips, Susan!

  2. Thanks Susan, I really needed help with my blogging. It’s almost like you read my mind, creepy!!

    p.s Do you know Charles LeBlanc in person? Doesn’t he stir up crazy stuffs in freddy?

  3. Thanks for the tips! Great reminders for us all.

  4. Thanks. Very useful stuff! :) Came across this the other day, thought you’d appreciate it after reading this post:

    William Safire, “Great Rules of Writing”
    Do not put statements in the negative form.
    And don’t start sentences with a conjunction.
    If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a
    great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
    Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
    Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all.
    De-accession euphemisms.
    If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
    Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
    Last, but not least, avoid cliches like the plague.

    :)

  5. Those were great tips. I’m book-marking this page. Overusing brackets is my new pastime. But you’ve inspired me to give it up already!

  6. Great tips and reminders. Thanks!

  7. No copyright infringement in this case!!!!

    lol

  8. Loved. This. Post. Of course. The writer in me speaking. I have a problem with keeping my paragraphs short, though. I think I’m a blabber mouth and it shows in my writing. ;)

    I LOVED that pic of you! You looks soooo cool and professional. Go Susan!! >__<

  9. Love this post, Susan! As a fellow journalism student who ended up in communications by profession, I think you are spot on and definitely taught me new things, too. Thanks for sharing your expertise. ;) It truly makes a difference to me when writing quality stands out, even among beautiful pictures.

    P.S. Wish we could have chatted longer at HLS, but I’m so glad I saw you at Karyn’s On Green!

    • I know! SO many people I didn’t get to chat with at HLS, but it was nice to at least briefly see you. I’m sure we’ll get another chance some time :)

  10. Oh no! I am guilty of using a lot of brackets because I go off on tangents… :/

  11. Errrr… I don’t read my posts before I hit publish.

  12. So many simple but really important tips. As a new blogger, I appreciate your post!

  13. awesome tips, susan! you are such a great writer, you always have me glued to the screen. sure sign of quality content right there. i have gotten lazy and haven’t been proofreading my posts before publishing. thanks for the reminders!

    so do you miss your radio/journalism days?

    xoxo love ya lots!

    • Haha, don’t miss a thing about it! :P The best part about journalism was the people I got to meet, and through training I still get to talk to wonderful people all day long :)

  14. Great tips! when I was younger I wanted to be a reporter too :)

  15. F
    A
    N
    T
    A
    S
    T
    I
    C
    post.
    should be required reading pre-launch of blog.

  16. Great post:) It’s funny just how much we learned in journalism school can be applied to blogging! Just about everything but the whole bias thing ;)

  17. i’m thinking i may just bookmark this and keep it in my line of vision whenever i’m writing up a new post. i tend to get a little carried away with smiley faces and unnecessary witty comments, but i think using your tips would make any post look more streamlined and professional.
    thank you so much, susan! you are fabulous.

  18. Ahhh thank you for this! Though I have taken many creative nonfiction writing courses, really this helps SO much!

    I love writing, and I want my blog to be more appealing to those who appreciate good writing, this post was totally perfect for me to read!!

    xoxo
    Kris

  19. fun tips!! ahh that pic of you reading with your pup is priceless!!

  20. Anne @ a daily slice

    These are great tips!! I definitely start to glaze over at blog posts that have long paragraphs or no pictures. I try to always keep my paragraphs short (sometimes just a sentence!) and then add a picture, even if I have to google image and site it.

    Thanks for the tips ;) I’ve always wanted to be a radio reporter. How fun!!

  21. I definitely agree with the shorter blocks of text and breaking up with pictures. I know I don’t reading a ton of text so I always try to write my posts with that in mind. Also…active voice really impacts the text. Definitely becomes stronger and more influential that way.

  22. I choppity chopped my morning post! hopefully it helped.

    next step…concentrating on active voice.

  23. Thank you for the tips! I’m in such a huge rut with my writing lately, this is exactly what I needed.

  24. I was just talking with a blogger friend who is also a journalist about this very topic. It has helped so much and these rules are now printed next to my blogging station :)

  25. These are great tips- I especially like the one about reading other authors and NOT just blogs. Obviously blogs are great, but sometimes a girl’s gotta get some literary masters under her skin, too!

  26. Nice post, good tips. I know for myself when I see a big block of writing, I’m done. I glance at it and move on. Photos…if a blog doesn’t have them, I don’t read it.

  27. Oh my… these are GREAT tips!

  28. Those are great tips. I’d also include “don’t use smiley faces too much in posts.” One or two is okay, but I’ve seen blogs that have them in every paragraph! Too much!

  29. thanks for the great tips girl! i’m a horrendous writer and NEVER double check any of my writing haha so i’m always down for good writing tips from people who know it best :)

  30. This is a really awesome post lady! I think many of us could do with taking these tips to heart. If nothing else, proof reading before I hit publish is of massive importance to me. I HATE going back to something and seeing a grammatical error or spelling mistake!

    Thanks for posting such useful info. You rock :)

  31. i just caught up on like SIX posts. all i can say is i love you, and i am so glad you got those trader joe’s goods. that and peanut butter pretzel IS the best granola bar ever.

  32. Such great tips. I just am not a good writer, as it comes out like I talk – not always a good thing LOL!
    I am a bracket lover….

    I think the pictures are a must. I love blogs with pictures, but not too many.

  33. I’m a terrible writer, like the worst.

    I’ve been reading a lot more recently though, thumbs up!

    I’m bookmarking this page!

  34. Great post! Definitely have taken these into consideration :)
    I don’t really have any writing tips, except for maybe “spell-check”. One of my biggest pet-peeves is when people incorrectly use “there”, “their”, or “they’re”. Have I also mentioned that I’m a complete nerd?

  35. Fabulous tips!! I’m horrible about exclamation points, but I try not to use them too much in my actual posts….sometimes they just slip out though ;)

  36. These are great tips, especially reading more to help with your own writing.

  37. Hi. I was reading your seven links and went back to check out your blogging post. I want to start a blog myself as I love to write. I just am not sure how to go about doing all this and what all is involved. I would like to try to earn a little extra spending money on the side so I did find your tips helpful. Thanks. I hope you are feeling better and I am praying that God will heal you from all your cancer!! Keep your beautiful chin up!

  38. Great tips. Active voice is so challenging to me! I am far too long-winded.

  39. The above comment was an example of me attempting to use active voice. How did I do? I started with:
    These are great tips. I constantly break the passive voice rule. I am a passive voicer.

  40. seriously, i couldnt agree more with any of these suggestions! you were born to be a writer!

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