Recently Janet Reid, a respected literary agent at FinePrint Literary Management and future Queen Of The Known Universe, took a hiatus from her blog in order to await the Resurrection. During her time off she suggested to her minions that they should get to know each other by visiting each other’s blogs.
Ever obedient, that’s exactly what we did, and what a good idea it turned out to be. I now have a long list of blogs I’ll try to visit on a regular basis. Some are informative, others are simply entertaining, and quite a few are both. More on-line activity to keep me from getting book two finished. Yay.
Colin D. Smith often leaves comments on Ms. Reid’s blog, and has earned himself the dubious title of Mayor of Carkoon (please, don’t ask). When I checked out Colin’s blog he was on his third day of a very good idea called A to Z Challenge. The rules are simple. Write a story every day using 100 words or less, and have the title of the first piece start with an A. Colin’s first story is Air, his second is Balance (my favourite so far), third is Crab, and so on. Check Colin’s stories out here, http://www.colindsmith.com/blog/. They are great examples of writing concisely while keeping the reader interested and satisfied.
Over this past weekend I ran into two women interested in starting their own blogs. One is a young woman just learning about life, and the second is an older woman with a lot of life experience. Both are unsure of how to start and maintain a blog. Valid concerns, but easily fixed. I can help them get the blogs started, and content will come easily after the first post or two, as long as each of the women try (and this might be tricky), to both forget and remember their readers (I’ll explain later). What they SHOULD worry about, is their writing.
It isn’t easy. Putting essential thoughts into the proper order using the necessary words to make the post logical, informative, and interesting, is time-consuming and often frustrating. You know what you want to say. You’re educated and understand basic grammar. But pouring these feelings onto a blank screen is not easy. Be prepared to put some sweat into it. And don’t tell yourself you couldn’t care less if people like your blog or not, because that’s just a cop-out. If you don’t care about your readers then write in a notebook and stick it in a drawer.
Now ask yourself why you want to get your story out there. To inform? To entertain? To help others? All good reasons, but none of this will happen if the visitor to your blog gets; a) bored because you’re too long-winded (which is what’s happening to this post); b) cannot follow your train of thought because you’re haphazardly skipping along with no organization of thought; or c) (which is the worst) it’s all about you. No one else is really interested in your life story UNLESS they can relate to it. And if they can, then they’ll want to input their story, compare with your story, there will be sympathy and empathy, and by then you’ll have the start of a good blog. Which brings me to…
Forget and remember your readers. While you’re drafting your blog, forget about who might read it. Get everything you want to say on the screen, ignore all the suggestions I just pointed out and get the important stuff down. Don’t worry about what other people will think of it at this time.
Then revise. If you’re going to write, even if all you ever want to write is a blog, revision is a very important part, if not THE biggest part. Make sure your post is cohesive, correct in spelling and grammar, and then remember who’ll be reading it. Will they care about the topic? Is it entertaining, or informative, or better yet, both? And keep in mind, some comments might not be favourable, or even related to your post (scammers…ptooey). Your blog should be set up so you can approve or delete comments before they are seen by anyone else. And when you reply to comments, be sure you are polite, even if they disagree with what you’ve posted.
Lastly, do not post, or comment for that matter, when you’re not in your right mind. Too angry, too sad, too drunk. Do not post until you’ve read, re-read, re-re-read and revised until it hurts. In other words, anything you write after 11 pm at night should wait until after you’ve had a good night’s sleep before you hit the publish button. Hit ‘publish’ only when you’re satisfied that what you have written will not embarrass someone you care about, and you’re stone cold sober.
Back to Colin. Remember Colin? Mentioned him at the start of this post? He writes great little stories in 100 words or less. And he can do this because he practices. A lot. He is not offensive, he uses humour to get his point across, and you would do well to use his blog as a template.
We’ve missed this April’s alphabet challenge (you can find out more about it on Colin’s site), but you can challenge yourself no matter what the month. Start May 1. Write stories, or comment on movies, or review books, or whatever it is you’re interested in, all in 100 words or less. Doesn’t need to be on-line if you’re not ready for that yet, just keep a notebook and practice writing before you put it out into cyberspace. Make every word count. Make it interesting. Make it informative. Make it something, and then the next day, make it something a little bit better. And eventually, as it is with anything you practice on a regular basis, it will get easier, more satisfying, and sometimes actually fun.
And now, here’s a picture of my dog’s butt.